Is Sterilization Acceptable?

I had a nice exchange with 2 of my co-workers last the other day.  Someway or another our conversation turned to pregnancies and what people can do to avoid them.  One co-worker is a non-practicing, nominal Catholic and the other was a non-denominational Christian.  

After I told them that I didn’t agree with having a vasectomy.  The nominal Catholic laughed and said: “Wait, wait, lets see what the extremist has to say about this.”  When I told them that we shouldn’t ‘mutilate’ our bodies for our convenience he started giggling.  The purpose of medicine is to return our bodies to a natural state.  I said that it wasn’t a natural thing to do to your body and so we shouldn’t do anything to disrupt the natural functioning of our organs.   He (the nominal Catholic) just started laughing.  He thought that I’d disagree with removing a kidney stone since that was a natural thing.

My answer to that though was kinda simple.   I told him, and the other non-denominational Christian that medicine is suppose to repair or return the organs and body in general to its original purpose which is why wearing glasses is ok since it improves the functioning of the eyes and the same for the kidney stone.  The stone impedes the kidney from functioning properly hence it is ok to remove it.  The only thing he had left was to turn around and he kept smirking but he gave up the argument.  Hopefully I was able to plant a seed to both of them.  I have great hope that the other individual listening will chew on this for a while.  At least he seemed  to be receptive of this idea of the true role of medicine.  I just thought I’d share with you.  I hope they’ll be more of those moments, I just hope I have a ready response when/if they do and please do not shy away from defending the Catholic position on moral issues.  Her reasons that the Church holds these positions are on very solid ground, we just need to go look them up and share them when the opportunities arise.

God Bless
Nathan

Posted in immoral, moral, Mortal sin | Leave a comment

Infallibility – A Challenge?

Recently, on Triablogue, John Bugay posted a query using Hans Küng as his primary source for challenging infallibility – as if a dissident “theologian” is a good place to start from.  I guess from a Protestant perspective, a dissident Catholic is “better” than an orthodox one, but even Bugay refers to Küng as a “renegade Roman Catholic theologian.”

According to Bugay,

“Küng says he is not writing to destroy, but if ever there was a need for destruction, it is here. Wrong-headed from the start, both “papal infallibility” and “the papacy” both need to be headed toward “the ash-heap of history”. If anyone can muddy the waters right now (further than they have been muddied), it will be “Pope Francis”.”

In short, Küng is writing to destroy.  The link there takes you to another Triablogue article on Papal Infallibility, also written by Bugay and while using another source, Küng wrote the introduction to that source – already opening it to the question of its orthodoxy.  That article opens with a discussion of the “Johannine Comma” and goes into a discussion about later popes overturning decisions by earlier popes.

It is apparent that Bugay (and perhaps his sources) is oblivious to the fact that not EVERYTHING decreed by a pope is infallible!  The fact of the matter is, VERY FEW decrees are actually considered to be infallible.  Yes, such a decree is binding upon all faithful Catholics – but again, a non-infallible decree can be (and several have been) overturned.

My response to the first article I cited is quite simple and straightforward:

Something which is bound in heaven, by its very nature, is then infallible – for nothing fallible could be “bound” in heaven.  If Peter, and thus his successors, has this authority, then Bugay’s point is moot.  If Peter has not this authority, then Matthew 16:18-19 is a lie.  You can’t have it both ways.

That response, if it is approved, was also posted to the original article on Triablogue (slightly paraphrased here because I did not copy it before I submitted it).  The bottom line is, if the Bible is the true and final authority for Bugay, then his objections to infallibility are pure folly and even scandalous in opposing the Word of God.

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Communion of Saints pt1

The word in the Bible for “saint” or “saints” in the Greek texts can also be translated as “sanctified, consecrated” or “holy ones”.  It’s Paul who calls all his fellow believers “saints,” and not just the notably holy ones.  We see an example of this in Phillipians 4, verse 21 and 22.  It says: “Salute ye every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me salute you. All the saints salute you: especially they that are of Caesar’s household.  Paul also uses the term for both those who are living and for those who are dead. We find this very clearly in 2 Thess 1:9-10 and also in Jude 14-15:
2 Thess 1says:

“These (who do not acknowledge God nor heed the good news) will pay the penalty of eternal ruin, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power, when he comes to be glorified among his holy ones and to be marveled at on that day among all who have believed, for our testimony to you was believed.”
And Jude 14-15 says:
“Enoch, of the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied also about them when he said, ‘Behold, the Lord has come with his countless holy ones to execute judgment on all and to convict everyone for all the godless deeds that they committed…”

This practice of Paul corresponds to one of the earliest creedal statements of Christian faith: The Apostles Creed: “I believe in the communion of saints.”  Communion of saints refers to the bond of unity among all believers, both living and dead, who are or have been committed followers of Jesus Christ.  In the eyes of God, in eternity, the distinction between His People who are ‘living’ or who are ‘dead’ is not at all important.  This statement can be supported by the following Scripture verses:


Mk 9:4            “Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.”

