“Blood, Water, and the Sacraments” ………Re-blogged

Blood Water and the Sacraments

JP NUNEZ

John’s Gospel records one of the most well-known elements of the story of Jesus’ crucifixion: the spear in his side. Jesus died pretty quickly, so to make sure he really was dead, a Roman soldier stabbed him with a spear (John 20:34). When he did this, blood and water flowed out from the wound, and this event has stuck firmly in the minds of many Christians ever since. However, what is not nearly as well known is that when this happens, John brings the narrative to a screeching halt and addresses his readers directly:

“He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth—that you also may believe.” (John 19:35)

John makes a point to tell us that this really happened. He was there, and he saw the blood and water flow from Jesus’ pierced side. Why is this so important? Why does John make sure we know that he was not making this up? At first, we might be tempted to think that it’s because this event fulfills some prophecies from Scripture (John 19:36-37). However, John points out fulfilled prophecies elsewhere (for example, John 2:17, 19:24), but this is the only time he stops the narrative to point out that the event really happened. As a result, there has to be some deeper meaning to this event, some spiritual significance that John wants us to see in it. Let’s examine the passage and see just what that deeper meaning is.

“I Thirst”

To begin, we need to go back a few verses to the scene of Jesus’ death:

“After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished’; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:28-30)

There is a lot going on in this passage, so let’s start with Jesus’ words “I thirst.” They seem fairly straightforward, but when we look at them more closely, questions begin to arise. He said this only when he knew that he was about to die (“knowing that all was now finished”), but why would he wait till then? He was going to die in a few moments, so why even bother?

This is a clue that there is something more here than meets the eye. Yes, Jesus was genuinely thirsty and really did want to quench that thirst, but his words also contain a second, deeper meaning. On a spiritual level, they tell us something about his impending death. Specifically, these words call to mind an event that happened near the beginning of John’s Gospel.

The Samaritan Woman

The only other place in this Gospel where Jesus asks for a drink is his encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well. He asks for a drink when they first meet (John 4:7), and then after a short exchange, he offers her some water (John 4:10-15). Specifically, he offers her “living water” that will result in eternal life. This conversation mirrors the scene of Jesus’ death perfectly: they both begin with Jesus asking for a drink and then end with him becoming a source of water.

This parallel sheds significant light on the meaning of Jesus’ death. By highlighting Jesus’ request for a drink on the cross, John was subtly telling us that the water that flowed from Jesus’ side (we’ll get to the blood later) was a symbol of the living water he offered to the Samaritan woman.

The Holy Spirit

And what was that living water? John does not tell us right away; instead, we have to wait a few chapters for an explanation:

“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, ‘If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, “Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.”’ Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive.” (John 7:37-39)

Here we finally learn what this “living water” is, and it’s the Holy Spirit. However, there is a problem. In this passage, Jesus says that this water will flow from believers, but both in his conversation with the Samaritan woman and at his crucifixion, it comes from him. The problem, I would suggest, is with our English translations. In the original Greek, the text can be translated as I have quoted it above, or it can be translated to mean that the “rivers of living water” will flow from Jesus himself. That may seem strange to English speakers, but ancient Greek sentence structure is very different from that of modern English, so either translation is possible.

Now, while the grammar of the text is ambiguous, in the context of the entire Gospel of John, the translation I am proposing makes more sense. We see Jesus depicted as the source of this living water everywhere else it appears, so it makes sense that he would be its source here as well. As a result, when we put this all together, we can see that the water that flows from Jesus’ side at his death represents the Holy Spirit. It symbolizes the gift of the Spirit that Jesus won for us by His sacrifice on the cross.

A Novel Phrase

And in case there’s any doubt, there is one more piece to this puzzle. When John narrates Jesus’ death, he says that Jesus “gave up his spirit” (John 19:30). Again, this seems simple enough, but there is a deeper meaning here as well. The Greek literally means that Jesus “handed over the spirit,” and this phrase was never used as a euphemism for death in ancient Greek literature. John made it up, and that has to be significant. If he had meant it to refer to Jesus’ death and nothing more, he would have used another, more common expression. However, he instead chose to make up a new one, and he must have done so for a reason.

You may be able to guess why John described Jesus’ death this way. By saying that he “handed over the spirit,” John was teaching us that at Jesus’ death, he handed over the Holy Spirit to his followers, thereby confirming everything we’ve seen about the symbolism of the water that flowed from his side. However, this leaves us with one last question: what about the blood?

The Sacraments

In John’s Gospel, the word “blood” appears with its normal meaning in only one other passage (elsewhere, we find it only as part of an idiom referring to birth). In a sermon dubbed by scholars the “Bread of Life Discourse,” Jesus tells us repeatedly that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood (John 6:53-56), a clear reference to the Eucharist. Consequently, in the context of this Gospel, the blood that flows from Jesus’ side has to symbolize the Eucharist.

Once we realize this, we can see that the water has a sacramental meaning as well. Like the phrase John used to describe Jesus’ death, this water also has a double meaning. In addition to symbolizing the Holy Spirit in general, it also represents baptism. Towards the beginning of John’s Gospel, Jesus describes baptism as a birth “of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5), so just as the blood calls to mind his words about the Eucharist, so too does the water call to mind these words about baptism. And if we think about it, this dual meaning makes perfect sense. Baptism is the first time we receive the Holy Spirit and the prerequisite for receiving the Spirit in other ways, so it’s fitting that the water would symbolize both baptism and the Spirit.

The Importance of the Sacraments

Now that we’ve seen what the blood and water symbolize, we have one final question to answer: What does this all mean when we put it together? In other words, is there any relation between the sacraments and Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit?

Yes, there is. By linking the Spirit with baptism and the Eucharist, John is telling us that we receive Jesus’ parting gift to us primarily through the sacraments. Granted, the blood and water that flowed from Jesus’ side only call to mind two of them, but as Catholics, we can extrapolate from that and conclude that God gives us the Spirit in all seven sacraments. This is extremely important because the Holy Spirit enables our faith (1 Corinthians 12:3), our good works (Romans 8:3-4), and our prayer (Romans 8:15, 1 Corinthians 12:3), the three pillars of the Christian life. Simply put, we can’t be Christians without the Spirit, and we can’t have the Spirit without the sacraments. END QUOTES

With the Wisdom of Solomon: re blogged from the ‘I CAN FLY” blog

 

With the Wisdom of Solomon

RE-Blogged from “I CAN FLY” blog

 

[QUOTE]The Catholic Church is intolerant.” That simple thought, like a yellow-fever sign, is supposed to be the one solid reason which should frighten away anyone who might be contemplating knocking at the portals of the Church for entrance, or for a crumb of the Bread of Life.

