Catholic-Profound and a Mystery

Welcome

Christianity has two incomprehensibly profound Mysteries. The Blessed Trinity and the Most Holy Eucharist, Catholic Holy Communion, where Christ Himself is made “Truly, Really and Substanually Present; Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity… The COMPLETE Christ. The Theological term describing this act is “transubstanuation.”

This is PURELY and Solely a Godly Miracle.

From God the Father
Of God the Son
By God the Holy Spirit through by God’s choice, the hands of His Catholic priest. “Do this in memory of Me.”

What is often not understood in the “error of the deserters” John 6: verses 28,30,41-42, and 61. They assume in ERROR that Jesus was speaking of His Cardinal body. NO! Jesus speaks here of His Glorified, Risen and now Perfect Body. A body very real but at the same time Devine; able to pass through walls and locked doors.

As a FYI: this was clearly understood by Peter and the Apostles, who when Asked by Christ: ‘Do you wish to call me a liar and desert Me too” replied: John 6: 68-70 “[68] Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? [69] And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. [70] And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.”

This belief is born out in Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14: 22-24; Luke 22:19-21 and Paul in 1st. Cor. 11: 23-29.

So we have the testimony of God Himself and FIVE authors of the Bible. Amen!

Genesis 1:29 where it was God ORIGINAL plan for humanity to not eat meat. This is changed by God after the Flood and the Burnt Offering Noah made to God of all “clean living animals”: Gen.9: 1-4 “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every bird of the air, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”

 

God Bless you,
Pat

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7 Reason’s Christ was Circumcised by Matt Freed

7 Reasons Christ Was Circumcised

1

December 29, 2013 by mattfradd

 

 

The circumcision of Jesus Christ.

With the feast of the circumcision of Christ coming up I thought I’d share the following excerpt from St. Thomas Aquias.

In his Summa Theologica (Part three, Question 37), Aquinas offered seven reasons why it was fitting for Christ to be Circumcised.

He writes:

For several reasons Christ ought to have been circumcised.

First, in order to prove the reality of His human nature, in contradiction to the Manicheans, who said that He had an imaginary body: and in contradiction to Apollinarius, who said that Christ’s body was consubstantial with His Godhead; and in contradiction to Valentine, who said that Christ brought His body from heaven.

Secondly, in order to show His approval of circumcision, which God had instituted of old.

Thirdly, in order to prove that He was descended from Abraham, who had received the commandment of circumcision as a sign of his faith in Him.

Fourthly, in order to take away from the Jews an excuse for not receiving Him, if He were uncircumcised.

Fifthly, “in order by His example to exhort us to be obedient” [Bede, Hom. x in Evang.]. Wherefore He was circumcised on the eighth day according to the prescription of the Law (Leviticus 12:3).

Sixthly, “that He who had come in the likeness of sinful flesh might not reject the remedy whereby sinful flesh was wont to be healed.”

Seventhly, that by taking on Himself the burden of the Law, He might set others free therefrom, according to Galatians 4:4-5: “God sent His Son . . . made under the Law, that He might redeem them who were under the Law.”

Christmas Eve relived

111 nativity

 Show forth, we pray thee, Lord, thy power and come, and with thy great strength assist us, so that by the aid of thy grace, the work that is hindered by our sins may be hastened by thy merciful forgiveness: who art God, living and reigning with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.   —Opening Prayer for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, 1962 Missal

Is there a day of greater expectation for Christians than Christmas Eve? Holy Saturday, perhaps, should be; but while the Resurrection of Christ is a more remarkable act even than the Incarnation of God as Man, the simple fact that the former depends on the latter—God must become Man before He can die and rise again—has ensured that Christmas captures our imagination more fully than Easter. It is not just visions of sugar plums and glorious roast beast that set our hearts afire on this day; it is the recognition—perhaps less conscious than more so—that, in the words of one of my favorite Christmas carols,

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

Even as Christians, we may have reduced the Nativity of Our Lord in practical terms to a holiday of family and friends, of home and hearth and happiness. Yet our souls know more than our minds acknowledge, and on this night of nights they cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus!” That is the cry, too, of the Apostles and Fathers of the Church, of saints and sinners down through the ages, who await His Second Coming with all of the longing of the patriarchs and prophets for His First.

It is the cry of humanity broken by sin, of men and women who too often rebel against the realization that we cannot repair our lives, much less the world, on our own, yet who recognize, deep within their souls, the scars that only Christ can heal. Our pride threatens to stifle that cry, and perhaps for 364 days of the year, it succeeds in doing so. We act as if our salvation lies in our hands, as if we can heal ourselves through our own works. Even our use of the sacraments, of Communion and Confession, may become the spiritual equivalent of a self-help course, and our prayer life can take on the characteristics of a spiritual version of Getting Things Done. We put too much stock in what we do, and thus live in danger of forgetting that nothing we can do will make fruitful souls that have been laid waste by sin.

Yet on this day, and even more so this night, our souls may speak more loudly, if we will let them. They may cry to the Lord Who will greet us in the morning from His humble manger; they may admit that we need the Child Who is also the Man Who died for our sins—not just the sins of Adam and Eve, and the sins of our fellow man, but our sins, that we have committed yesterday and today, and which we will commit tomorrow.

And our souls may allow us, this night, to set aside our spiritual and intellectual pride, and to hear the truth of the prophets, who likened those souls to an arid desert, which no man can make bloom but God can make fruitful. As Pope Francis so beautifully proclaimed in his homily for the Thursday of the Third Week in Advent,

In the Prophets too there is the image of the desert, the desert land that cannot grow a tree, a fruit, to bring forth anything. “But the desert will be like a forest,” the Prophets say, “it will be huge, it will flower.” But can the desert flower? Yes. Can the sterile woman give life? Yes. The promise of the Lord: “I can!” From dryness, from your dryness I can make life, salvation grow.

Christmas, we are often told, is about what we give, not what we receive. But that is a half-truth, at best; and like so many half-truths, it may lead us further astray than a lie. Yes, as Paul told the Church at Ephesus, it is better to give than to receive; but to give as we ought, in the spirit in which we ought, we must first receive, in the spirit in which we should receive.

[I]t is the intervention of God that brings us salvation. It is the intervention of God that helps us along the path of sanctity. Only He can do it. But what are we to do on our part? First, recognize our dryness, our incapacity to give life. Recognize this. Second, ask: “Lord, I want to be fruitful.” I desire that my life should give life, that my faith should be fruitful and go forward and be able to give it to others. Lord, I am sterile, I can’t do it. You can. I am a desert: I can’t do it. You can.

