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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The "Hail Mary" A Biblical Prayer

In Catholicism there is a rich tradition of prayer. Now while a Protestant might pray the "Our Father" and even the "Glory Be," not many will pray the "Hail Mary" on grounds that it is not a Scriptural prayer and that it is wrong to pray to saints. But, is the "Hail Mary" an unbiblical prayer? No the "Hail Mary" is totally a Biblical prayer. Let's check out each part:

Luke 1:28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Look at what Elizabeth says in:
Luke 1:42 And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
Isn’t Jesus the fruit of Mary’s womb? And this prayer climaxes at the name of Jesus.

Now Protestants will most likely say that Mary is in Heaven and thus is Holy. But what about her being called the Mother of God.
While there is great misunderstanding by some about the phrase "Mother of God," it just means that Mary gave birth to Jesus who is in fact God. Therefore, Mary is the Mother of God. It does not mean that Mary is the creator of the Trinity or anything strange.
Luke 1:43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
There are many parallels showing that Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant, which we won’t get into right now. But, what Elizabeth says here about Mary and what David says about the Ark are strikingly similar.
Listen to David in 2 Samuel 6:9 And David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, "How can the ark of the LORD come to me?"
"The LORD" here in Hebrew means Yahweh. So, if you did a close investigation you would see that Elizabeth is really saying "How is it that the mother of Yahweh" can come to me.

There is also a part of the "Hail Mary" which asks Mary to pray for us.
James 5:16 says that "The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects." Well, who is more righteous than Mary? None but God.
The ultimate question is concerning Saints in Heaven and if they are aware of what is going on here on Earth. Certainly they are.
Luke 15:7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Well, Heaven certainly knows when people repent or else how would they know when to rejoice?

Revelation 6:9-10 9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; 10 they cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?"
How do these souls know that God hasn’t already avenged their blood unless somehow they are being kept informed?
So, those in Heaven know what is going on here, and do they pray for us? Certainly they do. Jesus, being the perfect mediator between us and God, shares in His mediatorship with us, but especially with those who have been perfected and are in Heaven. Why wouldn’t they keep mediating for us once they are before the throne of God?

What about people who quote: Matthew 6:7 And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard.?
We of course must mean what we say we can’t violate
Matthew 15:8 This people honors me with their lips: but their heart is far from me.
The repeating of prayers isn’t what Jesus is condemning in Matthew 6:7, He is condemning the vain repetition of prayers.
Revelation 4:8 And the four living creatures had each of them six wings; and round about and within they are full of eyes. And they rested not day and night, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come.

And also our Lord Himself repeated prayers.
Matthew 26:44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words.

And if Jesus does it then it can’t be bad.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

9 Ways to Participate in Another's Sin

I believe that many Catholics think that provided they aren’t going against the 10 Commandments that they are in the clear. But there are a number of ways to participate in someone else’s sin. In fact, there are nine ways that a person can participate in another’s sin.

#9
You can participate by counsel. We see in 1Kings 12. We see Rehoboam asking his father’s advisors (his father is King Solomon) if he should be harder on the people or more lenient. King Solomon’s advisors fear that the people may revolt because of difficulties with the King and they suggest more leniency. But Rehoboam’s young advisors see that they might profit if the King is more harsh. So taking the bad advice of his young advisors to be more harsh on the people causes the nation of Israel to split and the eventual downfall of both nations.
So if we counsel someone to do something sinful, we participate in the sin that is committed. For example if you counsel a friend to get an abortion. That would be sinful.

#8
If we command someone to do something sinful, that command is sinful. A Biblical example is in 2 Samuel 11.
While King David’s army was at war, David commits adultery with one of the soldier’s wives. The soldier’s name is Uriah and the woman is Bathsheba. Well, Bathsheba soon finds herself pregnant, and so Uriah is called to take a break from the war. He refuses to spend any time with his wife. So David sends him back to the war with a letter that Uriah is to be put in the hardest place in the battle, and at a certain time all the men would retreat but Uriah, exposing him to death. This command, and the following of it was a sin.
So if I command anyone to do something sinful, that is a sin as well.

#7
By consenting in an evil done - this is a sin.
In Acts 8 we see that Saul (who would become St. Paul) consented to the stoning of St. Stephen in Acts Chapter 7 and consented to the persecution of the Church.
Another example would be if someone were to do something sinful and we just stood by and watched.

#6
By provoking someone to sin. In Genesis 39, we see Potiphar’s wife trying to tempt Joseph into committing adultery with her. He refuses and as a result is accused of rape and thrown into prison, but we know that God blesses him and elevates him to the second highest in Egypt.
When we provoke someone into sin, we are really saying, "come on, it’s not that bad. Are you afraid you’re going to get caught? No one is going to see us." Yet the very provocation is a sin.

#5
By praise or flattery for a sin committed, this is a sin as well.
Acts 12:1-3 ¶ About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, 3 and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also.
So there were three sins committed here, the first was that King Herod was persecuting the Church and in the process had James put to death.
The second sin was that this first sin pleased some people.
The third sin was that the praise that King Herod received caused him to persecute the Church even further.
This happens all the time on television. Some terrible thing is done (like fornication or worse) and the character is praised for it. So we are exposed to this sin almost constantly.