When proof for this statement is asked, it is retorted that the Church is intolerant because of its self-complacency and smug satisfaction as the unique interpreter of the thoughts of Christ. Its narrow-mindedness is supposed to be revealed in its unwillingness to cooperate effectively with other Christian bodies that are working for the union of churches. Within the last ten years, two great world conferences on religion have been held, in which every great religion except the Catholic participated. The Catholic Church was invited to attend and discuss the two important subjects of doctrine and ministry, but she refused the invitation.
That is not all. Even in our own country she has refused to lend a helping hand in the federating of those churches which decided it was better to throw dogmatic differences into the background, in order to serve better the religious needs of America. The other churches would give her a royal welcome, but she will not come. She will not cooperate! She will not conform! And she will not conform because she is too narrow-minded and intolerant! Christ would not have acted that way![/QUOTE]

 

 

REPLY

The issue they ought to have debated is “TRUTH”; they don’t have it [singular per defined issue], or even seem to be aware of their uniformed state. Clearly a lack of grace.

Servant of God: John Hardon [May he rest in peace] taught this about truth:

“Truth is the Condition of grace

It is the source of grace

It is the channel of grace

It is the Divinely Ordained requirement of grace”

That the Protestant community continues to grow [in number & ignorance] unguided by the Holy Spirit, they presume in error to have, is sadly evident to us and we need to pray for them.

 
[QUOTE]Such is, practically everyone will admit, a fair statement of the attitude the modern world bears to the Church. The charge of intolerance is not new. It was once directed against Our Blessed Lord Himself.
Immediately after His betrayal, Our Blessed Lord was summoned before a religious body for the first Church Conference of Christian times, held not in the city of Lausanne or Stockholm, but in the city of Jerusalem. The meeting was presided over by one Annas, the primate and head of one of the most aggressive families of the patriarchate, a man wise with the deluding wisdom of three score and ten years, in a country in which age and wisdom were synonymous. Five of his sons in succession wore the sacred ephod of blue and purple and scarlet, the symbols of family power. As head of his own house, Annas had charge of family revenues, and from non-biblical sources we learn that part of the family fortune was invested in trades connected with the Temple. The stalls for the sale of bird and beast and material for sacrifice were known as the booths of the sons of Annas. One expects a high tone when a priest goes into business; but Annas was a Sadducee, and since he did not believe in a future life, he made the most of life while he had it. There was always one incident he remembered about his Temple business, and that was the day Our Lord flung his tables down its front steps as if they were lumber, and with cords banished the money-handlers from the Temple like rubbish before the wind[/QUOTE].

 

REPLY

Thank you, I was unaware of this. I especially liked your factual statement “that they made the most of this life.” … I see a similar situation today in that the Protestants are seeking God THEIR way on THEIR terms; which too reflects a secular bias.

God will, because as GOD He MUST pass judgment upon each soul based on what He has made POSSIBLE for them to know. … It is good that God alone can make such Judgments.

 

 
[QUOTE]That incident flashed before his mind now, when he saw standing before him the Woodworker of Nazareth. The eyes of Jesus and Annas met, and the first world conference on religion opened. Annas, ironically feigning surprise at the sight of the prisoner whom multitudes followed the week before, opened the meeting by asking Jesus to make plain two important religious matters, the two that were discussed later on in Lausanne and Geneva and Stockholm, namely, the question of His doctrine and the question of His ministry. Our Lord was asked by a religious man, a religious leader, and a religious authority, representative of the Common faith of a nation, to enter into discussion, to sit down to a conference on the all-important questions of religion-ministry and discipline-and He refused! And the world’s first Church Conference was a failure.[/QUOTE]

 

You point out accurately that when God’s TRUTHS are missing; there can be no two-way dialog. It is talk without discourse. Talk without understanding.

Benedict says: “If we omit the truth, what do we do anything for?”

“Their cannot be your truth and my truth or there would be no truth”
[QUOTE]He refused in words which left no doubt in the mind of Annas that the doctrine which He preached was the one which He would now uphold in religious conference, namely, His Divinity. With words, cut like the facets of a diamond, and sentences, as uncompromising as a two-edged sword, He answered Annas : “I have spoken openly to the world . . . and in secret spoke I nothing. Why asketh thou Me? Ask them that have heard Me, what I spoke unto them: behold, these know the things which I said.”

 

The Bible speaks of ear’s that CANNOT hear and eye’s that CANNOT see… so the inheritance of Annas by the Protestants continues the legacy of self-imposed-ignorance continues seemingly unabated.

“For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

 

 

“Since thou hast closed their minds to understanding, therefore thou wilt not let them triumph.

 

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God.

 
[QUOTE]In so many words Jesus said to Annas: “You imply by your questioning that I am not Divine; that I am just the same as the other rabbis going up and down the country-side; that I am another one of Israel’s prophets, and at the most, only a man. I know that you would welcome Me to your heart if I would say that I am only human. But no! I have spoken openly to the world. I have declared My Divinity; I say unto you, I have exercised the right of Divinity, for I have forgiven sins; I have left my Body and Blood for posterity, and rather than deny its reality I have lost those who followed Me, who were scandalized at My words. It was only last night that I told Philip that the Father and I are One, and that I will ask My Father to send the Spirit of Truth to the Church I have founded on Peter, which will endure to the end of time. Ask those who have heard Me; they will tell you what things I have said. I have no other doctrine than that which I declared when I drove your dove-hucksters out of the Temple, and declared it to be My Father’s House; that which I have preached; that which angels declared at My birth; that which I revealed on Thabor; that which I now declare before you, namely, My Divinity. And if your first principle is that I am not Divine, but am just human like yourself, then there is nothing in common between us. So, why asketh thou Me to discuss doctrine and ministry with you?”[/QUOTE]

 

How very difficult it was for them to accept that G_D. a name they would not even say, became a mortal man like us in every way but sin. The amount of saving grace offered to them must have been staggering. The amount rejected astounding.