Mk 12:26-27   “As for the dead being raised, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God told him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, (the) God of Isaac, and (the) God of Jacob’?  He is not God of the dead but of the living.  You are greatly misled.”
Rom 12:5        …so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.

Rom 8:38-9     For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This one body in Christ is called by the Catholic Church as The Mystical Body of Christ.  This concept, as seen in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is explained as: “The life of each of God’s children is joined in Christ and through Christ in a wonderful way to the life of all the other Christian brethren in the supernatural unity of the Mystical Body of Christ, as in a single mystical person.” (par. 1474)
Since we are “members one of another,” we can, in Christ and only in Christ, seek the prayers and help of fellow members of the Body, both here and in Heaven.  Seeing as all believers as a whole make up the one body in Christ, we are all connected to each other with Christ at the head.

Luke 15:7 points to the fact that those in heaven (the saints and angels) are aware of the happenings here on earth since they would rejoice over one sinner who repents.  James Cardinal Gibbons explains it this way:
“ The angels [and saints] are glad whenever you repent of your sins.  Now, what is repentance?  It is a change of heart.  It is an interior operation of the will.  The saints, therefore, are acquainted –we know not how – not only with your actions and words, but even with your very thoughts.”  (Gibbons, The Faith of our Fathers, p.127)

Text adapted from:  www.catholic.com/tracts

But can they hear us?  More on this next week.

God Bless

Nathan
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Passion Sunday

What is Passion Sunday?  
Prior to the 1970 Mass, often referred to as the Novus Ordo Missae, the liturgical year included Passion Sunday.  This was the day all the statues and holy images were veiled in purple.  The tradition is not prohibited today – but not nearly as widely practiced as it used to be.  The readings for Mass became more focused on the discord between Jesus and the Jews and upon the Passion of our Lord.

The Epistle:

Hebrews 9:11-15  Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
11 But Christ, being come an high priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hand, that is, not of this creation:
12 Neither by the blood of goats, or of calves, but by his own blood, entered once into the holies, having obtained eternal redemption.
13 For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh:
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God?
15 And therefore he is the mediator of the new testament: that by means of his death, for the redemption of those transgressions, which were under the former testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
 The Gospel:
John 8:46-59 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
46 Which of you shall convince me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe me?
47 He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God.
48 The Jews therefore answered, and said to him: Do not we say well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?
49 Jesus answered: I have not a devil: but I honour my Father, and you have dishonoured me.
50 But I seek not my own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.
51 Amen, amen I say to you: If any man keep my word, he shall not see death for ever.
52 The Jews therefore said: Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest: If any man keep my word, he shall not taste death for ever.
53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead. Whom dost thou make thyself?
54 Jesus answered: If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifieth me, of whom you say that he is your God.
55 And you have not known him, but I know him. And if I shall say that I know him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know him, and do keep his word.
56 Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad.
57 The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
58 Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.
59 They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.

In the Novus Ordo, or Ordinary Rite, Passion Sunday is combined with Palm Sunday.  In a way, this is a bit tragic, as Palm Sunday, though the start of Passion Week, is a day of celebration and praising the Messiah’s entrance into Jerusalem.

As for me and my family, we adhere to the tradition of covering all statues and pictures of Jesus and the Saints on Passion Sunday – and they are removed after the First Mass of Easter Sunday (the removal of the veils is actually part of the Easter Vigil – which takes us into the First Mass of Easter).

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Did You Take Time To Know Me?

Last Sunday, where we heard the Gospel message about the Transfiguration, the sermon I heard was simply wonderful.  I was speaking to someone recently about the Transfiguration, and they thought I was talking about the bread and wine becoming the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ in the Eucharist.  While Fr. spoke on a variety of topics, the one which stood out for me the most was very catechetical.  Most who read this blog profess to be Christians, but what does that really mean?  What does it entail to call yourself a Christian? Do you know the difference between transubstantiation and the Transfiguration?  Is being a Christian something you “put on” on Sundays and “take off” Monday through Saturday?  How much time do you spend in building your relationship with Jesus Christ?  Many seem to have the attitude that while the “believe” in Jesus Christ, they don’t want that to get in the way of their life and fun.  “Jesus is just alright with me,” as sung by the Doobie Brothers, seems to sum it up – Jesus is “just alright.”  He doesn’t reign supreme in most of our lives.  How comfortable will you be, standing in front of the Judgment Seat when how much time you spent to know Him, love Him and serve Him is exposed and judged?  Get to know Him, because the more you know Him, the more you can love Him.

I am reminded of the simplicity and beauty of the Baltimore Catechism.