To receive the gift of God, the gift that He gives us starting this night, requires setting our pride aside and acknowledging that we are broken, that we are barren, that on our own we can only bring death rather than life. Our unwillingness to shed that pride, that impulse that subtly insinuates that we can merit Heaven through our own actions, is that new Pelagianism which the Holy Father has so often mentioned, and that so many of us have found so perplexing, because we cannot understand it from the inside. Our pride convinces us that our orthodoxy and orthopraxis are all that we need. Yet by themselves, they are not enough; we must have something more:

Humility is necessary for fruitfulness…. The humility to say to the Lord: “Lord, I am sterile, I am a desert” and to repeat in these days this beautiful antiphon that the Church makes us pray: O Son of David, O Adonai, O Wisdom … O Root of Jesse, O Emmanuel, come and give us life, come and save us, because only You can, by myself I cannot! And with this humility, this humility of the desert, this humility of a sterile soul, receive grace, the grace to flourish, to give fruit, and to give life.

This night, of all nights, our hearts seem ready to hear these words, to admit the longing in our souls for something that we cannot gain for ourselves, but can only accept as a gift. Or rather, the longing for Someone, the only begotten Son of the Father Who wants nothing more than for all of His children to receive the ultimate gift in the spirit in which He gives it: freely, without reservations.

Tomorrow, He comes: the greatest gift of all. Tonight, we watch, we wait, we hope, that when He comes, He—not we—may bear fruit within our souls.

Editor’s note: The image above entitled “The Nativity” was painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio in 1492

FROM CHRIST MAGAZINE 12/26/2013 Thank you

Christmas and What it MEANS by Archbishop Aquila

 

BY ARCHBISHOP AQUILA

DECEMBER 24, 2013

A group of atheists recently bought a billboard in Times Square and asked the provocative question: Who needs Christ at Christmas? They answered their own question with a one-word answer—nobody.

That is an interesting take on the holy day that is named, quite aptly, after Christ himself.

According to the billboard, Christmas can now be about anything you want it to be. For example, they suggested, it can simply be about family, friends, presents, parties and hot chocolate.

Christians obviously do not agree with this, but the atheists bring an important point to the forefront of the public debate. In recent years Christmas has been accompanied by a “war on Christmas,” which is rather strange: What does the world have to fear from the belief that God so loved humanity that he became a child and dwelt among us?

Just this month, in an exclusive interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Pope Francis spoke with laser-like precision on the essence of Christmas. “It is the encounter with Jesus,” he said.

“God has always sought out his people, led them, looked after them and promised to always be close to them,” he continued. “This is a beautiful thing. Christmas is God’s meeting with his people.”

The appeal of the message of Christmas, even to non-believers, is present all around us. The encounter of Christ with his people sparks an incredible outpouring of joy, of consolation, of generosity and of hope. This can be quite contagious.

The parties, the presents, the gatherings with friends and family, and yes, even the hot chocolate, are wonderful demonstrations of this joy that dwells in our hearts. Nobody throws a party when they are fearful of the future. We don’t give presents if there is no movement of joy and love in our hearts.

These wonderful aspects of Christmas don’t define the holy day, but rather they are a part of Christmas because we know that God is with us and for us; there is reason to rejoice.

We Christians have a great responsibility to let everyone know that Christmas is about the infinite mercy of God, especially because this reality is what unleashes the deepest joy anyone could experience. And for those who don’t share the Christian belief, everyone should be at peace celebrating even the concept that there is hope in such a love.

 

To Christians, I encourage you to remember, as Pope Francis reminded us in the aforementioned interview, that “Christmas is joy, religious joy, God’s joy, an inner joy of light and peace.” We must be witnesses of such joy, and we must contemplate the great mystery of God, who came to dwell among us.

“With Christ,” he writes in “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel), “joy is constantly born anew.”

The Pope used the word joy in his letter more than 50 times, underlining the absolute centrality of joy in the life of a Christian. He invites Christians to “a renewed personal encounter with Jesus to Christ.” He urges us to listen intently to God’s voice in our hearts, and to experience the “quiet joy of his love.”

To non-Christians, I urge you to take another look at Christmas. Look at it again with fresh eyes. Look at what we celebrate: let the eyes of your souls go past the presents, the trees, the fat Santa and red-nosed Rudolph, and stop at the center of the manger. Listen to the everlasting message of love and peace, and you will know what Christmas is all about, the God who loves you eternally even if you do not wish to receive that love. It’s a message that benefits us all.

Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, S.T.L.
Archbishop of Denver

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver will celebrate two Christmas Masses at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, 1530 Logan St, Denver, CO 80203: Midnight Mass, beginning at 12 a.m. (a Live Stream feed is available here); and 10:30 a.m. Mass on Christmas Day.

did you know Adam and Eve are Catholic Saints?

Dear Patrick,

Adam and Eve are Saints (and the Origins of Christmas Trees)

Christmas Eve is also the the feast day of Saint Eve…and Saint Adam, too.

Yes, Adan and Eve are saints in the Catholic Church, and they are traditionally honored on December 24th, Christmas Eve. They are the exemplars of humble penance for their original crime against God.

Previously, medieval Christians enjoyed performances on Christmas Eve called “Paradise Plays” that recounted how Adam and Eve lost their innocence by eating the fruit of the tree. Some have speculated that the placement of a tree decorated with red apples for this dramatic paradise play is the true origin of the Christmas Tree decorated with red apples or red ornaments. Soon, the people copied the practice and placed “paradise trees” in their homes.

The paradise play recounts how when Adam and Eve sinned, God promised them a Redeemer born of a Woman who would crush the serpent’s head:

“I will put enmities between you and the woman, and your seed and her seed: she shall crush your head, and you shall lie in wait for her heel” (Gen 3:15).

This drama anticipated the reversal of the Fall with the miraculous birth of the Christ Child from the stainless womb of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

The symbolism of this drama is that Adam is the chief peccator and that Eve is the co-peccatrix who brought all of mankind into the bondage of original sin. Christmas introduces Jesus Christ as the New Adam Redemptor and Mary as the New Eve Coredemptrix as those who liberate mankind from sin into grace and glory.

Mary is the foretold “Woman” of Genesis 3:15 who bears the Redeeming “Seed” who is Jesus Christ. The long expectation of Adam and Eve for the birth of the promised Child has finally arrived.

So happy feast day of Adam and Eve!