 
[QUOTE]And some brute standing nearby, feeling himself the humiliation of the high priest at such an uncompromising response, struck Our Blessed Lord across the face with a mailed fist, drawing out of Him two things: blood, and a soft answer: “If I have spoken evil bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou Me?” And that soldier in the court-room of Annas has gone down in history as the representative of that great group that bears a hatred against Divinity, the group that never clothes that hatred in any intellectual language, but rather in violence alone.[/QUOTE]

 

While in fact you are correct; I [me [personally] wonder what degree of culpability will be charged to them. Some years ago I recall my blind- sighted pastor proclaiming: “MY BISHOP WOULD NEVER DO THAT,” In a Environment and Art In Catholic Worship”[Church Reck-o-vation] discussion. Seems to ME, to be gullibility born of blind-obedience of the Priestly Oath to Obedience. Here being used and abused
[QUOTE]All that happened in the life of Christ happens in the life of the Church. And here in the court-room of Annas I find the reason for the Catholic Church’s refusal to take part in movements for federation such as those inspired by present world conferences on religion. Happy the Church is that there should be a desire for the union of Christendom, but she cannot take part in any such conference. In so many words the Church says to those who invited her: “Why askest thou me about my doctrine and my ministry? Ask them that have heard me. I have spoken openly through the centuries, declaring myself the Spouse of Christ, founded on the Rock of Peter.

Centuries before prophets of modern religions arose, I spoke my Divinity at Nicea and Constantinople; I spoke it in the cathedrals of the Middle Ages; I speak it today in every pulpit and church throughout the world.[INSERTED “FROM YOUR LIPS TO GODS EARS] I know that you will welcome me to your conferences if I say I am not Divine; I know Ritualists throughout the world feel the need of my ceremonials, and would grasp my hand if I would but relinquish my claim to be Divine; I know a recent writer has argued that the great organization of the Church could be the framework for the union of all Christendom, if I would give up my claim to be the Truth; I know the church doors of the world would rejoice to see me pass in ; I know your welcome would be sincere; I know you desire the union of all Christendom-but I cannot. ‘Why do you ask me?’ if your first principle is that I am not Divine, but just a human organization like your own, that I am a human institution like all other human institutions founded by erring men and erring women. If your first principle is that I am human, but not divine, then there is no common ground for conference. I must refuse.”[/quote[

 

Ahhhh, there in is the foundation of THEE problem. They do not, because they CANNOT recognize that the Holy Spirit is NOT with them; putting on a close plane with the “LDS church.”

My friend the attack’s on Orthodoxy beliefs & practices of POST Vatican  II is nothing compared to what we now insidiously and duplicitously face. We are in the midst of God’s WORMWOOD test; where the heretics and ill-informed, and the slothful come-alongs will service and lead to NEAR destruction Christ Church.

 

[QUOTE]all this intolerance, yes! That is just what it is-the intolerance of Divinity. It is the claim to uniqueness that brought the blow of the soldier against Christ, and it is the claim to uniqueness that brings the blow of the world’s disapproval against the Church. It is well to remember that there was one thing in the life of Christ that brought His death, and that was the intolerance of His claim to be Divine. He was tolerant about where He slept. and what He ate; He was tolerant about shortcomings of His fish-smelling apostles; He was tolerant of those who nailed Him to the Cross, but He was absolutely intolerant about His claim to be Divine.[/QUOTE]

 

And THAT “nails it.”….Then and now they desire to make God into their very own image: rather- than be formed and CONFORMED into His image. It effectively is dictating to GOD how He MUST save them.

 

[QUOTE]There was not much tolerance about His statement that those who I receive not in Him shall be condemned. There was not much tolerance about His statement that any one who would prefer his own father or mother to Him was not worthy of being His disciple. There was not much tolerance of the world’s opinion in giving His blessing to those whom the world would hate and revile. Tolerance to His Mind was not always good, nor was intolerance always evil[/QUOTE]

 

DITTO for current times and the persecution, and even slander against anyone that dares to speak God’s TRUTH’S…. AS FOR ME I WILL OBEY THE LORD…and who no doubt recall they are taking up their Cross and following Christ.

 

[QUOTE]There is no other subject on which the average mind is so much confused as the subject of tolerance and intolerance. Tolerance is always supposed to be desirable because it is taken to be synonymous with broadmindedness. Intolerance is always supposed to be undesirable, because it is taken to be synonymous with narrow-mindedness. This is not true, for tolerance and intolerance apply to two totally different things. Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to principles. Intolerance applies only to principles, but never to persons. We must be tolerant to persons because they are human; we must be intolerant about principles because they are divine. We must be tolerant to the erring, because ignorance may have led them astray; but we must be intolerant to the error, because Truth is not our making, but God’s. And hence the Church in her history, due reparation made, has always welcomed the heretic back into the treasury of her souls, but never his heresy into the treasury of her wisdom.[/QUOTE]

 

WOW! Amen!

 
[QUOTE]The Church, like Our Blessed Lord, advocates charity to all persons who disagree with her by word or by violence. Even those who in the strictest sense of the term-are bigots, are to be treated with the utmost kindness. They really do not hate the Church, they hate only what they mistakenly believe to be the Church. If I believed all the lies that are told about the Church, if I gave credence to all the foul stories told about her priesthood and Papacy, if I had been brought up on falsehoods about her teachings and her sacraments, I would probably hate the Church a thousand times more than they do.[/QUOTE]

 

You’re right: They do NOT know the Church; nor are they able too, until and unless they turn back to the Lord and seek His help. You eco here Archbishops Sheens teaching from “the Life of Christ”.

 
[QUOTE]Keeping the distinction well in mind between persons and principles, cast a hurried glance over the general religious conditions of our country. America, it is commonly said, is suffering from intolerance. While there is much want of charity to our fellow-citizens, I believe it is truer to say that America is not suffering so much from intolerance as it is suffering from a false kind of tolerance: tolerance of right and wrong; truth and error; virtue and vice; Christ and chaos. The man, in our country, who can make up his mind and hold to certain truths with all the fervor of his soul, is called narrow-minded, whereas the man who cannot make up his mind is called broadminded. And now this false broadmindedness or tolerance of truth and error has carried many minds so far that they say one religion is just as good as another, or that because one contradicts another, therefore, there is no such thing as religion. This is just like concluding that because, in the days of Columbus, some said the world was round and others said it was flat, therefore, there is no world at all.[/QUOTE]

 

We live in a time of near-total MEISM… I wants and if I say it is blah- blah then it is. [New Age religion] has nearly taken over.

