I Am Not One of the Greatest Catholics of All Time by Steve Skojec: reblogged


I Am Not One of the Greatest Catholics of All Time

by Steve Skojec


A friend passed along to me one of the more recent frenzied Facebook posts of a former Catholic apologist who will not be named. (His signature writing style will make it clear enough for those who are aware.) He’s not someone I believe deserves any attention aside from our prayers, but just in case anyone is still listening to him, I want to address something he comes back to time and again: the notion that Catholics who care about the integrity of their faith and the quality of their worship — particularly “traditionalist” Catholics or those who are critical of the pope — deem themselves the “Greatest Catholics of All Time.”

I’ll say it right here in front of anyone who cares to listen, since I am included in those to whom this label has been applied: I do not consider myself a great Catholic. I am, if I’m being honest, not even a particularly good Catholic. Here’s why…


I do not prefer the old Mass because this is somehow demonstrative of my superior taste; I prefer the old Mass because through my study of the differences between the old and new rites and my understanding of theology I have come to believe it to be a more perfect and pleasing way of worshiping God – a way which benefits both the Worshiped and the worshiper. It has stood the test of time by nourishing countless saints, and is not tarnished in any way by those who disparage it or those who have come to love it. In the same vein, it derives no additional merit from my presence and no added value from my preference. It is a testament to the love of God of Catholics over 1500 years, and it was taken from us by those who feared its power. We are so blessed to have found it, not the other way around.

I do not believe the pope presents a problem to the faith because I don’t like the way he looks or where he’s from or the manner in which he expresses himself; I believe he presents a problem to the faith because he appears to believe he has the power even to supersede the divine law, re-shaping the teachings of Our Divine Lord according to his own conceptions. These beliefs are not the fruit of arrogance, but of the demonstrative incompatibilities between certain papal actions, words, and writings that have been examined by not a small number of competent theologians, philosophers, pastors, and prelates. No Catholic feels greater for having an adversarial relationship with the man who is supposed to be the guardian of the faith, and has so often chosen otherwise.

I do not believe that following the laws and precepts of the Church automatically bestows goodness or sanctity on a person, but I do believe that they are necessary to attain goodness and sanctity. I do not believe that these things are important because observe and follow them (I often fail), or because I have some obsession with the law or some infatuation with rigidity. Instead, I believe they are important because God said that they are, and He seemed very concerned that we observe them carefully, and His ministers and Vicars and countless saints over the years impressed upon us that these things matter a great deal to our eternal salvation. It is not out of a sense of self-importance that I seek to do these things, but out of a sense of obligation to our Divine Creator, which, I hope, given enough graces, might even be transformed into a desire to do them purely out of love for Him.


On the same token, I am not interested in displaying harshness and judgmentalism towards sinners. I am very much one of them. Like so many of us, I often wish the rules were easier to follow, that the laws weren’t so easy to break, that we could do more of what we want and less of what we are required to do. I have often, perhaps more often that not, chosen the easy path, broken the laws, and failed in the voluntary efforts — like prayer and penance — that would aid me in observing them.

I have committed the sin of presumption, time and again, giving in to what I want and knowing that when I decided I should try harder the confessional would be there waiting for me. I have taken God’s mercy for granted.

But I do not want excuses made for me, because I know I will take advantage of them. I do not want someone to tell me that my sin is not my fault, or not a sin at all. I do not want to be accompanied as I continue in my selfishness, but rather, encouraged gently but firmly that I must stop what I’m doing and return to God’s graces if I want to enjoy eternal life.

And I do not want excuses made for others who have perhaps not had the benefit of learning their faith as well as some, because I fear they will be left to remain in their sin, and lose their hope of eternal life. My opposition to this coddling of sin is not because I believe I am better than they, or because I want them to suffer. It’s because I want them to have the fullness of life in Christ.

To be clear: there is nothing about me that makes Catholicism great, but I am made better by the greatness of Catholicism, and I seek to serve it by preserving that greatness.

As for the matter of traditionalism in particular, I observed something today that I wanted to share with you.

As I’ve no doubt written countless times, I absolutely believe the Novus Ordo is defective and damaging to the life of faith. But as I left the local parish after confession this morning, I saw a woman who looked to be in her 80s, stooped over and shuffling with a cane so slowly towards the church that her forward progress was almost imperceptible. I made it the better part of 100 yards towards my car, turned around, and saw that she was still making her way up the same 20 feet or so of sidewalk so she could get to daily Mass.

That’s devotion. I don’t know how else to describe it. If I was in that physical condition there’s not a chance I’d make that much effort to do anything that wasn’t incredibly important to me. And maybe not even some of those things.

We needn’t give up our certainties on the importance of right worship to recognize that God still provides grace to those who seek Him even in impoverished circumstances. And this is why I urge caution to my fellow traditionalists when I see them casting aspersions on those who attend the NO, or using derogatory terms like “neo-caths,” indiscriminately to describe not just those who lead the revolution in the Church, but those who have been victimized by it by no fault of their own. Some of the people in the pews at the NO could put us to shame with their faithfulness. Well, they can put ME to shame at least. You’ll have to do your own reflection. But I bet we all know some pious person – perhaps even a family member – who remains an example to us all, even though they’ve been immersed in half a century of liturgical destruction.

So who are the real Greatest Catholics of All Time? They are the people we know as the saints. By any measure, they were men and women who cared quite a great deal about the particulars of the faith, fought rhetorically and often died physically to defend its truths, worshiped devoutly, lived lives of charity and example, and did not spend lives consumed by rage aimed at those who didn’t see the world the way they did. None of us have attained what they have yet, and that is where our focus should be.


So no, I am not one of the Greatest Catholics of All Time, but I aspire to be — and you should too. END QUOTES

I sooooooo identified with this; may God guide OUR life paths,

Pray very much,


“Do You Know Him?” by Casey Chalk

“Do You Know Him?”

That’s the question, asked repeatedly with rising emotional intensity, by African-American Baptist pastor Dr. S.M. Lockridge in the famous Protestant sermon, “That’s My King.” The question can be interpreted either as an altar call for the unconverted, or a reminder for the saved – an affirmation of the doctrine of “once saved, always saved,” also known as the “perseverance of the saints.”

How should Catholics respond to the question “do you know Him?”

Many Protestants pray that people, including their own children, would “know the Lord.” By this, they usually mean that they want loved ones to have a religious experience that will result in their conversion and eternal salvation. As I’ve argued elsewhere, Catholics don’t need to pray this prayer for their children, at least not in the sense Protestants mean, because of what is accomplished by the sacrament of baptism, which should be administered to Catholic infants.

The Catechism teaches baptism “actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one “can enter the kingdom of God.” (CCC 1215) Furthermore, “the baptized have ‘put on Christ.’ Through the Holy Spirit, Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies.” (1227)

Through baptism, rightly administered, every Christian is cleansed of his or her sins, and receives the Holy Spirit, a powerful work of grace in the light of every recipient of this holy sacrament. If that doesn’t constitute knowing the Lord, I don’t know what does! Consider, too, the words of Christ Himself, who, when encountering the youth praising Him as “Son of David,” declares: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

Yet neither baptism nor some later conversion experience ensure that someone will always remain saved. In perhaps the most alarming section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells the crowd:

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. 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?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

This warning presents a problem for both Protestants and Catholics. In the Calvinist tradition from which the “perseverance of the saints” originates, interpreters of this passage have argued that if one falls away from the faith, that must mean that the individual never really believed. For non-Calvinist Protestants, usually called Arminians, the passage means that even Christians accomplishing great acts of faith can stray from their Lord and lose their salvation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us of the possibility of losing our salvation:

Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him. . . .anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss. (CCC 1856, 1864)


This teaching originates in Scripture, such as the warning that “there is sin which is deadly. . . .All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not deadly.” (1 John 5:16-17)

Yet there are even less dramatic means by which we can impede or terminate our knowing God. The LORD, speaking through the Psalmist, often censures His people for offering sacrifices with no heart, without thanksgiving or praiseThese things you have done and I have been silent;

These things you have done and I have been silent;
You thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you. (Psalms 50:21)

This is the slower, more subtle loss of contact with God, one bred by familiarity, a familiarity not with the person of Christ, but with the rituals and daily routines of Christian life. Even the Catholic who attends Mass, prays his rosary, goes to confession, and reads religious literature can find himself simply “going through the motions.” He may like the regular diciplines, or intellectually recognizes the truth of Christianity. But his heart is gone.

Perhaps Pope Francis has such Christians in mind in his latest apostolic exhortation when he writes of “Gnostics” who over-intellectualize their faith to such a degree that it obscures or nullifies that “personal encounter with Christ” of which Benedict XVI so often spoke. Our Holy Father rebukes those who “reduce Jesus’ teaching to a cold and harsh logic that seeks to dominate everything.” (Gaudete et Exsultate 40)

Comparing Catholic definitions of “knowing the Lord” to those most dominant in Protestantism, this is where the rubber hits the road. While many Protestants presume the Christian is forever saved because of a profession of faith or some internal conviction, we Catholics place our trust in Christ’s redemptive work applied to us through the grace of the sacraments. Yet even so, we live in a tension between hope and presumption. We seek to live as children of a gracious and loving Father, but we are mindful that we may, through immoral acts or a slower spiritual rot, sever ourselves from God.

We must live with this tension, wary both of our immorality and our indifference. Yet we should not do so in fear, but in a humility that reminds us that even those who cast out demons may fail to reach heaven if they forget that the true end of man is happiness in God.

“Do you know Him?” Yes, by His grace, we Catholics do, but mindful that any loving relationship is a dance that requires two partners, even if One does the leading.


*Image: Christ Surrounded by Musician Angels by Hans Memling, c. 1485 (Royal Museum of Arts, Antwerp)


A personal encounter with our God

By Patrick Miron


The Stations of the Cross

 No Greater Love

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” Jn: 15: 12-15

The goal of this chapter is to aid us in falling in love with Jesus. There are several tried and true methods, but none without His grace. So, we must go where grace is most abundant, especially the Sacraments; we must be in His presence. The more time we sacrifice and spend there, the faster we will again fall in love with God. Love always requires sacrifice, or it is not love. Can falling in love with Jesus require anything less?

Here are three ways to fall in love with Jesus: Each has the power to work independent of the others, but combining them improves and enhances the benefits of each. First are frequent, even daily Holy Mass, and Holy Communion. There is no better way to meet and get to know intimately the object of our Love, Jesus Christ, and gain an abundance of supernatural graces. Second is spending “quality time” in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Daily will get the best results. Bishop Fulton Sheen recommended thirty minutes to an hour. When we ignore Jesus, He holds back some graces, which are a free gift to us until we deserve or ask for them. He desires to give them to us. Third is praying daily the Stations of the Cross. This is most poignant, expression and reminder, outside of Holy Mass, of what it means to be in love and prove it.