Merry Christ-Mass!!!

to Jesus through Mary on Christmas (and every day of the year),
Taylor

(This post originally appeared on taylormarshall.com)

                                         i Catholic

by Pat Miron

                              Key’s “to The Kingdom” Explained

                                                      Collected and written in part by Pat Miron

 

 

Introduction by Marianne

That was a great reply! Now, she’ll be armed against protestant claims that “petra” and “petros” are different words. They were in Attic Greek, centuries before Christ, but in Koine Greek, they were the same word with feminine/masculine endings. And, of course, protestant skeptics overlook the evidence of Peter’s title in Aramaic altogether!

 

A small interesting point about the transfiguration and Simon’s appointment as first pope. It happened at the headwaters of the Jordan, at the site of an older temple of the pagan Hellenistic god Pan and the later white marble temple Herod built to Caesar Augustus. There, a site that had been dedicated to false gods – imaginary and human – is supplanted by the creation of the one, holy, apostolic, AND visible Church. Here, where the headwaters of the Jordan arise in a great fountain, on the mountain of Caesaria Phillipi, Jesus establishes the new order. I find that a thrilling image. Where there had been superstition, fear, and slavery, Jesus creates Mother Church, to guide and preserve us. And he gives us Peter, the Rock, our Holy Father, to stand upon that high place to inspire and lead us. She is a visible Church, created to stand high upon a mountaintop, led by a human. This is another rebuttal of protestant theology that the Church is an invisible entity. The Church is a visible, human institution not some airy-fairy “spiritual” idea. One can go to that mountain today and stand where Peter stood and watch the waters of baptism well up out of the ground. Jesus gave us physical touchstones to confirm our faith: water, bread, wine, a Pope.

 

blessings to you my friend,

Marianne

 

In your opinion, what does the phrase “keys to the kingdom” refer to?

 

Quote:

“I would like just one Catholic to tell me specifically what they think these keys are that” were given to their church.

 

 

Who? Jesus the Christ [Mt. 16:16] The Son of God. All Knowing – all Wise – all everything Good. A key element of Gods Perfect Goodness is that God is and has to be “All-Fair and All Just.” Otherwise He would not be God.

The words used by Jesus are carefully selected to insure proper understanding.

[Mt. 16: 15-19] He [JESUS] said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, [Peter is in a personal one on one conversation with Jesus here] “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And [JESUS]I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock [ON YOU PETER] I will build my [SINGULAR] church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. [19] I [Jesus] will give you [PETER / My new Church] the keys of the kingdom of heaven, [To be understood as everything one needs to get to heaven; Including Christ Himself]   and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

The choice of words selected by Christ. To “bind” and to “loose” were common, rabbinical, legally binding at Law terms for exactly that! Complete, and free governance. Jesus, Peter and all that heard knew exactly what Jesus meant!

WHERE Mt. 16:13: “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” “

Caesarea Philippi is in the Northern hill country of Judea. It was a by their standards, a large town. It was also the site of the areas Major Pagan Temple.

The location Jesus chooses is a clear indication of the Mission of His Church, and Peter and the Apostles. “Overcome, do away with pagan worship.” Jesus not only gives His Church this Mission, He gives His Church all of the tools and authority needed to accomplish it!

Why? The “Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven” is a literal statement of FACT! [Mt. 16:19] Jesus speaking directly to Saint Peter at the occasion of Founding His [now Catholic] Church: “[19] I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

This is what Jesus said, did, intended and has accomplished. It’s what the Word of God clearly says and clearly means. Amen!

Back in the time if Jesus it was common for major cites to be walled in for protection from attack. These cities actually had two real GATES, with REAL KEYS. A minor gate and the Main gate.

Now under independent rule, each major city also had there own king, and thus a “kingdom.” So there were many Kings and many kingdoms. A brief reading of the Old Testament list many Kings (who often merged with other kingdoms for the purpose of self-defense) because they were often too small to be completely independent against other NATIONS, who too merged all of their kingdoms resources to do battle and gain territory.

So the Apostles and the Jewish people of that time period would have been familiar and comfortable with the idea of a King and his Kingdom, as well as a Prime Minister who is the Keeper of the Key’s.

Typically the Prime Minister had complete, autonomous control of ALL day to day activities. The Prime Minister answered to NO-ONE except the King Himself. Thus the Pope answers directly to God.

This is the common understanding and the very reason for the specific reference to “Keys” and the “Kingdom.” There would have been absolutely zero doubts about what Christ was saying, doing and mandating for Peter, now the “Prime Minister” for Christ new Kingdom!

This account is historically provable. Indeed Christ intended to start His (ONE) Church, and to give Peter and those “prime-ministers” (POPES) complete and autonomous control and governance of His Church. WHY? Because Christ knew He would soon return to the Father.

Isaiah 22:22-24 Re: PETER
(and Jesus)“And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him like a peg in a sure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father’s house. And they will hang on him the whole weight of his father’s house, the offspring and issue, every small vessel, from the cups to all the flagons”

Mt. 28: 19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

John 10: 1“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door [ MY CHURCH] but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; 2 but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

Rev. 3:
[RE: PETER] [/b]. “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens.

Eph. 2:19  “So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple [SINGULAR] in the Lord; [singular] in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” [b]

 

John 20: 19-22 “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

 

The last two color-highlighted verses are pregnant with teaching and meaning: Jesus is in the upper room with the eleven Apostles and 120 other disciples…. Clearly He is speaking Directly to the Apostles. [Verses 17 and 23 give evidence of this], as do these passages:

 

Mark.16:14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they sat at table; and he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen“.  Luke.24: 9 “and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them,”

 

As the Father [God] has sent “Me” [also God and man] , even so I [God] send you.”

 

This is saying that Just as I came in the Power of God; so I send you with My Powers. It is these words that are attributed as Christ Officially initiation of the CC. [“CC”] means the Roman Catholic Church with Her Present 22  branches that are in FULL Communion with Rome. [The term means in alignment with and Obedient too].

 

Haydock’s Catholic Commentary [widely recognized throughout the years as perhaps the best… Written in the late 1800’s.]

 

Ver. 21. As the Father hath sent me. The word mission, when applied to our Saviour Christ, sometimes signifies his eternal procession from the Father, and sometimes his mission, as he was sent into the world to become man, and the Redeemer of mankind: the first mission agrees with him, as the eternal Son of God; the second, as man, or as both God and man. The mission which Christ here gives his apostles, is like this latter mission, with this great difference, that graces and divine gifts were bestowed on Christ, even as man, without measure: and the apostles had a much lesser share in both these missions. See St. Augustine, lib. iv. de Trin. chap. xix. xx. tom. 4. p. 829. and seq. (Witham) —

 

A few words about Binding and Loosing: FYI: I make use of Strong’s [non-catholic] Lexicon to get definitions from the Bibles English to there Hebrew and Greek meanings.