#4
By concealment, or hiding the sin of others. This isn’t what a priest does in confession. This is something like a public crime. For example, in Genesis 37 when Jacob’s sons sold Joseph as a slave and then lied to their father about what happened. Reuben - the eldest - should have said something to Jacob and a rescue attempt would have been possible. By the very fact that Reuben didn’t say anything to his father and concealed what happened to Joseph - this was a sin as well.
So when we hide a serious sin of someone else this is a sin as well.

#3
By being a partner to someone else’s sin. This goes without saying.
If you help your friend rob a bank - that is a sin.

#2
We can participate in another’s sin by being silent. If, for example, a friend should mention to you that he hasn’t been going to Mass for the past few weeks, but has been with the Lord in the woods where it is quiet instead. It is our duty as a Christian to tell him that missing Mass on purpose is a sin. Now you don’t want to tell him that he is going to burn in hell like a bucket of chicken if he doesn’t go to Mass, but you want to tell him in charity and explain why going to Mass is important.

#1
By defending a sin. In Numbers 16 it talks about a man named Korah and how he began a revolt against Moses and Aaron. Korah said that everyone could be a priest, not just the Levites. This was not what God had revealed to Moses. 250 men stood with Korah and defended his position and as a result the earth opened up and swallowed them.

Now here is an example of participating in the sin of abortion.

If you counsel someone to get an abortion - this is a sin.
If you command someone to get an abortion - this is a sin.
If you consent to having an abortion - this is a sin.
If you provoke someone to get an abortion - this is a sin.
If you praise someone for getting an abortion - this is a sin.
If you go to confession and have had an abortion and haven’t told your confessor yet - this is a sin.
If you help someone get an abortion - this is a sin.
If you hear someone saying that they are going to get an abortion and you are silent - this is a sin.
If you have defended someone else’s abortion or your own. - this is a sin.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Three Ways

All who are baptized and in the state of grace are on the road toward Heaven; or at least we should be. What many don’t realize is that there is a process and actual steps to growth in holiness. I will attempt to explain a bit about these steps and what the Bible has to say about them.

The three steps are the purgative way, the illuminative way, and the unitive way. One step must be passed through to get to the next. So to get to the illuminative way you must first pass through the purgative way, but let me tell you what is involved in each step first.
To get into the purgative way you must either convert and become Catholic or if you are a Catholic in Mortal Sin, you must go to Confession. You can’t grow in holiness toward God if you are enemies with Him.

In brief, the whole idea behind the purgative way is to turn away from Mortal Sin and begin growing in virtue toward God - it is putting to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13). There is a second conversion spoken of as a transition from the purgative to the illuminative way through a kind of Dark Night of the senses, meaning less warm fuzzy feelings, external consolations, when you pray and just throughout your day. In the illuminative way, you are focused more on developing virtues and weeding out the venial sins in your life. Finally, there is another transition from the illuminative to the unitive way through a Dark Night of the Spirit where it feels like the soul has been abandoned by God completely. Yet, the unitive way has been described as Heaven on earth.

Some scriptures that point to these three ways are as follows:
Psalm 34:14 Depart from evil, and do good; Seek peace, and pursue it.
  • Depart from evil is done in the Purgative Way.
  • Do Good is done in the Illuminative Way.
  • Seek peace, and pursue it is done in the Unitive Way.

Luke 9:23 And He [Jesus] was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Also some spiritual giants such as St. Thomas Aquinas have pointed to the three writings of Solomon as each pointing to one of the ways. The books of Solomon are Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.

In the book of Proverbs, it talks about two ways - one that leads to life and one that leads to the grave. Proverbs is describing someone who might be tempted to leave Wisdom behind all together and fall back into Mortal Sin.
Ecclesiastes reflects the attitude of those in the illuminative way. Seeing that all things here on earth are vanity. That the only thing that matters is, in fact, God.
Finally, in the Song of Solomon it talks about the relationship between two lovers. Spiritually speaking, this is about the relationship between God and a soul. Many great saints would point to this book in the Bible as the crown of the spiritual life.

Some have seen the Tabernacle that Moses built in the wilderness as a type of model to the spiritual life.
The tabernacle had three parts: the court, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.
In the court were two things: a bronze Laver and an altar for burnt offerings. The Holy Place had three things: a lamp stand, an altar of incense, and a table with the bread of the presence. Finally, in the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant, God's dwelling place.
Here is a spiritual interpretation on these three places:

  • In the court is where you would wash in Baptism in the Laver and then put to death the deeds of the body. That is what all of those animal sacrifices represented, and points us to the purgative way.
  • In the Holy Place is where we find more fulfillment in the sacrament of the Eucharist, prayer, represented by the incense, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, represented by the lamp stand.
  • Finally, in the Holy of Holies we see God as He is face to face. We no longer love Him out of fear. We no longer love Him because of what He gives us. It is here that we love Him for Himself.