We will delve deeper into this last “secret potion.” The intent is not to provide yet another prayer form of the Blessed Stations. There exist already many beautiful, effective, pious guides. The desire is to make us present at each of the sacrificial loving steps, so that we might more fully appreciate the depth of this Lover’s love for us. Is it not easier to love one who loves us, and shows no limit to that love? All understanding of God comes through understanding the life of Christ.

Attempting to comprehend what Jesus endured in His passion and death from only the Stations of the Cross would leave a significant void in the lesson of Love.

Clearly Jesus knew what lay ahead for Him. Still, perfect lover that He is, He forgave us. Not as an afterthought, and He didn’t wait until our sins had killed Him. How do we know? Because the night He was betrayed, Jesus instituted the hierarchal priesthood of bishops and priests, the Holy Eucharist, and the Sacrifice of the Mass. This sacrifice is re-presented in an unbloody way daily through the hands of His priest. And in incomprehensible mystery and abasement, Christ chose to remain with us, body and soul; complete divinity and humanity joined for our edification, our nourishment, our salvation within the tabernacles of the only Church that He founded. These are living, loving gifts of life, not death. “And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day. ‘” Matt: 20: 17- 19

“Then Jesus, knowing all that was to befall him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” Jn: 18: 4  Judas and our mob of sinners came out and seized Jesus, whom Judas had identified by a kiss. Jesus greeted Judas: “Jesus said to him, “Friend, why are you here?” Mt: .26: 50 Jesus forgave Judas, but filled with Satan’s guilt and self-pity, Judas would not, could not repent, and Judas couldn’t forgive himself; in abject despair, he went out and hung himself. Salvation rejected is damnation.

The mob was more surprised than Jesus. He knew their sinister plan, and was prepared, even eager for it. Still, He must have looked both majestic in his cooperative attitude of unresisting compliance, and frightful in appearance, heaving, covered with blood on His person, and being so deprived of rest. He reminded them that they had many opportunities to seize Him, and asked why now. The answer was apparent. His hour was now at hand. “But all this has taken place, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.” Mt: 26: 56

Both pleasure and pain are greatly enhanced by anticipation, foreknowledge and comprehension of what is to take place. Similarly, it is far easier to love someone who loves, or will love you in return. What Jesus was to endure out of love for us involved totally His mind, His body and His soul, and there was not a single sinner who Jesus did not love. Love is not an emotion; it is a conscious decision, a continuous act of the will that permits one to love someone, even without “liking” that person, or approving of his or her actions. Love always requires sacrifice, and love always requires a conscious decision. If you can’t forgive, you can’t love. Christ both forgives and loves us.

We take Jesus to a confrontation with His accusers.  It was the religious leaders of the time that stirred up, provoked, led and insisted that, “it is better for one man to die” than for us to suffer. Why? First because they rejected grace offered that would permit them to recognize God as Goodness. Second, Jesus was a threat, both real and imagined, to their authority; His evident power was unlimited, theirs, very limited. Third was one of Satan’s favorite tools – jealousy. Jesus was actually liked and respected, even loved by some, while they, for the most part were simply feared.

The First Station: Jesus is condemned to Die

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” Rom: 5:19

“Now the chief priests and the whole council sought testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none.’ The high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ And the high priest tore his garments, and said,  ‘Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?’ And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to strike him, saying to him, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards received him with blows.”  Mk: 14: 55, 61-65

The Jewish nation was in captivity, subservient to the ruling Roman Empire. Officials lacked the power to pronounce and execute a death mandate. It was the judgment of the Roman Protectorate, Pilate, who had the legal power to kill, and he had to be persuaded to issue a “guilty, go ahead and crucify him” verdict. Pilate had heard of Jesus, and did not see Him as a threat to either himself or Rome. He reckoned correctly, that jealously was the motive of the Jewish leaders, and he simply didn’t wish to make a decision in opposition to their wishes for fear of a possible Jewish revolt. Pilate knew well the power to sway the masses that the religious leaders had. Pilate’s wife had warned him not to get involved, as she had a dream about Jesus. The Romans had very little respect for life, were active abortionists, and used gruesome killings, to maintain fearful, but orderly governance.  Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Mk.15: 2  Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this righteous man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, (a justly convicted criminal) and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. Mt: 27: 24-26

The Crowning of thorns

A key to being a successful politician is to make as few public decisions as possible. Not to procrastinate, but to delegate. The job gets done, you can take the credit if it goes well, and you have someone to blame if it doesn’t  Pilate was brilliant in passing Jesus on to Herod, who was governor of Galilee. Herod was anxious to see Jesus perform His magic, but Herod was so steeped in sin, that he could not discern simple magic, from a miracle. A trick from an act of love. Jesus doesn’t do “tricks”; He performs miracles when they can have a soul-changing affect. He seeks, not to impress, but to save. Curiosity would not be quenched.

Disappointed, but grateful for the opportunity and recognition from Pilate, Herod joined with the rest of us sinners, issued Jesus a purple “Good Will” cloak, a sign of royalty, and a crown of long, very sharp thorns, that were pounded into the head of Jesus, just to make sure that the self-proclaimed king was appropriately attired. It’s so easy to have a laugh at someone else’s expense. We too thought it was funny. Like a lamb being led to slaughter, Jesus humbly and meekly does not resist. It is the Passover; He is the unblemished sacrificial lamb. Love gives His all, to all.

The Scouring at the pillar 

Scourging was common treatment before a crucifixion for three reasons. This was a “spectators’ sport.” The Romans were a barbaric people, and crucifixion was so common, that while they wished it to be as painful, as gruesome and therefore, as memorial as possible, they frankly got bored with the spectacles and desired to, for their own benefit, shorten the death process. But this was a special case. A person of notoriety, a celebrity, well thought of by many in the subservient Jewish community. A community that looked down with notable disdain on the low-life Romans, especially the Legionnaires. This required a demonstration of the “superior cruelty,” of the torturers, who were eager to prove their reputation was rightly earned.

We watched as the huge, muscular, sadistic Ligonier prepared his victim. The preparation was as much mental as physical. The victim’s wrist was tied to a high whipping post that would support his weight, even if the victim passed out, as was often the case. The chained victim’s body was exposed to all sides stripped naked. To instill fear, they would in the most graphic and vulgar terms, inform the victim what to expect; the ripped flesh, torn off in hunks, the biting, burning feel of the whip, and the enjoyment they derived from slowly afflicting as much pain as possible. They would lay the whip, made of leather, with chunks of sharp bone, steel balls, and hooks attached, on the back of the victim and its weight would scratch and cut them. Then confronting the victim, they would jeer and taunt them into begging for mercy, a mercy that never materialized. It was a moment of sheer joy for them to look the victim in the eye, and see enough fear to cause them to pass out of sheer fear. Normally forty less one lash were administered. Care was taken not to kill the victim, and thus spoil “the main event,” the crucifixion.

When the torturer confronted Jesus, he saw a look of pity, not fear. Jesus humbly looked him straight in the eyes, forgiveness written on His holy innocent face. This so infuriated the torturer, that he discarded the “legal whip” and got one that had longer lashes that would wrap around the body, and tear more flesh. Jesus was beaten by not one, but two torturers, who completely spent themselves, while making sure that every inch of Christ’s innocent, holy body was torn, front and back. The number of blows administered was not counted. It is likely that they far exceeded the legal limit. The beating was so severe as to make the innocent Lamb of God unrecognizable. Yet Love desired to go on, to give more and to endure more.

The Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross  

“We see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Heb: 2: 9

The weight of the cross was far more than the natural weight of the wood. It was leaded with our sins, our guilt and His loneliness. With every step, with every curse, with every insult, and with every unjust blow, Christ became weaker, and the load more difficult to bear. Love keeps giving, and true love knows no bounds.

The Third Station: Jesus falls the first time    

As we follow along the road to Calvary, trying not to miss any of the gory details out of morbid curiosity, Jesus does not see a stone in the road, stumbles and falls the first time. The fall makes us laugh and jeer and brings blows from the legionnaires. Christ has a rope tied about His waist so as to not be able to escape. He is cruelly dragged to his feet, and ordered to again pick up His heavy cross. Love never gives up. .

The Fourth station: Jesus meets His Mother  

“But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul.” Ps: 131: 2

Those of us who were there likely missed it. But when Jesus and Mother Mary met, with the first contact of their eyes, there was at least an attempt to smile. Not a happy smile, more of a knowing-understanding one, that acknowledged, this must be done. “Thy will be done, on earth,” so that heaven might, at least be a possibility for some. And that was the painful point, that Jesus, the Son of God, with Mary, the first and most perfect tabernacle, full of grace, God’s most perfect human being would endure pain and grief that neither words nor a picture can paint. So deep and so intense as to be unable to be comprehended by mortal man, and yet, only a fraction of humanity would respond to God’s graces, and accept the crosses necessary for our salvation. “Many are called – few are chosen.” Mt: 22: 14

The meeting lasted a few brief minutes, and it just barely gave Jesus the adrenaline boost, His bruised and battered body needed to carry on. Only time to say, “I love you,” to acknowledge each other’s pain, and without words, to communicate the fervent desire to endure each other’s cross. Resigned to the will of the Father, and with hearts seemingly ripped from their bodies by an invisible evil force, forgiveness seems unimaginable. But forgiveness is an issue of Love and perfect love can, perfect love does, perfect love must forgive. Mother and son are perfect lovers.

The Fifth station: Simon, the Cyrene, son of Rufes is compelled to help

“Before those who stood by you were my helper” cf. Sir: 5:12

With heavy labored breath, Christ still resigned, obedient, and desiring to serve and to save. He is grateful for the assistance, no matter the level of reluctance of also this Simon. Divine providence hints again at the importance of Simon (the soon-to-be Pope), by choosing yet another ‘Simon” to aid Jesus.

We were in the crowd, it could have been us selected. It was! We are, and we are to be, Christ Simon’s today and everyday, to everyone. For everyone we meet is a Christ, and everyone we meet is in need of assistance in carrying his or her cross. This is a second step to our conversion. Having said goodbye to His Mother, Jesus is noticeably more tired and weaker, but Love never gives up!