 

Bind/ Hebrew = 3256 yacar yaw-sar’ a primitive root; to chastise, literally (with blows) or figuratively (with words); hence, to instruct:–bind, chasten, chastise, correct, instruct, punish, reform, reprove, sore, teach.  6105 `atsam aw-tsam’ a primitive root; to bind fast, i.e. close (the eyes); intransitively, to be (causatively, make) powerful or numerous; denominatively (from 6106) to crunch the bones:–break the bones, close, be great, be increased, be (wax) mighty(-ier), be more, shut, be(-come, make) strong(-er).

 

Bind Greek = 332. anathematizo an-ath-em-at-id’-zo from 331; to declare or vow under penalty of execration:–(bind under a) curse, bind with an oath.

 

Loose Hebrew =  332. anathematizo an-ath-em-at-id’-zo from 331; to declare or vow under penalty of execration:–(bind under a) curse, bind with an oath. 7971 shalach shaw-lakh’ a primitive root; to send away, for, or out (in a great variety of applications):–X any wise, appoint, bring (on the way), cast (away, out), conduct, X earnestly, forsake, give (up), grow long, lay, leave, let depart (down, go, loose), push away, put (away, forth, in, out), reach forth, send (away, forth, out), set, shoot (forth, out), sow, spread, stretch forth (out).

 

Loose Greek= 142. airo ah’-ee-ro a primary root; to lift up; by implication, to take up or away; figuratively, to raise (the voice), keep in suspense (the mind), specially, to sail away (i.e. weigh anchor); by Hebraism (compare 5375) to expiate sin:–away with, bear (up), carry, lift up, loose, make to doubt, put away, remove, take (away, up). 630. apoluo ap-ol-oo’-o from 575 and 3089; to free fully, i.e. (literally) relieve, release, dismiss (reflexively, depart), or (figuratively) let die, pardon or (specially) divorce:–(let) depart, dismiss, divorce, forgive, let go, loose, put (send) away, release, set at liberty. 2673. katargeo kat-arg-eh’-o from 2596 and 691; to be (render) entirely idle (useless), literally or figuratively:–abolish, cease, cumber, deliver, destroy, do away, become (make) of no (none, without) effect, fail, loose, bring (come) to nought, put away (down), vanish away, make void.

 

Haydock’s On Mt. 16:19 ‘The Key’s”

 

Ver. 19. And I will give to thee the keys,&c. This is another metaphor, expressing the supreme power and prerogative of the prince of the apostles. The keys of a city, or of its gates, are presented or given to the person that hath the chief power. We also own a power of the keys, given to the other apostles, but with a subordination to St. Peter and to his successor, as head of the Catholic Church. — And whatsoever thou shalt bind, &c. All the apostles, and their successors, partake also of this power of binding and loosing, but with a due subordination to one head invested with the supreme power. (Witham) — Loose on earth. The loosing the bands of temporal punishments due to sins, is called an indulgence: the power of which is here granted. (Challoner) — Although Peter and his successors are mortal, they are nevertheless endowed with heavenly power, says St. Chrysostom, nor is the sentence of life and death passed by Peter to be attempted to be reversed, but what he declares is to be considered a divine answer from heaven, and what he decrees, a decree of God himself. He that heareth you, heareth me, &c. The power of binding is exercised, 1st. by refusing to absolve; 2nd. by enjoining penance for sins forgiven; 3nd. by excommunication, suspension or interdict; 4th. by making rules and laws for the government of the Church; 5th. by determining what is of faith by the judgments and definitions of the Church. (Tirinus) — The terms binding and loosing, are equivalent to opening and shutting, because formerly the Jews opened the fastenings of their doors by untying it, and they shut or secured their doors by tying or binding it.

 

[QUOTE]=Protestant= You are really behind the times. Catholicism; especially in North America has become a house divided, on abortion, and other issues.  [B] The [/B] only [B] difference is Catholics won’t call the differences “denominations.” [/B] They use other fancy words and terminology. [/QUOTE]

 

As highlighted I tend to agree with you on this one point. But that is not “the only difference.”

 

The Catholic Church in America (what some of refer to as the American catholic? Church) holds many different views, moral, political and biblical than us Roman Catholics living here in America.

 

[QUOTE]I would like just one Catholic to tell me specifically what they think these keys are that were given to their church.  I would be willing to bet that the OP doesn’t even know and will have to look it up. [/QUOTE]

 

Allow me to at least try to respond to your challenge.

 

In order to do so I must attempt to answer for you the W’s, who, what, where and why?

 

Who? Jesus the Christ [Mt. 16:16] The Son of God. All Knowing – all Wise – all everything Good. A key element of Gods Perfect Goodness is that God is and has to be “All-Fair and All Just.” Otherwise He would not be God.

 

So from this we are able to understand that when God teaches He does so with complete understanding of what it is He is teaching, and does so in a manner those whom He chooses to enlighten WILL UNDERSTAND that. [Mt. 11:25-26]

 

The words used by Jesus are carefully selected to insure proper understanding.

 

[Mt. 16: 15-19]

He [JESUS] said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, [Peter is in a personal one on one conversation with Jesus here] “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And [JESUS]I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock [ON YOU PETER]  I will build my [SINGULAR] church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. [19] I will give you [PETER / My new Church] the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

 

Peter called “Cephas” meaning Peter =ROCK

 

John.1: 40 to 42 “ One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). [WHICH MEANS ROCK]

 

Strong’s Greek Lexicon Search Results

Result of search for “Cephas”:

2786. Kephas kay-fas’ of Chaldee origin (compare 3710); the Rock; Cephas (i.e. Kepha), a surname of Peter:–Cephas.

 

http://www.agapebiblestudy.com

“Cephas” is the Greek transliteration of Peter’s Aramaic name “Rock” = Kepha, or perhaps in Galilean Aramaic “Qepha”. Only John among the Gospels gives this form of Peter’s name but it is also the preferred name that St. Paul uses when he writes about Peter.”

 

 

This is part of the discourse in which Christ makes clear in unambiguous language that He intends to: 1. Form His Church (singular use of “I” and “you” and “church.” 2. That it is to be only ONE church. 3. That Peter is given the access (gate keys) to heaven. 4. Peter (and Peter alone) is given all of the power and authority to govern with COMPLETE autonomous authority, answering ONLY to God Himself!

