Fifteen Steps to Become Fishers of Men

FR. ED BROOM, OMV

In the Gospel of St. Luke chapter five, Jesus is busy with His work of preaching the Word of God.  At the same time, several of the future Apostles were fishing without any success. Jesus then asks Peter to let Him in his boat, where Jesus continues teaching from the boat of Peter.

After Jesus has finished His teaching He tells Peter to drop the nets for the catch. Even though Peter has worked hard all night and does not expect any success at that time, still he obeys Jesus and lowers the nets.  The result was so fantastic that Peter had to call his mates to help him to pull in the abundant catch.

Why such a catch? For the simple reason that Peter was with Jesus in the boat, he listened to the Words of Jesus and He obeyed Jesus by dropping the nets at the Lord’s command.

Like Peter we are called to catch fish. Jesus said, “You will now be fishers of men.” That is the purpose of the apostolic life — to fish men; in other words to drop the nets and save souls.

Following are fifteen concrete suggestions on how all of us can be “fishers of men” to be true apostles and to collaborate with Jesus in saving immortal souls for the Kingdom of God.  Prayerfully read and meditate on these suggestions!  Then choose whatever project the Holy Spirit inspires in you, talk it out with your spiritual director. Finally, Go Fishing!

1. Family prayer

Encourage the family to bless the meals before eating!

2. Family Rosary

“The family that prays together stays together.”

3. Holy Images

Replace mundane and worldly images (Calendars or Almanacs) with Holy Images and paintings of Jesus, Mary, the angels and saints.

4. Enthronement

Enthrone the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Divine Mercy in your home. May Jesus reign as King and Mary as Queen.

5. Scripture

Enthrone the Bible in a prominent place, perhaps between two candles. However, make sure that it is not simply a decoration but to be read and meditated. The saying is true: “He who has a Bible that is falling apart will not have his life falling apart.”

6. Library

Have a good library with good books: Bible, the lives of the saints, examination of conscience, and the writings of the Popes, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, as well as good catholic magazines or newspapers. Reading of a good book could save a soul!  (Example of St. Ignatius)

7. Film Library

In the modern electronic world, we should keep up with the times. Especially in the past ten to fifteen years, Ignatius Press has done marvels in not only publishing excellent books but also in making excellent movies, especially depicting the lives of the saints. Worthy of mention are St. John BoscoPadre Pio, St. Rita, Bakhita, and St. Augustine. There are also the Popes: Pope St John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul I, and of course Pope St. John Paul II — and these are just a handful among a multitude!

8. Movie Night

These films are not meant to simply collect dust, but to be seen! Choose a night every week to be family night. Buy Pizza and watch the life of a saint together and then discuss it afterward. This could be a very powerful means by which you can evangelize your family using modern  electronic media. Go for it!

9. Monthly Confession

Let the Dad decide and organize and carry out the monthly day/night of confession. All must go!  Why? We are all sinners, except Jesus and Mary! Let Mom and Dad go first so as to give good example to the children. A parent’s example speaks more powerful than words.

10.  Family Apostolate

With the whole family why not do some type of Apostolate together as a team and as a family?  There are many options to choose from!  As a family walk and pray the Rosary in front of an abortion mill in defense of the unborn child. This apostolate will leave an indelible impression on the children even into  their adult years. Our contemplative life must overflow into our active life or apostolate.

11. A Marian Apostle

First of all be fervent and faithful in praying your own daily Rosary. Going into the apostolic field why not get others to pray the Rosary. Start with your family which is the “Domestic Church”. Then encourage the Rosary in your Parish; then promote it wherever the opportunity arises.

12. The Rosary

Get mothers and fathers to pray the Rosary on a weekly basis in one family; then change homes and families every week. Set up an altar with a statue of Mary, candles with the Rosaries in a basket; light a candle and pray. Have Rosary pamphlets and Rosaries available to give as gifts.

13. Novena of Rosaries

It is a very opportune time to pray after somebody dies. Even non-believers or Catholics that have wandered from the fold — they are in the millions — are vulnerable and open to pray for a deceased loved one. Why not visit the home for nine days and pray the Rosary nine days consecutively. This can fortify the faith of the stronger ones and recover the faith of the weak and struggling believers.

14. Frequent Confession

Pope Pius XII stated:  “The sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin.”  There is an urgent need to form the consciences of the believers. What better way than to invite them to come back to the church than by means of a sacramental confession. Have a bulletin available to give at will. Then, why not invest  some resources in acquiring a good booklet on Examination of conscience?

It is interesting how often people who read a detailed Examination of Conscience will often say: “I did not know that is a sin….” Why this response? Because a weakly-formed conscience is almost universal today. At the time of Jonah, many people did not know their left hand from their right hand. Today many people do not know their right hand from their left hand in the spiritual life.

In sum, become an apostle of the Sacrament of Confession!

15. Be an Apostle of Divine Mercy

Jesus said, through Saint Faustina Kowalska, that His greatest attribute is His Infinite mercy. Pope John Paul II reiterates this key Christian concept in his encyclical Dives in Misericordia — God is rich in mercy.

Maybe you are called to be an apostle of Divine mercy! How? Read the Diary of Saint Faustina and then live it out! A concrete way that this could be done would be to get people to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at the mercy hour (3:00 p.m.) or any time.

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However, there is also a special time and place to promote this wonderful practice of Divine mercy and the praying of the Chaplet: when somebody is on his deathbed about to pass from this life into the next, to be judged by Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Why not carry on your person the little Divine Mercy prayer cards and then pass them out free of charge? Then get as many people to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy as the dying person passes from this life into the next. The wonderful promise of Jesus for the dying is that if somebody is praying the Chaplet of Divine mercy when somebody is dying then this soul will attain the mercy of God and eternal salvation.

Be an Apostle of Divine Mercy!  What an excellent manner to express apostolic zeal!

By Fr. Ed Broom, OMV

Father Ed Broom is an Oblate of the Virgin Mary and the author of Total Consecration Through the Mysteries of the Rosary and From Humdrum to Holy. He blogs regularly at Fr. Broom’s Blog.

A God With Skin

Recapturing the Incarnational Nature of the Sacraments

BY MARK C. MCCANN 

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:14)

Since her beginning, the Catholic Church has been an incarnational institution, a Body of believers who act as the eyes, ears, hands, and feet of Jesus in the world. We are a people of sacrament and sign, who embrace Heaven through the things of this earth. In the waters of Baptism, we are washed clean of sin and reborn. In our encounter at Confirmation, we receive the Holy Spirit of God. In the confessional, our words of repentance give way to reconciliation with God and one another. At the Eucharistic table, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of the One whose body was broken and blood poured out upon the Cross. In marriage or Holy Orders, we reflect the relationship of Christ to His Church. And when we receive the sacred oil of anointing, we find healing and strength for the journey to our heavenly home.

Sadly, some Catholics have forgotten the beautiful incarnational nature of the sacraments. In many ways, we have turned our holy rituals into mere routine. For priests, deacons, religious, and lay ministers, it is essential that we help the members of the Church to rediscover what it means to be a people who live out in the flesh the mysteries of our faith. We must move believers from the ritual to the flesh-and-blood reality of the sacraments. In this brief study we will reexamine the meaning of these sacred signs as expounded in God’s “Book of Signs,” the Gospel of John.

Heaven Revealed in the Earthly, Holy Signs

John’s approach to his Gospel truly captures the power and presence of Christ as the One who brought Heaven to earth in sign and sacrament. Jesus used the things of this world to impart the mysteries of eternity into the hearts of ordinary men and women. His encounters with His people were full of the sights, sounds, and situations around Him. His life was a sacred sign — a sacrament — of God’s grace to those He met.

It is these encounters, these earthy events in the life of the Savior, that can help God’s shepherds teach God’s people the incarnational lessons they need to relearn in order to more fully embrace the true sacramental life of the Church. These holy meetings, ordained in eternity and acted out in time, provide a rich and deep biblical theology to help with our understanding of the sacraments and their power to build up our lives and the life of the Church.

Baptism and Seeking the Light – John 3

Nicodemus came to Jesus under the cover of darkness, but deep down he was looking for the light. He began the conversation not with a question, but with a declaration:

“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.” (Jn 3:2b)

Nicodemus revealed both his spiritual turmoil and his inner desire to understand more of what this Galilean preacher had to say. Jesus spoke not to the compliment, but to the man’s cry of need:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” (Jn 3:3b)

Nicodemus thought Jesus was speaking of being born a second time, a confusion of the word Jesus used. Jesus was pointing him to a greater reality — new life in His name. He spoke of being born of water and Spirit, of the wind that blows where it wills, and of the serpent Moses raised up in the desert. Jesus was pulling back the veil to offer a glimpse of the day when he would be lifted up on the Cross for the sins of the world. He knew that all those who came to believe would be plunged in the waters of Baptism to die to their sins and rise up to receive the breath (wind) of the Holy Spirit. This was God’s great act of love for His creation:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. (Jn 3:16)

What began in the Incarnation would be completed at the Cross. This is the double meaning of the word gave in John 3:16. The same love that spoke the Word into the world would baptize the Son in death on the Cross and raise Him up again three days later so that all who believe in His name might share in eternal life. This was the light Nicodemus was seeking. It was the light that led him to return to Jesus after the Crucifixion, when he came with Joseph of Arimathea to lay the Savior to rest.

