August 05, 2006

GNOSTIC GOSPELS ETCETERA

In recent months, the mainstream media have reported on Gnostic texts, particularly the one called “The Gospel of Thomas.”

The media reports speak of the Gnostics and Gnostic texts as being part of first-century Christianity. Such reports then claim that the Church arbitrarily threw out the Gnostic texts; therefore the Church has misled all of history since with the false claim that earliest Christianity was not Gnostic.

The fact is that the latest or last to be written texts of the Christian Bible are from between the years A.D. 90 and 100. However, what seems to be the earliest known Gnostic text is the “Gospel of Thomas” that directly quotes the latest texts of the Christian Bible. In order to do so, the “Gospel of Thomas” would have to have been written AFTER the texts of the Christian Bible had come into being.

Gnostics and their texts were in fact NEITHER contemporaries NOR aspects of the first-century of Christianity and its texts.

A Beliefnet.com article explains the strong differences between the authentic Christian texts and the Gnostic texts.
The character of Gnostic documents reflects a reaction, indeed an over-reaction, to the strongly Jewish flavor of all the New Testament documents, which in my judgment were all written by Jews, or perhaps in the case of Luke-Acts by a Jewish sympathizer (a God-fearer). These Gnostic characteristics include:

— strong matter-spirit dualism
— often, very strong asceticism
— no positive use of the Old Testament
— an anti-Semitic and anti-creation theology bias

The Gnostic documents seem to have been written almost exclusively by Gentiles. Perhaps this is why the Jewishness of the historical Jesus gets almost completely lost in the Gnostic documents.

Read the complete article at Beliefnet.com.
Click HERE for it.

You're on notice!


I saw a version of this on Amy Welborn's blog.

You can make your own version saying whatever you like by clicking on: HERE.

Need an introduction to Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B.? Karl Keating of "Catholic Answers" can give it to you.
Click HERE for it.

August 04, 2006

THE CHRISTIAN MEANING OF HUMAN SUFFERING

Suffering—
in some form—
is always the instrument of the martyr *
and the reason of the doubter.
* From the Greek word for a “witness”

The Christian meaning of human suffering?
Click HERE for it.

Honest Sex, Honest Marriage, Honest Celibacy

[Due to a question I have received about my thoughts on these matters, I am republishing the following post that I first published in March.]


HONEST SEX, HONEST MARRIAGE, HONEST CELIBACY


— Without Reference to God, the Bible or the Church!

If we understand that sexual intercourse is "body language" that says, "I give you my all," then wholehearted HONESTY in making that statement requires several conditions.

Honestly:

… all of me entirely for you alone, not for another— monogamy;

… all my years— lifelong monogamy;

… all my body— without latex, pills or surgery to shield or impede my body.

— Now … What DOES God Have to Do with It?

Honesty in giving one's all— that is what opens sexual intercourse to the horizonless, infinitely honest Self-Gift— Agàpe— that is God.

Nature and human honestythose are the realities the Church's moral teaching about sexuality simply affirms.

What about celibacy?

If a husband and wife give themselves to each other with the kind of honesty I described, there can be at least three results: joy, communion, life. These are also qualities of God.

Sexual honesty and those three fruits of it do not happen without an exchange of vulnerability.

A professed Christian celibate (a monk, a nun, a priest...) has received an invitation from God to live without a spouse, and to do so "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven", as Jesus teaches. I HATE to hear people say that priests are celibate in order to have time and energy for work in the Church. That motive does not turn me on, and it's not the one Jesus gave. Even an atheist can live the celibate state for a merely practical motive.

One who is a celibate for sake of the kingdom of heaven is celibate for God. (Pious tradition gets it exactly right in speaking of nuns as "Brides of Christ".) Celibacy, then, aims for communion, life and joy, just as honest sexual intercourse does. A "professional celibate" who just crusts over to protect himself from his own human feelings, or numbs himself with any form of addiction, or "plays around" is not receiving or living his celibacy "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven."

A Christian celibate must also say— not to a human spouse, but to God— "I honestly give you my all". For the sake of the kingdom of heaven!

Remaining faithful to vowed Christian celibacy requires the constant rehearsal of vulnerability by way of very personal prayer— together with worship and all the virtues. The same is true of honest marital sexuality.

Celibate monks, nuns and priests have the same ultimate goal as married folk. Its just that celibates do without the support and challenge of spouses and children.

Since celibacy and marriage share the same ultimate goal, I, a celibate, have felt the closest personal kinship with married couples who live authentic sexual honesty.

To ALL his followers— celibates and spouses alike— Jesus promises communion, joy and life. However, the Way of Resurrection and the Way of Cross have the same footsteps.