 

We can know this by the choice of words selected by Christ. To “bind” and to “loose” were common, rabbinical, legally binding at Law terms for exactly that! Complete, and free governance. Jesus, Peter and all that heard knew exactly what Jesus meant! Exactly what Jesus meant! At the time these were very commonly used words. Also see [Mt. 18:15-18] “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.  But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; [SINGULAR] and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind [Mandate / decide on] on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

 

WHERE? Mt. 16:13: “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” “

 

The timing and the location were of great significance to the message, the purpose and the mission of what Jesus was in the process of setting up and doing. Jesus was aware of when and how soon He would be put to death.

 

Caesarea Philippi is in the hill country of Judea. It was a by their standards, a large town. It was also the site of the areas Major Pagan Temple. Thus Jesus ask, “ who do people say that I am.” Not satisfied with the response Jesus then “ask His decuples (plural.) PETER answers, [Mt. 16: 16 ]Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

This is significant, for the mandate that follows is directly out of the mouth of God! And all there were aware of this fact.

 

The location Jesus chooses is a clear indication of the Mission of His Church, and Peter and the Apostles. “Overcome, do away with pagan worship.” Jesus not only gives His Church this Mission, He gives His Church all of the tools and authority needed to accomplish it!

 

Why? Why indeed! Jesus knew from the moment of his Conception in the Virgin womb of His Mother, what Gods plan (His Plan) was. He knew that he would suffer and die that He would rise from the Dead, and be our Redeemer. He further knew that [Mt. 22:14 “14 ] For many are called, but few are chosen.” The word “chosen, in this context means “chosen BY US!” In other words, many will deny, and many will die because of unbelief, because of the personal choice we make.

 

Jesus clearly knew what lie in store for His Disciples and the persecution His Church, and His Disciples, would have to face. This is precisely why the mandate, why the authority, why the church, why they too would die professing that Christ is Lord! That Jesus remains present “ Really Present,” why Jesus instituted the Seven Sacraments. All this so that His Church would have the power and the authority, the tools and the grace, to become the “Narrow Gate” of Christ plan for our Salvation. [Mt. 7: 13.]

 

The “Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven” is a literal statement of FACT! [Mt. 16:19] Jesus speaking directly to Saint Peter at the occasion of Founding His [now Catholic] Church: “[19] I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

 

This is what Jesus said, did, intended and has accomplished. It’s what the Word of God clearly says and clearly means. Amen!

 

I made a point of why Jesus selected Caesarea Philippi, and it was primarily because it was the “center of pagan worship for the area.” Indeed it was the location of a very large Pagan Temple.

 

But why did Jesus use the term “the keys?” Was there a specific reason? Would those to whom Jesus was speaking have easily picked up on what Jesus was saying and doing?

 

Our Blessed Lord was fond of Parables that told stories in order to make the point He was trying to make. So we can understand that whatever words Jesus selected were carefully chosen.

 

Have you by chance ever watched  EWTN and the morning rosary?] The reason I ask is that it shows various parts of Jerusalem today.  Jerusalem even today continues to be a walled in fortified city, with real gates, and real keys.

 

Back in the time if Jesus all major cites were walled in for protection from attack. These cities actually had two real GATES, with REAL KEYS. A minor gate and the Main gate.

 

Now under independent rule, each major city also had there own king, and thus a “kingdom.” So there were many Kings and many kingdoms. A brief reading of the Old Testament list many Kings (who often merged with other kingdoms for the purpose of self-defense) because they were usually too small to be completely independent against other NATIONS, who too merged all of their kingdoms resources to do battle and gain territory.

 

So the Apostles and the Jewish people of that time period would have been familiar and comfortable with the idea of a King and his Kingdom, a Prime Minister who is the Keeper of the Key’s.

 

Such was true of Kings and Kingdoms. All day to day governance was given to a person that they selected as “Prime Minister.” An example of this is Genesis 42 and Joseph, the brother sold into slavery, which is made Prime Minister of all of Egypt.

 

Typically a Prime Minister had complete, autonomous control of ALL day to day activities. The Prime Minister answered to NO-ONE except the King Himself and nobody but the King.

 

This is the common understanding and the very reason for the specific reference to “Keys” and the “Kingdom.” There would have been absolutely zero doubts about what Christ was saying, doing and mandating for Peter, now the “Prime Minister” for Christ!

 

This account is historically provable. Indeed Christ intended to start His (ONE) Church, and to give Peter and those “prime-ministers” (POPES) complete and autonomous control and governance of His Church.

 

Some further Biblical evidence on the Authority of the Pope and the Only Church actually founded by Christ.

 

Authority

 

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

 

John 21: 15-19 [15] When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”  He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.”  (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, “Follow me.”

 

Eph. 4: 1-7 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body [WHICH MEANS ONE CHURCH] and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

 

Luke 22:28You are those who have continued with me in my trials; 2 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

 

Mt. 28: 19-20  19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

 

2nd. Cor.11: 12  “And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.”

 

1 Peter 1: “12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things which have now been announced to you by those who preached the good news to you through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.”

 

John 10: 1“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door  [ MY CHURCH] but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; 2 but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

 

Mt. 7: 21 “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.”

 

 

 

2 Peter 2: 1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their licentiousness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words; from of old their condemnation has not been idle, and their destruction has not been asleep.

 

Mt. 16: 15  He [Jesus] said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I [singular] tell you, you are Peter,[singular] and on this rock [singular] I will build my [singular] church, and the powers of death  shall not prevail against it.[singular] 19 I [God singular] will give you [singular] the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you  [singular] bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

 

Eph. 4: 4 -8 “There is one body [One Church]  and one Spirit, [One set of beliefs] just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, [One God] one faith, [One set of doctrine and dogma] one baptism,[ By water in the Trinity] one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said,

 

Eph. 5: 23  Christ is the head of the church [SINGULAR] , his body, [[SINGULAR].

 

1 Cor. 14: 12 “ So with yourselves; since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. [singular]

 

Eph. 3: 9  “And to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in  God who created all things; 10 that through the church [SINGULAR] the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,

 

Col. 1: 18 He is the head of the body [singular], the church; [singular] he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell”

 

Acts 20: 28Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of the LORD” [SINGULAR]

 

Mt. 18: 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; [singular] and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. [18]  Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

 

 

 

1 Cor. 12: 12-1  “For just as the body [singular] is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, [singular]  though many, are one body, [singular]  so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”

 

The Keys represent unlimited Power of Governance as well as being “the [also singular] narrow gate” one MUST enter to attain salvation. PJM  [Matt. 7:13-14.]