 

[QUOTE]Such indifference to the oneness of truth is at the root of all the assumptions so current in present-day thinking that religion is an open question, like the tariff, whereas science is a closed question, like the multiplication table. It is behind that strange kind of broadmindedness which teaches that any one may tell us about God, though it would never admit that any one but a scientist should tell us about an atom. It has inspired the idea that we should be broad enough to publish our sins to any psychoanalyst living in a glass house, but never so narrow as to tell them to a priest in a confessional box. It has created the general impression that any individual opinion about religion is right, and it has disposed modern minds to accept its religion dished up in the form of articles entitled: “My Idea of Religion,” written by any nondescript from a Hollywood movie star to the chief cook of the Ritz-Carlton.[/QUOTE]

 

I am so grateful that God inspired me to take the time to read this POST;

I’m going to re-blog this
[QUOTE]This kind of broadmindedness which sacrifices principles to whims, dissolves entities into environment, and reduces truth to opinion, is an unmistakable sign of the decay of the logical faculty.[/QUOTE]

 

Proving once again that GOD IS IN & REMAINS CHARGE

 

 
[QUOTE]Certainly it should be reasonably expected that religion should have its authoritative spokesmen, just as well as science. If you had wounded the palm of your hand, you would not call in a florist; if you broke the spring of your watch, you would not ask an artesian-well expert to repair it; if your child had swallowed a nickel, you would not call in a collector of internal revenue; if you wished to determine idle authenticity of an alleged Rembrandt, you would not summon a house painter. If you insist that only a plumber should mend the leaks in your pipes, and not an organ tuner, if you demand a doctor shall take care of your body, and not a musician, then why, in heaven’s name, should not we demand that a man who tells about God and religion at least say his prayers?[/QUOTE]

 

AMEN Brother!
[QUOTE]The remedy for this broadmindedness is intolerance, not intolerance of persons, for of them we must be tolerant regardless of views they may hold, but intolerance of principles. A bridge builder must be intolerant about the foundations of his bridge; the gardener must be intolerant about weeds in his gardens; the property owner must be intolerant about his claims to property; the soldier must be intolerant about his country, as against that of the enemy, and he who is broadminded on the battlefield is a coward and a traitor. The doctor must be intolerant about disease in his patients, and the professor must be intolerant about error in his pupils. So, too, the Church, founded on the Intolerance of Divinity, must be equally intolerant about the truths commissioned to her.

There are to be no one-fisted battles, no half-drawn swords, no divided loves, no equalizing Christ and Buddha in a broad sweep of sophomoric tolerance or broad-mindedness, for as Our Blessed Lord has put it: “He that is not with Me is against Me.”
There is only one answer to the problem of the constituents of water, namely, two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. There is only one answer to the question of what is the capital of the United States. There is only one true answer to the problem of two and two. Suppose that certain mathematicians in various parts of this country taught diverse kinds of multiplication tables. One taught that two times two equaled five, another two times two equaled six, another two times two equaled seven and one four, another two times two equaled nine and four fifths. Then suppose that someone decided it would be better to be broadminded and to work together and sacrifice their particular solutions for the sake of economy.

 

The result would be a Federation of Mathematicians, compromising, possibly, of the pooled solution that two times two equaled five and seven eighths. Outside this federation is another group which holds that two times two equals four. They refuse to enter the federation unless the mathematicians agree to accept this as the true and unique solution. The broadminded group in conference taunts them, saying: “You are too intolerant and narrow-minded. You smack of the dead past. They believed that in the dark ages.”[/QUOTE

 

Thee answer is TRUTH, humility and Prayer
[QUOTE]Now this is precisely the attitude of the Church on the subject of the world conferences on religion. [Inserted by PJM: ACTUALLY WHAT IT OUGHT TO BE, BUT IN TODAY’S CLIMATE OF IGNORANCE BEING PROFOUND MAY NOT BE] She holds that just as the truth is one in geography, in chemistry, and mathematics, so too there is one truth in religion, and if we are intolerant about the truth that two times two equals four, then we should also be intolerant about those principles on which is hinged the only really important thing in the world, namely, the salvation of our immortal soul. If the assumption is that there is no Divinity, no oneness about truth, but only opinion, probability, and compromise, then the Church must refrain from participation. Any conference on religion, therefore, which starts with the assumption that there is no such thing as truth, and that contrary and contradictory sects may be united in a federation of broad-mindedness, must never expect the Church to join or cooperate.
As we grew from childhood to adolescence, the one thing that probably did most to wreck our faith in Santa Claus-I know it did mine -was to find a Santa Claus in every department-store window. If there were only one Santa Claus, and he was at the North Pole, how could there be one in every shop window and at every street corner? That same mentality which led us to seek truth in unity should lead us in religious matters to identically the same conclusion.[/QUOTE]

 

Where for example is the Churches LOUD revolt against Gay Marriage; Aborting and Gay rights? And that it is a MORTAL sin to vote for any National Democratic Party Candidate given their PROULY proclaimed Party platform of “tolerance”. If one is lucky, one hears whispers, not SHOUTS.
[QUOTE]The world may charge the Church with intolerance, and the world is right. The Church is intolerant; intolerant about Truth, intolerant about principles, intolerant about Divinity, just as Our Blessed Lord was intolerant about His Divinity. The other religions may change their principles, and they do change them, because their principles are man-made. The Church cannot change, because her principles are God-made. Religion is not a sum of beliefs that we would like, but the sum of beliefs God has given. The world may disagree with the Church, but the world knows very definitely with what it is disagreeing.[/QUOTE]

 

From your lips to God’s ears my friend

The would could know should know; YES!, But does Know” If so they are keeping it a secret.

 

 

[QUOTE]n the future as in the past, the Church will be intolerant about the sanctity of marriage, for what God has joined together no man shall put asunder; she will be intolerant about her creed, and be ready to die for it, for she fears not those who kill the body, but rather those who have the power to cast body and soul into hell. She will be intolerant about her infallibility, for “Lo,” says Christ, “I am with you all the days even unto the end of the world.” And while she is intolerant even to blood, in adhering to the truths given her by her Divine Founder, she will be tolerant to those who say she is intolerant, for the same Divine Founder has taught her to say: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”[/QUOTE]

 

ALL of us need to pray very much; we are at WAR with intolerance.

 

[QUOTE]There are only two positions to take concerning truth, and both of them had their hearing centuries ago in the court-room of Solomon where two women claimed a babe. A babe is like truth; it is one; it is whole; it is organic and it cannot be divided. The real mother of ‘the babe would accept no compromise. She was intolerant about her claim. She must have the whole babe, or nothing-the intolerance of Motherhood. But the false mother was tolerant. She was willing to compromise. She was willing to divide the babe-and the babe would have met its death through broadmindedness.
Excerpt from the book “Moods and Truths”  (Published in 1932)[/QUOTE]

 

THANKS for sharing this my friend,

Continued Blessings,

Patrick

How to Prepare for the Hour of your Death by Rick Becker ..re-blogged

What is Death Exactly? And What’s It Like?