Q. 150. Why did God make you?
A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.
Q. 151. Why is it necessary to know God?
A. It is necessary to know God because without knowing Him we cannot love Him; and without loving Him we cannot be saved. We should know Him because He is infinitely true; love Him because He is infinitely beautiful; and serve Him because He is infinitely good.
http://www.baltimore-catechism.com/lesson1.htm

I know that my children grew up with these questions and answers memorized, but now that they are grown – I am asking them (and I primarily write this article for THEM) do you love God?  What do you do to get to know Him better?  If you wish to be happy with Him forever in the next life, you have to get to know Him in this life, and love Him and serve Him.  What does that mean to you?  Can you do more?  I know I can.  We all must strive to continue to grow in Him, to know Him and love Him and serve Him.  If you don’t have time for Him – how do you think that will fly when He’s planning an eternity for you?   Giving God your time and worship shows how much you love Him.  Putting God FIRST in your life will result in all your other concerns working out (Matt. 6:33).  I ask myself the same questions – and I know the there is more I can do and I know there are times when I fail. 

If you’re stuck in a rut, or routine – then you’re not working on your relationship with God – or at least not working hard enough.  What more can you do?  What more can I do? 

Posted in Baltimore Catechism, Love, salvation, SMW | 2 Comments

Justice Antonin Scalia – RIP

“We are gathered here because of one man. A man known personally to many of us, known only by reputation to even more. A man loved by many, scorned by others. A man known for great controversy, and for great compassion. That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth.
It is He whom we proclaim. Jesus Christ, son of the father, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified, buried, risen, seated at the right hand of the Father. It is because of him, because of his life, death and resurrection that we do not mourn as those who have no hope, but in confidence we commend Antonin Scalia to the mercy of God.”
Posted in remembrance, SMW | 1 Comment

Walls and Christians

 “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel,” the Pope told journalists who asked his opinion on Trump’s proposals to halt illegal immigration.
Trump immediately fired back, calling Francis’ comments “disgraceful.”
“No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith,” he said in statement. Trump added that the government in Mexico, where Francis spent the past five days, has “made many disparaging remarks about me to the Pope.”  (qtd. from http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/18/politics/pope-francis-trump-christian-wall/index.html)
Let’s examine both statements, shall we?  First, Pope Francis’ statement that a person who thinks only about building walls… is not Christian.”  Mr. Trump is not “only” thinking about building a wall, he’s also thinking about illegal immigration and also LEGAL immigration.  Trump does not oppose anyone coming to the United States LEGALLY, “the wall” is to keep ILLEGALS out – AND – provide a means of vetting those who seek entrance to the United States via the southern border.  “Fences (walls) make good neighbors,” have you ever heard that?  When you know your boundaries you know how far you can go without offending your neighbor.  So, what about those who live behind huge walls?  Make note:

And that wall totally surrounds the Vatican City/State:

If walls make someone “not Christian” then should we be expecting the Vatican to tear down THEIR wall?  OR – do we believe that “wall” provides a level of security for the pope and the “nation” which is the Vatican?  Common sense points to the latter.

Now, how about what Mr. Trump said?  “No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith.”  Well, we need to remind Mr. Trump, “freedom of speech” is something he will be sworn to defend and uphold if he is elected president.  The pope, or any leader, religious or otherwise, has the “right” to question whatsoever they choose to question.  The leader of the largest Christian organization on Earth certainly has the “right” to offer his opinion on how Christian, or lack thereof, another is. From the Christian perspective, a man is justified (or judged) according to his faith which is shown through his works.  (James 2:22-24) So, in Trump’s defense, he has not yet built a wall nor has he implemented any sort of immigration reform – when and IF he does (IF he is elected) THEN we’ll have something to judge.  Back to the point of this paragraph – the pope certainly DOES have the “right” to say or question anything he chooses – especially if we base that upon the United States Constitution and Amendments. 

Both Sides Make Amends

Within a day of the initial comments, both sides are playing down the situation:
Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi said:  “the pope’s comments, which were denounced by Trump, were simply an affirmation of his longstanding belief that migrants should be helped and welcomed rather than shut off behind walls.
‘This wasn’t in any way a personal attack, nor an indication of who to vote for,’ Lombardi said.
‘The Pope has clearly said he didn’t want to get involved in the electoral campaign in the US, and also said that he said what he said on the basis of what he was told [about Trump], hence giving him the benefit of the doubt.’
The Pope was great. He made a beautiful statement this morning,’ he told a capacity crowd at the Myrtle Beach Sports Center, ‘They had him convinced that illegal immigration is, like, a wonderful thing!’ Trump exclaimed, referring to Mexico’s government.
I do not wish to turn the CathApol Blog into a political one, but politics and the Catholic Church do sometimes cross paths, as they have here.  My goal is not to defend Donald Trump here (I am still among the “undecided” when it comes to this coming election) – but rather to lay out the facts in a rational manner and allow the readers to make a rational (as opposed to emotional) reaction to what actually transpired and was said.  In the end, I believe the Pope and the Donald concluded on friendly terms.
Addendum:  Map of Vatican City:

Posted in http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, politics, Pope Francis, SMW | 7 Comments