Author Archive

Is Smoking Marijuana a Victim-less Crime?

Some say that smoking pot or doing other drugs is a victim-less crime. Yet, there are millions of direct and indirect victims of the drug-trade. Issues include addiction, broken families, billions spent every year, slavery, abuse, sex-tr…

Fr. Barron on Intentional Discipleship

I got to spend several days with Sherry Weddell, author of Forming Intentional Disciples, this past week, at the St. John Bosco Conference. Her book has really been stoking a conversation throughout the Church in the USA, about how The Catholic Ch…

15 Phrases and Sayings NOT In The Bible

These quotes are either frequently misquoted from the Bible or not there at all. I also have some things that are frequently thought to be in the Bible, but are not. I have tried to provide a origin of each, if I could find one. I have avoided doctrinal items (both valid and invalid ones) not found in the Bible, because that list would be never-ending.

15 Phrases & Sayings Not Found in the Bible
15 - The Three Wisemen
They Bible calls them “Magi”, not “Wisemen“, though the two are synonymous in common parlance. The Magi are found only in Matthew 2 and no number is given to them (three comes from the number of gifts given).
14 - “Moderation in all things”
This idea behind this phrase originates from Aristotle’s ethics and the direct quote comes from Rome, several hundred years before Christ. Two different Romans are generally given credit – one named Terence and the other Petronius.
13 - “The Lord (or God) works in mysterious ways”
Comes from a Hymn (“God Moves in a Mysterious Way”) by William Cowper, who lived in the 18th century.
12 - “The eye is a window to the soul”
Matthew 6:22 says “The lamp of the body is the eye”, but there is no reference saying it is a window to the soul. There is no consensus as to the origin of this phrase. Some attribute it to a proverb of varying origin and others to several writers including Shakespeare and Milton.
11 - The Apple in the Garden of Eden.
There was fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2, 3), but we do not know what kind of fruit is was. The apple grew out of Christian tradition and may have been a result of artists trying to depict The Fall. It might also have come from the Latin word for evil (“malum” = evil / “malus” = apple). Some say it was likely a pomegranate. But, we do not know.
10 - “The lion will lay down with the lamb”
A very common misquote of Scripture. Isaiah 11:6 reads “Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.”
9 - “A fool and his money are soon parted”
Not even close to a Biblical reference – this comes from Thomas Tusser who wrote it in 1573 in in Five Hundreth Pointes of Good Husbandrie.
8 - “This too shall pass”
The origin of this phrase isn’t even Christian. It comes from a Persian Sufi (Muslim) poets some time in the middle ages.
7 - The Seven Deadly Sins
The list of the 7 deadly sins = wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. The first evidence of the list is from a monk in the 4th century. The list was then altered slightly by Pope Gregory I in 590. It was then popularized by Dante in his Divine Comedy.
6 - “Money is the root of all evil”
1 Timothy 6:10 says “For the love of money is the root of all evils”. It is the love of money that causes the problem, not the money itself. Money doesn’t have a moral value all to itself, it is what we do with it that makes the action good, neutral, or evil.
5 - “Pride comes before the fall”
Proverbs 16:18 says “Pride goes before disaster, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
The origin of the misquote is unknown, but The Beatles’ song “I’m a Loser” has the line in it.
4 - “Charity begins at home”
Generally credited to Terence, the Roman comic writer. It is sometimes also attributed to Sir Thomas Browne who wrote the phrase in 1642.
3 - “To thine ownself be true”
Comes from Hamlet by Shakespeare. In a bit of context the quote reads, ”This above all: to thine ownself be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Not bad advice, but not from the Bible.
2 - “Cleanliness is next to godliness”
While there are many references in the Mosaic law to cleanliness (esp. in Leviticus), there is none that we can ascribe to this quote. Some say it comes from a 2nd century Rabbi. We know the first English version comes from Francis Bacon. He wrote the following in Advancement of Learning, “Cleanness of body was ever deemed to proceed from a due reverence to God.” John Wesley then changed it to the phrase we use today.
1 - “God helps those who help themselves”
This very common phrase comes from Algernon Sydney, who wrote it in an article titled Discourses Concerning Government. It was then popularized by Ben Franklin in 1757 in Poor Richard’s Almanac. In many ways this phrase is wrong, because God helps (saves) those who can NOT help themselves (sinners). Though we must agree to allow Him to help us. An earlier form of the phrase may have come from “God loves to help him who strives to help himself” by Aeschylus (6th C BC).
Do you have any others?

9 Biblical Ways to Overcome Temptation

We can overcome temptation by learning what Scripture tells us about it and following the advice laid out for us.