“A User’s Guide to Death and Dying” — Part 1 of 2

Rick Becker

It’s still October, Respect Life month, and so we’re naturally focused on the gift of life. But it’s also the threshold of November, the month of All Souls, prayers for the dead, and the liturgy getting all dark and apocalyptic – an annual reminder that the world will end and that each of us faces his own mortal end as well.

But we Catholics hear about death all the time. It’s right there in our liturgy, our creed, and even our routine devotional prayer – like the Hail Mary: “…now and at the hour of our death.” It even came up pretty early in our catechetical formation when we learned about the Four Last Things: judgment, heaven or hell, but first death – for everyone, regardless of where we end up for eternity. Death is the great leveler, the one thing that all of us, unquestionably and without exception, have in common.

And yet we still studiously avoid thinking about our mortality – an attitude on display in Roz Chast’s book about her parents’ final years, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Death is so dark and mysterious – the great unknown. “It is in regard to death that man’s condition is most shrouded in doubt,” reads the Catechism (§1006). But we’re Christians, and so we know the end of the story. “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly,” Jesus tells us. It’s an assurance that leads St. Paul, quoting a pagan poet, to boast, “O death where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” Following Paul’s example, we too can laugh at death, make fun of it, because it is beaten – we’ve already won! Indeed, according to Ven. Solanus Casey, it can even be a celebration. He wrote that death “can be very beautiful – like a wedding – if we make it so.”

So, how do we make it so?

 

What is it?

First things first: What is death exactly? It depends on whom you ask. Medically, we think of death as the end of physical life. Traditionally, it was defined by common sense observations: We know that we need air to breathe and blood to circulate to live, so people naturally interpreted a lack of breath and a lack of a heart beat as signs that life has ended – or what one standard medical reference defines as “the permanent cessation of all vital functions” (Taber). In simple terms, it’s the absence vital signs – no heart beat or blood pressure, and no spontaneous breathing, which means that body tissues can’t get the oxygen required for cellular function.

Since the 1960s, we’ve also come to accept lack of brain function as a sign of death, even when the heart continues beating and the lungs continue processing oxygen delivered through artificial ventilation. It’s still controversial and hotly debated, especially with reference to vital organ transplantation that brain death makes possible, but it’s a definition largely accepted in clinical practice.

What the two medical definitions of death have in common is an assumption that death is somehow natural, that it’s somehow “a part of life,” but it only seems that way and we know better. “Even though man’s nature is mortal, God had destined him not to die” (CCC 1008). Thus, the Church’s definition of death makes it plain that it’s not natural at all. It’s a “departure” when the “soul is separated from the body” (CCC 1005). In fact, it’s a punishment, and it’s what God warned our first parents would result from their disobedience and sin—original sin, that is.

They chose sin anyway, resulting in the Fall, and since we’re all sons of Adam and daughters of Eve (as they’d say in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia), we all inherit that same condition and its ultimate consequence.

Consequently, death is truly a foe, having entered the world in the first place due to man’s disobedience, but also our ongoing disobedience. “Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned” is “the last enemy” of man left to be conquered (CCC 1008).

 

What’s it like?

So, what do we know about this enemy? Medically speaking, it’s manageable failure under the best circumstances. Regardless of what precipitates the dying process – trauma, disease, or just things wearing out – the body systems shut down one by one. It’s a domino effect that culminates in heart and respiratory collapse, and since it’s ultimately unstoppable, we care for those in the last stages of life by focusing on managing symptoms – optimizing comfort, that is, instead of seeking a cure.

Physical comfort takes precedence here, particularly aggressive pain control, but we’re also attentive to breathing, the skin, digestion and elimination, and other body systems. At the same time, we also strive to meet the dying individual’s psychosocial needs, addressing their fears and anxieties, helping them make satisfying final connections with loved ones, and generally fostering what we call a “good death” – that is, a comfortable leave-taking that includes making peace with God and man.

For Christians, that final peacemaking with God points to a more theologically nuanced understanding of the dying process, for we are confident that “Jesus has transformed the curse of death into a blessing” (CCC 1009). In fact, the baptized have already experienced a sacramental death, and our physical death ought to be its ratification. “f we die in Christ’s grace, physical death completes this ‘dying with Christ’ and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act” (CCC 1010). This is so much the case that we shouldn’t be surprised when we read of the saints (or hear our dying loved ones) express a yearning for physical death. “[T]he Christian can experience a desire for death like St. Paul’s: ‘My desire is to depart and be with Christ’” (CCC 1011).

 

What can we do about it?

Here’s the nub: We know we’re going to die, so what’s to be done about it? Let’s consider this question from three different angles – that is, what we can’t do, what we must do, and what we ought to do.

 

What we can’t do

The Church provides us with all kinds of specific guidelines in this regard, but the bottom line is this: First, do no harm – the axiomatic healthcare principle of primum non nocere. It’s a principle that accords with the Fifth Commandment: Thou shalt not kill – thou shalt not murder, that is, thou shalt not intend another’s death. That seems pretty straightforward, but as we all know our culture in general, and our healthcare culture in particular, has lost sight of this – or has at least twisted and obscured it to the point that it has little meaning any more.

The most obvious example is the broader healthcare industry’s insistence on framing elective abortion as a “medical intervention” – a preposterous notion. Equally preposterous is attempting to frame intentional killing at the end of life as medical treatment. No appeal to “mercy” or “futile care” can disguise an intentional, willful act directed toward hastening the dying process as legitimate medicine. This includes physician assisted suicide, for we are “stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us,” the Catechism teaches us. “It is not ours to dispose of” (CCC 2280), and we cannot cooperate with anyone’s designs along those lines.

Neither can we practice “euthanasia” (ERD 60) – a funny word that literally means “good death.” On the one hand, we do want to foster good deaths for those we care for, but euthanasia, in practice, is never truly a good death because it is always homicide, and therefore absolutely contrary to the Fifth Commandment.

We tend to think of euthanasia as any medical intervention that directly leads to death – usually an injection of some kind, generally some kind of overdose. These are acts of commission, or examples of what we call active euthanasia, but euthanasia can be practiced by omission as well – that is, by willfully leaving off doing something that should be done. The withholding of what is considered ordinary care and the ordinary means of preserving life, with the intent of bringing about death, would be considered an passive euthanasia.