The Holy Spirit and light are associated with Baptism. When we are baptized we receive a candle to show how we are to take the light of grace into the world to share with those who come in darkness seeking salvation. The wind of the Holy Spirit (from the Greek word pneuma, which means “wind” or “spirit”) blows into the lives of believers, prompting us to reach out to the lost with the gift of redemption. Just as Nicodemus was drawn into the light through Christ’s perfect love, so too are we drawn by the love of God through Baptism, and called to share the light with a world blinded to the truth of life in Jesus:

But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. (Jn 3:21)

Eucharist: The Real Food that Sets Us Apart – John 6

It is difficult to understand how anyone can read chapter six of John’s Gospel and not be overwhelmed by the reality of the Eucharist. John brilliantly crafts his narrative to present the power and presence of Christ in the Eucharist throughout the story.

The chapter begins with Jesus feeding the five thousand with a little boy’s lunch. There are strong Eucharistic overtones in the story: gathering the people, accepting the offering of bread, pronouncing the blessing, distributing the bread to the people, and their eating and being satisfied though Christ’s abundant gift. Following the story, we find Jesus walking on the water, calling out to His followers, “It is I!” — or, more literally, “I Am!” This is a profound statement that connects this experience with the miracle of the loaves that had just taken place, speaking to the truth of Christ’s eternal presence in the Eucharist (see Jn 6:1–21).

When the crowds come seeking more bread, Jesus offers them the Bread of Life discourse. Just as God provided the manna in the wilderness, Jesus provides the true bread that has come down from Heaven. The people grumble when our Lord explains with strong language about eating His flesh (trogon, literally “to gnaw”) and drinking His blood. He challenges the people to focus on what is spiritual: not on physical bread, but on the deeper reality of His presence in the bread. This is the only time in the Gospels where people abandon Jesus for doctrinal reasons; yet our Lord never tells them that He is speaking figuratively:

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (Jn 6:60–63)

The Eucharist is the center of who we are as Catholics, the ultimate act of self-giving, the place where we experience the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. The Eucharist is the nourishment for our journey toward the fullness of our salvation. Through the celebration of the Eucharist we are drawn into intimate union with our Savior, strengthened for our Christian walk, and sent forth to love and serve the Lord and one another. It is this union that is at the heart of God’s plan of salvation: the eternal Son of God giving Himself to His people so that we may consume His life and carry His love to the world.

The Eucharist is more than a weekly ritual. It is our identity, our strength, and our real food and drink. In the Eucharist, we are one people, united in Christ:

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Cor 10:15)

Confirmation: The Living Water that Flows – John 4

Catholics receive the Holy Spirit at Confirmation. The Scriptures contain many word pictures of the Holy Spirit: images of oil, fire, water, and wind that speak to the refreshing, consuming, healing, and overwhelming power of His presence in our lives. Jesus lavishes His Holy Spirit upon us, just as He promised the night before He entered into His Passion:

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. (Jn 14:15–17)

The Holy Spirit is our advocate before the Father, our counselor who enables us to activate the truth of our salvation in our daily living. The Holy Spirit helps us to recall and grasp the truth of our faith, revealing the full meaning it has for our lives. He speaks also through the Church and declares the truth of salvation to the whole world:

But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. (Jn 16:13–14)

At the well of Samaria, Jesus went out of His way to seek out those who were lost in order to let His overflowing love wash over them. He wanted to offer His Living Water to the adulterous woman, and through her, to the people of Samaria. Jesus knew that the woman who was coming to the well was thirsting for what He had to offer. His request for a drink was the doorway to a deeper discussion on what was vitally important:

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” [The woman] said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the well is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn 4:7–14)

Like the coming of the Holy Spirit into our lives at Confirmation, this interchange between Jesus and the woman progressed to deeper and deeper levels as the relationship grew. The woman thought that Jesus’s offer of “living water” meant the clear, flowing water of an icy cool stream, rather than the abundant and overflowing life He wanted to share with her. Often the Spirit’s promptings in our lives begin as overtures of grace, and we are called to search out their meaning. Our thirst for more drives us to deeper understanding as the Holy Spirit reveals Himself to us in more profound ways.

As the dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman continued, she moved from her desire for earthly water to her need for heavenly wisdom. As Jesus revealed Himself, she responded with greater openness, and Jesus poured out that Living Water into her life (see Jn 4:19–24).

This is the grace of the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives. It moves us to seek truth. The woman came to understand that Jesus saw her sins, yet loved her anyway. She wanted to know more. Her desire grew into a thirst for righteous living, shown by her question about the correct place to worship God. Our Lord’s response was at the heart of what worship — acknowledging God’s “worth-ship” — is all about: Spirit and Truth. And so the woman was prompted to reach deeper into the well of Living Water that Jesus had given her:

The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Anointed; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking with you.” (Jn 4:25–26)

At just the right moment, Jesus revealed His holy name — “I Am.” The woman had come to understand that she was speaking with the Anointed One — the Messiah! It is such a perfect picture of how the Holy Spirit works in our lives, moving us from faith to faith, as we grow in wisdom. The more we live out the grace given to us in Confirmation, the deeper our understanding of the working of the Holy Spirit and the more we are able to act upon His specific call on our lives. That is why the woman left her jar and ran to tell the village about the blessing she had received. She no longer cared about her past or how the world saw her. She only cared about taking the Good News of Jesus to others. She called the people to come see the One who had touched her life.

Jesus, full in spirit from His encounter with the woman, saw the multitude of approaching people, waving in the wind like wheat, all ready for reaping from the seed He had sown in the woman’s heart. So too, as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, do we gather in others who are ready to know the power and presence of the Lord. Our Confirmation is the unfolding of what Jesus said later in John:

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says:

‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him.’”

He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive. (Jn 7:37–39a)

Confession: Restoration of Broken Hearts – John 20

The Sacrament of Reconciliation, or Confession, has a long and rich history. The Catholic Church uses verses such as the one below to show that Jesus called His apostolic ministers to forgive sins:

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (Jn 20:22–23)

The current forms of Confession reflect our ever-deepening theology of the sacrament and have truly recaptured the relational aspect of forgiveness Jesus showed to those who came to Him in faith. Here, we bring our weakness, our sins, and our open hearts before the one who represents Christ and the Church in the assurance of God’s love and forgiveness. In this sacred space, we give the Lord our brokenness and our lives. There can be no pretense, for we recognize that Jesus knows our every thought and sees through the masks we wear to hide our vulnerable selves from the world. In that little room, we kneel before the One who loves us as we are, yet calls us to become who He has made us to be.

Peter denied Jesus three times with cursing and swearing and rage. The man who had drawn the sword in the garden was now terrified at the reproach of these nameless faces around a charcoal fire. He knew the depth of his sinful action, and he realized that Jesus knew it too. Our Lord had predicted it hours earlier at the Last Supper (see Mt 26:34, Lk 22:34). This recognition of his failure was as cutting as the cry of the rooster reminding Peter of his shame. He wept bitterly for his sin, knowing he had sunk to the lowest place of his life.

And yet this was not the end of the journey for this strong-willed man of faith. John showed us, at the end of his Gospel, a touching and tender scene of reconciliation:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” (Jn 21:15)

There, at another supper, on a beach after another great catch of fish, Jesus took Peter aside and three times reinstated their relationship. For every denial, Jesus sought a reaffirmation of Peter’s love; and for every affirmation, Jesus called for Peter to go forth in faith and love to shepherd the people of God.

Believers continue to struggle as we carry our cross daily on the road of salvation. Confession is a reaffirmation of our relationship with the Lord. It restores our friendship with Jesus and draws us back to the Body of Christ. No one who makes a good Confession can leave that little room without understanding more deeply the call to live out the promise and power of our Baptism. When we, like Peter, are ready to face ourselves and surrender to the Savior, we find new hope and new power for Christian living:

[Jesus] said to him, “Follow me.” (Jn 21:19b)

Anointing of the Sick: Sin Removed vs. Sin Remaining – John 9

The Apostle James wrote to the Church about the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, its purposes and power:

Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. (Jas 5:14–15)

Jesus’s healings were signs pointing to the Father who had sent Him to earth; and He showed this so powerfully in the healing of the man born blind. The disciples questioned whether the man’s sin or his parents’ sin had caused his blindness. Jesus saw it differently. He used this healing to teach the truth that He had been sent to bring His light to a blind world.

