check out also CATHOLIC TIMELINE BANNER

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Catechism in Brief (3 times)

In this year of faith, many people are being encouraged to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church CCC. Let me encourage you as well. I am a kind of person though that likes to step back and see the big picture in things, especially our Faith. Now you probably know the 4 parts of the CCC: The Creed (that we say at Mass and during the Rosary) the 7 sacraments, the 10 commandments, and the Our Father. If you know those then rest of the CCC is just one big awesome commentary on those 4 sections. But each of the 4 parts has an introduction.So I went through the 4 parts of the Catechism and summarized those introductions to give you 3 birds eye views of the CCC.

If you would like a free copy of this in PDF form. Please write me at catholic4areason@gmail.com and I will send one to you to print.

I recommend memorizing the first two summaries before diving into the big Catechism. The underlined parts refer to specific subsections of the CCC.

SUMMARY 1 

I. We are designed for God, and God came to meet us and we should respond in faith to Him by believing  in what he has revealed as summarized by the articles of THE CREED.
II. In the Creed we confess the new Passover of Christ which is in hope communicated and celebrated by the Church in the liturgy; especially THE SACRAMENTS.
III. The Sacraments empower us by the Holy Spirit who calls man individually and in community to live by grace in the love of God and neighbor as summarized by THE 10 COMMANDMENTS.
IV. Prayer expresses that personal relationship with the living God that we are all called to, but we need to be taught what to pray and how to pray especially the greatest of prayers THE OUR FATHER.

SUMMARY 2

I. We have a desire for God and we can know that he exists by reason.
The church warns that even naturally there are obstacles to clear reasoning.
We can really speak about God though we can’t exhaust the mystery.
God has revealed Himself to people especially in the person of Christ.
This revelation has been carefully handed on, especially in the words of Sacred Scripture.
We respond to God’s revelation by faith individually and as a community.

II. The Liturgy is the work of the Holy Trinity, especially the new Passover of Christ.
This is communicated to us in the Sacraments.
There are essential features to a liturgical celebration and yet there is diversity as well.

III. Man is made in God’s image for happiness. Man is made free to choose good and avoid evil. Feelings contribute to our actions. Conscience judges these actions. We are called to practice virtue and avoid sin.
Society resembles the Trinity and people need to participate in it on various levels in a just way.
God gives us laws to live by and gives us the grace to live by these laws. The Church is the mother and teacher that sustains us and instructs us concerning these laws.

IV. From the Old Testament through the New Testament into the Age of the Church we have all been called to prayer.
There are many sources of prayer to the Trinity and there are many schools of prayer.
There are 3 expressions of prayer and many struggles in prayer. Jesus’ high priestly prayer sums up the whole of salvation history.

SUMMARY 3

I. We have a desire for God and we can know that he exists by reason.
The church warns that even naturally there are obstacles to clear reasoning.
We can really speak about God though we can’t exhaust the mystery.
God reveals himself and his plan of loving goodness where, in Christ, all people by the grace of the Holy Spirit are to share in the divine life as adopted “sons” in the only begotten Son of God.
God has revealed himself to man by gradually communicating his own mystery in deeds and in words; CCC 69 First to Adam, then Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David.
Finally, God has revealed himself fully by sending his own Son, in whom he has established his covenant forever. The Son is his Father's definitive Word; so there will be no further Revelation after him. CCC 73
Faith is a personal adherence to God which involves an assent of the intellect and will to God who has made himself known through his deeds and words. CCC 176
We must believe in no one but God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. CCC 178
The Church professes with a united voice the one faith that was received from the one Lord and that was passed on by the one Apostolic Tradition.