 

God’s Continued Blessings for you and your’s,

Love and prayers,

Pat

 

10 GREAT things about being Catholic

Ten Great Things About Catholicism

 

by H. W. Crocker III on March 28, 2013 ·

http://catholicexchange.com/ten-great-things-about-catholicism/

 

With its divine foundation, sanction, and mission, nothing could be more glorious than the Catholic Church. But, of course, many people — even many baptized Catholics — don’t see it that way.

 

Yet when the sins of men — secular material progress, or our own self-centeredness — blind us to this, they blind us to everything. The Renaissance, a great Catholic moment, enlightened the world by seeing it afresh with both the light of faith and the light of classical civilization, which was Catholicism’s seedbed. So, too, today, if we look on the world through truly Catholic eyes, we will find that the fog lifts, our perspectives grow deeper, and beauty and truth beckon above the puerility of mass popular culture.

What’s so great about Catholicism? Here are ten things –in countdown order — to which one could easily add hundreds of others.

 

10. Hope

Classical paganism, as we know, always ended in despair — a noble despair sometimes, but despair nevertheless. Eastern religions don’t offer much in the way of hope, as they are tied to doctrines of fate, cycles of history, and a nirvana of extinction. Reformation Protestantism is pretty despairing, too, with Calvin’s belief that it would have been better for most people if they had never been born, predestined as they are for damnation. Secularism and materialism are no better, as wealthy secular societies tend to have the highest rates of suicide.

 

But in the Catholic Church, there is hope. Salvation is open to every man willing to take it. And though Jesus warned His apostles that following His way meant enduring inevitable persecution and hatred, He also gave them this promise: The gates of hell would not prevail against the Church. Even outsiders recognize this. Who ever heard of a deathbed conversion to Methodism? Hope comes from the Real Thing.

 

9. The Inquisition

The Inquisition? Yes, let’s not be shy. The Inquisition is every Catholic-basher’s favorite tool of abuse — though it is one that is very much not in the basher’s favor. There were several Inquisitions. The first in order of importance in Catholic history was the Inquisition against the Albigensians — a heresy that encouraged suicide, euthanasia, abortion, sodomy, fornication, and other modern ideas that were distasteful to the medieval mind. The struggle against the Albigensians erupted into war — and a war that could not be carefully trammeled within crusading boundaries. So Pope Gregory IX entrusted the final excision of the Albigensian heresy to the scalpel of the Inquisition rather than the sword of the Crusader.

 

Did this Inquisition of the 13th century strike fear into the people of western Europe? No. Its scope was limited; its trials and punishments more lenient to the accused than were those of its secular counterparts. Inquisitional punishment was often no more than the sort of penance — charity, pilgrimage, mortification — that one might be given by a priest in a confessional. If one were fortunate enough to live in England, northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, or, with the exception of Aragon, even, at this time, Spain, the risk that one might be called before an inquisitional trial was virtually zero. The focus of the Inquisition was in the Albigensian districts of southern France; in Germany, where some of the worst abuses occurred; and in those parts of chaotic Italy rife with anticlerical heresy. In all cases, inquisitional courts sat only where Church and state agreed that peace and security were threatened. Nevertheless, the courts were abused. The Church could not modify an ironclad rule of life as true in the 13th century as it is today: Every recourse to law and the courts is a calamity. But the Church then, and people today, seemed to assume it is better than vigilantes and war. There’s no accounting for some tastes.

 

More famous, certainly, is the Spanish Inquisition. The Spanish Inquisition was a state-run affair, where the Church’s role was to act as a brake of responsibility, fairness, and justice on the royal court’s ferreting out of quislings (who were defined, after centuries of war against the Muslims, as those who were not sincere and orthodox Catholics). Recent scholarship, which has actually examined the meticulous records kept by the Spanish Inquisition, has proven — to take the title of a BBC documentary on the subject –The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition. We now know, beyond all doubt, that the Monty Python sketch of inquisitors holding an old lady in “the comfy chair” while they tickle her with feather dusters is closer to the truth than images of people impaled within iron maidens. (One of the standard works of scholarship is Henry Kamen’s The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision, Yale University Press.) In the course of an average year, the number of executions ordered by the Spanish Inquisition — which covered not only Spain but its vast overseas empire — was less than the number of people put to death annually by the state of Texas. And this at a time when heresy was universally considered a capital crime in Europe. The myth of the Spanish Inquisition comes from forged documents, propagandizing Protestant polemicists, and anti-Spanish Catholics, who were numerous. The fact is, far from being the bloodthirsty tribunals of myth, the courts of the Spanish Inquisition were probably the fairest, most lenient, and most progressive in Europe.

The man who heads up the modern office of the Inquisition, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the Panzer-Kardinal of the Vatican. Would that he would subject the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America to an Inquisition. It needs it. Indeed, here’s a new rallying cry that I’d like to see become popular: Bring back the Inquisition!

 

8. The Crusades

All right, I recognize that this is another problem area for some milquetoast Catholics, but let’s be blunt: Do we believe in reclaiming the world for Christ and His Church, or don’t we? Medieval knights took that responsibility seriously, wore the cross on their capes and tunics, and prayed and understood an incarnational faith that acted in the world. It was these knights’ defensive war — and the defensive war of the Church and its allies up through the 18th century, for a millennium of Western history — that repelled Islamic aggression and kept western Europe free. For that we should be ashamed? No: It is one of the glories that was Christendom that in the Middle Ages the pope could wave his field marshal’s baton and knights from as far away as Norway — not to mention England, France, and Germany — would come to serve. Men were Catholics first in those days.

Today, because of Islamic terror groups, the West is again strapping on its armor. We shouldn’t be ashamed of our predecessors who were compelled to do the same.

 

7. The Swiss Guards and the French Foreign Legion

Though only one of these institutions is under the direct supervision of the Vatican, both qualify as Catholic institutions that should warm the very cockles of our hearts. Indeed, next time you meet a Protestant who asks you why you are a Catholic, try telling him this: I’m a Catholic because I believe in the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church as founded by Jesus and His disciples and as led through the power of the Holy Spirit by the pope in Rome who is himself guarded by the Swiss guards of the Vatican whose uniforms were designed, at least some believe, by Michelangelo. If your interlocutor doesn’t immediately seek instruction to convert, you know you’ve met a hard case.