“We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed, and came back able to see. (Jn 9:4–7)

Anointing with oil is a powerful physical sign that is meant to bring healing to the sick person — sometimes physical wellness, but, more importantly, spiritual wholeness. Though Jesus anointed the man’s eyes with mud so he could see, the final healing came in the man’s spiritual restoration:

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him. Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” (Jn 9:35–39)

We are called to live out what our new eyes have seen, because we know our sin is removed. For those who reject this great sign, there is a more bitter conclusion:

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains. (Jn 9:40–41)

Marriage: Abundance, Roles, Blessings. . . John 2

Marriage is a sacred sign of Christ in the world. The words of Jesus in the Gospels bear this out (see Mt 19:4–6). Paul echoes this thought in comparing marriage to the union between Christ and His Church (see Eph 5:21–33). John shows us the beauty and sacredness of marriage in chapter two of his Gospel.

Following the selection of His disciples, Jesus attends a wedding. When the wine runs out, His mother says to him, “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3b). Jesus responds by saying, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come” (Jn 2:4). His mother then tells the servers to do whatever Jesus tells them. Jesus instructs them to fill with water six large stone jars used for ceremonial washings. The water is made wine and the first of Jesus’s signs is revealed.

This story illustrates three important truths about the Sacrament of Marriage. First, Jesus wants to bless marriage abundantly. Wine is a symbol of joy and God wants to fill Catholic marriages with overflowing joy. Second, this miracle illustrates a new chapter in the relationship between Mary and Jesus. Jesus reveals Himself as Savior and Mary is shown as the Woman (a title of respect), the one who would take her place in the salvation story at Golgotha with her Son. As Jesus is set on the path to the Cross, He will one day complete His marriage to the Church, the bridegroom to the Bride. Finally, in this abundant, joyful miracle, Jesus offers a messianic blessing for the marriage and provides abundant wine, a sign that points forward to the Kingdom to come:

[6] And the Lord of hosts shall make unto all people in this mountain, a feast of fat things, a feast of wine, of fat things full of marrow, of wine purified from the lees. [7]And he shall destroy in this mountain the face of the bond with which all people were tied, and the web that he began over all nations. [8] He shall cast death down headlong for ever: and the Lord God shall wipe away tears from every face, and the reproach of his people he shall take away from off the whole earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. [9] And they shall say in that day: Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord, we have patiently waited for him, we shall rejoice and be joyfull in his salvation. Isaiah 25:6-9

Marriage is the miracle of love between a man and a woman that mirrors the relationship of Christ to His Bride, the Church. The sacrament elevates the relationship of man and woman in a union blessed abundantly by God, and calls the couple to live out their marriage in unity as they minister to one another, their children, and the world in love. They are to live as Kingdom people, full of joy, striving toward purity, and bearing holy offspring. Their lives are to be a living sign of what it means to be Church. Their example should call other couples to do the same:

‘. . . and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. (Mk 10:8)

Holy Orders: The True Servanthood of Discipleship – John 13

Jesus called his apostolic ministers to carry out His work (see Mt 28:18–20). The story that best illustrates the true sacramental nature of priesthood comes from John 13, when Jesus took off his outer garment, wrapped a towel around Himself, and began to wash His disciples’ feet. There was a playful exchange between Jesus and Peter, with its symbolism of Baptism and Confession — being clean but still needing to wash one’s feet (see Jn 13:10). But the most moving and beautiful truth that played itself out was spoken by Jesus when He finished:

So when he had washed their feet [and] put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it. (Jn 13:12–17)

Priesthood is a sacred vocation, a holy calling by God. Priests are leaders, teachers, confessors, and counselors; but, most importantly, they are servants who give their lives totally to the task of shepherding the flock under their care. They have been charged to carry on the sacred teachings of the Church and administer the sacraments with faithfulness and humility. They are to put their personalities and authority in a secondary position to their call to love sacrificially and completely, as they follow in the footsteps of the Savior. They are a powerful sign of Christ’s authority, set before the whole of humanity to see. The life of a priest must be holy and undefiled by the world.

Yet we know that these men are also frail human beings who struggle with sin. They walk the same journey of salvation as the people they serve. Their submission to Christ, the Suffering Servant (see Is 53) gives them the strength and holy example to carry out their mission. It is only through the power of the Savior that they live out their calling to priesthood in a broken world. They deserve our prayers, our support, and our love, for they desire a noble task and will be held to account for their work as shepherds:

Presbyters who preside well deserve double honor . . . (1 Tim 5:17a)

A Parable of Conclusion: Matters of Consequence

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, is a beautiful parable of life’s truest treasures, of what is most important and worthy. In the story, a pilot who crash-lands in the desert meets a Little Prince who lives on a small asteroid — his planet. On this planet, the Little Prince has a rose that he cares for. While the pilot is concerned with survival, the Little Prince continues to talk about “matters of consequence.”

At one point in the story, the Little Prince meets a fox who teaches him the importance of “taming” another. Once he has tamed the fox, the fox becomes important to the Little Prince. It helps him to see that the rose on his planet, while similar to a million other roses, is important to him because of his relationship to it. When he leaves, the fox imparts this wisdom to the Little Prince:

“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”

“It is the time I have wasted for my rose—” said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.

“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose . . .”

“I am responsible for my rose,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember. (Little Prince, 48)

Soon after this incident, the Little Prince meets a merchant selling “water pills.” The merchant is proud of the fact that these pills save people 53 minutes a week that they otherwise would have spent drinking water. The Little Prince finds this silly and replies:

“As for me,” said the little prince to himself, “if I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked, I should walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water.” (Little Prince, 50)

The sacraments call us to view reality with the eyes of a child in order to see just what is truly a “matter of consequence.” As shepherds and ministers of the Gospel, we too are called to “tame” others, to “waste time” with them, and to walk with them at our leisure toward the well of Living Water that Jesus offers. Only in Christ can we see the invisible and essential realities of life — and then, only with the eye of our hearts. The sacraments are for Catholics, our matter-of-consequence realities. Through them we receive the grace to live out our faith in a fallen world.

Mark C. McCannAbout Mark C. McCann

Mark C. McCann is an author and ministry consultant with more than 30 years experience in ministry to children, youth, and families, having worked in schools, diocesan offices, and Christian radio. He newest book is To the Ends of the Earth, a 40-week study for Catholic men, published by Our Sunday Visitor. He currently lives in Connecticut with his Proverbs 31 wife and three incredible children and lives out his call each day to be a man of words. His ministry website is www.wordsnvisions.com.

Do Protestants HIDE from God or does God possibly hide from them?

Another “I AM a Catholic Lesson:”

by Pat Miron  

This one based on ideas expressed in THE SPIRIT OF THE LITURGY; by then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. {More recently: Pope Benedict XVI}

Those ideas placed in quotations are for the most part from the above referenced book, and are too be credited to this good and holy man.

There is I think, in the terms of why discovering God in the both the manner possible and the precise method that Christ would have us discover Faith; through a hidden; a “new modality of Presence” that while available to “all”; nevertheless, being illogical [meaning here NOT discernable by strictly human means] and therefore quite commonly difficult, if not darn right impossible to rightly discern [because it relies on the offer and acceptance of God’s specific Graces] which God must choose to offer, and then mortal men must freely choose to accept; which in turn leads to a very tenuous, precarious, profoundly complex  reality. … The “New modality” mentioned above is by the way; “new” only to those, who for whatever their personal reason, whatever is their own excuse, their own willingness or ability to experience truth as it is; remains as it ought, a matter between the Divine- Sublime Godhead, and the limitations imposed by God on mortal men, who are challenged to uncover and then discover the singularity of religious, of Faith God’s necessarily singular truths.

While God does hide Himself from some of us; evidence of His reality is contained in everything in the universe that He Created, maintains and exposes to us specifically so that we can and might discover Him; we alone, his humanity are gifted with the essential attributes indispensable to discover the Mystery of who [and where] is God; and then freely choose to accept Him or to reject Him; and thereby select our place of eternal existence. And yes, I do mean heaven or hell. God’s Divine Justice obligates Himself to OFFER at least sufficient grace to everyone for their possible salvation; thus no one has the excuse of not being able to attain their own personal salvation.

What is clear; or at-least ought to be is that God Remains here in our midst. Far less clear is that JESUS too remains here in our midst.