II. The Father is the source and goal of the liturgy. Christ’s work in the liturgy is sacramental. The Holy Spirit prepares the Church to meet Christ. He recalls, manifests, and makes Christ’s work present so as to bear fruit.
The New Passover of Christ is now made present in the sacraments which he gave to the Church to nourish, strengthen, and express The Faith. Through them the Holy Spirit applies to the faithful the New Passover of Christ and are necessary for salvation and are a foretaste of eternal life.
In general the liturgy is celebrated by Christ through the ordained and baptized. It involves signs and symbols, the reading of God’s word, songs and music, as well as sacred images. The Church commemorates Sunday’s and other liturgical seasons and days through the year. The liturgy is celebrated primarily in the hearts of believers as well as in church buildings.
The Liturgy is celebrated by the Church according to various liturgical traditions because the mystery of Christ cannot be exhausted by any single liturgical tradition. CP 247

III. Man is made in the image of God for happiness. This is reached through conforming ourselves to the beatitudes of Christ and fulfilled in heaven.
We are given the gift of freedom to choose the good and avoid evil. We are responsible for our own actions. Though our freedom is wounded by sin Christ set us free to make us coworkers with him in the world.
The sources of morality are the object, the intention, and circumstances that make an act good or evil. Only when these three are all good can an act be called good.
Our feelings are neither good nor bad but can contribute to our actions. If they contribute to good acts they are good, and if they contribute to bad acts they are bad.
The moral conscience drives a person to act or not. Our conscience must be formed according to the teachings of the Church and reason. When there is a moral choice we should follow our conscience. While erroneous judgments might be made, these might or might not excuse the person from guilt.
Virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do good. CCC 1833. The four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. The Three theological virtues are Faith, Hope, and Charity. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon Christians are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. CCC 1845
"God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all" ( Rom 11:32).CCC 1870 Sin is “a word, an act, or a desire contrary to the eternal Law” (Saint Augustine). There are two kinds of sin, Mortal and Venial. The repetition of sins - even venial ones - engenders vices, among which are the capital sins. CCC 1876
We are designed to live in community which has some resemblance to the Holy Trinity. The destiny of the individual and the community is the same and that is heaven. When society has fallen into sin it is called to convert back toward God.
The authority of the community comes from God and must be exercised for the common good. The common good involves: (1) respect for and promotion of the fundamental rights of the person, (2) the development of the spiritual and temporal goods of persons and society, (3) and the peace and security of all. Christians have a responsibility to promote the common good.
Justice in society requires that we have respect for the human person, even those that differ from us because we are all in this together.
God gave us the moral law to lead us to heaven and avoid hell. Natural law flows from man being created in God’s image and likeness. It expresses that original moral sense which enables one to discern by reason the good and the bad (CP 416). In the Old Testament many of the laws that God gave were accessible by reason and it prepared us for the New Law of Christ. The New Law of Christ fulfills the old law and is powered by grace from the sacraments.
The grace of the Holy Spirit confers upon us the righteousness of God. Justification includes the remission of sins, sanctification, and the renewal of the inner man which has been merited for us by the New Passover of Christ. CCC 2017, 2019 Grace is the participation in the life of God that saves us and makes us holy. God in his goodness may reward our good deeds that we perform only by his grace, this is merit. All Christians are called to holiness.
The Christian moral life is nourished by the liturgy; especially the sacraments. The Church’s five precepts help conform the Christian to Christ. Once this conformity is fulfilled in the Christian, he now becomes another Christ drawing others to the Gospel of salvation.

IV. "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God"
God tirelessly calls each person to this mysterious encounter with Himself. Prayer unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation as a reciprocal call between God and man.
Jesus' filial prayer is the perfect model of prayer in the New Testament which he taught his disciples to pray with a purified heart, with lively and persevering faith, with filial boldness.
The Holy Spirit instructs the Church in the life of prayer, inspiring new expressions of the same basic forms of prayer: blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise. CCC 2590, 2591, 2620, 2621, 2644
By a living transmission -Tradition - the Holy Spirit in the Church teaches the children of God to pray using as wellsprings the Word of God, the liturgy of the Church, and the virtues of faith, hope, and charity are sources of prayer. CCC 2661, 2662
Prayer is directed to God the Father in the name of Jesus as taught and aided by the Holy Spirit. The Church prays to Mary and with Mary who shows us the “Way” who is her Son.
The Church invites the faithful to regular prayer: daily prayers, the Liturgy of the Hours, Sunday Eucharist, the feasts of the liturgical year. CCC 2720
The three expressions of prayer are vocal, meditation, and contemplative prayer.
The struggles of prayer include not having time to pray or that it is useless and without success. Distraction, dryness, and acedia all call us to constant vigilance of Heart. As children of God we need to trust God and persevere in prayer at all times.
The prayer of the hour of Jesus, rightly called the "priestly prayer" (cf  Jn 17), sums up the whole economy of creation and salvation. It fulfills the great petitions of the Our Father. CCC 2758

