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Take A Deep Breath. Ahhhhh. Now, Watch This.

This is a syndicated post from Aggie Catholics. [Read the original article...] (41)

Aggie Catholics – WOW!

St. Ann in Coppell, TX have one of the largest youth ministries in the country.The Director of High School Ministry & Young Adults, Kurt Klement (who is an Aggie), sent the following video to me.It is an intro to the current Core Team for their You…

A Day In the Life of a Seminarian

After some thoughts about the foundational principles of the seminary, you get to see what the daily life of a Catholic seminarian is like.The video was done by seminarians at Holy Trinity Seminary, in Irving, TX.Another fun thing to do while watching …

Patience With The Process of #Synod14

As I wrote yesterday, there is a big picture that is being missed in the news from the Synod in Rome. Fr. Robert Barron helps provide more perspective on the situation:

Having Patience for the Sausage-Making Synod
By Very Rev. Robert Barron
Father Robert Barron is the founder of the global ministry, Word on Fire, and the Rector/President of Mundelein Seminary. He is the creator of the award winning documentary series, “Catholicism” and “Catholicism:The New Evangelization.” Learn more at www.WordonFire.org

The midterm report on the deliberations of the Synod on the Family has appeared and there is a fair amount of hysteria all around. John Thavis, a veteran Vatican reporter who should know better, has declared this statement “an earthquake, the big one that hit after months of smaller tremors.” Certain commentators on the right have been wringing their hands and bewailing a deep betrayal of the Church’s teaching. One even opined that this report is the “silliest document ever issued by the Catholic Church,” and some have said that the interim document flaunts the teaching of St. John Paul II. Meanwhile the New York Times confidently announced that the Church has moved from “condemnation of unconventional family situations and toward understanding, openness, and mercy.” I think everyone should take a deep breath.

What has just appeared is not even close to a definitive, formal teaching of the Catholic Church. It is a report on what has been discussed so far in a synod of some two hundred bishops from around the world. It conveys, to be sure, a certain consensus around major themes, trends that have been evident in the conversations, dominant emphases in the debates, etc., but it decidedly does not represent “the teaching” of the Pope or the bishops.

One of the great mysteries enshrined in the ecclesiology of the Catholic Church is that Christ speaks through the rather messy and unpredictable process of ecclesiastical argument. The Holy Spirit guides the process of course, but he doesn’t undermine or circumvent it. It is precisely in the long, laborious sifting of ideas across time and through disciplined conversation that the truth that God wants to communicate gradually emerges. If you want evidence of this, simply look at the accounts of the deliberations of the major councils of the Church, beginning with the so-called Council of Jerusalem in the first century right through to the Second Vatican Council of the twentieth century. In every such gathering, argument was front and center, and consensus evolved only after lengthy and often acrimonious debate among the interested parties. Read John Henry Newman’s colorful history of the Council of Nicaea in the fourth century, and you’ll find stories of riots in the streets and the mutually pulling of beards among the disputants. Or pick up Yves Congar’s very entertaining diary of his years at Vatican II, and you’ll learn of his own withering critiques of the interventions of prominent Cardinals and rival theologians. Or peruse John O’Malley’s history of the Council of Trent, and you’ll see that early draft statements on the key doctrines of original sin and justification were presented, debated, and dismissed—long before final versions were approved.

Until Vatican II, these preliminary arguments and conversations were known only to the participants themselves and to certain specialist historians who eventually sifted through the records. The great teachings of the Councils became widely known and celebrated, but the process that produced them was, happily enough, consigned to the shadows. If I might quote the great Newman, who had a rather unsatisfying experience of official ecclesial life in Rome: “those who love the barque of Peter ought to stay out of the engine room!” This is a somewhat more refined version of “those who enjoy sausage ought never to watch how it is made.” The interim report on the Synod represents a very early stage of the sausage-making process and, unsurprisingly, it isn’t pretty. Two more weeks of discussion will follow; then a full year during which the findings of the Synod will be further refined, argued about, and clarified; then the Ordinary Synod on the Family will take place (the one going on now is the Extraordinary Synod), and many more arguments and counter-arguments will be made; finally, some months, perhaps even a year or so, after that, the Pope will write a post-Synodal exhortation summing up the entire process and offering a definitive take on the matter. At that point, I would suggest, something resembling edible sausage will be available for our consumption; until then, we should all be patient and refrain from bloviating.