St. Teresa of Avila compares the spiritual journey to a Mansion with many rooms of which we must pass through to get to the epicenter, where we meet God in His Majesty.
St. John of the Cross compares it to climbing a mountain.
St. Catherine of Sienna compares it to kissing the wounds of Christ’s feet, then His wounded side, and then, finally, His mouth.

Here are some great books to help the journey!

Introduction to the Devout Life - by St. Fancis DeSales
http://www.mycatholicshop.com/index.php?target=products&product_id=30487

The Soul of the Apostolate - by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard
http://www.mycatholicshop.com/index.php?target=products&product_id=30489

The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life
http://www.mycatholicshop.com/index.php?target=products&product_id=30498

THE Place to get Great Catholic Books!
http://www.mycatholicshop.com/

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dan's Top 10 Bible Tidbits in a Minute

#10!
Genesis chapter 1 was tells us that when God created the heavens and the earth that the earth was formless and void.
God takes the first three days to give the earth form.
First by making day and night
Second by making the water and the sky.
and Third by making dry land appear.
Next God fills the void with rulers over these three forms.
On the 4th day he makes the sun, moon, and stars to rule the day and night.
on the 5th days he fills the water with fish and the sky with birds
On the 6th day he fills the land with animals and then finally land.

#9
In Genesis Chapter 15 God comes to Abraham and tells him that his reward will be great for his faithfulness. Abraham reminds God that he has no children. God brings Abraham outside and says - Look to heaven and number the stars if you can - this is how many your descendants will be.
What is interesting about this story is that if you drop down to verse 17 it says - when the sun had gone down…suggesting that the previous conversation took place during the day when the stars were not out to be numbered, yet Abraham still believed God. This is a man of great faith looking into the blue sky, knowing that stars are present but they just can't be seen. So he also believes God when God says that he will have descendants that number as the stars.

#8
The name Joshua is the Hebrew form of the name Jesus. And just as Joshua in the OT led the Israelites from wandering through the Jordan into the promised land; Jesus through the waters of Baptism leads us into the heavenly promised land.

#7
The number 666 is used in reference to two people in the Bible; once in the Book of Revelation and once concerning how much Solomon had taxed the people and had really fallen from grace and had become a type of antichrist.

#6
Jonah (you know the guy in the fish story) went to the city of Jappa when fleeing the Lord's command for him to call the Gentile city of Ninevah to repent. After being spit up by the great fish he found himself once again at Jappa and did finally go to the tell the those Ninevites to repent.
Now Peter in the New testament was called by Jesus "the son of Jonah" also found himself at the port city of Jappa when he was commanded by the Lord to receive the first Gentile convert Cornelius into the Church.

#5
We all know the story after the resurrection in the Gospel of John Chapter 21 how Jesus had made a charcoal fire and asked Peter 3 times if he loved him. Peter responded in the affirmative. Now we can guess why Jesus asked three times, because Peter had denied Jesus three times. If we look closely at Peter's denial of Jesus we see another important detail. Peter denied Jesus while warming his hands over a charcoal fire. Jesus now recreates the situation as an opportunity for reconciliation.

#4
At the end of Mark Chapter 1 we hear the story of how Jesus healed the man with leprosy.
This story is a summery of the whole Gospel. There is a man who is sick who can not go into cities because of his sickness and must remain in the wilderness. Jesus who had only been going to cities now meets the man in the wilderness and cures his sickness but it is Jesus who can no longer go into the city. Jesus cures the man of his infirmity but takes on himself the effects of the infirmity, namely not being able to go into cities. The same thing happens with sin. Jesus cures us of our sins but takes on the effects of the sin through being put to death.

#3
In Leviticus 21:10 it says that the high priest is not allowed to tear his garments. (You know in the OT whenever they heard band news they were always tearing their garments and putting dirt on their head)
Well, while Jesus was on trial before the High Priest Caiphas, Jesus admits that he is the Christ and Caiphas the high priest tears his own robes breaking the law in Leviticus 21. But notice something else - in John 19:23 when they are dividing Jesus’ garments (which was a seamless garment, what a priest would where when offering sacrifice). Instead of tearing them they decide to draw lots for them, and his cloths do not get torn showing that Jesus is the new High Priest.

#2
The Good Samaritan - a spiritual interpretation.
The man is Adam leaving the city of God (Jerusalem) and going to the city of man (Jericho). He is attacked by the devil. Neither the natural priesthood before Moses nor the Levitical priesthood of the law can help man. Christ is the good Samaritan who anointed him with the sacraments represented by oil and wine. He then places him in the church and gives charge of him to the pope and promises a return.

#1
In John 6:51 we hear Jesus - I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever. Notice he says - eats ..will live forever.
These words are used in only one other verse in the Bible. Genesis 3:22 - Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever." Jesus, who died on a tree (acts 5:30), continues to say in the discourse that we are to eat his resurrected flesh and blood for eternal life. The cross is the new tree of life and Jesus is the fruit of the tree.