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Prudence


Today we are going to talk about the cardinal virtue of Prudence and where example of it can be found in the Bible.

To begin, what is a virtue?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in the Glossary that a virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do the good. So they are habits of doing good.

The Catechism in the glossary also has the Cardinal virtues defined –four pivotal human virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance; the human virtues are stable dispositions of the intellect and will that govern our acts, order our passions, and guide our conduct in accordance with reason and faith'

 

Let’s begin with prudence; what is it and where do we see examples of it in the Bible

 

CCC 1806    Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it.

 

This virtue is called the charioteer of all the virtues. A charioteer is one who drives a chariot of course. So how do we acquire this virtue? Where do we get it from?

We get it from listening to good people and putting what they say into practice. For example the Bible specifically Jesus.

Listen to the Book of Proverbs:
 Proverbs 1:8 Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and reject not your mother's teaching; 9 for they are a fair garland for your head, and pendants for your neck.
Proverbs 6:20 My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching. 21 Bind them upon your heart always; tie them about your neck. 22 When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.

And as we read the book of Proverbs, and Wisdom, and Sirach they are filled with very good day-to-day advice and tell us how to be good and avoid evil.

 

Let me continue reading that Chapter 6 from Proverbs

 

Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, 24 to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adventuress. 25 Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes; 26 for a harlot may be hired for a loaf of bread, but an adulteress stalks a man's very life. 27 Can a man carry fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? 28 Or can one walk upon hot coals and his feet not be scorched? 29 So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; none who touches her will go unpunished. 30 Do not men despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry? 31 And if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house. 32 He who commits adultery has no sense; he who does it destroys himself. 33 Wounds and dishonor will he get, and his disgrace will not be wiped away. 34 For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge. 35 He will accept no compensation, nor be appeased though you multiply gifts.

 

So this is the trouble that one goes through on the outside when you commit adultery. Jesus talk about the inside.

 

Matthew 5:27 "You have heard that it was said, `You shall not commit adultery.' 28 But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

 

So now that we are informed from a reliable source we can use prudence to help us avoid a situation that might lead us to commit adultery and other such sins.

 

We have all heard people say to us after we make a poorly thought out decision – why did you drive through a snow storm just to pick up a  movie – that wasn’t smart. This person should have been more prudent and thought through the risks before acting.

 

Prudence is really a call to constantly keep a clear mind about you. St. Peter puts it into perspective.

 

RSV 1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore keep sane and sober for your prayers.

 

He is saying that we are only here for a moment so in a spiritual sense – stay awake.

 

Proverbs 14 gives more advice on prudence.

 

Proverbs 14:15 The simple believes everything, but the prudent looks where he is going.
16 A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool throws off restraint and is careless.
17 A man of quick temper acts foolishly, but a man of discretion is patient.
18 The simple acquire folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

Remember Solomon from the Old Testament – God appears to Solomon in a dream and says – ask of me what you will – and this is what Solomon asks for:

1 Kings 3:9 Give thy servant therefore an understanding mind to govern thy people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to govern this thy great people?" 10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.

This is Solomon’s prayer for Prudence and God was pleased by this prayer.

We end with the words of our Lord.
Matthew 7:24 "Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; 25 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; 27 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it."

We need to take our Lord’s advice and make our decisions based on his commands and wisdom and this will lead to happiness.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Liturgical New Year Party

This Sunday begins a new liturgical year, and while you may have never done this in the past, I want to encourage each of you to celebrate this special time in one way or another.