As for La Légion Étrangère, it seems to me that as the product of a Catholic culture, showcasing a Catholic militarism by accepting men of all nations and backgrounds, devoted to one common goal, and by bestowing a sort of secular forgiveness of sins via its traditional offer of anonymity for recruits, it is a good reflection of the Catholic spirit. Indeed, two anecdotes might help illustrate this fact. First, there is the spirit of Catholic realism, perhaps best told in a story from the devotional book, The Paratroopers of the French Foreign Legion: From Vietnam to Bosnia. Here one finds a Catholic chaplain in Bosnia handing out medallions of the Blessed Virgin Mother. He admonishes his legionnaires that the medallion “does not replace good cover and it does not replace armor. I don’t do voodoo here. So be careful.” Well said, Father.

 

If that anecdote affirms Catholic realism and natural law, here’s one that reminds us why fighting men have always respected Catholic chaplains above others. It comes from the morally offensive Catholic writer Christian Jennings, in A Mouthful of Rocks: Modern Adventures in the Foreign Legion: “This was the padre assigned to our unit. He wore full combat kit and a large silver crucifix on a chain, which matched his parachute wings…. A Spanish recruit I had been playing poker against suddenly started making faces and gesturing behind the Padre’s back, when suddenly, without taking his eyes off the Frenchman to whom he had been talking, the priest jerked his elbow backwards into the Spaniard’s face, slamming him against an oven.” Charming, n’est-ce pas? And a reminder that for most people, the faith is best taught by action and example rather than by words.

 

6. Art

Certainly the famous literary Catholics of the English-speaking world — John Henry Cardinal Newman, Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Siegfried Sassoon (who converted later in life), and Thomas Merton — have all played an enormous part in my own conversion and continuing appreciation of the faith. Even Catholics of an unorthodox stripe (like Greene) have had a powerfully orthodox influence on me.

 

Writing, of course, is far from the only artistic testimony to the faith. Catholicism has always surrounded itself with beauty, regarding it as the splendor of truth. In the words of the German priest, professor, and theologian Karl Adam, “Art is native to Catholicism, since reverence for the body and for nature is native to it.” The Puritan influence is foreign to Catholicism — just as the idea that smashing altars, defacing Madonnas, and breaking stained glass as a religious act is foreign, and indeed heretical, to Catholics. The Catholic Church leaves such Talibanism to the Protestants and iconoclastic heresies. The Catholic Church, instead, offers a celebration of beauty; and beauty, in our world of pierced faces, body tattoos, gangsta rap, and concrete tower blocks, is something we could use much more of.

 

5. Freedom

Yes, the good old reactionary, repressive Catholic Church has been the most ardent defender of freedom in the history of the world — though it almost never gets credit for it. We live in an age of determinist ideologies — with the fate of nations and individuals supposedly determined by race, economics, history, psychology, genetics, or even — insofar as Protestants have any common doctrinal beliefs — predestination. The Catholic Church stands alone in radical defense of man’s free will.

 

When the media, Protestants, and dissenters tell practicing Catholics that the impulse to sexual activity is overwhelmingly powerful and can’t be controlled or renounced, Catholics alone say, “No, man is free. All Christians are called to chastity, and what they are called to do, they can do, and some can freely take on celibacy as a sacrifice to better serve God and His Church.”

 

When Maximus in the movie Gladiator rallies his ­cavalrymen with the words, “What we do in this life echoes in eternity,” he is speaking like a Catholic, not like a Reformed Protestant or a Muslim who believes that eternity is already written and that man has no free will.

 

When skeptics complain that the evidence for God is not clear or that a God who allows suffering and evil is Himself sadistic and evil, the Catholic responds, “Our God has made us free men. True freedom always comes with costs and challenges. You see, ours is not a religion of make-believe where actions have no consequences. Ours is a religion of life as it really is. And life as it really is, is a life of original sin. Catholicism is a religion of pilgrimage, freely accepted, to grow in Christ, to overcome sin.”

 

It is another oft-propounded myth that the Western world didn’t taste of freedom until the Protestant revolt of Martin Luther, which led to the division and state subordination of churches in northern Europe and eventually led, in some countries, to the separation of church and state and the irrelevance of church to state.

 

But who would blatantly say that the Renaissance — against which Luther revolted — was not free? Who would deny that the great check on state power throughout the entirety of European history, from the conversion of Constantine until the twentieth century, was the Catholic Church?

 

Think of the Roman Emperor Theodosius, commander of all Rome’s legions, stripping himself of all imperial insignia to do penance before an unarmed cleric, St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan. It was the Catholic Church that brought a moral check to bear on the exercise and perquisites of power.

 

Think of the martyrdom of Sir Thomas Beckett and Sir Thomas More. Think of the Protestant revolt, which argued that the power of the state was scriptural and the power of the papacy — the power of Christ’s Church against the demands of the state — was not.

Think of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Kulturkampf of Bismarck, and later intellectual and political currents, including fascism, communism, and the liberalism of our own time, all of which saw — or see — the state as the essential thing, centralization of state authority as the central task, and state direction as the essential instrument of reform. And what was the roadblock to these “reformers?” The Catholic Church. It was the Church that asserted the independence of “subsidiary institutions.” It was the Church that defended the rights of the family against the state. It was the Church that protested, in the words of Pope Pius XI, against the “pagan worship of the state.”

The true Catholic is a natural Tory anarchist — someone who believes in loyalty to persons, institutions, and the faith (semper fidelis) – and in otherwise letting les bons temps rouler.

 

4. The Saints

The Catholic is never alone. God is always near. The Catholic remembers Mary. He remembers her saying yes to the Incarnation. He remembers those who have gone before him: the vast parade of saints whose personalities and attributes are so various, so free, and yet so devoted to the singular path that leads to holiness and union with God.

Catholic women — as I noted in my agnostic Anglican days, when I was dating them — had stained-glass minds: an awareness of the romance of the past and of the depth and color of Christian history, even if it was just a velleity, not captured in details or knowledge. Catholics aren’t divorced from history. They are not alone with their Bibles and their consciences. Catholics live history. They are part of the continuum of 2,000 years (or with the Old Testament, even longer) of man’s pilgrimage with God.

In the Apostles’ Creed, the earliest formulary of Christian belief that we have, the Bible is never mentioned. Individual conscience is never mentioned. What is mentioned is history: “born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.” And what is affirmed is belief in God; in the life, resurrection, and coming judgment of Jesus; and then the final litany: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.”