“He who has seen me, has seen the Father” {John 14:9} informs and teaches us the profound complexity of a God who heretofore choose to remain hidden; concealed in clouds, fire and wind, rather than expose Himself to men’s scrutiny. WHY God would later choose to lower Himself to the degradation, the baseness, the commonness, and imperfections of humanity remains one of the Great Mysteries confronting humanity today.  Yet history affirms that it did happen. And that God remains in our midst. This mystery persist and leads to one of the critical and essential motives for the Incarnation to have taken place, which is that mortal men, who in times and history past would not even; could not even, as their Law prohibited it; express verbally out loud the name of Yahweh- God.  We haveHas now seen God, motivated by His Desire to be in a closer; a far more intimate relationship With His Created humanity choose to; not only reveal Himself in a manner never before evidenced; but inexplicitly, as “one of us.” Like us in every way but sin, in order that men might choose to merit their salvation and avoid sins through His Direct intercession. Even to the extent of the Real Presence of Jesus actually remaining available to us; always and everywhere in His Catholic Church’s.

Just why this; the greatest event in the history of humanity took place is further exposed and revealed in the mystery of Christ spoken words while hanging on the Cross for our collective and individual sin: {John 19: 25-30}

 “ [25]Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’ s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. [26] When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. [27] After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own. [28] Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst. [29]Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar. And they, putting a sponge full of vinegar and hyssop, put it to his mouth. [30] Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.”

While these passages are pregnant with hidden meanings for His humanity; I would like to cull and to expose and to bring into the light of God’s Truths, one teaching in particular.  … Jesus while on the Cross, mere moments from Death shouted I THIRST”…. What a strange thing to shout, and even stranger thing to teach in His waning moments, especially if God was speaking only of a slacked human thirst. …

OF COURSE Christ was thirsty; after all He has been up for more than a day; was deprived of all food and liquids; was severely scourged and crowned with thorns, and then forced to carry His Cross, a cross that weighed more that He did to the HILL of crucifixion; so it is profoundly logical, that our Crucified God meant MORE than a mere human thirst in this painfully shared expression.  … It was extremely agonizing for Christ to speak anything from the Cross which was designed to “teach by example” rather than words; and explains why Christ spoke only seven times. Seven by the way in Jewish parlance & in the Jewish tradition of numbers having meanings beyond their numerical equivalence, represented “perfect and or complete.” That too is one of the hidden messages intended for all of us.  But the Lesson that explains Christ proclamation: “I THIRST!” , is intended to let us know that while Jesus the man dies, as all men will do; Jesus was also, and always God. As God; Jesus desired to do even more that all that He had done; including Dying for humanities “Redemption”; which, by way does not mean necessarily also “salvation”. “Redemption was for and does include all of humanity; past, present and future; and is God’s gift to all; while salvation is more limited and depends on man’s chosen relationship; man’s knowledge and awareness of God, and then man’s, and man’s obedient and humble response to God’s Presence in our Midst, through Jesus in “Person” and the Holy Spirit in “Spirit.”   

The “I THIRST” was a declaration that He desired to do even more; and WOULD Do More.

This “MORE” IS accomplished in two explicit, and  precisely defined biblical teachings; in nearly unfathomable ways: John 19:25 teaches us that Jesus literally gives Mary, His Mother to all of humanity as OUR Mother too; to aid; and to DIRECT all Souls to Her Son. NOT to replace Him; but to aid humanity in knowing Jesus Her Son as She knows Him, and then leading all Souls to Him. Secondly; Jesus does the unimaginable; the unthinkable; and were it not taught by Him personally; the incomprehensible.  BUT Jesus did fulfill, did complete His desire to do “MORE” by choosing to; and then actually; Really, Truly, and Substanually remaining in our midst; not is “spirit alone”; not as some mere “symbol”; not as just a “sign”; BUT REALLY Jesus and REALLY Jesus Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Testimony of this Truth is found taught by FIVE different Bible authors: Matthew 26:26-26; Mark 14: 22+24; Luke 22: 19-21; John ALL of Chapter six but especially verses 48-50 & 56-57[48] I am the bread of life. [49] Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. [50] This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die. & [56] For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed[57] He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him

Exactly how this happens remains a mystery. We DO however know this: Catholic Holy Communion is FROM God the Father; OF God the Son; BY God the Holy Spirit through the hands, ad actions of His Chosen Priest.

JOHN 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

This is further evidenced by Saint Paul a late date Apostle and a Jewish Convert, who did not “come to KNOW Christ” until AFTER Christ Resurrection 1st. Corinthians 11: 26-30  “ [23] For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. [24] And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. [25] In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the New Testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me.

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

This “judgment” means choosing hell over heaven; Satan over Christ without out repenting and confessing and having one’s sins forgiven in  the manner taught by Christ: John 20:19-23… . And the “sleep: here means choosing eternal damnation.

But my friend, today’s Lesson is not primarily about the Most Holy Eucharist; we’ve covered that topic in prior Lessons. Nor is it about the How or Why’s of the Eucharist, as that too has been previously covered, Today I wish to discuss the “WHERE” this miraculous event takes place and point out the significant differences in Protestant and Catholic “Worship services.

Worship is by man; but its objective; its goal is to fulfill in great part the reason humanity exist, which is to recognize God for who and what He is. ALL worship services should have as their focus; God First. And as best as we are able to actually focus on giving God the Glory He seeks; that He alone is worthy of and thereby aim to fulfill the actual reason for our existence. This   That leads us to understand that man exist for God; but also in a relationship way; God also exist for man. Only humanity is enabled to “Know, Love, Serve and Obey God.” That then defines man’s reason to exist: Isaiah 43 verses 7 & 21

If we do not meet God on His terms, under His Conditions, with His truths, with and in our manmade designs for worship; we may never attain the summit of truly “Divine Worship” and only settle for what makes us feel good about ourselves. We might well not only miss our opportunity to meet, to greet, and to be in a very personal; even an intimate relationship with our God; I fear, our actions prove that we may not even truly know God. That my friends is the risk of worship services that aim to please the masses; and relegate God to a very common secondary emphasis. We forsake the opportunity for the truly sublime and simply settle for what I choose to be “mine.”  …  By our choosing to Miss God; we greatly enhance the possibility of actually not even truly knowing God. Most certainly we do choose the opportunity NOT  to meet God “face to face” while yet here on earth! We become so wrapped up in ourselves; what I like; what makes me feel good, that it does not even occur to us that in remaking God into OUR image of him; we leave little or no room for Him to remake US in HIS image.

I will now share some passages out of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger [Pope Benedict XVI] book:   … THE SPIRIT OF THE LITURGY

Liturgy Definition by: Father John A. Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary:

I have admittedly taken some {but NOT all} of these passages out of their original context to make them more relevant to this discussion… Patrick Miron

LITURGY.” A public service, duty, or work. In Scripture it refers to the religious duties to be performed by priests and levites in the Temple, {Exodus 28:1-4 & Numbers 8:13-15} especially those related to the Sacrifice; in Christian use among the Eastern Churches it means the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

In present day usage liturgy is the official public worship of the Church and is thus distinguished from private devotion. It is the special title of the Eucharist, and the administration of the sacraments with the annexed use of the sacramentals.

From a theological viewpoint, the liturgy is the exercise now on earth of Christ’s priestly office, as distinct from his role as teacher and ruler of his people. Christ performs this priestly office as Head of his Mystical Body, so that Head and members together offer the sacred liturgy. Its function, therefore, is twofold: to give honor and praise to God, which is worship, and to obtain blessings for the human race, which is sanctification. (Etym. Latin liturgia; from Greek leitos, of the people + ergon, work: leitourgia, public duty, public worship.)”

From Joseph Ratzinger’s book:

  1.  “It is this: steadfast adherence to the law of God, {the 1st. &3td Catholic- Commandments} which orders human affairs rightly, that is, by organizing them as realities that come from God and are meant to return God.”
  • “Worship” that is the right kind of cult, of relationship with God, is essential for the right kind of human existence in the world.” {page 20}
  • “Man himself cannot simply ‘make worship’. If God does not reveal Himself, man is clutching at empty space. … When God does not reveal Himself, man can, of course, from the sense of God within him build altars to the ‘unknown god.’ “ {Acts 17:23} –{page 21}
  • “Liturgy includes some kind of “institution”. It cannot spring from imagination, our own creativity —- then it would remain just a cry in the dark or mere self-affirmation. Liturgy implies a real relationship with another, who reveals Himself to us and gives our existence a new direction.” {page 22}
  • {Inserted by Pat Miron: these man-made, man remodeled liturgies is what is being addressed here} Liturgy is no longer going up to God, but drawing God down into one’s own world.” {page 22}
  • If God does not reveal Himself; man is clutching empty spaces …. When God does not reveal Himself man can, of course from the sense of God within him, build altars to the unknown god’ {Acts 17:23} The Apostasy is more subtle. There is no obvious turning away from God to the false gods.”{page 22}
  • “The apostasy is more subtle. There is no obvious turning away from God to false gods. Outwardly, the people remain attached to the same God.{again inserted by Pat Miron… OR SO THEY THINK…. ‘Worship is no longer going up to God, but drawing God to one’s own world” {page 22}
  • “Man is using God, and in reality, even if not outwardly discernible, he is placing himself above God. … Worship becomes a feast that the community gives itself, a festival of self-affirmation.  … Ultimately it is no longer concerned with God but gives oneself a nice little alternative world, manufactured from one’s own resources. Then Liturgy {no longer being primarily Sacred …inserted by Pat Miron} really becomes pointless.” {page 23}
  • “God makes His Dwelling in the world: Heaven and earth are united.” … :Now if worship rightly understood, is the soul covenant, then it not only saves mankind but is also meant to draw the whole of reality into communion with God.”
  1. “But everything is bound up with freedom, and the creatures {us Christians who} has the freedom to turn the positive ‘exitus =exit’ around , as it were to rupture it … to say no to the ‘raditus’ = return: this is the refusal to be dependentLove is seen as dependence and is rejected. And we discover that Redemption now has need of the Redeemer. The {early Church} Fathers saw this, and for them the parable of the Lost Sheep; and the Ram caught in the thorn bush” represents man in general.” {Genesis 22:4-14} {page 33}
  1. “Of necessity {worship} takes place as a struggle for atonement, forgiveness, reconciliation. The awareness of guilt weighs down on mankind. Worship is the attempt, to be found at every stage of history, to overcome guilt and to bring back the worlds and one’s own life into right order. {INSERTED BY PAT MIRON: It is precisely this fact that leads to the enormous “grace-merit-gap” between all Catholic Mass Worship services, and any and all other non-Catholic Christian worship services. Because even in the modernity of today’s{Catholic} “Ordinary” form of the Mass’; Jesus Christ is still present; still available and still wanting to be in the most possible of all possible intimate relationships with us. It is the reality of God… Jesus Himself in Person in Catholic Holy Communion that no other type of service can duplicate; and therefore leave all of them ‘wanting’ in a way that remains impossible to fulfill.}  …. “The only real gift man should give to God is himself[PM1] .” {Again inserted by Pat Miron… and this ‘gift’ of oneself is precisely what joins God to man and man to God in Catholic Holy Communion, and creates the unfillable gap that exist between our worship services and all those of competing faiths.  {Please read: 1 John 1:6-7, 1 John5: 16-17 & John 20:19-23}

12 “The Christian {read here as ‘Catholic’} theology of worship —- beginning with St. John the Baptist {Behold the Lamb of God …. John 1: 29 “The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world” ….’ Here the rules are laid down for the Sacrifice of the Passover Lamb {male unblemished} as the center of the liturgical year and of Israel’s memorial faith, which is at the same time an everlasting foundation of faith.’ ” … ‘More precious than sacrifice is obedience; submission more precious that the fat of rams.’ {Hosea 6:9 & Mt. 9:13, 12:7} … {pages 38-39}

Catholic Holy Communion is FROM God the Father; OF God the Son BY God the Holy Spirit. And is historical, biblical and through “Eucharistic Miracles”; is even visually verifiable; such is the desire of Our God to be truly known by all men:

http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/a3.html

Mt. 26:26-28, Mk.14: 22-23, Lk. 22: 19-21 … & 1st. Cor. 11: 26-30

John 6: “[51] I am the living bread which came down from heaven. [52] If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. [53] The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? [54] {**} Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. [55] He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

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

[56] For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. [57] He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. [58] As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. [59]

It is this Reality that fosters the title of this Lesson. Do Protestants {and some Catholics, who too lack or refuse sufficient Grace} miss God? And Does God Hide Himself from them by limiting their faith and understanding?  Yes and YES!

Missing Christ IS “missing God”. Our God who seeks OBEDIENCE more than Sacrifice foresaw the Protestant Revolution, and knew that His Son would be denied; ignored; and overlooked not because of a lack of clear biblical-teaching; but rather because mortal men usurped the right to what God wants, commands and Ordains, and prefer to develop their own methods; actually dictating to God, how He will forgive their sins; and how there Godless Presence; accepting at times the Holy Spirit; but missing Christ who desires to be in their midst

Exod.19: [5] “Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine”

Deut.27: [10] “You shall therefore obey the voice of the LORD your God, keeping his commandments and his statutes, which I command you this day.”

Rom.1: [5]” through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations”

Rom.2: [8] “but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.”

John 3: 35-36 “[35] the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand. [36] He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.   {No-one can claim to belief in the Son if they do not accept His Teaching & His Teaching AUTHORITY:

Mt. 28: 16-20 [16] And the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. [17] And seeing him they adored: but some doubted. [18] And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. [19] Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. …READ Mt. 10:1-8 and compare it to this final teaching of Jesus Christ recorded by St. Matthew, if you doubt this.

Acts 20:26-30 “26] Wherefore I take you to witness this day, that I am clear from the blood of all men; [27] For I have not spared to declare unto you all the counsel of God. [28] Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. [29] I know that, after my departure, ravening wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. [30] And of your own selves shall arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them”

Now friend look how Martian Luther {a former & now an apostate Catholic priest” changed this text to suit HIS new competing religion}….

Luther’s original bible translated from German into English: Acts 20: 26-30 “NIV 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. NIV 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. NIV 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. NIV 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. NIV 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.

http://www.biblestudytools.com/parallel-bible/passage/?q=acts+20:+26-30&t=lut&t2=niv

FROM THE KING JAMES bible:

Acts 20:26-30

KJV 26 Wherefore I take you to record this day that I am pure from the blood of all men. KJV 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. KJV 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. KJV 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. KJV 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise , speaking perverse things , to draw away disciples after them.”

http://www.biblestudytools.com/parallel-bible/passage/?q=acts+20:+26-30&t=lut&t2=kjv

I will end this by sharing that the bible IS a “Catholic Book” and that the ONLY “Christian Faith” to exist for at least a thousand years after the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is today’s Catholic Church. So whatever your current faith beliefs they have as the foundation; our Catholic Faith beliefs and teachings.

The very same Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger; as Pope Benedict XVI, had this insight to share:

“THERE CANNOT BE YOUR TRUTH AND MY TRUTH OR THERE WOULD BE NO TRUTH.”

May God’s continued Grace and Blessings be yours

Patrick Miron

While we cannot truly judge if Protestants actually hide from God; we can nevertheless know and can evidence that they do hide from God’s Truth; which in my opinion is the “same” as hiding from God. (Protestant denial of the Real Presence”; is in fact, prohibiting them from being in GOD’S Divine Presence in the here and now. And hoe VERY sad this reality is. Please join me in praying for their conversions.


 [PM1]

How Counterfeit Churches Devalue Christianity-Part


I

By Nate Guyear

Since the Protestant rebellion over 500 years ago, thousands of Christian denominations and sub-denominations have been established. The rebellion resulted in contradictions, divisions, and confusion that have haunted Christianity ever since. Conversely, we know from history, Sacred Scripture, and Sacred Tradition that Jesus Christ founded only one church and gave this single church his preeminent authority. The original church is the one Jesus Christ founded 2000 years ago; all others are counterfeit. This article will prove that Jesus founded one church, that it is the Catholic Church, and that all other churches devalue Christianity with their counterfeit nature.

COUNTERFEIT CURRENCY ANALOGY

When I was a Special Agent with the Secret Service, I and other agents received countless hours of instruction on every denomination of paper currency in circulation. We learned how these notes were made, their security features, size, density, and even the types of ink that were used. Only after gaining a thorough understanding of authentic notes, were we trained on identifying counterfeit currency. The reason for this was quite simple. We needed to know the original in order to identify the myriad counterfeit bills that were being manufactured and circulated. Counterfeit bills are not identical, and they all have something that makes them different from the original.

Additionally, counterfeit currency devalues true currency by diluting our monetary system with an inferior product. For example, let us imagine that the federal government caps the number of $50 denominations at 1000. At some point, 1000 counterfeit $50 bills make their way into circulation, resulting in 100 percent more $50 bills in circulation. A 100 percent increase in bills results in a 50 percent decrease in value because the federal government has backed only 1000 bills. If this activity were to go unchecked, prices for goods would rise to reflect the illegal injection of these bills. Therefore, commerce depends on reliable currency.

Similarly, when learning about Christ and his teachings, we need to know which church is the original and which are counterfeit, because salvation depends on reliable truths passed down from the beginning, preserved, and developed without error. Without this knowledge, we would receive versions of Christianity peppered with lies, watered-down, and devalued. We would consequently worship a type of Jesus Christ who is remade in man’s own image, which would result in a counterfeit Jesus. These counterfeit versions of Jesus would teach what man wants him to teach rather than what he really teaches, and counterfeit churches would falsely claim to preach and teach with Christ’s authority. Therefore, we need to know which Church Christ founded and infused with his preeminent authority.