The Sixth station: Blessed Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

“For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, and against your sins it will be credited to you” Sir: .3:14

This incident of Blessed Veronica is both puzzlement and embarrassment to us men, as we can’t understand the legionnaires allowing these acts of pity and mercy, and we are embarrassed that a woman is showing greater courage, than the men present. Women are often more ardent lovers, more focused and committed. Certainly they are more willing to take risk for the object of their love. Pride is often the greatest impediment to men being more complete, more passionate, more giving lovers. Christ the man shows us that perfect love is doable and the price that must be paid is self-sacrifice. Veronica display’s great courage and empathy, and the rewards are immediately evident in the rebirth of energy and confidence of our Blessed Lord, and the creation of the world’s first “Polaroid” remembrance of the passion. No gift was sought, but love given usually gets love in return.

The Seventh station: Christ falls a second time 

“And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.” Lk:  22: 61-62

All lovers know that it is more enjoyable to make up, than to break up. But not all lovers are willing to say, “I’m sorry.” The line that says “love means never having to say you’re sorry” is a lie. It is the act of forgiveness, and the act of asking for forgiveness that builds character, strengthens relationships, and is foundational to true love.

Peter’s true repentance and sorrow, made the second fall less painful. Adam’s sin wrought in us concupiscence, the natural tendency to sin, further aided by our free will. There is a price for sinning. (“The wages of sin are death.” Rom.6: 23) The price Christ paid, and a price we have to pay. Those who claim that simple believing will lead to salvation need to read the second chapter of James. There is more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner, than a hundred perfect souls. It is God’s redeeming mercy and love that saves us, but it requires free-will cooperation on our part.

The Eighth station: Jesus meets the holy women 

“They will console you, when you see their ways and their doings” Ezra: 14: 23

Again it is women – this time mothers, empathic, courageous, nurturing, and loving – that challenge the Roman legionnaires for access to the Christ. They are concerned about the souls of sons, husbands and brothers, who are participating in this killing of the Holy Innocent. They grieve for Jesus and for their men. A mother’s sixth sense can usually “feel” goodness or evil in a man. They sense the presence of evil’s influence over us, and know in their hearts that Jesus is an innocent man. Filled with pity and outrage at the injustice being perpetrated against Jesus, the kindly women know that, someone sometime will have to repay justice for this insane injustice. They are concerned about the meek and humble Jesus, and their men who will have innocent blood on their hands. They weep for and with Jesus, and have their worst fears confirmed, that there will be, must be, a retribution and repayment for this atrocity. At times true love must be tough love, to be truthful love. Throughout history, actions, both good and evil, have drawn consequences. A free will is not a free ride. Love is a destination requiring active participation, usually gained by giving. Divine Justice demanded a just response. These women knew Jesus as Good, but time n’again refused to recognize him as God! Thus Christ reminds them, gives them yet another opportunity at salvation. “Weep not for me, but for yourselves and for your children.” Lk 23: 27 Do they hear? Do we?

The Ninth station: Jesus falls a third time

It’s not the failing or falling that causes damnation; it’s one’s prideful neglect of repentance. It is simply the decision not to get back up, not to seek forgiveness.

The Judas like leaders of the church in Jerusalem were politically astute. Desiring to be seen as just, not as vengeful, with great diplomacy, and even greater hypocrisy, forewent the pleasure of following every step of the way, depriving themselves, of the joyful sight of every blow, every insult, every profanity, every fall. Hypocrites indeed, and in deeds, they went ahead toward the “finish line” so as not to miss the really good and cruel stuff. “You will know them by their fruits.” They witnessed with concealed joy the third fall, and their hearts skipped a beat; don’t let Him die yet! They desire blood vengeance, and the excruciating crucifixion is longed for, waited for, like lovers anticipating the wedding night embrace.

The kangaroo court judges and we other sinners, watch as the totally spent Christ is plastered to the rough earth that He created, unable to move, much less continue on His own. Simon, now eagerly lifts the sin- leaded load of the cross, for he has seen goodness up close and personal, and is now able to recognize Godliness. Simon is converted, and so are some of us. Nearly everyone in attendance has witnessed other crucifixions. No one has ever seen such meekness, such humility, even a cooperative attitude. It reminds one of a Pascal Lamb being led to slaughter without complaint. But this isn’t a dumb lamb, this is an intelligent human being; this is God, this is true Love.

The Tenth station: Jesus is stripped of His Garments. 

“And many spread their garments on the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Mk: 11: 8-9

In order for us to better understand the motive and effect of the “stripping,” we might consider a man who has spent a twelve to fifteen hour day in the very hot summer sun, putting on a new roof. He too is exhausted and spent from the heat and physical exertion. Nearing the end of the job, he misses the head of the roofing nail, and slams his thumb. Instantly he is revitalized as the pain has a shocking, awakening effect on his body. Adrenaline is now flowing rapidly and freely, and the traffic cop brain is sending urgent messages of pain through out his entire body. Like a bucket of ice water in the face of a sleeping man, he is instantly awake and alert.

The rape like attack of Jesus has the same effects. The tearing off of all His garments, glued to His wounded bloodied body, as flesh is savagely, cruelly torn off in chucks, reopens old wounds, and creates some new ones. Instantly, the flow of adrenaline and blood is reestablished, and once again the numbed body comes alive with raw nerve-endings. Jesus is again fully awake, fully alive, nerve endings ripe for further abuse. Bleeding profusely from ripped open wounds, the sadistic premeditated wake up call works exactly as planned. Now He is ready for the main show. Love desires to give even more. Is concupiscence, fear, or hypocrisy the culprit? Do we, or can we blame someone other than ourselves for choosing to serve Satan rather than God? “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”, how soon, how easily we forget. Love understands and forgives us.

The Eleventh station: Jesus is nailed to the cross 

“And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings shall be eaten on the day of his offering” cf Lev: 7 “The sacrifice of a righteous man is acceptable, and the memory of it will not be forgotten.” Sir:  35:7

It was maniacal sadistic genius that devised the forty-five degree angle of the foot-nailing platform. If it had been flat, it would have been far easier for the victims to breathe, as they had to regularly push up from their legs in order to get air into their lungs. It would have taken longer for the victims to die, but it would not cause pain equal to the actual nailing every time they needed air in their lungs. The forty-five degree foot angle meant that each time they used their legs to raise themselves; their body weight would enlarge the nail holes, sending excruciating, heart pumping, blood curling pain to every nerve ending in the body. And the hanging bodies needed air in the lungs to stay alive or they would suffocate. The victim could choose between indefinable intense pain, and choking to death. Some – choice. It made for great spectator involvement. Betting on the time of death was common.

As for the nailing, because of the intense pain, if a victim had thoughts about fighting back, here is where it happened. The Romans were stunned when Jesus, like a King assuming his throne, meekly lay on the cross, stretched out Him arms, and allowed Himself to be nailed to His throne. A Legionnaire sat on His chest, while two others kneeled, one on each arm and held tight the wrist, palm up. The guard doing the nailing would press the large nail into the flesh, pause an instant to allow the victim to comprehend what was about to take place, and with a single hammer blow, pound the nail through the flesh, into the wood. They would allow for some of the pain to subside before proceeding to maximize the pain. Let them beg for mercy, they always did, regularly mixed with profanities. But only muffled moans came from the Jew’s king. No shrieking, no profanities, no cries for mercy, just heart wrenching, soul searching involuntary moans. The Romans were suitably impressed. Love conquers all.

 The Twelfth station: The Son of God dies for our salvation

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” Rom:  6: 5

What is the asking price for the sacrifice of the Son of God? It is no less than we are to sacrifice our very lives and surrender our free will to do His will. This is to be accomplished by discerning God’s will for our vocation, and in every instance, with divine assistance, making God’s will, our avocation. We are to know, love, and serve God in this life, that we may be happy with Him in the next. We are to actively teach others to do the same.

The Thirtieth station: Christ is taken down from the Cross and placed in His mother’s arms

Mother, you joined your Son in His crucifixion, knowing that both as God and as man He is Perfect Holiness, completely without sin or error. All He did was Love and teach others to love. This, His only crime caused Him and you such soul-wrenching pain and despite your merciful forgiveness, your total and completely joined sacrifice will not be sufficient to redeem all of mankind. I marvel at your love, compassion, obedience, and the God given power of our free wills. “Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”

The Fourteenth station: Jesus is laid In the Tomb

God is Spirit and has no need of a tomb. It is God as man, divinity and humanity joined that is buried. The body human remains in the tomb for three days, while the soul of Christ, His divinity descends into the land of the just UN-judged (Limbo) to release them into heaven. The divinity of Christ remained with both His dead human body and with His human soul. Their just reward has been waiting salvation’s call and the time of justice is at hand. Christ also, in a show of Divine Justice, visited hell, to demonstrate that there is and must be a price paid for willful rejection of The Almighty – eternal damnation. Christ died and was buried as a man and on the third day arose Body and Soul (as the God-man), to prove and substantiate all that He taught, and all that was foretold. It was sublime evidence of truth and Perfect Love from Perfect Love.

 “Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends” Jn: 15: 13.

God Bless You; Pray much!



The Value of Mistakes by Randall Smith: reblogged

The Value of Mistakes

Randall Smith

It turns out I made a mistake.  In two previous posts, I wrote about the too-often forgotten virtue of prudence. In the more recent, I pointed out that professors can’t really teach prudence in a classroom because we lack experience in the areas in which our students need to learn to be prudent. Since most of our students are preparing to be doctors, lawyers, or businessmen, not professors, we can’t impart to them the experience needed to help them become prudent in those other special fields.

After the article appeared, an eminent philosopher I greatly admire stopped by to tell me that, though he liked my article, I missed something important.  A significant way people learn prudence, he pointed out, is by learning from their mistakes.

None of us is perfect, so we will make mistakes.  And if we venture out into new areas beyond our current experiences, we are even more likely to make mistakes.  So learning from our mistakes is an important way of developing prudence. Too often people try to hide their mistakes or shy away from difficult assignments where they might make a mistake. They follow general rules, thinking they can apply them the same way to everyone in every situation and thus fail to learn prudence.

In graduate school, I took a part-time job working for an airline, checking in passengers for their flights.  We mostly gave our customers good service. But I noticed certain other airlines near our counter who often gave terrible service, generating frustrated, angry customers nearly every flight.  Why?  At these other airlines, the employees had too little training and stern managers constantly looking over their shoulders; so they were terrified of making a mistake.

If you went up to them with a special case, and they weren’t sure how to take care of it, they would simply say, “We can’t do that,” or “I’m sorry; it’s not the policy of the airline.”  This was code for “I don’t know how to do that, and I don’t want to make a mistake.”

Since making a mistake might have caused them to lose their job, and simply refusing to deal with you would not, what do you suppose they did?  They turned away customers.  Managers were “effective” at keeping mistakes from happening, and as a result, the airline lost business.

Furthermore, the moment the employees attained a certain level of proficiency, they applied for jobs at other airlines where the working conditions were less painful. As a result, that airline regularly had to lay out more money to train new, barely competent employees.