The historian and theologian Martin Marty commented that our debates today about sex and authority are analogous to the arguments in the early centuries of the Church’s life concerning Christology and to the disputes about anthropology and salvation around the time of the Reformation. Those two previous dust-ups took several centuries to resolve, and Marty suggests that we might be in the midst of another centuries long controversy. I’m glad that Pope Francis, at the outset of this Synod, urged the participating bishops to speak their minds clearly and fearlessly. He didn’t want a self-censorship that would unduly hamper the conversation and thereby prevent the truth from emerging. This does not imply for a moment that Pope Francis will agree with every point of view expressed, and indeed he can’t possibly, since many are mutually exclusive. But it does indeed mean that he has the confidence and the patience required to allow the Holy Spirit to work in his preferred fashion.

10 Issues With The Media’s Narrative About Catholicism & The Synod on Marriage & Family

Let us be clear, the narrative about the Catholic Church from the mainstream media is rarely accurate about the reality of the situation. So, when you see headlines which are like these below, it is natural to doubt them:Vatican proposes ‘stunning’ shi…

How Can We Be Both Equal & Yet Different?

Many define equality based on our actions. So, you could say that equality, as defined by modernity, is being able to perform the same functions as everyone else. But, there is something missing if we define equality as mere “sameness” in action. The S…

25 Things We Can’t Control

Here is the authoritative list of things You and I can’t control.Indirectly it is also a list of things we shouldn’t control.25 Things We Can’t ControlWhat others sayWhat others doWhat others thinkWhat others feelGod’s willNatural Disast…

Why Do Catholics Pray to Mary?


To understand why Catholics pray to Mary, you must first know that Catholics do not worship or adore Mary or the other Saints. We worship God alone. To pray to a Saint is to ask them to intercede on our behalf, just as we would a friend on earth. 

The book of James says this:

The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” – James 5:16

Now, who is more righteous than those perfected in heaven? Thus, we ask the Saints to pray for us, because the Bible tells us they have powerful prayers.

The next question is then – can they hear us?
The answer is yes. Jesus says:

“And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, `I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” -Matthew 22:31-32

–Note that Jesus is telling us that those in heaven are alive. But, they now have a new and higher way of living. They have been glorified in Christ once they enter into heaven. In fact, it could be said that they are much more alive than those of us still on earth.

“And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” -Matthew 17:3-5

–Here, during the Transfiguration, Jesus talks to Moses and Elijah, who are very aware of what has been happening on earth. So, from this we can come to the conclusion that death does not separate those in heaven from those on earth.

Remember Paul teaches that we are all members of Christ’s body, the Church. The Book of Hebrews echoes this when it teaches that those who have gone before us into heaven still witness what happens on earth.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us” -Hebrews 12:1

Since we are all made members of Christ’s mystical body, we are all connected to one another and even death cannot separate us from Christ. Christ could have told us that praying for one another didn’t matter, but he did the opposite. He told us (as did Paul and many others in Scripture) to pray for one another, because God acts through his Church on earth, and in heaven, to give us grace through the prayers of others.

What I believe is the most amazing evidence from the Bible of the Saints in heaven hearing our prayers is from the book of Revelation.

“When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.” -Revelations 5:8

–We see that the elders and four living creatures (who represent the Saints and Angels in heaven) are offering the prayers of those on earth before Jesus. I don’t think it could get much clearer. In Revelation 8 there is another incident of heavenly intercession.

“Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with burning coals from the altar, and hurled it down to the earth. There were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.” -Revelations 8:3-5

Lastly, we have evidence from Christ himself.