Active euthanasia is still outlawed in this country, but passive euthanasia happens all the time, although it is not often identified as such. The reason for this is that the healthcare industry has re-defined any kind of assisted eating and drinking as medical intervention, and thus something that can be discontinued by a physician once it is determined to be superfluous.

However, providing food and water, no matter how delivered, should always be seen as part of ordinary care for those at the end of life. It’s a default requirement, even for those who require tube feedings, as long as the gastrointestinal tract is functional (ERD 58). Starvation and dehydration should never be the cause of anyone’s death.

Here the ethical principle of proportionality comes into play. If someone’s GI system can no longer absorb food and fluids, especially when their continued provision becomes excessively burdensome to the individual, then they may be legitimate reason to withhold them – especially in the final hours and days of a terminal illness. The benefit of continuing such feedings, in other words, could be viewed as no longer providing proportionate benefit since they can’t accomplish what they’re intended to do – namely, the nourishing of the person.

In most cases, however, assisted nutrition and hydration, including tube feedings, are pretty low-maintenance and not excessively burdensome. It’s simply using readily available medical technology to deliver essential food and fluids to someone who can’t get it otherwise – like when we feed a toddler and help him to take a drink. Even a baby bottle is technological and “assisted,” in a sense, and we’d never consider withholding that.

To be continued…

 

“A User’s Guide to Death and Dying” — Part 2 of 2

Rick Becker

This is the second part of a two-part series. The first part can be read here.

“I will then prepare myself for that hour,
and I will take all possible care to end this journey happily.”
St. Frances de Sales
We know we’re going to die – that’s a given. We also know that hastening our deaths or the deaths of those we care for is absolutely forbidden – also a given.

So what can we do?

Let’s consider that question from two different angles: That which we must do and that which we ought to do.

What we must do

The Church teaches us that we are always obliged to make use of ordinary means of preserving human life and that we are bound to deliver ordinary care until natural death.

First, ordinary means. In sorting out what means are “ordinary” as opposed to “extraordinary” (and thus optional), Catholic ethicists rely on the idea of proportionality. “Proportionate means are those that in the judgment of the patient offer a reasonable hope of benefit and do not entail an excessive burden or impose excessive expense on the family or the community (ERD 56). The judgment of the patient himself is instrumental, for his “reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected” (CCC 2278). The same deference ought to be accorded to the patient’s legal representative when the patient himself is no longer capable of making decisions for himself.

Take chemotherapy, for example, or perhaps a major surgery of some kind. The patient can take into account the encumbrance and/or risk of undergoing such interventions and weigh those against prospective outcomes. A patient in good conscience can refuse either one as long as he is not intending to hasten his own death. In so doing, he is merely accepting “one’s inability to impede” death (CCC 2278), and is making a reasonable and morally licit calculation as to how best to spend his remaining days.

However, that doesn’t mean we should jump at the chance to discontinue anything and everything that appears burdensome or expensive. Given our belief in the value of redemptive suffering, it may be that we can accomplish a great deal of spiritual good if we choose to extend our lives by means of extraordinary treatments – not to mention the value of continued relationship (and reconciliation if necessary) with our loved ones.

What’s more, as our Lord clearly taught in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, our needs and vulnerability can be an opportunity for others to practice virtue through their sacrificial service. This is especially true for our offspring, who are in any case bound by the 4th Commandment: “Honor your father and mother” (CCC 2218). Robust and generous attention to the needs of aging and infirm parents will redound to our adult children’s own sanctification, and our living longer just might help them save their souls.

So, then, what of ordinary care? Regardless of our choices regarding extraordinary means of preserving life, we all should avail ourselves of uninterrupted care as we approach death – and we must provide for others. Commonly understood, ordinary care encompasses what is everywhere considered routine humane treatment: safety, warmth, shelter, hygiene, preservation of dignity, and (as a default) the provision of food and water.

Preeminent among these efforts is aggressive pain management. Similar to our refusal to allow anyone to die from dehydration is our refusal that they should have to endure intolerable pain in their final days (CCC 2279). Good pain control is absolutely essential, and it is virtually always possible today. In fact, aggressive pain management is even morally permissible when it may “indirectly shorten the person’s life so long as the intent is not to hasten death” (ERD 61– an example of what philosophers call the principle of double effect.

Pain control is a core element of palliative care – a healthcare specialty oriented to providing whatever is required to the dying “so that they can live with dignity until the time of natural death” (ERD 60). It’s central to the modern hospice care movement, which holds up comfort, instead of cure, as the expected outcome. Authentic, ethical hospice care neither hastens nor postpones death, but provides relief of symptoms experienced by the dying (like nausea, anxiety, shortness of breath) while providing thoroughgoing emotional and spiritual support.

Although doctors are involved in this care, it’s the particular provenance of hospice nurses, whose constant bedside presence and attentiveness have earned them the moniker of “midwives of the soul.” Like midwives at the beginning of life, hospice nurses stand by to assist, to guide, to support, to facilitate a passage – in this case, from life to a good death. When hospice care is provided in the home setting, as is preferred, family members themselves become the primary providers of palliation and support. They, too, become facilitators and midwives of their loved one’s good death, and can justly say with Servant of God Rose Hawthorne, a turn-of-the-century pioneer in hospice nursing, that “if our Lord knocked at the door we should not be ashamed to show what we have done.”
What we ought to do

We turn then from what is demanded of us at the end of life to what is eminently advisable – namely, to make adequate preparations for death (ERD 55).

First off, in practical terms, we owe it to those who’ll be caring for us at the end of life to let them know our wishes and preferences – particularly with regards to ordinary means and care. This puts us square in the territory of “advance directives,” and there are numerous instruments and legal arrangements to choose from. True “advance directives” are just that: Binding documents that tell caregivers what we want and what we don’t want when it comes to end-of-life care. This category includes “living wills,” which have been around for a while, as well as the more recent Physicians’ Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLSTs). These are static documents that are supposed to legally “speak” for us when we become incapacitated. Although you can tailor advance directives to conform with Catholic teaching, they can’t possibly address all future healthcare contingencies. Plus, they’re open to broad interpretation on the part of those implementing them, and so the values of physicians who end up caring for us will ultimately take precedence over our own.