At our airline, the general attitude was, “We don’t make money unless people fly, so get them on.”  We were coached when we made mistakes, so we learned from them, and so most of us were able to handle a host of problems.

Early on, an experienced employee told me that I should not expedite lost luggage on another airline because we had no way of tracking them.  I thought I was helping the customer by getting their bags to them more quickly, so I did it anyway.  She was right; I was wrong.  I should have listened.  But I learned from that mistake, (a) never to do that again, and (b) to listen to experienced employees, especially women who have been with the company a long time.

I tell my students that if they want to learn what is really going on in a company, they should make friends with the janitorial and maintenance staff and with the secretaries who have been there the longest.  They will know what is going on in the company in a way the managers and the president rarely do.

The latter group hears news only from people trying to cover up their mistakes, not plainly admit them.  This is why many companies and most universities are run as flights of fantasy at a far remove from reality, as though the obvious problems on the ground didn’t exist.  No one wants to admit the problems, so they change the subject constantly.

Administrators and managers who can’t handle their own problems often choose instead to micro-manage everyone else’s affairs, imagining that if they can at least uncover the mistakes of those under them, they will retain their reputation for effective management.  In reality, they are sowing the seeds of future incompetence.

Social structures that do not allow people to make and learn from their mistakes always become less effective, not to mention less humane.  They fail to understand the human need to learn from mistakes, fail to help people develop the needed prudence, and produce a culture of covering up mistakes.

This is one reason “helicopter parenting” of a certain sort can be detrimental.  Young adults need to be allowed to make mistakes.  No one wants them to make mistakes that might harm them seriously, but keeping them from making any mistakes will keep them juvenile.  “Perfectionism” in students is rarely a virtue and often crippling.

We also need to remember the importance of allowing mistakes when we consider institutions with which we are involved. To their credit, the Congress for New Urbanism, a group dealing with urban design projects, now has a session at their annual conference on “mistakes I have made,” unintended consequences I did not foresee when I made my plan.  More groups should encourage such honesty.

Employees, managers, faculty members, and politicians all make mistakes. If the consequence of even a minor mistake is grave, then you can expect people will (a) work hard to cover up every mistake, (b) deny ever having made the mistake, and/or (c) speak carefully and rarely honestly so as never to make a mistake.

Such people are being “prudent” only in the modern corrupt sense.  They don’t learn from their mistakes to be wiser and more prudent; the skill they develop is covering their own butts.  The result isn’t prudent management; it’s bureaucratic intransigence and incompetence.

© 2018 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.orgThe Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.


A letter to the parents who keep bringing their disruptive kids to Mass, week after week by Anna O’Neil: reblogged 

A letter to the parents who keep bringing their disruptive kids to Mass, week after week

 Anna O’Neil 

Christ had something pretty important to say about people like us.

Dear exhausted, discouraged parents,

So your kids are just terrible in Mass. Chaotic, disobedient, and disruptive, week after week. It’s like a big old spotlight is shining on you the whole time, you and your apparently sub-par parenting.

I’m right there with you. I’ve started to dread Sundays. I mean, we’ve tried everything. Going to the early Mass, going to the evening Mass, Mass books, whispered explanations, whispered threats, sitting in the front, sitting in the back, marching straight to the cry room … and maybe a few of the tricks have helped, but the bottom line is that we’re not getting out of that building without somebody screaming, making a mad dash for the altar, or God knows what.

But in spite of it all, every week, I and my loud, chaotic family are going to be there (in the back!) wiggling around and distracting everyone, and subjecting ourselves to the judgment of a large number of people who might not understand how hard it actually is to teach a toddler to sit quietly for 45 minutes. It looks insane. Still, we button up our wrinkled Sunday clothes anyway, and get our bodies under that roof, just like Mother Church asks us to.

I want you to know that if this is you too, that’s okay. It’s better than okay. Christ had something pretty important to say about people like us:

When [Jesus] looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” (Luke 21:1-4)

Isn’t this exactly what we are doing? We are giving it literally all we’ve got, in obeying the Church’s request to make it to Sunday Mass. (Sheer embarrassment, unfortunately, isn’t a good enough reason to stay home.) To the outside world, it looks like we’ve done the bare minimum. We’ve gotten into the building, sure, but are we concentrating? Are we having a spiritual experience? Did we even hear a word of the Gospel, for heaven’s sake? It doesn’t look like much. We are the only ones who know how much we are really giving. But Christ knows, too.

Just like the woman’s two small coins into the collection box look like nothing in comparison with the rich man’s gigantic bag of gold, our contribution looks so small a person might wonder why we even bother. Why even come to Mass, if you’re just going to spend the whole time doing toddler damage control? But Christ is there to remind us that he doesn’t see what the rest of the world sees.

Pretty often, I leave Mass feeling like the whole thing was a bust. I didn’t even manage to follow along, and I left so fast I forgot to genuflect. What kind of a Catholic am I? If that’s how you feel too, don’t forget — having little kids, or kids with special needs, or whatever situation you’re in that makes it impossible to kneel quietly and listen carefully, this is a unique kind of poverty. And we, in our poverty, really do give all we have, just by doing our best. Even if our best is just showing up.

So don’t stop. And please don’t worry too much about how your family looks. Even if it never gets easier, keep doing what you are doing, and know that even when the world doesn’t, God sees how valuable your sacrifice is. EQ

Bishop Barron: All sinners are welcome!  Bishop Robert Barron: reblogged

Bishop Barron: All sinners are welcome!

 Bishop Robert Barron |

Flannery O’Connor would surely have been delighted with this Georgia sign.

While I was in central Georgia, filming the Flannery O’Connor episode of my Pivotal Players series, I saw a sign on the outside of a church, which would have delighted the famously prickly Catholic author: “All Sinners Are Welcome!”

I thought it was a wonderfully Christian spin on the etiquette of welcome that is so pervasive in our culture today. In a time of almost complete ethical relativism, the one value that everyone seems to accept is inclusivity, and the only disvalue that everyone seems to abhor is exclusivity. “Who am I to tell you what to do?” and, of course, everyone gets inside the circle. What I especially liked about the sign in Georgia was that it compels us to make some distinctions and think a bit more precisely about this contemporary moral consensus.

Is it true to say “everyone is welcome”? Well, yes, if we mean welcome into the circle of the human family, welcome as a subject of infinite dignity and deserving love and respect. Christians—and indeed all decent people—stand against the view, pervasive enough in the supposed culture of inclusion, that the unborn, the aged, the unproductive are not particularly welcome. If by “all are welcome,” one means that all forms of racism, sexism, and elitism are morally repugnant, then yes, the slogan is quite correct.

But let’s consider some other scenarios. Would we claim that everyone is welcome to become a member of the college baseball team? Everyone is welcome to try out, I suppose, but the coach will assess each candidate and will then make a judgment that some are worthy of being on the team and others aren’t. Like it or not, he will include some and exclude others.

Would we claim that everyone is welcome to play in a symphony orchestra?  Again, in principle, anyone is invited to give it a go, but the conductor will make a fairly ruthless determination as to who has what it takes to make music at the highest level and who doesn’t, and he will include and exclude accordingly.

Would we argue that everyone is welcome to be a free member of our civil society? Well, yes, if we consider the matter in abstraction; but we also acknowledge that certain forms of behavior are incompatible with full participation in the public space. And if misbehavior is sufficiently egregious, we set severe limits to the culprit, restricting his movement, bringing him to trial, perhaps even imprisoning him.

With this basic distinction in mind, let us consider membership in the Church of Jesus Christ. Are all people welcome to the Church? Yes of course! Everyone and his brother cites James Joyce to the effect that the Catholic Church’s motto is “here comes everybody,” and this is fundamentally right. Jesus means to bring everyone to union with the Triune God, or to state the same thing, to become a member of his Mystical Body the Church. In John’s Gospel, Jesus declares, “When the Son of Man is lifted up, he will draw all people to himself.” Bernini’s colonnade, reaching out like great in-gathering arms from St. Peter’s Basilica, is meant to symbolize this universally inclusive welcome offered by Christ.

Is the Church, as Pope Francis says, a field hospital where even the most gravely wounded are invited for treatment? Is the Lord’s mercy available to everyone, even to the most hardened of sinners? Yes! And does the Church even go out from itself to care for those who are not explicitly joined to Christ? Yes! In fact, this was one of the reasons the Church was so attractive in the ancient world: When Roman society left the sick to fend for themselves and often cast away the newly-born who were deemed unworthy, the Church included these victims of the “throwaway culture” of that time and place.

However, does this mean that the Church makes no judgments, no discriminations, no demands? Does the Church’s welcome imply that everyone is fine just as he or she is? Here we have to answer with a rather resounding no. And that Georgia sign helps us to understand why. The Greek word that we translate as “church” is “ekklesia,” which carries the sense of “called out from.”

Members of the Church have been called out of a certain way of life and into another one, out of conformity with the world and into conformity with Christ. Every ecclesiastical person, therefore, is a welcomed sinner who has been summoned to conversion. She is someone who is, by definition, not satisfied with who she is. To return to the pope’s famous image, a field hospital receives not those who are doing just great but those who are deeply, even gravely, wounded.

The problem is that anytime the Church sets a limit or makes a demand or summons to conversion, she is accused of being “exclusive” or insufficiently “welcoming.” But this cannot be right. As Cardinal George once put it, commenting upon the famous liturgical song “All Are Welcome,” all are indeed: End Quotes


I Believe in One God, the Father Almighty – Part One & Two By Mark Shea: reblogged

I Believe in One God, the Father Almighty – Part One & Two

By Mark Shea

The very first thing we do as followers of God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is believe and speak. The two go together like the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ. We say, “I believe” because we are taking personal ownership of a revelation we did not invent but which God, in his grace, has revealed to us.  God desires that we take that ownership and treasure it away in our hearts the way the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus’ first and greatest disciple, did when she “kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51). That sense of personal ownership was a particularly passionate (and costly) thing in the Church of the first three centuries because it could and did get you and everyone you knew and loved killed.

In antiquity, only two groups worshiped one God to the exclusion of all other gods:  Jews and Christians.  “All other gods” included the Divine Caesar, who demanded a pinch of ritual incense as a worship offering and a sign that you knuckled under to his Empire.  Jews generally got a pass from the Empire on this score because Romans had a policy of respecting ancient ancestral religions, including the religion of Israel and its God who commanded “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

But Christians were, in the words of Tertullian, “but of yesterday”.  They had just popped up a few years ago during the reign of Tiberius.  So the Romans regarded them with the same skepticism that moderns have for devotees of Scientology or some other newly minted sect and saw their refusal to worship Caesar as a combination of blasphemy and treason.  The result would be three centuries of sporadic Roman persecution of Christians, climaxing in the murderous Diocletianic persecution that ravaged the Church from 303 to 313 AD.