For the past few years my wife and I have hosted a liturgical new year party on the liturgical new years eve, which is on Saturday.  

I am going to tell you how we celebrated just to give you an outline but I do hope you do something.

We kind of invited everyone and asked them to bring a dish so while my wife did a ton of cooking the night before and the day of we still needed more food for all the people and they were happy to bring it. 

At every hour, on the hour we sang a verse from "O come, O come, Emanuel." While the singing would interrupt the party for a moment my hope is that it would kind of jolt peoples conversations out of the routine and make them focus for a minute on the liturgical season to come - Advent.

Advent is such an important and paradoxical time of year. While the world is punching each other out for a pair of shoes or pepper spraying their fellow shoppers over a sale on phones, we are preparing for the second coming of Jesus. Yes advent is first in preparation for the second coming of Jesus and then secondly about the about the first coming of Jesus. You can hear it clearly in the readings at Mass. Just think, we have an entire liturgical season dedicated to the end of the world, and that is how we start our liturgical year. Only when we are finished preparing for Christ second coming do we recall the promise and fulfillment of Jesus' first coming in his birth.

Advent is not primarily about getting ready for Christmas, it is about getting ready for the second coming of Christ when he will raise all of the dead, some to eternal life and some to eternal death. The elect will be gathered together from the 4 corners of the earth and enter into eternal life forever. Now how do we know that this will happen in the future, it is because we have God's promises that it will. Just as we have his promises that he would come the first time and die for our sins so that we would be saved, which happened and began on March 25 the Incarnation and 9 months later we are celebrating his birth on December 25th. Christmas has its own season which is celebrated until Epiphany when the wise men come.

So again I am recommending that in anticipation for a new liturgical year we gather, party, eat, sing, and talk about holy things.

Listen to St. Paul he says - Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

He says think about these things - I recommend talking about these things. We can focus on the bad all day. Let's begin a new liturgical year, this year of faith, talking about and celebrating our faith with our friends and family with a party. 

How many of you celebrate or celebrated New Years eve? For what? Is that helping you get to heaven? No it is probably making you late for Mass on January first which celebrates Mary as Mother of God, a holy day of obligation. I am just recommending transferring that party to this Saturday and celebrating our faith.

If you do celebrate this event. Let me know how you did it, I would be interested.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why I am Catholic Pamphlet

If you are interested in obtaining a PDF of this Bible tidbit, please Email me and I will send to you a copy for free.

Catholic4areason@gmail.com

If you are interested in inviting me to speak at your church or group please contact me at the same email. I am able to speak about these topics:

Answering Jehovah's Witnesses
Answering Mormons
Answering Protestants
Bible study on the Gospel of Mark
Bible Study on Jesus as a New Adam

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Parable of Excuses


Some insights into a parable of Jesus

 Luke 14:15 One of his fellow guests on hearing this said to him, "Blessed is the one who will dine in the kingdom of God." He replied to him, "A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many. When the time for the dinner came, he dispatched his servant to say to those invited, 'Come, everything is now ready.' But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves. The first said to him, 'I have purchased a field and must go to examine it; I ask you, consider me excused.' And another said, 'I have purchased five yoke of oxen and am on my way to evaluate them; I ask you, consider me excused.' And another said, 'I have just married a woman, and therefore I cannot come.' The servant went and reported this to his master. Then the master of the house in a rage commanded his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.' The servant reported, 'Sir, your orders have been carried out and still there is room.' The master then ordered the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled. For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.'"

The context and its literal meaning

The context is that Jesus has been invited to eat at the house of a Pharisee and everyone was watching him carefully. Now they are probably watching him to catch him in something, but Jesus is so awesome and just makes so much sense when he talks I imagine that they don’t know what to do with themselves.

Luke 14:2-6   In front of him there was a man suffering from dropsy.  Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking, "Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?"   But they kept silent; so he took the man and, after he had healed him, dismissed him.  Then he said to them, "Who among you, if your son or ox  falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?"   But they were unable to answer his question.