“I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. “Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, `Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” -Luke 15:7-10

—-Those in heaven could not rejoice over a sinner repenting on earth unless they knew about it.
One more reference of Christ talking about this subject is found in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16. Those who have suffered bodily death, still are asking for help for those on earth (intercession) with knowledge of what is happening.

Getting to the question outside the Biblical evidence, we can support the fact that those in heaven can hear our prayers because it fits with what we know about God and humans. Just as no person can achieve heaven on their own power, so a Saint in heaven cannot hear prayers of those on earth from their own power. But, being glorified in Christ they now have a share in God’s divine nature, because they are in perfect union with Him. This means they participate in the grace of God to a greater degree than we can even imagine. While God is the only one who by nature is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent – the Saints in heaven can in some way share in these traits. The number of prayers offered is finite, so to be able to “hear” all prayers wouldn’t take the gift of omniscience, but rather just raising our nature to a higher level.

We must also remember that the heavenly existence is no longer bound by time. There is no time but eternity in heaven. Therefore, we must not try and answer a question of this nature by using our own limited understanding of how things work in this life.

Based on the overwhelming evidence from Scripture, the constant Tradition of the Church as well as the fact that it is theologically acceptable, we can be assured that the Saints in heaven can hear our prayers and are praying for us.

This is why we pray to Saints.

Remember that prayer to Saints is not the same idea as prayer to God. There is no worship, adoration, or praise of the Saints. Rather, just like we would ask someone on earth to pray for us, we do the same with our heavenly friends. Mary is the most blessed of all people to have lived on earth. We ought not downplay the important role she played in the life of Jesus. Nobody, except Jesus, ever got to pick who their mother was going to be. Based on that alone, we should honor Mary, just as Jesus did. If we are Jesus’ brothers and sisters, then we also have a spiritual mother in Mary.

To ask her to pray for us is therefore biblical, logical, and good.
Mary pray for us!

What Confirmation Is & Is Not

Because the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation are so closely tied together, the best place to start exploring Confirmation is to begin by exploring what both the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation are and are not.

Baptism is the first of the Sacraments of Initiation, that is, a Sacrament which cleanses our souls of the guilt (not the stain) of original sin, makes us partakers of the Divine Nature, brings us into the family of God (the Church), makes us sons and daughters of the Father & brothers and sisters of Christ, and it gives us sanctifying and actual grace. It is not complete in the sense that it doesn’t give us every grace we need to have a mature Christian faith. Rather, it is the gateway into a Christian and Sacramental life.
The Catechism describes Baptism in this way:

1213 “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.”

Baptism is not intended by Christ to do everything for us in the spiritual life, but to begin a process of living a life bound to Him and the Church.
Confirmation is the strengthening process of the graces we already received in baptism. It is NOT just an affirmation of the person getting confirmed, as if it is about what we do – but more about what Christ does for us. Most Catholics believe it to be the other way around. They incorrectly view Confirmation as our “choosing Christ” and about our desire to be Catholic.
In reality, the traditional ordering of the Sacraments is Baptism – Confirmation – Eucharist. Only in the last 100 years or so has the process changed to have Confirmation come after Eucharist. But, there is a trend, in some areas of the Church, to reverse this.
In Vatican II, the Church taught the following:

“They are more perfectly bound to the Church by the sacrament of Confirmation, and the Holy Spirit endows them with special strength so that they are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith, both by word and by deed, as true witnesses of Christ” (LG, 11)

This teaching about how we become evangelists, full of the Holy Spirit, who go out into the world to preach and live the Gospel comes straight from the Bible:

“When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 8:14-17

We see here that Baptism isn’t complete nor is it all there is. The laying on of hands (Confirmation) was needed for the completion of the Sacrament and the coming of the power of the Holy Spirit. This is what happens in Confirmation. It is the same thing that happened to the Apostles at Pentecost. Once they received the Holy Spirit they immediately went out and preached.