For their part, Christians took their cue from the Jewish prophets and spoke in dismissive terms of the “gods of the nations”. They said things about pagan gods that postmoderns would not at all find polite today.  Pagan cultic sacrifices were offered, said the apostle Paul, to “demons and not to God” (1 Corinthians 10:20), and were rejected by Christians in language that mirrors Jewish Scripture:

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the noble,
in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;

their libations of blood I will not pour out

nor take their names upon my lips. (Ps 16:1–4)

In short, to become Christian was not merely to agree to worship the one God of Israel as a sort of “lifestyle choice”.  It was to renounce and reject the “gods of the nations” and to vigorously assert that there simply is no other god than the God of Israel.  There was a certain quality we might today call “punk” in the blunt aggressiveness of this profession.  But given the brutality to which this politically and economically powerless sect was subjected by their pagan neighbors (crucifixion, roasting on griddles, torn apart by beasts in the arena for public entertainment, etc.), it’s hard to blame them.  In the early Church, Christians saw themselves as the plucky Rebel Alliance vs. the Evil Empire that was trying to keep God himself from saving the world.

This meant not so much the Roman Empire as the cosmic world system that is “in the power of the Evil One” (1 John 5:19).  They saw themselves fighting, not against flesh and blood, but “against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).  And (this is important), they saw themselves fighting not with swords or violence but with what Paul called “the weapons of our warfare” (2 Corinthians 10:4) meaning prayer, sacrifice, and martyrdom.  So, for instance, one seer in the early Church would describe the fight against “that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (Revelation 12:9) in this way: “They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (Revelation 12:11).  These were not militants killing other people but martyrs offering themselves as Jesus had done.

So there was a ring of defiance in the assertion of belief in the One God because he himself had been an underdog and been crucified right along with his followers in the Person of his only Son, Jesus Christ.  They held aloft the Cross of Jesus as a kind of taunt against the powers of both Caesar and Satan, saying “Nothing you do can stop us because nothing you did could stop Jesus.  He has beaten death.  So bring it!  It will only lead to resurrection!”

The Creed is, therefore, both a joyful proclamation and a gauntlet thrown in defiance of the idols of this world: money, pleasure, power, and honor–and of the demonic powers who tempt us to abandon God and run after them as our sources of life and happiness.  As Paul says:

What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-35, 37-39)

This is why, when the time comes for the renewal of our baptismal promises (often when somebody else is being baptized) our communal confession of the Creed begins with the priest asking the community, “Do you reject Satan? (I do.) And all his works? (I do.) And all his empty promises? (I do.)” To believe is not a mere drift or a tendency: it is a decision and a choice in which we invest all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.


Mark Shea is an American author, blogger and all round Catholic savant whose writings have sometimes gotten him into trouble, but for all the right reasons. He blogs at Catholic and Enjoying It.


I believe in One God, the Father Almighty – :   by Mark Shea …{part 2}

By Mark Shea

I Believe

There are two interesting things to notice about these words of the Creed. The first is that the Creed makes not the slightest attempt at argument for the existence of one God. The Creed assumes that the person professing it has already done their homework or has, at the very least, made the choice to say, “I believe in order that I may understand.”

Those professing the Creed have already, by whatever route, come to the conviction that the things being professed are so. The person professing the Creed is not trying to persuade somebody else to believe what he believes. He is simply telling us that he believes it.

There is an old joke about the Southerner who was asked if he believed in infant baptism. He replied, “Believe in it? I have seen it done!”

This illustrates the way in which the Creed uses the word ‘believe’. ‘Believe’ here means more than merely affirming an abstract philosophical opinion about the existence of God. As we shall see presently, the Church does not even regard the mere existence of God as an article of faith. But to believe in “one God, the Father, the Almighty” does carry us into the arena of faith, since it moves us into the realm of personal relationship. Believing in that sense means entrusting one’s entire lifelock, stock, and barrelyour spouse, your kids, your health, your job, your hopes, fears, dreams, wounds, aspirations, loves, hates, talent, success, failures, heart, guts, and marrow and all the things you haven’t yet thought of into the hands of this personal God to order and dispose them for his glory and your ultimate salvation.

It is to give yourself entirely to God in the conviction that you are encountering not an abstract Ground of Being or First Cause, but a Father who loves you so much that while you were still dead in trespasses and sins, he gave his only Son to be crucified and raised for you. That will mean, ultimately, entrusting oneself into hands that had nails driven through them, lay dead in a tomb for three days, and were ultimately lifted up in unthinkable blessing when the risen Christ ascended into heaven to intercede for us at the right hand of the Father. But for now, we are focusing on the first clause of the Creed and the one God and Father Almighty who sent that Son to earth for us.

Belief arises from encounter

People arrive at the conviction that there is one God and Father through an enormous variety of routes. But what is notable is that belief in the one God usually comes, not through abstract philosophy, but through encounter. Two biblical examples will suffice to illustrate my point. In the Old Testament, the people of Israel wander from their relationship with God and, under pressure from the apostate royal house of Ahab, fall into the worship of cultic fertility deities called “Baals” who are supposed to promise healthy kids, good crops, fair weather, etc. So the prophet Elijah is sent to call Israel back. He does so, not by arranging a series of public lectures demonstrating the existence of God through philosophical argument, but this way:

When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel; but you have, and your father’s house, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals. Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
So Ahab sent to all the sons of Israel, and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. And Elijah came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.

Elijah and the prophets of Baal

Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let two bulls be given to us; and let them choose one bull for themselves, and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; and I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, and put no fire to it. And you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.”

Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” And they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped about the altar which they had made. And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is musing, or he has gone aside, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice; no one answered, no one heeded.

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me”; and all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down; Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”; and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the burnt offering, and on the wood.” And he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time. And the water ran round about the altar, and filled the trench also with water.

And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” (1 Ki 18:17–39)

Similarly, in the New Testament, we see this scene unfold as Saul of Tarsus, freshly sent on his maiden apostolic mission by the Church at Antioch, walks straight into a scene of spiritual warfare before the astonished eyes of a pagan Roman:

So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet, named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.

But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) withstood them, seeking to turn away the proconsul from the faith. But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. (Ac 13:4–12)

These two stories illustrate in a dramatic way what is often experienced in much quieter ways in other lives: that encounter with the one God precedes rather than follows belief in or philosophical argument for the existence of the one God.

People are minding their own business, going about their lives, and God breaks in through one route or another. A neighbor comes to help during a protracted convalescence and their quiet faith moves the sick person to seek the God they worship. A child is adopted by a loving family and, through their witness, comes to believe in their God. A destitute family is helped to find a new life after a war by Christian charity. A formerly blind man with no training in philosophy or theology makes the eminently reasonable argument, “One thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25). End Quotes

May God Guide and LEAD our Life Paths,


Source and Summit: Bishop Barron’s The Mass: reblogged

Source and Summit: Bishop Barron’s The Mass

It has been seven years since the release of then Father Robert Barron’s Catholicism, which I reviewed at the time, calling the DVD series “the most vivid catechism ever created.”

In the time between then and now, Robert Barron has gone from being rector of Mundelein Seminary in Chicago to the episcopacy as auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles. But he has continued the Word on Fire apostolate that has brought him much-deserved acclaim.

His new video production, The Mass, is considerably less visually vivid than Catholicism because it lacks the sweep of worldwide location shooting that made that earlier series truly “a Journey into the Heart of the Faith.”

Bishop Barron

            The Mass is a long lecture filmed in one day last October at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Santa Barbara, California. Bishop Barron stands at a lectern and holds forth, and he does so brilliantly. There are six segments of about twenty-five minutes each, meaning the bishop spoke for at least 2-1/2 hours that day. If he stopped at several points to take sips of water, those moments ended up on the cutting-room floor.

I assume the Special Edition package of The Mass, which is what I’m reviewing here, was designed to be purchased by churches and shown to study groups, given that it retails for $59.95. It includes two DVDs of the lecture at Our Lady of Sorrows plus a disc devoted solely to Holy Communion and one titled Heroic Priesthood.

This fourth disc adds little value to the package. There is only the hint of heroism in what amounts to a vocations recruitment video, the larger part of which is scenes of Mundelein seminarians playing basketball. Or are we to believe that priests, even in training, are always heroic? That’s a little hard to accept these days, given ongoing news about sex abuse.

The third disc is actually an earlier (2015) Word on Fire production, Eucharist: Sacred Meal, Sacrifice, Real Presence. More about this below.

The Mass is not without its visual and artistic flourishes, but no Word on Fire production is likely ever to equal the scope of Catholicism, with exteriors shot in Galilee and Rome, Lourdes and Auschwitz, Darjeeling and Manhattan, and . . . the world over. As I wrote in my review of that epic series, Catholicism “evokes Kenneth Clark’s Civilization (1969) and Jacob Bronowski’s The Ascent of Man (1973)” – all three series justly admired for both intellectual clarity and visual excitement.

The Mass has little of that visual excitement (excepting some very nice aerial views of Our Lady of Sorrows and its surrounding neighborhood – great architecture in a perfect setting). But it does have Barron’s clarity and some great art presented using the “parallax” technique, in which elements of a particular painting are set in motion against an otherwise static background, giving the impression almost of 3D.

So, how does Bishop Barron discuss the Mass? Not exactly in the way Msgr. Ronald Knox did in The Mass in Slow Motion, although it’s a similar approach: soup-to-nuts, from the Processional to the Dismissal, although with digressions about the meaning of priestly gestures, the origins of words used (a real lesson in Greek), and the role of the laity as a priestly people.

It’s remarkable the way Bishop Barron can take intellectually challenging material – history, theology, etymology – and express complexities in such a way as to make them accessible to everybody in his audience. I say this because throughout the film cameras rove among the rapt faces in the pews and it’s clear the bishop is getting through. This despite the fact that at no point is any topic “dumbed down.”

The bishop’s view is clearly orthodox. Without leveling sarcasm at non-standard practices in the celebration of the Mass, there’s no doubt in my mind that, no matter what he may tolerate, his view of how the Mass should proceed is Thomistic and probably owes much to John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Our Lady of Sorrows

Joseph Ratzinger’s The Spirit of the Liturgy may well be in the background, as when Bishop Barron notes that the priest is in persona Christi and says the Mass without inserting himself, personally, into it. That’s as it should be. But I was lying in bed watching The Mass on my laptop, listening to it through earphones so as not to disturb my sleeping wife, when Bishop Barron said that as Mass begins the priest at the altar does not begin by saying, “Hey everybody, how’re you doing?” I all but shouted, “Sometimes he does, Your Grace!” It took Mrs. Miner a while to get back to sleep.