NFP ("Natural Family Planning") classes propose that periodic abstinence from sexual intercourse in marriage can be a beautiful way to express love and respect." So is the Cross.

The NFP "Gospel" must frankly propose to spouses the whole Gospel: its rewards, its beauties, its passion and its share in the Lord's Passion.


August 03, 2006

John 9


If Jesus gave sight to a blind man by smearing mud on his eyes, what are these Franciscan sisters trying to do?


"The Evangelism Linebacker" will blow you up.

Click on the following image to view it.



I came across it on "fanatholic.com".


Party Poper



August 02, 2006

Questions and answers about the so-called “ordination” ceremony of several women in Pittsburgh on July 31, 2006

On Friday, July 28, 2006, the diocese of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, published the following.


What is the ceremony…?

According to an organization called “Roman Catholic Womenpriests,” a ceremony will take place on the rivers of Pittsburgh on July 31 that is represented to be an “ordination” to the priesthood. Among those taking part in the ceremony is Joan Houk, currently a parishioner at St. Alexis Parish in Wexford.

What is Roman Catholic Womenpriests?

It is a group founded in Germany that in June 2002 had excommunicated Argentine Bishop Romulo Braschi, founder of the schismatic Catholic-Apostolic Charismatic Church of Jesus the King, conduct an ordination ritual for seven women. In August 2002, the Holy See issued both the notification of excommunication for those involved and declared the ordinations null and void, which was upheld after an appeal in January 2003.

During the year following their alleged ordination, two of those women, Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger and Gisela Forster, claimed they were consecrated bishops in a secret ceremony by several bishops whose identities they have not revealed. Patricia Fresen, a former Dominican nun ordained by Mayr-Lumetzberger and Forster in August 2003, also came to consider herself a bishop.

In July 2005, Fresen, Mayr-Lumetzberger and Forster conducted a ritual on the St. Lawrence Seaway in which they claimed to ordain four women as priests and five women deacons. Roman Catholic Womenpriests announced it would conduct such rituals in ceremonies in Switzerland on June 24, 2006, and in Pittsburgh on July 31. In Pittsburgh, 12 women are expected to take part in such a ceremony with the claim that eight will be ordained to the priesthood and four to the diaconate.

What are the essential elements of the teaching of the Church on ordination of women?

“(The Catholic Church) holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in sacred Scripture of Christ choosing his apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the church, which imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority, which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church” (Pope Paul VI, 1977).

Ordination to the priesthood must be conferred by an ordained bishop on a baptized man. A candidate must receive the blessing of the Church, which has the authority and responsibility to determine if a true call to the priesthood exists. The ordination of males to the priesthood is not merely a matter of practice or discipline within the Church. Rather, the Church has determined that this is part of the deposit of faith handed down by Christ through his apostles. The Church is, therefore, bound by it and not free to change in this regard.

Participation in this event is, therefore, a very serious matter with very serious consequences.

What are the consequences for those participating in this event?

As this unfortunate ceremony will take place outside the church and undermines the unity of the Church, those attempting to confer holy orders have, by their own actions, removed themselves from the Church, as have those who present themselves for such an invalid ritual. Additionally, those who by their presence give witness and encouragement to this fundamental break with the unity of the people of God place themselves outside the Church.

This separation is not a discipline, judgment or mandate of the Church. Nor is it the result of opinion or advocacy of a theological view by those involved. Rather, by conducting and taking part in such a ceremony, it is the choice of the participants to place themselves outside the community of believers.

Additionally, if those present as witnesses to the event serve in ministry in the Church— as teachers, administrators, catechists, chaplains, etc.— they will be deemed to be in violation of the Cardinal’s Clause and/or the Code of Pastoral Conduct. As such, the most serious consequence would be dismissal from ministry and/or loss of employment.

What constitutes “participation” in this event?

The women conducting the ceremony and claiming to be bishops, and the women who present themselves for ordination to the priesthood and diaconate, are the direct participants. Those who, through their presence at the ceremony, encourage and openly defy Church teaching, are also considered to be direct participants.

Practically speaking, what does it mean to say that they place themselves outside the Church?

It means they are not to participate in the life of the Church, including reception of the sacraments, until they are reconciled with the church. For those attempting to confer holy orders and for those presenting themselves for holy orders, their reconciliation must come through the Holy See. For those present as witnesses, their reconciliation must come through their pastors in the sacrament of reconciliation.

Does that mean anyone who attends this ceremony must be denied the Eucharist or removed from ministry in the Church?