After healing a man he gives two lessons before he gives the one we just mentioned.  First he talks about choosing places of honor when you are at a wedding, he says that you should choose the least place lest the place you have chosen has been reserved for someone else and you embarrass yourself. He ends with this:
Luke 14:11   For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

Then he goes on to say to the host of the dinner – don’t have a dinner and feed those that can repay you, rather feed those that certainly can’t repay you.

So Jesus was already on a banquet / dinner theme before he gave the parable about the people with excuses.

Jesus’ parable is in the context of healing a crippled man, humbling yourself, and helping those who can’t help you in return. Then he gives this parable  which says this – look, God has given you the promise of this great feast if you but come to Jesus and believe in him, yet you are filled with excuses, therefore this feast will not be given to those who were particularly waiting for it, but to those who most desperately need it.

I also think that if we ask what does this parable have to do with the message of the Bible in Jesus’ day something is revealed. The three people that make excuses; the one who bought land, the one who bought oxen, and the one who got married; I think that these represent three phases of the Old Testament people.

The land represents the covenant with Abraham and how he was to receive the land of Canaan, the 5 oxen represent the covenant with Moses and the sacrifices God initiated with Israel in the desert, and finally the marriage represents the covenant that David had between himself and the people of Israel.

Now all of these great promises of God were signs of New Covenant. The land represented the promised land of heaven, the sacrifices represented the sacrifice of Christ and the marriage represented the marriage that Jesus would have with his bride – the church. These Old Testament things were only signs though and some people were clinging to the signs unable to let go when the reality came.

It would be like if you were traveling to a great state let’s say for example Kentucky but you weren’t in it yet and while you on your journey you saw a sign that said 20 miles to Kentucky, and there were people hugging the road sign and decorating it. Out of curiosity you stop and ask what is going on. They say that they have been taking care of this sign for several generations because they are excited about Kentucky. You then say that you are traveling that way and offer them a ride. Unfortunately they then turn on you and call you Satan because you are leaving the precious Kentucky sign. So you pick up some hitch hikers instead and take them to Kentucky. That is what Jesus is talking about.

Finally on a moral level I think the three people represent the three lusts that plague us all; as St. John says in 1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.
The man who buys the field is too proud to come because now he has power and he would rather plot out his fame with his new land than attend a silly dinner, even if it is put on by God.
The man who buys the oxen suffers from the lust of the eyes. He would rather look upon his new possessions than busy himself with a dinner part, even if he is invited by God.
The man who just got married is suffering from the lust of the flesh. He would rather please himself with his new wife than bother with a banquet put on by God.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Wedding at Cana

The wedding at Cana is the location of the first of Jesus’ miracles.  Let us dig a little deeper into this luminous mystery and begin uncover the riches of this story.

This story is found in John Chapter 2 and opens up with the words “on the third day”…well on the third day from what is the question to ask.  What is a beautiful and somewhat shocking to discover is that in the Gospel of John he opens with a kind of new creation week.

John 1:1 begins the same way as Genesis 1:1 with these words – In the beginning… St. John is presenting  Jesus as both the one through whom God created the world and also the one through whom God will begin this new creation. Not only does St. John begin with this creation theme but he continues in this theme throughout John Chapter 1. St. John keeps saying  - one then next day – Jesus did this – on the next day Jesus did that – on the next day, one the next day. If you read carefully and count the days by the end of Chapter one you are on the 4th day, but then John says in Chapter 2 On the third day, meaning the third day from that final 4th day at the end of Chapter 1 which bring us to the 7th day. It is not as confusing if you just read it for yourself.

Yet we see these days still significant another time.

Yes,  and what makes these days significant are the stone jars that are present at the wedding.

John 2:6 Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.

What Jewish rite of purification are they talking about here?  It could be something as simple as washing before and after meals. But it could also have to do with the book of Numbers 19:11-22, where it talks about getting washed with water on the third day and on the seventh day. Now John has just told us in verse 1 that it was the third day, but I also showed you that it is the completion of John new creation week and is the seventh day. So this wedding is on the 3rd day and the 7th day.