Consequently, most Catholic ethicists, along with our bishops, urge the appointing of a trusted healthcare proxy or a durable power of attorney for healthcare. This would be someone you designate who would be legally authorized to make healthcare decisions for you when and if you’d become unable to do so for yourself. By appointing someone who shares or at least respects your sincerely held Catholic beliefs, you can be confident that he or she would seek to make decisions on your behalf that are both in your best interests and also accord with Church teaching. And we shouldn’t be put off by the idea that it might be a nuisance or a bother for others to act as such. As philosopher Gilbert Meilaender noted in a justly celebrated reflection on these matters, “I hope…that I will have the good sense to empower my wife, while she is able, to make such decisions for me….” Meilaender went on to explain:

No doubt this will be a burden to her. No doubt she will bear the burden better than I would. No doubt it will be only the last in a long history of burdens she has borne for me. But then, mystery and continuous miracle that it is, she loves me. And because she does, I must of course be a burden to her.

Once you have your advance directives out of the way, whatever form they take, then you can get down to the real nitty-gritty of death preparations. As I noted in Part One of this “Guide,” Solanus Casey likened death to a wedding. They’re both cause for celebration because both mark an end and a beginning. “What we call the beginning is often the end,” writes T.S. Eliot in his Four Quartets, “and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” For newlyweds, singleness, with its concomitant freedoms and loneliness, comes to an end. Simultaneously, a new permanent coupling, founded on love, filled with mystery, and laden with all kinds of new responsibilities and joy, commences.

Similarly, death is a conclusion and a commencement. One’s physical life on earth, its triumphs and disappointments, not to mention its inevitable frailties, is completed just as one surrenders to whatever comes next – God willing, a glorious flourishing. “Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended,” is how the funeral liturgy expresses it. “When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven” (CCC 1012).

To be sure, that heavenly destination isn’t something we can take for granted, and so, as with a wedding, the Church would have us adequately prepare while we have the chance. “Every action of yours, every thought, should be those of one who expects to die before the day is out,” Thomas à Kempis advised. “If you aren’t fit to face death today, it’s very unlikely you will be tomorrow” (CCC 1014). Chief among such lifelong preparations would be regular reception of the sacraments, daily prayer, practicing the spiritual and corporal Works of Mercy according to one’s state of life, and faithfully living out one’s vocation.

And when we reach the threshold of death itself, our prayer turns more fervent, sealing our fealty to the Lord and helping us guard against despair and anguish. We lean more surely on our heavenly friends, especially St. Joseph, “the patron of a happy death” (CCC 1014), and St. Benedict of Nursia, the patron of the dying. St. Francis of Assisi, too, who memorably came to terms with his mortality by dubbing it “Sister Death.”

Moreover, we eagerly receive the sacraments, particularly the anointing of the sick, when the “whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them” (CCC 1499). Our last confessions clear the decks of our consciences and our last Holy Communions are like food for the journey. It’s as if we’re provisioning for a journey, and the Catechism even draws a parallel between the sacraments of initiation we received at our beginnings to these latter sacraments at the end of life “that complete the earthly pilgrimage” and “prepare for our heavenly homeland” (§1525).

It’s a homeland worth looking forward to – not the caricatures that we’re used to from comics and the movies: angels flitting around from cloud to cloud with harps and happy grins and nothing much to do. No, heaven will be an adventure – the greatest adventure. If we’re counted among the saints, we’ll find ourselves united with our resurrected bodies, and we’ll launch expeditions into the reality of the Trinity and the infinitude of the divine which no chronicle could ever record and no poet could ever imagine.

But I believe C. S. Lewis came pretty close. In the last paragraph of The Last Battle, Lewis sketched out his own vision of the heavenly campaign that awaits:

All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

Doesn’t that sound fabulous? And the great thing is that the reality, as Mr. Lewis would’ve no doubt acknowledged, has to be still more wonderful, still more enticing than even he could’ve imagined. Whatever it is, it’ll be an end and a beginning well worth preparing for… END QUOTES

Pride: One Sin Rules them ALL …………..re-blogged

 

PRIDE – ONE SIN TO RULE THEM ALL

PRIDE – ONE SIN TO RULE THEM ALL

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosi

How did the Pharisees, who were God’s champions in the days of the Maccabees, become the villains who sought the death of God’s son?  They were deformed by the insidious spiritual disease of pride, the deadliest of the seven deadly or capital sins.

One hundred and fifty years before Christ, they were the good guys. The Greeks were in charge and decided that, if they were to unify their kingdom politically, they needed to unify it religiously. So they imposed Greek ways on the Jews, including worshiping idols and eating pork. You can read about the Jew’s military resistance to this tyranny in the two books of Maccabees.

PHARISEES – CHAMPIONS GONE BAD

In these same books, you can read about the spiritual resistance of pious laymen who stood up for the Law and the traditions of the Rabbis, who sought to preserve the faith of Israel and live it with passion. The members of this renewal movement became known as the Pharisees.

Yet obviously something went terribly wrong with God’s champions. Because just a few generations later, when the Son of God appeared in their midst, the Pharisees rejected Him.

How did it happen?  They succumbed to a deadly but insidious disease that they didn’t even know they had.

AN INSIDIOUS DISEASE

Today, there are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like this. One of them, HPV, is a virus that has no symptoms at all. A woman often does not know that she has it . . . until, that is, she is diagnosed with deadly cervical cancer.

The Pharisees would have wagged their fingers at such women, as they did at the woman caught in adultery (John 8). “Serves them right– the wages of sin is death!”

PRIDE – MOST DEADLY OF SINS

Fornication and adultery are serious sins indeed. In fact, they are expressions of one of the seven capital sins–lust. Many assume that lust is considered by Christianity to be the epitome of sin, the worst possible vice.

Actually, in the hierarchy (or should I say “lowerarchy”) of capital sins, the king-pin and most deadly of the seven sins is not lust but pride.  Pride – the lust not for pleasure, but for honor, glory and power – is the “one ring that rules them all” in J. R. R. Tolkien’s famous Trilogy.

Lust wrongly seeks sexual pleasure apart from love and life.  Pride seeks greatness apart from God.  The tricky thing pride is that it can often start in the course of promoting God’s greatness.

Here’s how it works–as people begin applauding as you do God’s work, you think they are applauding for you.  It’s a rather pitiful mistake really. Imagine the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem thinking that the crowd had turned out for him!

ADDICTED TO APPLAUSE

Such applause, however, can be addicting. The proud person ultimately will do anything to make the ovation happen and keep it going. But there can only be one star. Pride is essentially competitive. So anyone who threatens to steal the show becomes a mortal enemy. Even if he happens to be God.