SCRIPTURE ON THE TRUE CHURCH

In Matthew 16:18-19, Jesus says,

And I tell you, you are Peter (meaning rock), and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.” Notice that Jesus says he will build his “church” not “churches.

He also says that whatever Peter binds or loosens on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven. This authority, though subordinate due to Peter alone having the keys to the kingdom, was also transmitted to the other apostles (see Mt 18:18). Jesus, being God the Son, would have known that the Church he founded would bind and lose many things until the Second Coming. Therefore, God eternally preapproved everything this Church binds and loosens. Consequently, the truth must undergird this power; otherwise, binding and loosing would be built on lies. To say that the Church Jesus founded teaches lies is to say that God had no idea what this Church would teach, or that God predestined a Church ordered toward teaching lies. One position makes God ignorant, the other makes Him a liar.

Matthew 28:18-20 states,

And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.

First, “Go, therefore,” means Jesus is giving his apostles his authority. In other words, “Go in my authority.”  Within this authority, they were to teach all nations and baptize “to the close of the age.” The close of the age is not yet here. Therefore, Jesus has not withdrawn his authority from the Church he founded. Second, he instructs his Apostles to make disciples of all nations and to teach others everything he has “commanded” them. You cannot teach someone and direct them to obey unless you have authority. Third, Christ gave his Apostles authority to teach “all nations.” Since the Apostles would not be able to go to, much less teach all nations during their lifetimes, Christ’s authority extends to those selected to succeed them. If they did not select men to succeed them (cf. Acts 1:26), no one would have the authority to teach.

Think about a man walking into a high school classroom and teaching without first being hired and without permission from the school. What would happen? He would be removed because he never received authority to teach. This would happen in any institution. Christ gave authority to the Apostles to teach and to ordain successors to teach after them. When the Protestant forefathers (Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, and King Henry VIII) broke away from the Catholic Church, they lost the authority to teach and remained without authority to appoint successors. Lack of God-given authority is one reason for the perpetual contradictions and divisions in Protestantism.

The Church Jesus founded, however, does not teach contradiction but exists in unity of truth, guided by the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, Matthew 28:18-20 shows church authority, unity, and succession. Acts 15:4-29 provides an excellent example of early church authority and unity. Hebrews 13:17 commands us to obey our spiritual leaders, which is precisely the opposite of what the Protestant forefathers did when they rebelled against Christ’s Church. Many other verses demonstrate the Church’s unity and authority, but we still need to show that the Church described in the aforementioned verses is the Catholic Church.

Acts chapters 9, 19, 22, and 24 mention “the Way,” which was the name of the early Christian community. Clearly, Saints Peter, John, Paul, and the other Apostles were leaders of the Way. With this in mind, read the below paragraphs and notice the connection between the Apostles and their successors. This connection is called apostolic succession, and the Church in which this connection continues to exist is the Catholic Church, aka the Roman Church, a title used in some of the below quotes.

In his Letter to the Roman Church, St. Paul says to the Roman Christians,

To all God’s beloved in Rome who are called to be saints….” “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world” (Ch. 1).

Scripture nowhere states that the faith of the Roman Church stopped being proclaimed throughout the world. In fact, when one looks at all the churches, one will notice there is no other church that comes close to the size and geographic presence of the Catholic Church (1.3 billion members, 197 countries). The Roman Church’s faith is truly “proclaimed in all the world.” In addition to Scripture, the Early Church Fathers had much to say about this Church (Below quotes from The Fathers Know Best by Apologist Jimmy Akin, Catholic Answers Press, San Diego, 2010).

THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS

St. Ignatius of Antioch (Bishop), ordained by St. Peter and taught by St. John, said,

Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop.” “Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” “…the Church that is beloved and enlightened by the will of him that wills all things according to the love of Jesus Christ our God, that presides in the place of the Romans…” (A.D. 110).

The Roman Church was and continues to be Catholic.

St. Polycarp (A.D. 69-155) was a disciple of St. John and bishop of Smyrna. A letter titled the Martyrdom of Polycarp states,

Having through patience overcome the unjust governor, and thus acquiring the crown of immortality, he now, with the apostles and all the righteous [in heaven], rejoicingly glorifies God, even the Father, and blesses our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of our souls, the governor of our bodies, and the Shepherd of the Catholic Church throughout the world.

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, A.D. 189, bishop and disciple of St. Polycarp, argued, “…we confute all those who,…assemble in unauthorized meetings, by indicating those Traditions derived from the Apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul.”  “For it is a matter of necessity that every church agrees with this church (the one in Rome), on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, in so far as the apostolic Tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.” By refusing to agree with the Roman Church’s teachings, other churches separate themselves from authentic Christianity.

St. Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth under Pope Soter (A.D. 170), wrote,

From the beginning, it has been your practice to do good to all the brethren in various ways…, you Romans (meaning the church in Rome) keep up the hereditary custom of the Romans, which your blessed Bishop Soter has not only maintained, but added to, furnishing an abundance of supplies to the saints, and encouraging the brethren from abroad with blessed words, as a loving father his children.

Tertullian of Carthage (A.D 155-240), early Christian author, wrote in A.D. 200,

Where was [the heretic] Marcion, that shipmaster of Pontus, the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago, in the reign of Antonius for the most part, and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherius….

These men were members of the Catholic Church but later spread heresies. The reason they were heretics was because they were Catholics who intentionally taught contrary to the teachings of the Church Christ founded.

Lastly, St. Hegesippus wrote,

And when I had come to Rome, I remained there until Anicetus (eleventh bishop of Rome), whose deacon was Eleutherius. And Anicetus was succeeded by Soter, and he by Eleutherius” (A.D. 180).

The early bishop/historian St. Irenaeus also verified the list of Rome’s early bishops. Note: J.N.D. Kelly’s, “The Oxford Dictionary of Popes,” traces the names and biographical information of all popes from St. Peter to today.

Other Early Church Fathers and historical figures who wrote about Roman Church’s preeminent authority include St. Cyprian of Carthage (A.D. 251), Firmilian of Caesarea (A.D. 255), Eusebius of Caesarea (A.D. 312), Pope St. Julius I (A.D. 341), Council of Sardica (A.D. 342), St. Optatus of Milevis (A.D. 367), St. Jerome (A.D. 376), Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381), St. Augustine (A.D. 411) and many others.

The post How Counterfeit Churches Devalue Christianity-Part I appeared first on Catholic Stand.

Top intellectual approaches to unbelievers

By Dr. Jeff Mirus 

Years ago I did a good deal of work in apologetics, or the rational defense of the Faith. I developed and taught a college level course in apologetics. I also edited and co-authored a basic book of apologetics which we published at Christendom College (at last check it can be purchased on Amazon for something like $985), an indication that it is no longer widely available. Happily, four of its chapters are in our library on CatholicCulture.org, and of course I’ve written quite a few commentaries here over the past twenty-five years which deal with apologetics. (At the end of this essay, I link to the ebooks which contain many of these writings, plus a few other things, which are all free.)

One of the interesting things about apologetics is that, in our time at least, it is often more useful in awakening Catholics to the vital force of a Faith that may be largely taken for granted, than it is in preparing others for conversion by clearing away their intellectual obstacles to assent. It is hard to get someone who is hostile to Christianity to open his or her mind to such arguments, though they can be extraordinarily useful for those who are already being attracted to the Faith and the Church in some way.

Still, from time to time, it is worthwhile to reconsider the best approaches to “proving” the truth of Christianity. Perhaps “proving” is not quite the right word; more often the task is to (a) Show the irrationality of the many ideas to which people cling as justifications for ignoring religious claims; and (b) Demonstrate that Catholic claims are perfectly compatible with human reason even though they do often transcend it.

It would, however, be just as wrong to assume that another person can be “argued into” Faith as it is to assume that most people are drawn to Faith primarily by sound arguments. Faith operates both more subtly and at deeper human levels than mere argument. There are all kinds of “motives of credibility” that draw people to Christ, from the goodness they experience in Christians (including the lives of the saints), to the remarkable durability of the Church against all odds, to the beauty of Christian art, to the joy of Catholic family life—and many more besides. Certainly these also include the integrity and the love of the apologist.

As a better preparation for all of our discussions with others, it may be useful to enumerate briefly the six general lines of argument and/or motives of credibility I believe can be most effective in awakening non-believers to the need to take seriously the claims of Christianity in general, and of Catholicism in particular.

1. The universal and persistent sense that we live under a judgment

This is an argument developed most fully by St. John Henry Newman. It runs like this: We all have a strong moral sense, including a sense of being scrutinized for whether we act rightly or wrongly. In other words, we have a strong feeling that we are living under a judgment. This strongly implies that there is a judge; and, if a judge, there must be a law-giver. In other words, there is some transcendent being who apparently cares deeply about how we behave. And if he cares so deeply, nothing is more likely than that he will have tried to reveal Himself to us, at least to let us know what he expects of us. The existence of a Divine Revelation, therefore, is exceedingly likely, and we ought to carefully consider anything we can find which claims to be such a Revelation.