It is the responsibility of those receiving the Eucharist to make certain they are properly disposed to receive the sacrament, not the priest or the extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. It is also understandable that those distributing holy Communion may not be aware of all those who attended the event, or whether they have been reconciled, or whether there were circumstances surrounding their attendance that might serve to mitigate their individual responsibility.

However, it is clear that those conducting the ordination and those being ordained must reconcile through the Holy See. They could not be properly disposed to receive the sacraments or take part in the life of the Church until notification has been made by the Holy See.

Aren’t we really just punishing these people because of their views?

Those who take part in the ceremony are removing themselves from the community as an immediate and direct consequence of their own actions. This has nothing to do with what they may think or their views. They have chosen to take part in a public ceremony that abuses the sacrament of holy orders and undermines the unity of the Church. In doing so, they have chosen to remove themselves from the Church by their actions, not their views.

Isn’t denial of the sacraments and excommunication extreme? The Church doesn’t excommunicate those clergy who abused minors. And politicians who vote in favor of legal abortion are not denied Communion.

Those who present themselves for Communion are expected to be in communion with the Church. People can be “not in communion” in several ways. Those who have committed mortal sin and are not in the state of grace are out of communion and should not present themselves until they are reconciled through the sacrament of reconciliation. Those who deny a core tenet of the faith either by publicly espousing something contrary to the faith, such as the denial of the divinity of Christ, or by a public action that repudiates the laws, teachings or morals of the Church are also not in communion.

There are certain actions that by their public nature, by their immediate threat to the unity of the Church, by their explicit undermining of the sacraments and by their conscious break with the apostolic authority of the Church derived from Christ result in removing oneself from the community of the faithful. In regard to this ceremony, engaging in a public— and highly publicized— abuse of the sacrament of holy orders that threatens Church unity, and to take such action knowingly and willingly in defiance of the apostolic authority of the Church, does place oneself outside the Church.

However, even in these cases, the goal of the Church is reconciliation. Announcing that there are those who have removed themselves from the community of the faithful is not a punishment but a call to conversion.


The diocesan newspaper "Pittsburgh Catholic" is online.
Click HERE for it.

.ti er’uoY !gaT


Not anymore!

The Curt Jester tagged me with a meme. Memes remind me of chain letters. At least there is neither a curse attached to breaking a meme, nor an empty promise of blessings for passing it on. No superstition!


ONE BOOK THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE
I can't answer that in black and white. However, once I awakened to my personal faith during my senior year in high school, I began to read Wuerl’s The Teaching of Christ, and I read it once a year throughout university and my initial years in the monastery. The book is simply an adult catechism. Reading it several times gave me a comprehensive foundation for my later study of theology and spirituality. The letter of Pope John Paul II, "The Christian Meaning of Human Suffering", has also been a strong influence on my outlook.

ONE BOOK THAT YOU’VE READ MORE THAN ONCE
Again, The Teaching of Christ and "The Christian Meaning of Human Suffering".

ONE BOOK YOU’D WANT ON A DESERT ISLAND
The Holy Gospel according to John.

ONE BOOK THAT MADE YOU LAUGH
Matthew Fox’s laughable (ridiculous) On Becoming a Musical, Mystical Bear: Spirituality American Style.

ONE BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY
George Weigel’s Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II. I read it a few years before the Pope died. At times while reading it, I wept realizing both how much I cared for Pope John Paul II and that I would mourn his eventual death.

ONE BOOK THAT YOU WISH HAD BEEN WRITTEN
Theodicy: The Final Answer, by God.

ONE BOOK THAT YOU WISH HAD NEVER BEEN WRITTEN
A. C. Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. The book has a “younger sibling”, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Both books are founded in part on Kinsey’s study of prison inmates and his own sexual activities— all of that providing invalid “supports” for Kinsey’s claims about human sexuality. The two books together are commonly called “The Kinsey Reports”. Unfortunately, they are the founding charter of our culture’s distorted sexual perspectives.

ONE BOOK YOU’RE CURRENTLY READING
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s On the Way to Jesus Christ.

ONE BOOK YOU’VE BEEN MEANING TO READ
Karol Józef Wojtyła’s The Way to Christ: Spiritual Exercises.

TAG FIVE OTHERS
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I would have others not tag me. I shall not tag others ... for the time being.


August 01, 2006

"The World in My Humble Opinion" reports that...

... the new head of the U.S. Episcopalians has supplied a personal history that does not exist.

W.M.H.O. relays this information from an Anglican website.

"The World in My Humble Opinion"
Click HERE for it.

Argh! The Curt Jester has tagged me.

So has Mulier Fortis.