In the book of Numbers you would wash yourself on the 3rd day and the 7th day if you came in contact with a dead person. You would be ceremonially unclean for 7 days and then could after washing you could rejoin worship at the temple. So these stone jars with water were possibly for people who were unclean, it gave them a chance to purify themselves before coming to the party. But when Jesus changes the water into wine, he makes it so that these jars can no longer be used for the ceremonial washing, because they are no longer filled with water for cleansing, but wine for partying.  Jesus therefore kind of forces the people to be not able to practice the Law of Moses and become a sign of the heavenly banquet at the end of the world where the best wine will be served at the marriage feast of the lamb.

At the same time though Jesus is introducing himself here as a kind of new Moses.

St. John in Chapter  had also ready introduced Jesus as the New Passover lamb when he said – behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Now when St. John ends this story about the wedding at Cana he uses these words in John 2:11 – This was the first of Jesus’ signs. Now why is this miracle not called a miracle but a sign? It is because St. John is trying to show Jesus as a new Moses with a new kind of Passover. If you recall that Moses did ‘signs’ for Pharaoh that he was sent from God, and the first of his signs was that he took the water and made it into blood.

Exodus 7:19  And the LORD said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, `Take your rod and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, their canals, and their ponds, and all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.'"

Hey – vessles of stone – like stone jars? So Moses comes with plagues to set his people free in the first Exodus, Jesus comes with blessings that set his people free in the new Exodus.

This wedding also points us to the cross.

Jesus himself links this event to the cross when he says to his mother in 2:4 My hour has not yet come. Well what hour is he talking about? If you continue to study the Gospel of John, Jesus uses that “hour several times – for example:

John 4:21   Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.

John 12:23  And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. John 12:27  "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? `Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.

So he is definitely talking about the hour of his suffering and death.

It is here that Steve Ray said something really cool. Steve said – doesn’t it bother you that there are 6 stone jars there at the wedding – isn’t the New Testament about  the number 7 – the number of the covenant. 7 sacraments, 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit… He said – I think that the Gospel does mention a 7th jar and that is Christ himself on the cross, when his side is pierced what comes out – water and blood, that is brought to us sacramentally through the accidents of wine at Mass.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Seven Sacraments and the Book of Revelation

We have seen prefigurements in the Old Testament concerning the 7 Sacraments, like the manna in the desert – that miraculous bread from heaven. That it prefigures the Eucharist given to us by Jesus. Let us now though turn to the end of the story and look in the book of Revelation and see how it alludes to the 7 sacraments.


Where is Baptism in the Book of Revelation.


Baptism is seen at the very beginning of the Book of Revelation in the letter to Sardis in Revelation 3:4-5    Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy.   He who conquers shall be clad thus in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the book of life; I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.


This garment that they have received is Christ himself as it says in Galatians 3:27   For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Revelation 7:9-14 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.... Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?"   I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Ironically we don’t normally think of washing clothes in blood coming out white, yet this is what happens to our souls when the blood of Christ is poured over us in our baptism.

Finally in Revelation 22:1 Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb


This water was first seen at the crucifixion of our lord when the water came out of the temple of his body that he would later raise and take into heaven.

Where do we see confirmation in the Revelation


During the rite of confirmation the bishop says – be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit

Revelation 7:2 Then I saw another angel ascend from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads." And I heard the number of the sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand sealed, out of every tribe of the sons of Israel,

We also see that the seal that is received is the very name of God.

Revelation 22:3-4    There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him;   they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads.

All of this points us to the effects of confirmation.


Where do we see the Eucharist?


We see in the book of revelation Old Testament types that now find their fulfillment in the Eucharist.


Revelation 2:7   He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.'

Revelation 2:17    He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna.

Revelation 22:2    through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Is confession in Revelation.


Not explicitly, but a call to repentance is..

Revelation 2:4-7    But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.   Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.   Yet this you have, you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.   He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.'


Hopefully this call to repentance would lead the hearers to confession.