2. Philosophical reflection on God and the soul

Quite apart from any Divine Revelation, we recognize (or certainly ought to recognize) that it is possible both to intuit and to prove the existence of God and the existence of the human soul. A basic grasp of these realities is all but self-evident, as is suggested by the fact that every culture in history has initially shared a conviction about them, and it has always taken very careful indoctrination to banish such ideas. Moreover, the classical philosophical tradition includes formal proofs of God and the soul. Why would we not try to follow up on these seminal conclusions in some way?

3. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The pivotal figure when it comes to Faith is, of course, Jesus Christ. There is an extraordinarily strong and consistent historical claim that Jesus Christ (a) predicted that he would rise from the dead three days after being killed; and (b) did exactly that. The arguments in support of the authenticity of this historical claim are quite strong; the arguments against it are superficial and exceedingly weak. What stands in the way of acceptance is primarily either cultural conditioning or a refusal to be open to grace. An examination of the case is valuable.

4. The internal consistency and remarkable sublimity of Scripture

Many people have been struck by the beauty, consistency and moral/spiritual loftiness found in the book Christians revere as the inspired Word of God. Acquainting people with the riches of both the Old and New Testaments can be a powerful instrument of spiritual awakening, especially when we understand that the Holy Spirit always speaks to the human heart through the Scriptures—though the heart may, of course, be closed. Important topics for discussion include the unique perspective in the Bible, right from the first, that religion includes morality (so foreign to paganism); the progressive formation of the Jewish people under Divine guidance; the beauty of Scriptural prophecy and prayer; the way in which the Old Testament points to the New, and the New points back to and illuminates the Old; and of course the life of Christ Himself.

5. Christian witness: very human, yet beyond the human mode

The saints and martyrs can be incredibly attractive to others because of their sheer goodness, immense courage, and unshakable joy under extreme pressure. This has been described, justly, as something human yet somehow beyond the merely human mode. It is a window, therefore, into what it is like to be a person filled with grace, a person in love with God. Acquainting others with not only Christ but his innumerable saints—of which there is a sufficient diversity to attract everyone—can be a vital component in opening a soul to Christian teaching.

6. The incredible consistency, durability and sheer liveliness of the Church

When we stop and think about it, the Church is an incredible entity even when looked at from the outside. Despite the all too obvious sins of her members, she has endured now far longer than any other social or political entity of any kind. She has been persecuted fiercely from all sides, while not deviating at her core from the basic truths she has always treasured and proclaimed. Despite human weaknesses, the Church has given life to prodigious holiness, moral strength, intellectual and artistic achievement, and works of charity. In each age she spawns new orders and apostolates in wild profusion.


Enumerating these six possibilities does not exclude others. As I suggested above, the barriers for some may simply melt through exposure to the penetrating vision so consistently present in great Christian works of art. And of course, there is no getting away from the simple witness of apparently ordinary men and women who attract others primarily because they radiate some Presence which is greater than themselves. Sometimes, of course, these others will run for cover, with their hands over their eyes and ears; or even go on the attack. The Christian life is an adventure, and so is the offer to get to know both the truth and the One who is the Truth. Such introductions may be spurned, but we must make the offer all the same. Our Lord wants many friends (John 15:15)—for their benefit, I think, and not for His

‘Stay Tuned!’: Trump Shuts Down Personal Blog, Teases Appearance On New Social Media Platform

TOPSHOT-US-POLITICS-TRUMP-RALLY

(Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

ANDERS HAGSTROMWHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTJune 02, 202112:14 PM ETFONT SIZE:https://6e6b8ae9e84ab451b755ed47e147bf63.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlhttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.462.0_en.html#goog_384908285https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.462.0_en.html#goog_1965019205https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.462.0_en.html#goog_1614282139https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.462.0_en.html#goog_1651082268https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.462.0_en.html#goog_380294068

Former President Donald Trump shut down his own personal blog Wednesday, and senior-level staff say he will be returning on an unnamed social media platform.

Trump senior aide Jason Miller announced the end of the “From The Desk Of Donald J. Trump” blog Wednesday morning, saying it “will not be returning.” Trump first announced the site in early May, less than a month before its demise. Miller confirmed on Twitter that the removal of the blog is a precursor to Trump joining a social media platform, though he did not offer any details.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3R3ZWV0X2VtYmVkX2NsaWNrYWJpbGl0eV8xMjEwMiI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJjb250cm9sIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1400107239394906114&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fdailycaller.com%2F2021%2F06%2F02%2Ftrump-blog-jason-miller-social-media%2F%3Fpnespid%3DgrAyuakEWwCNJ54aNFTWlf0zZovZzRfTN_t9fyMo&partner=tweetdeck&sessionId=76315c2c964ec55a5e1abe8a427e7b342048902b&siteScreenName=dailycaller&theme=light&widgetsVersion=82e1070%3A1619632193066&width=550px

Miller did not immediately respond to a request for details from the Daily Caller, though he has previously teased that Trump could return to social media on his own platform. (RELATED: Twitter Is Suspending Accounts That Post Donald Trump’s Statements From His Website)

CLEVELAND, OH – JULY 21: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives two thumbs up to the crowd during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“Hoping to have more information on the broader efforts soon, but I do not have a precise awareness of timing,” Miller told CNBC in a Wednesday morning statement.javascript:false;ADVERTISEMENTSCROLL TO CONTINUE READING

Trump has sought to find a way to reacquire platform he possessed when he was in the White House and prior to his bans from Facebook and Twitter. The social media giants kicked him off their sites permanently following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, in which Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to prevent then-Vice President Mike Pence from certifying President Joe Biden’s victory. Pence had no constitutional authority to prevent the certification.

Trump’s potential return to social media lines up with a timeline Miller put forward in mid-March.

“I do think we’re going to see President Trump returning to social media and probably about two or three months here with his own platform, and this is something that I think will be the hottest ticket in social media,” Miller said at the time.

‘Stay Tuned!’: Trump Shuts Down Personal Blog, Teases Appearance On New Social Media Platform

TOPSHOT-US-POLITICS-TRUMP-RALLY

(Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

ANDERS HAGSTROM

ANDERS HAGSTROMWHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTJune 02, 202112:14 PM ETFONT

Former President Donald Trump shut down his own personal blog Wednesday, and senior-level staff say he will be returning on an unnamed social media platform.

Trump senior aide Jason Miller announced the end of the “From The Desk Of Donald J. Trump” blog Wednesday morning, saying it “will not be returning.” Trump first announced the site in early May, less than a month before its demise. Miller confirmed on Twitter that the removal of the blog is a precursor to Trump joining a social media platform, though he did not offer any details.

Miller did not immediately respond to a request for details from the Daily Caller, though he has previously teased that Trump could return to social media on his own platform. (RELATED: Twitter Is Suspending Accounts That Post Donald Trump’s Statements From His Website)

CLEVELAND, OH – JULY 21: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives two thumbs up to the crowd during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“Hoping to have more information on the broader efforts soon, but I do not have a precise awareness of timing,” Miller told CNBC in a Wednesday morning statement.javascript:false;ADVERTISEMENTSCROLL TO CONTINUE READING

Trump has sought to find a way to reacquire platform he possessed when he was in the White House and prior to his bans from Facebook and Twitter. The social media giants kicked him off their sites permanently following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, in which Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to prevent then-Vice President Mike Pence from certifying President Joe Biden’s victory. Pence had no constitutional authority to prevent the certification.

Trump’s potential return to social media lines up with a timeline Miller put forward in mid-March.

“I do think we’re going to see President Trump returning to social media and probably about two or three months here with his own platform, and this is something that I think will be the hottest ticket in social media,” Miller said at the time.

Reflection 153: Seeing our “Littleness” (Re-blogged)

Reflection 153: Seeing our “Littleness”

Video

Little children can’t wait to grow up.  When they have a birthday, they are filled with joy that they are one year older.  And yet, as little children, they are still dependent upon their parents in many ways.  The same is true of us in a spiritual sense.  We often want to “grow up” and to become great saints, attaining great things for God.  And yet, we must often remind ourselves that we are still children.  In our “littleness” before God, we are now and ever will be fully dependent upon Him for all our needs.  Recognizing this fact is essential to becoming a great saint and growing in holiness.  We become great by becoming small (See Diary #779).

Reflect upon your littleness before God.  Compared to the glory and power of the Almighty, we are small and weak.  But God sees our littleness and He desires that we run to Him in complete confidence.  Entrust yourself to His Mercy and run to Him.  Realize that it is only by humbly admitting your total dependence upon Him that you are made strong through His embrace. 