The Mass, the bishop explains (in the words of the Vatican II), is a privileged encounter with a great mystery: the source and summit of Catholic life, and several times in the lecture he laments the fact that so many Catholics no longer bother to come to Mass. What’s missing in his presentation – to my mind – is any comment about the way, in practice, the beauty of the Mass has been spoiled by post-Vatican II abuses: he says nothing about the abandonment of Latin or such innovations as “liturgical dance.” He masterfully explains what a homily should be but fails to note how lousy most sermons are. There’s plenty to lament in that too.

In The Mass and in the other disc, Eucharist, the lectures reach their own source and summit in Barron’s discussion of the Real Presence. His citations of Biblical sources for the doctrine (especially in the Bread of Life discourse in John 6: 22-59) are beautifully explained and make clear what it is those lapsed Catholics are missing

Near the end of Eucharist, he tells the story of St. Thomas Aquinas, who – having completed writing his own explanation of the Real Presence – hears the voice of the Lord Himself praising the work. And Jesus asks what reward Thomas now seeks. And Thomas says, Non nisi te. “None but you.” END QUOTES

© 2018 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.orgThe Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

25 Bible Passages Indicating or Suggesting Purgatory: reblogged


25 Bible Passages Indicating or Suggesting Purgatory

From my bestselling 1996 book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, pp. 123-145. The introductory material of the chapter (definitions) is omitted; also a few quotations. Footnoting numbers are from my original manuscript and differ from the present Sophia edition. All Bible passages are from RSV.


Psalm 66:12 Thou didst let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet thou hast brought us forth to a spacious place.

This verse was considered a proof of purgatory by Origen [4] and St. Ambrose, [5] who posits the water of baptism and the fire of purgatory.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Isaiah 4:4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. (see also Isaiah 1:25-26)

St. Francis de Sales, the great Catholic apologist of the 16th century, commented on this verse as follows:

This purgation made in the spirit of judgment and of burning is understood of Purgatory by St. Augustine, in the 20th Book of the City of God, chapter 25. And in fact this interpretation is favoured by the words preceding, in which mention is made of the salvation of men, and also by the end of the chapter, where the repose of the blessed is spoken of; wherefore that which is said — “the Lord shall wash away the filth” — is to be understood of the purgation necessary for this salvation. And since it is said that this purgation is to be made in the spirit of heat and of burning, it cannot well be understood save of Purgatory and its fire. [6].

Isaiah 6:5-7 And I said:”Woe is me! for I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven.

This passage is a noteworthy example of what happens when men experience God’s presence directly. An immediate recognition of one’s own unholiness occurs, along with the corresponding feeling of inadequacy. Like Isaiah, we must all undergo a self-conscious and voluntary purging upon approaching God more closely than in this present life.

Few doctrines are clearer in Scripture than the necessity of absolute holiness in order to enter heaven. On this, Protestants and Catholics are in total agreement. Therefore, the fundamental disagreement on this subject is: how long does this purification upon death take? Certainly, it cannot be logically denied as a possibility that this purging might involve duration.

4 Homily 25 on Numbers.

In Ps. 36; Sermon 3 on Ps. 118.

6 St. Francis de Sales, The Catholic Controversy (CON), tr. Henry B. Mackey, Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1989 (orig. 1596), 358 (Part 3, Article 2: “Purgatory”).

Micah 7:8-9 Rejoice not over me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me forth to the light; I shall behold his deliverance. (see also Leviticus 26:41,43, Job 40:4-5, Lamentations 3:39)

St. Jerome (d.420) considered this a clear proof of purgatory. [7]

Malachi 3:2-4 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Ibid., 358.

St. Francis de Sales recounts the patristic views on this passage:

This place is expounded of a purifying punishment by Origen (Hom. 6 on Exodus), St. Ambrose (On Ps 36), St. Augustine (City of God, Bk. 20, ch. 25), and St. Jerome (on this place). We are quite aware that they understand it of a purgation which will be at the end of the world by the general fire and conflagration, in which will be purged away the remains of the sins of those who will be found alive; but we still are able to draw from this a good argument for our Purgatory. For if persons at that time have need of purgation before receiving the effects of the benediction of the supreme Judge, why shall not those also have need of it who die before that time, since some of these may be found at death to have remains of their imperfections . . . St. Irenaeus in this connection, in chapter 29 of Book V, says that because the militant Church is then to mount up to the heavenly palace of the Spouse, and will no longer have time for purgation, her faults and stains will there and then be purged away by this fire which will precede the judgment. [9]

2 Maccabees 12:39-42, 44-45 . . . Judas and his men went to take up the bodies of the fallen . . . Then under the tunic of every one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear . . . So they all . . . turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out . . . For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.

The Jews offered atonement and prayer for their deceased brethren, who had clearly violated Mosaic Law. Such a practice presupposes purgatory, since those in heaven wouldn’t need any help, and those in hell are beyond it. The Jewish people, therefore, believed in prayer for the dead (whether or not this book is scriptural — Protestants deny that it is). Jesus Christ did not correct this belief, as He surely would have done if it were erroneous (see Matthew 5:22,25-26, 12:32, Luke 12:58-59, 16:9,19-31 below). When our Lord and Savior talks about the afterlife, He never denies the fact that there is a third state, and the overall evidence of His utterances in this regard strongly indicates that He accepted the existence of purgatory.

Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, “You fool!” shall be liable to the hell of fire.

St. Francis de Sales elucidates the implications of this statement of Christ:

It is only the third sort of offence which is punished with hell; therefore in the judgment of God after this life there are other pains which are not eternal or infernal, — these are the pains of Purgatory. One may say that the pains will be suffered in this world; but St. Augustine and the other Fathers understand them for the other world. And again may it not be that a man should die on the first or second offence which is spoken here? And when will such a one pay the penalty due to his offence? . . . Do then as the ancient Fathers did, and say that there is a place where they will be purified, and then they will go to heaven above. [10]

9 St. Francis de Sales, CON, 359-360.

10 Ibid., 373-374.

Matthew 5:25-26 Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny. (see also Luke 12:58-59)

St. Francis de Sales:

Origen, St. Cyprian, St. Hilary, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, and St. Augustine say that the way which is meant in the whilst thou art in the way [while you are going with him to court] is no other than the passage of the present life: the adversary [accuser] will be our own conscience, . . . as St. Ambrose expounds, and Bede, St. Augustine, St. Gregory [the Great], and St. Bernard. Lastly, the judge is without doubt Our Lord . . . The prison, again, is . . . the place of punishment in the other world, in which, as in a large jail, there are many buildings; one for those who are damned, which is as it were for criminals, the other for those in Purgatory, which is as it were for debt. The farthing, [penny] . . . are little sins and infirmities, as the farthing is the smallest money one can owe.

Now let us consider a little where this repayment . . . is to be made. And we find from most ancient Fathers that it is in Purgatory: Tertullian, [11] Cyprian, [12] Origen, [13] . . . St. Ambrose, [14] St. Jerome [15] . . . Who sees not that in St. Luke the comparison is drawn, not from a murderer or some criminal, who can have no hope of escape, but from a debtor who is thrown into prison till payment, and when this is made is at once let out? This then is the meaning of Our Lord, that whilst we are in this world we should try by penitence and its fruits to pay, according to the power which we have by the blood of the Redeemer, the penalty to which our sins have subjected us; since if we wait till death we shall not have such good terms in Purgatory, when we shall be treated with severity of justice. [16]

Matthew 12:32 And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

If sins can be pardoned in the “age to come” (the afterlife), again, in the nature of things, this must be in purgatory. We would laugh at a man who said that he would not marry in this world or the next (as if he could in the next — see Mark 12:25). If this sin cannot be forgiven after death, it follows that there are others which can be. Accordingly, this interpretation was held by St. Augustine, [17] St. Gregory the Great, [18] Bede, [19] and St. Bernard, [20] among others.

11 The Soul, 100,10.

12 Epistle 4,2.

13 Homily 35 on Luke 12.

14 Commentary on Luke 12.

15 Commentary on Matthew 5.

16 St. Francis de Sales,CON, 372-373.

17 City of God, 21:24.

18 Dialogues, 4,39.

19 Commentary on Mark 3.

20 Homily 66 in Cant.

Luke 16:9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations. (read Luke 16:1-13 for the context)

St. Francis de Sales:

To fail, — what is it but to die? — and the friends, — who are they but the Saints? The interpreters all understand it so; whence two things follow, — that the Saints can help men departed, and that the departed can be helped by the Saints . . . Thus is this passage expounded by St. Ambrose, and by St. Augustine. [21] But the parable Our Lord is using is too clear to allow us any doubt of this interpretation; for the similitude is taken from a steward who, being dismissed from his office and reduced to poverty [16:2], begged help from his friends, and Our Lord likens the dismissal unto death, and the help begged from friends unto the help one receives after death from those to whom one has given alms. This help cannot be received by those who are in Paradise or in hell; it is then by those who are in Purgatory. [22]

Luke 16:19-31 There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; . . . the poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. And he called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.” But Abraham said, “Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things, but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.” And he said, “Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” And he said, “No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.”

Zechariah 9:11 As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your captives free from the waterless pit.

Ephesians 4:8-10. . . “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “he ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

1 Peter 3:19-20 . . . he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. (see also 4:6)

21 City of God, 12:27.

22 St. Francis de Sales, CON, 374-375.

Catholic commentator George Leo Haydock states:

Abraham’s bosom — The place of rest, where the souls of the saints resided, till Christ had opened heaven by his death . . . The bosom of Abraham (the common Father of all the faithful) was the place where the souls of the saints, and departed patriarchs, waited the arrival of their Deliverer. It was thither that Jesus went after his death; as it is said in the Creed, he descended into hellto deliver those who were detained there, and who might at Christ’s ascension enter into heaven (see 1 Peter 3:19, Matthew 8:11) . . .

[on 1 Peter 3:19-20]: These spirits in prison, to whom Christ went to preach after his death, were not in heaven, nor yet in the hell of the damned; because heaven is no prison, and Christ did not go to preach to the damned . . . In this prison souls would not be detained unless they were indebted to divine justice, nor would salvation be preached to them unless they were in a state that was capable of receiving salvation. [23]

At the very least, these passages prove that there can and does exist a third (and intermediate) state after death besides heaven and hell. Thus, purgatory is not a priori unthinkable from a biblical perspective (as many Protestants casually assume). True, the Hebrew Sheol (Greek Hades — netherworld) is not absolutely identical to purgatory (both righteous and unrighteous go there), but it is nevertheless strikingly similar. Sheol is referred to frequently throughout the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 32:22, 2 Samuel 22:6, Psalm 16:10, 18:5, 55:15, 86:13, 116:3, 139:8, Proverbs 9:18, 23:14, Isaiah 5:14, 14:9,15, Ezekiel 31:16-17, 32:21,27). In Jewish apocalyptic literature (in the few hundred years before Christ), the notion of divisions in Sheol is found (for instance, in Enoch 22:1-14).