SED PROCRASTINO

¡Mañana!

What's the fuss?
Click HERE for it.

July 31, 2006

Ain't Biblical. Ain't Christian. Ain't a church.


“We take no position on Scripture or theology or morals. We are just Episcopalians.”
—Donna Bott, Episcopal Voices of Central Florida, July 30, 2006

Just like sugar-free, non-fat, lactose-free,
artificially flavored "vanilla ice cream"—
Bott's Episcopalianism is for those
who are concerned about
their appearances.

Bott has more to say.
Click HERE for it.

Father and Son!


[I came across this on markshea.blogspot.com.]

Dick Hoyt is a father who wins an Olympic gold medal from my heart.

His son Rick was born as a non-speaking, spastic quadriplegic person with cerebral palsy.

To watch a heartwarming short video about their shared athletic exploits, click on the following image.



Rick Hoyt, communicating through an electronic device, has said,
"I wish I could be an athlete.
But if I could have anything I wanted,
I'd ask my dad to sit down for a while.
Then I'd push him around."


Visit Team Hoyt's own website.
Click HERE for it.

Thus says the Lord, "You are my ROTTEN UNDERPANTS."

ROTTEN LOINCLOTH— same thing!

That's the sign the Lord tells his prophet to give us.

We heard it today in the first reading at Mass, Jeremiah 13:1-11.
The Lord said to me:
Go buy yourself a linen loincloth;
wear it on your loins,
but do not put it in water.
I bought the loincloth, as the Lord commanded,
and I put it on.
A second time the word of the Lord came to me thus:
Take the loincloth which you bought and are wearing,
and go now to the Parath;
there hide it in a cleft of the rock.
Obedient to the Lord's command,
I went to the Parath and buried the loincloth.
After a long interval, he said to me:
Go now to the Parath and fetch the loincloth which I told you to hide there.
Again I went to the Parath, sought out and took the loincloth from the place where I had hid it.
But it was rotted-- good for nothing!
Then the message came to me from the Lord:
Thus says the Lord:
So also I will allow the pride of Judah to rot, the great pride of Jerusalem.
This wicked people who refuse to obey my words,
who walk in the stubbornness of their hearts,
and follow strange gods to serve and adore them,
shall be like this loincloth which is good for nothing.
For, as close as the loincloth clings to a man's loins,
so had I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the Lord;
to be my people, my renown, my praise, my beauty.
But they did not listen.

A man's sins of pride, disobedience, stubbornness, infidelity and idolatry make him into a good-for-nothing, rotten loincloth.

ROTTEN UNDERPANTS— same thing!

Thus says the Lord.


July 30, 2006

The Church is alive because of the Eucharist

Ecclesia de Eucharistia vivit


THE EUCHARIST, THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY AND THE ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, APOSTOLIC CHURCH


After the Lord's ascension, the apostles returned to the "upper room" and "All these [the apostles] with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with ... Mary the mother of Jesus" [Acts 1:14]. Since Nazareth, she has already known the coming of "power from on high." She is a model for the apostles of how to say to the Spirit of God, "Behold, the servant of the Lord— let it be to me according to your word."

The apostles gather in the same "upper room" in which was "born" the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Jesus ... in the upper room "together ... with Mary"— the one who first bore the Son of God in Flesh and Blood in her own womb.

Just as "by the power of the Holy Spirit" the Son of God was born of Mary, so the apostles "by the power of the Holy Spirit" are born into their mission to go out as the Church— the Body of Christ— and to make disciples.

In the Upper Room— "Birth Chamber of the Eucharist"— the apostolic Church receives power from on high— through the intercession of Mary the Mother of Jesus. That is what we recognize in the first chapter of the Book of Acts.

The Eucharistic Chamber, the Apostolic Church, the Mother of Jesus ... all three are united so that Power might come from on high. What an "icon" of the Communion of Saints!

On the fiftieth day after the Resurrection, through the intercession of the saints and the Mother of the Lord, the Spirit of Power came upon the Church in that Eucharistic Chamber. The Church went from the Chamber and inspired three thousand men to be born again in baptism that same day.

Indeed, in the words of Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia vivit— "The Church is alive because of the Eucharist".


THE BANQUET THAT IS MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF


This Sunday, our Lord comes to begin a high chapter in his teaching: the great news of his Eucharistic Flesh and Blood (John 6). Then, for several more Sundays, our Lord continues this Eucharistic chapter of his Holy Gospel.

I have posted a homily for this Sunday's Gospel, John 6:1-15, in which our Lord changes five loaves and two fish into more than enough to feed five thousand men.
Click HERE for it.