The proud man does not teach to enlighten, but rather to pontificate, to impress, to appear as the authority. So the Pharisees laid heavy moral burdens upon the shoulders of the people without lifting a finger to help them (Mat 23:4). They coveted the titles of “teacher” (that’s what “rabbi” means) and “father” (teachers in the ancient world were regarded as spiritual fathers).   But really, they did not want to shoulder the responsibility that these roles entailed.

CALL NO MAN FATHER

When Jesus says to avoid being called teacher and father, he wasn’t talking about what sort of titles educators and parents should and shouldn’t use. He was talking about an attitude.

Humble persons realize that all wisdom and teaching comes from God, even if God happens to be instructing others through their mouths.  Humble leaders realize that all authority and power come from God, who is merely exercising his sovereignty through them.  Such people realize that the honor and applause ultimately is for God, and they are glad to redirect it back to Him as Mary does when she is praised by her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1: 42-55).

Pride is deadly because it is so insidious. The further the disease progresses, the blinder the victim becomes until it is nearly impossible for him to recognize his plight.  This what Jesus means when he calls the Pharisees “blind guides” (Mat 15:14 & 23:24).

The posturing of the proud is nothing more than compensation for their own insecurity. The pathetic emperor cannot see what is perfectly plain to everyone else–namely, that he has no clothes.

THE HUMBLE ARE SECURE

The humble, on the other hand, are secure in the love of God and therefore have no need of pomp and circumstance. They are not afraid to look at their own littleness, for they clearly see the greatness of a God who is not a competitor, but a loving Father.

This post focuses on pride, one of the seven deadly or capital sins, and how this spiritual disease was the undoing of the proud Pharisees.  It is offered as a reflection upon the readings for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, liturgical cycle A — Malachi 1:14-2:2, 8-10, Psalm 131:1-3, I Thessalonians 2:7-9;13; Matthew 23:1-12. END QUOTES

To read more about the antidote to the disease of Pride, read “Humility Opens Doors”

 

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.

 

The Joy (and Cost) of the Gospel….. Fr. Robert P. Imbelli

The Joy (and Cost) of the Gospel

Fr. Robert P. Imbelli

 

“Until recently, I had never heard the name “Nabeel Qureshi.” But by chance (providence), I came upon a reference to him. Sadly, it was a notice of his death at the young age of thirty-four.

In the death notice, I discovered that he was the author of several books. The title of one in particular struck me: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity.

Intrigued by the title and the brief account of his life given in the death notice, I purchased the book. I read it over a succession of evenings, completely enthralled. It is a remarkable account: told with honesty, clarity, and a passionate desire for truth.

It tells the story of a young man, reared since childhood as a devout Muslim, who through encounters with a fellow college student (a committed Christian) begins to question the very foundations of his personal and religious identity.

What makes the account so riveting is the single-mindedness of the intellectual and spiritual journey upon which Nabeel Qureshi embarks. He examines carefully and unflinchingly the evidence for the veracity of the New Testament and then of the Quran. The study transpires over the course of his college years, and on into medical school, as he debates passionately and vigorously with his friend, yielding only when the evidence proves compelling.

But the examination is far from merely an academic exercise. For the outcome would be fraught with more than personal significance. To anyone raised in the tradition and culture of Islam, conversion to Christ would entail profound familial and community consequences. As he lamented: “To acknowledge Christ meant destroying my family. Could He really charge me to do such a thing?”

Nabeel’s relations with his father and mother, his Abba and Ammi, were extraordinarily close and tender. His confession of the cost to them of his decision is heart-rending. Ever since they learned of his conversion to Christ, his father, a navy officer, “never stood as tall. I extinguished his pride.” And his mother, at hearing the news, collapsed and was hospitalized: “She survived, but her eyes have never been as bright since that day. I extinguished their light.”

Nabeel Qureshi

What impelled this devoted son and devout Muslim to jeopardize parental affection and dissolve a secure and respected identity? Merely posing the question conjures the passionate response Paul made to the Philippians. “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Phil 3:7-8)

Conversion is so intimate and complex a matter that each journey manifests distinctive colors and contours. Here is how Nabeel frames the new realization to which he came:

To be a Christian means suffering real pain for the sake of God. Not as a Muslim would suffer for God because Allah so commands Him by fiat, but as the heartfelt expression of a grateful child whose God first suffered for him.

In the face of a prevalent reductionist Christology, which uniquely stresses the humanity of Jesus, ranking him as a prophet of Israel, but scarcely more, the witness of this convert to Christianity rings resonantly:

The good news is that God himself loves us enough to enter into the world and suffer for us; that despite humanity’s inability to save itself, God saved us. That is the beauty of the gospel: it is all about God and what He has done out of His love for us. A gospel without the deity of Christ is an eviscerated gospel.

But Nabeel’s challenging witness doesn’t stop even at that firm confession. For though convinced in head and heart of the truth of the gospel, he still shuddered at the cost and suffering he foresaw. He wallowed, he tells us, in an agony of self-recrimination, mixed with self-pity. But, suddenly, as though in a luminous revelation, his whole being was flooded with a new assurance. He sums it up it thus: “This is not about me. It is about Him and His love for His children.”

This conviction impelled him to undertake a missionary discipleship, to share freely the liberating Gospel he had freely received. Had he known them, he would certainly have echoed the words of Pope Francis in “The Joy of the Gospel:” “The primary reason for evangelizing is the love of Jesus which we have received, the experience of salvation which urges us to ever greater love of him. What kind of love would not feel the need to speak of the beloved, to point him out, to make him known?”

Nabeel pursued his evangelical task for twelve intense years: studying, lecturing, writing, counseling. You can find his videos on the Internet and appreciate his fervor, insight, humor. Then, suddenly, the ministry of this vigorous and attractive young evangelist was assailed by a malignant cancer.

He continued to share his faith – even from his hospital bed. A short video message “on his death bed” cautions against any misuse of his teaching. While stressing the importance of exploring matters of truth, he insists that this always be “undergirded by love and peace.” For the ultimate purpose must be “not to hurt one another, but to help one another.” He fervently prays that his ministry will leave “a legacy of love, of peace, of truth. Of caring for one another.”

One deeply mourns that so large-spirited a disciple was snatched from us at just thirty-four years of age. But the seeds he planted will continue to bear fruit. His courageous witness will inspire others. He left us as a young man; but one already mature in Christ. END QUOTES

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