The Christian hell is equivalent to the New Testament Gehenna or “Lake of Fire”. Gehenna was literally the burning ash-heap outside Jerusalem, and was used as the name for hell by Christ (Matthew 5:22,29-30, 10:28, 18:9, 23:15,33, Mark 9:43,45,47, Luke 12:5 — cf. James 3:6). “Lake of fire” occurs only in Revelation as a chilling description of the horrors of hell into which the damned would be thrown (Revelation 19:20, 20:10,14-15, 21:8).

We know from Scripture that a few Old Testament saints went to heaven before Christ went to Sheol and led (presumably) the majority of the pre-Christian righteous there (Ephesians 4:8-10 and 1 Peter 3:19-20). Elijah went straight to heaven by a whirlwind, as we are informed in 2 Kings 2:11. It is also generally thought by all sides that Enoch went directly to heaven as well (Genesis 5:24). Moses came with Elijah to the Mount of Transfiguration to talk with Jesus (Matthew 17:1-3, Mark 9:4, Luke 9:30-31). By implication, then, it could be held that he, too, had been in heaven, and by further logical inference, other Old Testament saintly figures.

It follows that, even before Christ, there was a “two-tiered” afterlife for the righteous: some, such as Elijah, Enoch and likely Moses and others, went to heaven, whereas a second, larger group went temporarily to Sheol. Likewise, now the elect of God can go straight to heaven if sufficiently holy, or to purgatory as a necessary stopping-point in order to attain to the proper sanctity becoming of inhabitants of heavenly glory. Therefore, it is neither true that all righteous dead before Christ went solely to Sheol, nor that all after His Resurrection went, and go, to heaven. On the other hand, the reprobate dead in Sheol (or Hades) eventually are sentenced to hell (Revelation 20:13-15).

John Henry Cardinal Newman comments:

Our Saviour, as we suppose, did not go to the abyss assigned to the fallen Angels, but to those mysterious mansions where the souls of all men await the judgment. That He went to the abode of blessed spirits is evident, from His words addressed to the robber on the cross, when He also called it Paradise; that He went to some other place besides Paradise may be conjectured from St. Peter’s saying, He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient (1 Peter 3:19-20). The circumstances then that these two abodes of disembodied good and bad, are called by one name, Hades, . . . seems clearly to show that Paradise is not the same as Heaven, but a resting-place at the foot of it. Let it be further remarked, that Samuel, when brought from the dead, in the witch’s cavern, said Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up(1 Samuel 28:15), words which would seem quite inconsistent with his being then already in Heaven. [24]

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble – each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

This is a clear and obvious allusion to purgatory, or at least, even for the most skeptical person, something exceedingly similar to it. Thus thought the Fathers, such as St. Cyprian, [25] St. Ambrose,[26] St. Jerome, [27] St. Gregory the Great, [28] Origen, [29] and St. Augustine:

Lord, rebuke me not in Your indignation, nor correct me in Your anger [Psalm 38:1]. . . . In this life may You cleanse me and make me such that I have no need of the corrective fire, which is for those who are saved, but as if by fire . . . For it is said: He shall be saved, but as if by fire [1 Corinthians 3:15]. And because it is said that he shall be saved, little is thought of that fire. Yet plainly, though we be saved by fire, that fire will be more severe than anything a man can suffer in this life. [30]

St. Francis de Sales observes:

The Apostle uses two similitudes. The first is of an architect who with solid materials builds a valuable house on a rock: the second is of one who on the same foundation erects a house of boards, reeds, straw. Let us now imagine that a fire breaks out in both the houses. That which is of solid material will be out of danger, and the other will be burnt to ashes. And if the architect be in the first he will be whole and safe; if he be in the second, he must, if he would escape, rush through fire and flame, and shall be saved yet so that he will bear the marks of having been in fire . . . The fire by which the architect is saved can only be understood of the fire of Purgatory . . . . . .

When he . . . speaks of him who has built on the foundation, wood, straw, stubble, he shows that he is not speaking of the fire which will precede the day of judgment, since by this will pass not only those who have built with these light materials, but also those who shall have built in gold, silver, etc. All this interpretation, besides that it agrees very well with the text, is also most authentic, as having been followed with common consent by the ancient Fathers. [31]

1 Corinthians 15:29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?

St. Francis de Sales:

This passage properly understood evidently shows that it was the custom of the primitive Church to watch, pray, fast, for the souls of the departed. For, firstly, in the Scriptures to be baptized is often taken for afflictions and penances; as in Luke 12:50 . . . and in St. Mark 10:38-9 . . . — in which places Our Lord calls pains and afflictions baptism [cf. Matthew 3:11, 20:22-3, Luke 3:16].

This then is the sense of that Scripture: if the dead rise not again, what is the use of mortifying and afflicting oneself, of praying and fasting for the dead? And indeed this sentence of St. Paul resembles that of 2 Maccabees 12:44 [cited above]: It is superfluous and vain to pray for the dead if the dead rise not again. . . . Now it was not for those in Paradise [heaven], who had no need of it, nor for those in hell, who could get no benefit from it; it was, then, for those in Purgatory. Thus did St. Ephraim [d.373] expound it. [32]

The “penance” interpretation is supported contextually by the next three verses, where the Apostle speaks of being in peril every hour, and dying every day. St. Paul certainly doesn’t condemn the practice, whatever it is (his question being merely rhetorical). Given these facts, and the striking resemblance to 2 Maccabees 12:44, the traditional Catholic interpretation seems the most plausible.

In any event, Protestants are at almost a complete loss in coherently explaining this verse — one of the most difficult in the New Testament for them to interpret. It simply does not comport with their theology, which utterly disallows any penitential or prayerful efforts on behalf of the deceased.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.

Our sins are judged here rather than forgiven, and this takes place in the next life. The standard Protestant theology of the judgment seat of Christ is not dissimilar to the notion of the chastising purifications of purgatory. There is a direct relation between judgment and the purging of sin. We are punished, in some fashion — or so St. Paul tells us in this verse — for evil deeds done. The pains of purgatory are roughly identical, or else highly akin, to this punishment, since they are the taking away of those sinful habits, tendencies, and affinities to which we have become attached. Conversely, we are rewarded for good deeds. As there are differential rewards for righteousness, so there are differential sufferings in purgatory for unrighteousness, so that a certain parallelism exists between the two concepts.

This passage is a sort of liaison between the theological categories justification and purgatory (and penance) — the former being the “positive” establishment of sanctity, and the latter being the “negative” removal of unholiness. This congruity between reward and punishment is even more clearly seen in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 above, where St. Paul freely intermingles rewards and punishments, in the context of purgatorial fire. Given the obvious affinity of that passage with this one, each can be legitimately interpreted in light of the other. In doing so, the Catholic interpretation, with its distinctive understanding of faith and works, penance and purgatory, is more satisfactory exegetically than the usual Protestant interpretations, which are uncomfortable, by and large, with differential rewards and punishments (seeing these as somewhat incompatible with faith alone).

2 Corinthians 7:1. . . let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God.(see also 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 4:7)

Here is a description of that analogous process of sanctification in this life which will be greatly intensified and made completely efficacious in the next, in purgatory.

Philippians 2:10-11 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Revelation 5:3,13 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. . . .And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might for ever and ever!”

If God refuses to receive prayer, praise and worship from the unrepentant sinner (Psalm 66:18, Proverbs 1:28-30, Isaiah 1:15, 59:2, Jeremiah 6:20, Amos 5:21-24, Micah 3:4, Malachi 1:10, John 9:31, Hebrews 10:38), why would He permit the damned to undertake this practice?

Furthermore, if God does not compel human beings to follow Him and to enjoy His presence for eternity contrary to their free will, then it seems that He would not — as far as we can tell from Scripture — compel them to praise Him, as this would be meaningless, if not repulsive.

Therefore, “under the earth” must refer to purgatory. Revelation 5:13 especially makes sense under this interpretation, as the praise spoken there does not in any way appear forced, but rather, heartfelt and seemingly spontaneous (which would not be at all expected of persons eternally consigned to hell — see Matthew 8:29, Luke 4:34, 8:28, James 2:19).

Some Protestant commentators readily admit that “under the earth” is a reference to those in Sheol or Hades. Granting this interpretation for the sake of argument, most Protestants would presumably regard Hades in this instance (after Christ’s death — see Revelation 5:12) as simply the “holding tank” for those ultimately destined for hell (the elect having been taken to heaven by Christ). But this leads straight back to the exegetical problem of God neither desiring nor accepting such praise from even the obstinate sinner, let alone the damned.

The acceptance of a third, intermediate state in the afterlife for the righteous as well as the reprobate, even after Christ’s Resurrection, is a seriously troublesome position if one holds to the tenets of mainstream Reformational eschatological theology. For — given the Protestant view on justification — why would (or should) there be any second state for the “saved” once the road to heaven was paved by Christ? This state of affairs leads inexorably to considerations of differential merit and reward, such that a whole class is relegated to continued separation from Christ in some partial sense, and by implication, punishment, since these children of God have not yet attained to full union with God in eternal happiness and bliss.

Once it is conceded that (dead) righteous men praise God from “under the earth,”the standard Protestant position of all the saved “going straight to heaven at death” crumbles, for the simple reason that this group is contrasted with those in heaven. Furthermore, a position that “under the earth” refers metaphorically to merely all dead righteous (who, according to Protestantism are in heaven), makes the phraseology of Philippians 2:10 and Revelation 5:3,13 absurdly redundant, since St. Paul and St. John would be saying, “Those in heaven, and on earth, and in heaven . . . .”

Again, the only reasonable alternate interpretation, given all the above data, is to posit the existence of purgatory, from which praise to God emanates — it being that portion of the Church stationed for a time in the portico of heaven, so to speak.

2 Timothy 1:16-18 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains,but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me — may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day — and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.

Onesiphorus appears to be dead at the time St. Paul writes this letter to Timothy. If that is true, then Paul is praying for the dead. One well-known Protestant commentary [33] admits that Onesiphorus is likely dead, citing the cross-reference of 2 Timothy 4:19, yet takes the remarkably incoherent position that St. Paul is praying for his conduct in life and reward at the Judgment. Thus, the admitted prayer (1:18), since it supposedly refers to the earthly life of the intended recipient, somehow thereby ceases to be a prayer for the dead even though it is pleading for mercy on the Day of Judgment for one who has indeed departed!