Lord, I do run to You and cling to You in my need.  You are All-Powerful and glorious beyond measure.  May I rely upon You in all things and continually seek You with my whole being.  Jesus, I trust in You.

The oldest cathedral and the newest challenge

In stark contrast to Vatican II’s teaching on the authority of bishops in chapter three of its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Catholicism in the U.S. is being defined by President Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Jen Psaki.

June 2, 2021 George Weigel The Dispatch 5Print

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also called the Baltimore Basilica. (Image: Euelbenul/Commons Wikipedia)

It’s now the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but for native Baltimoreans of a certain vintage (like me) it is, was, and always will be “the Old Cathedral:” the first of its kind in the United States. The genius of its architect, Benjamin Latrobe, was long muted by ill-conceived mid-20th century alterations; a restoration completed in 2006 recovered the extraordinary play of light within the building, by which Latrobe and Archbishop John Carroll sought to express the Catholic commitment to religious freedom in the new American Republic. As it marked the bicentenary of its dedication on May 31, the Baltimore Basilica is far more than a splendid example of Federal-period architecture, however. It’s also home to a lively (and largely young) parish and an innovative urban ministry, “Source of All Hope,” that conducts a mission to the homeless in a deeply troubled city.

By an order of magnitude, the Baltimore Basilica is America’s most historic Catholic building, for it was there that the bishops of the United States met 10 times in the 19th century to design the pastoral, liturgical, and catechetical life of the Church in the United States. Those seven provincial and three plenary councils of Baltimore were the Catholic Church’s most extensive and consequential exercises in what the Second Vatican Council would call “collegiality” between the 16th-century Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council in 1869-70. And their effects are still felt among us today.

It was at the Old Cathedral that the U.S. bishops established the legal structure for American Catholicism, preventing the lay trustee movement from remaking the Church in the U.S. on a congregationalist model. It was in the Baltimore Basilica that the bishops named Our Lady the patroness of the United States under the title of the Immaculate Conception; it was there that they mandated the parochial school system, once a powerful engine for assimilating immigrants and now the Church’s most successful anti-poverty program; it was there that the bishops agreed to create the Catholic University of America; it was there that they authorized the Baltimore Catechism, which shaped religious education in the country for generations; and it was there that they defended the American arrangement on Church and state, thereby opening a door to the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom.

So a lot of history was made in the masterpiece created by Archbishop Carroll’s vision and Benjamin Latrobe’s design. I drank in that history early, when, as a wide-eyed and crewcut six-year old, I entered the first grade of the Old Cathedral’s school and made my first holy communion there a year later. Decades after that, I learned that the bishops hadn’t come to their decisions easily, in those 19th-century provincial and plenary councils. There was contention, as there has been in the Church since Acts 15. But since the bishops put an end to “trusteeism” and established themselves as the bottom line of ecclesiastical authority in America, there has never been any disagreement that the bishops are in charge.

Until today.

In stark contrast to Vatican II’s teaching on the authority of bishops in chapter three of its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Catholicism in the United States is being defined today by President Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki (who frequently assures the country that the president is a devout and serious Catholic, as Mrs. Pelosi often says of herself). That is the issue beneath the many other issues the U.S. bishops will discuss when, as successors of the bishops who held those 10 councils of Baltimore, they meet “virtually” in June: Who defines integral Catholicism in the United States? The bishops, proclaiming the settled teaching of the Church on the inalienable right to life from conception until natural death and the implications of those Gospel truths for living in full communion with the Church? Or politicians who reject those truths, and then make that deviance unmistakably clear by facilitating the grave moral evil of abortion and supporting an “Equality Act” that criminalizes the Bible’s teaching on the human person?

Who’s in charge here?

In Lumen Gentium 27, Vatican II taught that bishops are to exercise “the authority and sacred power” invested in them for the “spiritual development of their flock in truth and holiness.” That, I take it, means defining truth and holiness in an integrally Catholic way. Mr. Biden, Mrs. Pelosi, and Catholic public officials of both parties are defining Catholicism according to the woke spirit of the age. John Carroll’s episcopal heirs should call them out on that.


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About George Weigel 338 ArticlesGeorge Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. He is the author of over twenty books, including Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (1999), The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy (2010), and The Irony of Modern Catholic History: How the Church Rediscovered Itself and Challenged the Modern World to Reform. His most recent books are The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission (2020), and Not Forgotten: Elegies for, and Reminiscences of, a Diverse Cast of Characters, Most of Them Admirable (Ignatius, 2021).

Parliamentarian: Democrats only get one more chance to sidestep GOP this year

BY ALEXANDER BOLTON – 06/02/21 11:41 AM EDT

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Parliamentarian: Democrats only get one more chance to sidestep GOP this year

© Greg Nash

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has effectively ruled that only one more automatic budget reconciliation is permissible this year, dealing a blow to Democrats who previously thought they would have two more chances to sidestep Republicans in advancing President Biden‘s agenda.

MacDonough ruled that a revision to the 2021 budget resolution cannot be automatically discharged from the Senate Budget Committee, meaning Democrats would need at least one Republican on the 11-11 panel to vote with them.

The bombshell ruling effectively means Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-N.Y.) will be able to use only one more reconciliation vehicle to pass Biden’s key legislative priorities this year. He will not be able to divide up the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan and the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, as well as Biden’s calls to expand Medicare and lower the price of prescription drugs, into multiple reconciliation packages as was envisioned only a few weeks ago.

Anything that Schumer wants to pass through the Senate with a simple-majority vote in 2021 will have to go into one budget reconciliation package. 

Prior to the parliamentarian’s latest ruling, quietly issued on Friday, Schumer thought he might be able to pass two or even three more reconciliation bills in 2021, and thereby bypass GOP filibusters and enact Biden’s agenda through several packages.

MacDonough advised Schumer’s staff in April that multiple revisions would be allowed to a budget resolution, which Schumer’s spokesman at the time hailed as “an important step forward.”

“The Parliamentarian has advised that a revised budget resolution may contain budget reconciliation instructions. This confirms the Leader’s interpretation of the Budget Act and allows Democrats additional tools to improve the lives of Americans if Republican obstruction continues,” the spokesman said at the time.

But the advice was only provided in a broad brush and important details of what exactly would be allowed had not yet been fleshed out.

The Schumer spokesman acknowledged in April “some parameters still need to be worked out.”

Now, the only way Democrats could create multiple reconciliation vehicles based on the 2021 budget resolution or a yet-to-be-enacted 2022 budget resolution would be if Schumer convinced a Republican on the evenly-divided Budget Committee to vote to discharge a Section 304 revision to the budget.

A spokesman for Schumer declined to comment on the parliamentarian’s latest ruling. 

Democrats were able to move the 2021 budget resolution out of the Budget Committee earlier this year because Section 300 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 sets an April 1 deadline for the Senate Budget Committee to report a concurrent resolution on the budget for the next fiscal year.

That enabled Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to automatically discharge the 2021 budget resolution to the floor earlier this year because he did so well after the deadline of April 1, 2020.ADVERTISING

But MacDonough has ruled that no such forcing mechanism exists for a revision to the 2021 budget under Section 304.

“Unlike the 301 resolution, a section 304 resolution is an optional procedure untethered to the Section 300 structure,” the parliamentarian wrote in her guidance to senators. “There is no deadline for its reporting from committee or its completion in the Senate.”

The parliamentarian warned that allowing for automatic discharge of revisions to the budget resolution out of the Budget Committee and onto the floor would risk “eroding the budget process,” characterizing it as a scenario in which the budget panel would be churning out “meaningless, stop-gap measures or shells for future consideration.”

“That kind of chaos was not at all what was intended with auto-discharge. Rather, the purpose of auto-discharge is to provide an incentive for committee compliance with the law and to provide a remedy when compliance with and through the mandatory processes of the [Congressional Budget Act] have not been met,” she wrote.

“Auto-discharge is not appropriate for a 304 resolution,” MacDonough wrote in conclusion.

As a result, Democrats will need a majority of Senate Budget Committee members to support passing a revision to the 2021 budget resolution or create multiple budget reconciliation vehicles based on a single budget resolution.

Any of Biden’s legislative priorities that do not make it into the next reconciliation package —which will come out of the concurrent budget resolution for 2022, which the Senate has yet to pass — would have to wait until next year, when the budget resolution for fiscal year 2023 is automatically discharged out of the Budget Committee.

MacDonough in her memo to senators warned that the drafters of the 1974 Congressional Budget Act were leery of potential abuse of the power to revise budget resolutions and made clear in their drafting of Section 304 of that law that they intended it only to respond to changing economic conditions.

“The drafters and early users of 304 uniformly believed that it was to be used in extraordinary circumstances and not for things that should have been or could have been foreseen and handled in a 301 resolution,” MacDonough wrote. “The potential for abuse was clear in 1974 and is all the more obvious now.”