Furthermore, we see in Acts 19:5-6 that there are baptized Christians in Ephesus who Paul lays hands on so they receive the Holy Spirit.

The Church Fathers echo these understandings of Confirmation:

“And about your laughing at me and calling me “Christian,” you know not what you are saying. First, because that which is anointed is sweet and serviceable, and far from contemptible. For what ship can be serviceable and seaworthy, unless it be first anointed? Or what castle or house is beautiful and serviceable when it has not been anointed? And what man, when he enters into this life or into the gymnasium, is not anointed with oil? And what work has either ornament or beauty unless it be anointed and burnished? Then the air and all that is under heaven is in a certain sort anointed by light and spirit; and are you unwilling to be anointed with the oil of God? Wherefore we are called Christians on this account, because we are anointed with the oil of God.”
-Theophilus of Antioch (AD 181)

and

“After coming from the place of washing we are thoroughly anointed with a blessed unction, from the ancient discipline by which those in the priesthood…were accustomed to be anointed with a horn of oil, ever since Aaron was anointed by Moses. So also with us, the unction runs on the body and profits us spiritually, in the same way that baptism itself is a corporal act by which we are plunged in water, while its effect is spiritual, in that we are freed from sins. After this, the hand is imposed for a blessing, invoking and inviting the Holy Spirit.”
-Tertullian (AD 203).

The Catechism states:

CCC, 1303 “From this fact, Confirmation brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace:
- it roots us more deeply in the divine filiation which makes us cry, “Abba! Father!”;
- it unites us more firmly to Christ;
- it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us;
- it renders our bond with the Church more perfect;
- it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross:”

So, in the sense that our Baptism isn’t enough to complete (but rather begin) our initiation into Christ, it isn’t enough. In the sense that Baptism does what Christ intended it to do (begin the life of grace) – it is enough.

Fr. Barron tells us even more -

You might also check out the 35 Saints Names Rarely Picked For Confirmation!

Study Shows Porn Users Are More Narcissistic

A study led by Thomas Kasper, a Former Student of Texas A&M and St. Mary’s (he was an intern here at St. Mary’s also), shows porn users measure significantly higher when tested for narcissism. it was published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy and was entitled, “Narcissism and Internet Pornography Use”. The abstract of the study states:

This study examined the relation between Internet pornography use and narcissism. Participants (N=257) completed an online survey that included questions on Internet pornography use and 3 narcissism measures (i.e., Narcissistic Personality Inventory, Pathological Narcissistic Inventory, and the Index of Sexual Narcissism). The hours spent viewing Internet pornography was positively correlated to participants’ narcissism level. In addition, those who have ever used Internet pornography endorsed higher levels of all 3 measures of narcissism than did those who have never used Internet pornography.

Slate has already picked up the study and said the following:

Thomas Kasper of the University of Houston – Clear Lake, one of the authors of the article, explains that theory. At the core is the fact that narcissists are fundamentally selfish. He reasons that watching more pornography may change our view of sexual partners.“Pornography is limited to just pleasure or pleasure for ourselves. When it is limited to these conditions, it feeds our narcissism. Individuals may begin to view others [as] less whole and use them for their own needs/wants/desires.”

Certainly, pornography objectifies women (and sometimes men) and minimizes the emotional components of sex. It is interesting to contemplate if that watching it might, in turn, make us more selfish as human beings.
CONTINUE READING.

Congratulations to Thomas for getting published and for doing this important work in helping the culture see the dange pornography is to relationships, individuals, and our world.

—————————

FURTHER READING:

**What is Wrong With Porn?
**Porn Hurts Others
**The Science Of Internet Porn – What Happens To The Brain & The Body
**The Cost of Porn
**Pornography Research
**Porn Is More Addictive Than Cocaine or Heroin!
**Porn & Support For Same-Sex Marriage
**If You Aren’t Convinced Porn Is Destroying Our Culture – Read This!

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