Now, of course, St. Paul could also pray for a living person to be recompensed justly by God, but this is missing the point, and is an example of the classic logical fallacy of proposing a “distinction without a difference.” For what distinguishes prayers for a living or a dead man, where the final Judgment is concerned?

Protestants say that it is impermissible to pray for the dead on this score since their fate is already sealed and it will be to no avail. The error here lies in the fact that the person’s fate had always been known (God being omniscient and out of time, foreordaining in a mysterious way the beginning and end of all things). In both cases our knowledge is paltry and altogether insufficient as to the person’s destiny. We pray out of charity (or, “desire,” as it were), and because we are commanded to, having been assured by the inspired biblical revelation that it has an effect.

The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentaryanother respected evangelical reference, takes a different position: “His household would hardly retain his name after the master was dead . . . Nowhere has Paul prayers for the dead, which is fatal to the theory . . . that he was dead.” [34]

But Word Pictures in the New Testament, a six-volume linguistic commentary by the great Greek scholar A.T. Robertson, states: “Apparently Onesiphorus is now dead as is implied by the wish in 1:18.” [35]

On the face of it, why couldn’t St. Paul be referring to the house of Onesiphorus in the same sense in which we speak of a deceased person’s “surviving wife and children?” His statement in 1:18 is similar to our spontaneous utterances at funerals, such as “May God rest his soul,” etc. (sometimes spoken or thought despite theologies to the contrary). And if Paul is “wishing” for benefits for the soul of a dead man, as Robertson holds, how is this essentially any different from praying for the dead?

To conclude, of the three prominent evangelical Protestant commentaries surveyed, two hold that St. Paul is “praying,” and one that he is “wishing.” Two conclude that Onesiphorus is probably dead, with a third denying this. It might be supposed with good reason that if reputable, scholarly Protestant commentators are more or less forced into (for them) uncomfortable positions due to the inescapable clarity of a text, perhaps the Catholic interpretation is the best one, as it requires no unnatural straining. All that is necessary is the willingness to accept the practice of prayers for the dead, for which there is ample scriptural warrant, Jewish precedent, and abundant support in the early Christian Church, as will be demonstrated subsequently.

Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (see also 12:1,5-11,15,23, Ephesians 5:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 1 John 3:2-3)

John Henry Cardinal Newman writes:

The truth itself is declared in one form or another in every part of Scripture. It is told us again and again, that to make sinful creatures holy was the great end which our Lord had in view in taking upon Him our nature, and thus none but the holy will be accepted for His sake at the last day. The whole history of redemption, the covenant of mercy in all its parts and provisions, attests the necessity of holiness in order to salvation; as indeed even our natural conscience bears witness also . . .

Even supposing a man of unholy life were suffered to enter heaven, he would not be happy there; so that it would be no mercy to permit him to enter . . . We conclude that any man, whatever his habits, tastes, or manner of life, if once admitted into heaven, would be happy there . . . [But] here every man can do his own pleasure, but there he must do God’s pleasure . . . . . Let us alone! What have we to do with thee? is the sole thought and desire of unclean souls, even while they acknowledge His majesty. None but the holy can look upon the Holy One; without holiness no man can endure to see the Lord . . .

Heaven is not heaven, is not a place of happiness except to the holy . . . There is a moral malady which disorders the inward sight and taste; and no man labouring under it is in a condition to enjoy what Scripture calls the fulness of joy in God’s presence, and pleasures at His right hand forevermore. [36]

Newman explains (in effect) why purgatory (which he accepts elsewhere, even before his conversion to Catholicism in 1845) is a necessary and indeed, ultimately desirable process for all of us imperfect sinners to undergo, in order to properly approach God in His unfathomable majesty and holiness.

Hebrews 12:29 . . . our God is a consuming fire.

(see also Exodus 3:2-6, 19:18, 24:17, Numbers 31:23, Deuteronomy 4:24, 9:3, Psalm 66:10-12, Malachi 3:2, 4:1, Hebrews 10:27, 31)

Revelation 21:27 But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practises abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

The relevance of this biblical data in terms of its analogy to the idea of purgatory is clear. The abundance of such scriptural evidence for purgatory led to a consensus among the Church Fathers as well. Protestant church historian Philip Schaff, who can definitely be considered a “hostile witness” as pertains this topic, summarized the belief of the early Christian Church:

These views of the middle state in connection with prayers for the dead show a strong tendency to the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory . . . there are traces of the purgatorial idea of suffering the temporal consequences of sin, and a painful struggle after holiness . . . The common people and most of the fathers understood it of a material fire; but this is not a matter of faith . . . A material fire would be very harmless without a material body. [37]

Despite all this, Protestantism rejected the beliefs in purgatory and prayers for the dead, with the exception of Anglicans, many of whom have retained some form of these. Popular Christian apologist C. S. Lewis was one of these traditional Anglicans. In one of his last books, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, [38] he stated that he prayed for the dead, among whom were many of his loved ones, and that he believed in purgatory, comparing it to an intense rinsing of the mouth at the dentist’s office. He thought no one would want to enter heaven unclean, as this would be downright embarrassing.

23 Haydock’s Catholic Family Bible and Commentary, New York: 1859; rep. Monrovia, CA: Catholic Treasures, 1991, 1376-1377, 1611.

24 Sermon: “The Intermediate State,” 1836.

25 Book 4, epistle 2.

26 Commentary on 1 Cor 3; Sermon 20; Commentary on Ps 116.

27 Commentary on Amos 4.

28 Dialogues 4,39.

29 6th Homily on Exodus.

30 Explanations of the Psalms, 37, 3. From Jurgens, William A., ed. and tr., The Faith of the Early Fathers (FEF), 3 volumes, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1979, vol. 3, 17.

31 St. Francis de Sales, CON, 360-362.

32 Ibid., 368-369.

33 Guthrie, D. and J.A. Motyer, eds., The New Bible Commentary, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 3rd ed., 1970, 1178. The Lutheran Johannes Bengel (1687-1752), and the Anglican Henry Alford (1810-71), both highly-respected expositors, also held that Onesiphorus was dead.

34 Jamieson, Robert, Andrew R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1961 (orig. 1864), 1376.

35 Robertson, A.T., Word Pictures in the New Testament, Nashville: Broadman Press, 1930, 6 volumes., vol. 4, 615.

36 Sermon: “Holiness Necessary for Future Blessedness,” 1834 (On Hebrews 12:14).

37 Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, vol. 2, “Ante-Nicene Christianity: A.D. 100-325,” 5th ed., New York: 1889; rep. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans,ch. 12, sec. 156, 604-606.

38 New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1964, 107-109. EQ


What Scripture Says About the Reliability of Religious Leaders: by Father Jerry J. Pokorsky…. reflects what a great many Catholics are feeling :PJM}…. reblogged

What Scripture Says About the Reliability of Religious Leaders

The majority of saints canonized by the Church over much of her history are priests and bishops. I used to quip that this proves it is possible for a priest or bishop to get to heaven. That is no longer a playful quip but a wry truth.

You may know by now that within the last month, another senior prelate has fallen from favor. As a priest and a member of the clergy, to the extent I have the authority to apologize, I do. In my view, he should be in leg irons or at least under harsh interrogation in Gitmo.

Jesus, of course, is the Good Shepherd. And he established the Church to be governed by shepherds—priests and bishops, the clergy. So it is helpful for context to take a look at the leaders in ancient Israel during the time of Jesus. By and large, the priests, the chief priests, the Sadducees and the Pharisees—Jewish equivalents of clergy—do not make a very favorable impression.

Jesus recognizes the authority of the scribes and Pharisees: “Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you….” He adds:  “…but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.” He supports their official teaching: “Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

The Pharisees are corrupt almost to a man. They malign the mighty deeds of Christ: “It is only by Be-el′zebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” They try to set Jesus against the teachings of Moses: “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” They try to entrap Jesus: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” They have disdain for the miracles of Jesus: “And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him.”

But Jesus denounces these clergy-equivalents with courage and in no uncertain terms. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”

He warns his disciples: “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sad′ducees.” “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The clergy-equivalents respond with murderous indignation. “But the Pharisees went out and took counsel against him, how to destroy him.” The conspiracy reaches the highest levels. “Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Ca′iaphas, and took counsel together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.”

Like prosecuting attorneys coming up short, the clergy-equivalents tamper with the evidence. “Now the chief priests and the whole council sought false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death….” And “the chief priests and the elders persuaded the people to ask for Barab′bas and destroy Jesus.”

But the office of the clergy-equivalents at the time of Jesus was necessary to preserve and transmit the teachings of Moses and the Prophets. Despite their exalted role, the portrait of the clergy-equivalents in the Gospel is foul and obnoxious.

There are, of course, exceptions. Nicodemus emerges under the cover of the night to engage Jesus in a sincere theological discussion, admitting, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” In the infancy narratives, the priest Zechariah, initially flawed in his trust in God, becomes the father of John the Baptist and ultimately reclaims his honor.  In the Temple, Simeon piously prophesies as to the destiny of the child Jesus and the sword of sorrow that will pierce Mary’s Immaculate Heart.

But for the most part, the goodness and holiness of those in the Gospel are not found among the clergy-equivalents. They are found in the laity-equivalents: Elizabeth, Martha and Mary, Lazarus, the holy women at the foot of the Cross, and the Blessed Mother herself.

Hence, the faith of the good people of Israel is not the problem. The faith of Mary and the holy women at the foot of the Cross is not the problem. The lawful structures of transmitting the faith in Israel are not the problem. The problem is the infidelity and the evil scheming of the clergy-equivalents.

Among the real clergy, the Twelve ordained by Jesus at the Last Supper, the apostolic ratio of bad bishops is disturbingly high: Judas represents 1/12 of them. The apostolic ratio of good bishops who joined Jesus at the foot of the Cross is disappointingly low.  John alone represents 1/12 of them.

In our day, can we expect better than those apostolic ratios? We certainly have the means, provided we respond with faith to the fullness of the graces of Pentecost. Our faith in Jesus Christ is holy, beautiful, true, and good.  The Church is the spotless Bride of Christ worthy of all our love and devotion. The Catholic faith is not the problem; the Catholic faith is the solution.

Editor’s note: Pictured above is “The Taking of Christ” by Caravaggio.

Fr. Jerry J. Pokorsky


Fr. Jerry J. Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington who has also served as a financial administrator in the Diocese of Lincoln. Trained in business and accounting, he also holds a Master of Divinity and a Master’s in moral theology. Fr. Pokorsky co-founded both CREDO and Adoremus, two organizations deeply engaged in authentic liturgical renewal.