 

To the Catholic, life is good; the body is good (which is why it will be resurrected); and it is good for man, if we remember Genesis, not to be alone. In the Catholic Church, he is never alone but lives within the body of Christ, the Church Militant, wherein he receives the sacraments of his earthly pilgrimage; in his prayers for the dead, he remains in prayerful connection with the Church Suffering; and in his emulation of the saints and prayers for their intercession, he looks ahead to the Church Triumphant in heaven.

And what saints there are. “St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle”; the beloved St. Francis, “Lord, make me a channel of Your peace”; the “Dumb Ox” of logic and reason, St. Thomas Aquinas; St. Ignatius Loyola, who showed what miracles of conversion the pope’s marines could achieve when they were all devoted and orthodox (let us hope that they will be again); and on and on in endless panorama. All this belongs to the priceless Catholic heritage. Catholicism does not circumscribe and narrow the truth and practice of religion as all heresies do but celebrates the fullness of humanity and God’s creation.

 

The saints show us the way. Catholics do not presume that they are saved through faith alone — as do Protestants. Salvation, of course, comes through God’s grace. But as part of our free acceptance of that grace, we are called to become holy: to work, to act, to participate in that constant drama where we struggle to live the life of a saint — to live, that is, the life of Christ. None of us is the elect, predestined to salvation, with the remainder (the majority) predestinedly condemned to hell, as Calvin taught. The Catholic believes he is called to acts of corporal and spiritual mercy and that these help him, by God’s grace, to achieve expiation of sin. Our models and aides in our never-ending effort to achieve sanctity are Jesus, the apostles, and all the saints.

 

3. Unity

When we affirm the Nicene Creed, we affirm our belief in the “one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church.” The Creed does not say “many, reformed, anti-Catholic, Bible-based churches.” Nor does it say, “several nation-based, autocephalous, and selectively conciliar churches.” The Church is called to be one – one body of Christ, one bride of Christ.

Over the course of 2,000 years, its unity has denied the law of entropy. That it has avoided the most common of temptations — to embrace nationalism or solipsism as the essence of belief — always and everywhere affirming the catholicity of the Church, is proof of its authentic teaching. It is indeed a glory of the Church that it encompasses all men and can use the talents of all nations. The “elasticity, freshness of mind, and sense of form of the Roman combine with the penetration, profundity, and inwardness of the German, and with the sobriety, discretion, and good sense of the Anglo-Saxon. The piety and modesty of the Chinese unite with the subtlety and depth of the Indian, and with the practicality and initiative of the American,” as Karl Adam enumerates these qualities in The Spirit of Catholicism.

Objective truth knows no borders. Surely when Paul preached “one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” he did not envisage, and would not approve of, the 20,000 or more varieties of Protestant experience. The story of the early Church is the story of the Catholic attempt to maintain Christian unity in accordance with the truth against a sea of heresies — a sea that, as a working out of the Reformation, has now in the popular mind washed away the very idea of heresy. The Reformation marks the entrance of relativism into Christian life, and relativism denies unity. More important, it denies objective truth, and therefore relativism itself can’t be true, however attractive it might be to those who, in the words of St. Irenaeus writing in the second century, are “heretics and evil-thinkers, faction makers, swelled-headed, self-pleasing.” Our unity as the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic church is one of the proofs of the verity of the Catholic faith.

 

That unity is seen in another way, too: namely, in the way that the Church brings together reason and mystery, piety and beauty. It is seen in the way that the Church affirms all positive values — as found anywhere in history or in the world — that are in accordance with natural law and fidelity to the deposit of faith. And it is seen in the way that the Church truly accepts the unity of God’s creation and Christ’s teaching, refusing to let it be parceled up and delimited by nations, philosophers, or pedants who seek to shrink-wrap the faith to their own specifications. The true faith is universal, effulgent, and living.

 

2. The Sacraments

The sacraments and the visible Church are another proof and nurturer of the faith. I am among the least mystical of men, but I will gladly stump up and affirm the efficacy of the sacraments, sincerely and prayerfully entered into. With Pascal I would affirm that one actually learns the Catholic faith by doing — which is why deracinated, prissy, critical philosophes standing outside will never “get it.” The faith of the Catholic is a great drama unfolding before God, and we are the players in it. There is the awesome reality of the Eucharist, God made flesh at every Mass, and our responsibility before Him and in receiving Him. There is the visible alter Christus of the priesthood. Even those sacraments that many Catholics find painful — such as penance — are powerful reminders of the reality of God and of the necessity of both our faith and our good works.

For me, Shakespeare captured this best in Henry V. Before the battle of Agincourt, Henry pleads with God to remember his works — not his faith alone — on behalf of the Church:

 

“Not today, O Lord,
O, not today, think not upon the fault
My father made in compassing the crown!
I Richard’s body have interred new,
And on it have bestow’d more contrite tears
Than from it issued forced drops of blood;
Five hundred poor I have in yearly pay,
Who twice a day their wither’d hands hold up
Toward heaven, to pardon blood; and I have built
Two chantries, where the sad and solemn priests
Sing still for Richard’s soul. More will I do;
Though all that I can do is nothing worth,
Since my penitence comes after all,
Imploring pardon.”

 

It is extremely odd to me that Protestants should take pride in reducing the transmission of God’s grace from the seven sacraments held by the apostolic Catholic Church and Orthodox churches to two. When Protestants say that the celibate priesthood and religious life show a lack of respect for marriage, it’s worth reminding them that to Catholics marriage is a sacrament, an institution of divine grace — something rather more elevated than it is for Protestants. And for Catholics, holy orders is a sacrament, making our priesthood rather more important than a Protestant ministry. For Catholics, religion is not all in the mind. It is tangible, present, and living. In short, it is real.

 

1. Truth

Nothing else would matter about Catholicism if it weren’t true. But it is our firm belief as Catholics that it is true. And, indeed, I believe that the histori­­cal case for the Catholic Church is virtually irre­futable, as irrefutable as it was to Cardinal Newman. And there is something else. We know that the Church affirms that its members and servants are all subject to original sin. But while men might falter, the teaching of the Church does not. That has been our rock, tested through the tempests of centuries and undiminished through time.

 

Innumerable secular and other forces are against us. Even within our own midst we have been pain­fully reminded of the work that needs to be done to cleanse and purify our Church. Evil stalks the world. But then, it always has. And the Church has survived, and in the heat of persecution, it has grown in numbers and strength. Let us remember that fact. And let us always keep in mind the immortal words of Auberon Waugh: “There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible.”

 

Amen to that. Keep the faith, dear readers, and remember that our ultimate destination is heaven.