How about Marriage


In the book of Revelation, marriage finds its fulfillment in the bride – meaning those who follow Christ, and in the bridegroom – Christ.


Revelation 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;

Revelation 21:9  Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke to me, saying, "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb."

Revelation 19:8 it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure" -- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Priesthood

Elder in Greek is presbuteros, where we get the word priest in English.


Just as in the garden of Eden Marriage is so obvious, the same is true in the book of Revelation and the priesthood. The entire book is Liturgical. Revelation 4:4    Round the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clad in white garments, with golden crowns upon their heads.


Finally the anointing of the sick.

Revelation 2:10-11    Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.   He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who conquers shall not be hurt by the second death.'

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Providence of God in the Midst of Suffering

Today we are going to talk about suffering and the providence of God. What does the Bible say about God’s providence?

So many people worry, especially in economically hard times, that their financial life is falling apart and some unfortunately despair and take drastic measures to relieve themselves of these burdens.

Yet our Heavenly Father knows exactly what we are going through and has foreseen it from the beginning of time. Not only does God know that bad times will come to us, but he allows them to come. This has made some people question if God is truly all good. Let me assure you that God is the greatest good and that all goodness comes from God.

Let us shed some light God’s goodness by looking at the worst sin ever committed – The crucifixion of Jesus our Savior. Jesus, who is without sin before God and man, lead a life of good works and innocence, oh yes and is the very creator and sustainer of the universe – was tortured and put to death on our behalf so that we – who crucified him with our sins – might go to heaven. We call that terrible, tortuous day – Good Friday. Why? Because out of the worst sin in the world came our salvation.

Now if God can take the worst thing ever and transform it into something amazing, don’t you think he can do the same for you on your worst day?

Listen to what St. Paul says:

Romans 8:28 We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

He says – for those who love God, that is us – God makes all things work for good.

Like Joseph in the Old Testament

Now Joseph in the Old Testament was hated by his brothers, threatened to be killed by them, was sold into slavery, and then falsely accused of attacking the wife of his boss, and put in prison. Now is anyone is having a rough time, it is Joseph.

Yet all of this suffering leads ultimately to his exaltation to the right hand of Pharaoh, and not only to the salvation of his family, but all of Egypt and beyond.

Now we can imagine the range of emotions that he would have had throughout this ordeal, but had he known where this would lead – meaning his exaltation, wouldn’t it be possible to find even joy in all of his sufferings.

Shouldn’t we who have faith in God’s goodness have this attitude?

Listen to what he says to his brothers when he finally confronts them. The scene is in Egypt and his brothers are before him and don’t recognize his, thinking he has died. Joseph finally reveals himself and his brothers cower in fear thinking he is going to exact his revenge on them, yet he says this:

Genesis 45:4 So Joseph said to his brothers, "Come near to me, I pray you." And they came near. And he said, "I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.  And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.  For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.  So it was not you who sent me here, but God; and he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Joseph is close enough to God, that he sees God’s plan. Joseph says, “It was not you that sent me here, but God.”

So by his example, we see that we have cause to rejoice in our sufferings, because God who loves us and desires heaven for us, wills all things in our lives to lead us closer to Him even our sufferings.

Jesus also talks about God the Father’s providence.

In the sermon on the mount Jesus says this:

Matthew 6:25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?' or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?' All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

Jesus says – Everyone in the world worries about these things, and God knows about it. But trust God, and seek first holiness and the gospel message and God will provide for you not only for today, but for eternity.

Finally though, we must use prudence in all things. I am reminded of the joke about the man who prays to God to be saved from a flood; a boat comes by and those on board exhort the man to get in the boat. The man says – no, no, God will save me. Later he is in the second story window when another boat comes and offers to rescue him and he responds – no, no – the Lord will save me. Into the evening he is on his roof while the waves of the water lap higher and a helicopter comes by and drops a ladder and those on board yell for him t0 climb up. He yells up – no, no, God will save me – well the man drowns, goes to heaven and meets God. He says – God why didn’t you save me? God says – I sent you two boats and a helicopter.