9 Ways to Overcome Temptation:

1. Avoid and/or flee from it. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.

“She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.” -Gen 39:12

2. Submit your thoughts to God. He knows better than we do what is good.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” -Phil 4:8

3. Overcome your selfishness. True Love doesn’t know selfishness. Because, if you love Jesus you don’t belong to yourself

“and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.” -1 Cor 3:23

4. Expect and be ready for temptation. We need to be prepared for Spiritual battle.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” -Eph 6:13

5. Remind yourself of the consequences of sin.

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” -Gal5:19-21

6. Memorize God’s Word. Filling our minds with the thoughts of God and having them readily available to us is very wise.

“He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” -Luke 11:28

7. Cultivate a sense of God’s presence But don’t just listen – obey.

“Go near and listen to all that the LORD our God says. Then tell us whatever the LORD our God tells you. We will listen and obey.” -Deut 5:27

8. Frequent confession heals us and we start over spiritually healthy.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” -James 5:16

9. Accountability helps us avoid sin. When we are accountable to both man and God it helps us overcome temptation.

“Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” -Genesis 4:9

Underage Drinking

Q – What does the church say about underage drinking–not necessarily in regards to drunkenness?A – Thanks for the question.  I would like to point other readers to my answer to a previous question on whether getting drunk is a mortal sin.  W…

Kale?

Jim Gaffigan lets us know about Kale.Have fun and happy 4th of July (don’t forget to pray for our country).

Polygamy: Why Not?

Q – I am studying polygamy in one of my classes, and I have surprisingly learned that those marriages are highly successful with high reports of happiness. So it got me to wondering, why is it considered to be wrong by the church? God is in love with e…

Fr. Barron on Bill Maher & Biblical Interpretation

Is religion anti-intellectual? Does The Bible present us with a God who is mean, superstitious, or without logic?No. But, Bill Maher really isn’t interested in learning about Christian faith. Rather, he just wants to make Christians look like fools. Fr…

Do You Dare?

A compelling video (even if the source of the video isn’t that great).

Catholic Tribalism and Civil War

When I was a child I had some neighbors who fought constantly. The mom, dad, and even the kid would get into fights and then become unreasonable, yell, stomp out, and close themselves off from each others. After a while, I started avoiding their house, knowing that I wouldn’t enjoy being in the middle of another argument.

The Catholic Church is like that family sometimes. We talk about being children of God, His sons and daughters, but we act in a completely dysfunctional way. It starts with the labels we give ourselves or others as being one kind of Catholic or another. These modern labels include:
  • liberal Catholic
  • conservative Catholic
  • moderate Catholic
  • progressive Catholic
  • neo-conservative Catholic
  • modernist Catholic
  • traditional Catholic

The first problem with every one of these labels is The Church is not a political entity and to use such politically-loaded phrases such as “conservative” or “liberal” is the wrong way in which to describe any person’s relationship to the Catholic Church. Every one of these labels come from the political spectrum and have a lot of baggage associated with them, not to mention that the terms are quite nebulous and their meanings have changed radically through the years. Still, none of these labels encompasses what it means to be Catholic.

The Church is too big to be caught up into such tribalism. We lose the mystery and make it a purely human enterprise. It also makes it easy to disregard others and keep them at arms’ length, never truly trying to understand their perspective or loving them as brothers and sisters.

Now, that being said, I am not advocating for the doctrinal teachings of the Church to be up for grabs. If I do that, I make myself into a kind of uber-pope who gets to be the final say on doctrine. On the other hand – I also can’t judge others when they struggle with a Church teaching, because I then make myself into another kind of uber-pope who gets to determine who is a “good” Catholic and who isn’t.

We are free to disagree with another Catholic on how to fix immigration, how to best fight poverty, etc. But, we can’t deny the right of every human being to live, the teaching that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, marriage can only be between one woman and one man, the preferential option for the poor, etc.

Yet, if someone else is struggling with one of these teachings of the Church, we also can’t judge the state of their souls or their relationship with the Church.

Another caveat – that isn’t to say we should be silent about what the doctrines of the Church are and are not. Choosing to love another person does not mean we necessarily accept what they believe. Still, in our disagreement we need to love others in order to bring them into a closer relationship with Jesus. Rarely is someone in an argument or fight willing to accept they are wrong. Love is the key.

If someone asks me if I am conservative or liberal (or any other label you want to use), I answer, “I am Catholic.”

Furthermore, the problem with bickering and arguing among Catholics is the kind of witness it gives to those on the fringes of The Church or outside The Church. It speaks loudly to the rest of the world and it says – we are in a civil war! I stopped going to my friends’ house because his family argued all the time. Why would someone want to go to a church were everyone was at each others’ throats constantly?

Jesus wanted us to be one. He prayed for Unity in the Church. One in faith, hope, worship, love, Sacraments, service, etc. While we can’t ever bring about unity by our own power or will, we can start where we have control, over our own thoughts and actions. We need to start truly loving others, not for the opinions they hold (right or wrong) or the affinity we have toward a group they identify with, but rather because we must do so if we are to truly be followers of Jesus.

How exactly are we to bring Good News to the world if we can’t get away from a civil war?

Pray for unity. Start loving others. No matter what.
Time to start practicing what I preach…

Of course, Jesus says it even better:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” -John 17:20-23

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