Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Random Thoughts on Sola Scriptura, Part I

Prompted by some recent conversations I thought I would post a few thoughts on Sola Scriptura. Obviously this topic has been covered countless times by me and by others, but it doesn’t hurt to revisit such an important issue that divides Christians. This will be Part I of everal parts. I have not arranged these thoughts in any particular order; it will simply be a series of brief reflections…
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The Bible was never meant to be used "Alone." Yet there are thousands of Protestant denominations in existence today which adhere to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura – Latin for “Bible Alone.” These churches often claim to be defending the Church’s “ancient faith,” but the principle of Sola Scriptura effectively eliminates any authority that the Church's “ancient faith" might have in interpreting Scripture. In practice, Sola Scriptura does not defend the ancient faith, but rather undermines it.

The Protestant Reformers rejected the faith as taught by the Church of their day, and so they rejected the Church as defender of correct interpretation. Sola Scriptura simply allows for the formation of a new "church" in whose "faith" you can find your own interpretation. And history has shown that there is no end to the number and variety of “churches” this can produce. The “ancient faith” can be altered or deleted as each denomination sees fit. When the Bible stands “alone,” the ancient faith of the Church can be freely discarded.

And so today there are thousands of Protestant “churches” using the “Bible Alone” to arrive at a plethora of interpretations. They assume that God’s Word in Scripture (Alone!) will lead them to doctrinal truth. Yet these Bible Only churches hold doctrines that conflict with their fellow Christians. Can Truth conflict with Truth? Five hundred years of divisions and schisms have continued to skew the Protestant faith. Sola Scriptura does not give us Truth but confusion and a broken Body of Christ.

The Catholic Church understands that Scripture does not stand alone. The Church’s Ancient Faith stands alongside Scripture as its constant companion. We call this Sacred Tradition – the body of beliefs that have grown out of our shared Biblical experience since ancient times. If Protestant churches truly wished to defend the “ancient faith,” then Scripture can never stand alone. The Bible must always stand together with Tradition as a counter-balance against false interpretation.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Musings

A few random thoughts and ponderings to start the week...

So, the Mormon missionaries returned to my neighborhood recently, not once but twice in the span of about two weeks. They had knocked on my door a few months ago, at which time I briefly explained my disagreements with their religion. Apparently they remembered me from that visit. These past two times they skipped over my house entirely. They visited all of my neighbors but never knocked on my door.

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 Seriously...I really will try to post something original this week. I have just had serious writer's block and have been totally unmotivated.

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Still getting used to the new Mass translation? Yeah, so is everybody else. With that in mind here's a really funny picture that was making its rounds on Facebook last week:

Friday, January 27, 2012

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...

On the Indefectibility and Infallibility of the Church - "There are very few certainties in this world about anything. But one thing is for sure: The Church will prevail, the Church will be here to infallibly lead us to the end of days."

Hand Communion Causes Loss of Faith - "One takes ordinarily with one's fingers what one wants in a commonplace way. On the other hand, kneeling Communion on the tongue is a 'complete gesture of sacrality, which expresses  the sublime.'"

The Importance of Vocation - "All work, not only that of priests and religious, can be holy when done as an act of love, service, and sacrifice according to the mind God."

Child sacrifice in 21st-century America - "...America is a country in which almost 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in the willful, violent death of the unborn child. And this slaughter of the innocents has been going on, often in higher percentages, for almost four decades."

A Thread for Weaving Joy [Archbishop Charles J. Chaput]- "Studies show that more than 80 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome now get terminated in the womb.  They’re killed because of a flaw in one of their chromosomes – a flaw that’s neither fatal nor contagious, but merely undesirable."

“It’s a Girl!” Could be a Death Sentence in Canada - "'A pregnant woman being told the sex of the fetus at ultrasonography at a time when an unquestioned abortion is possible is the starting point of female feticide from a health care perspective,' writes Dr. Rajendra Kale."

Bene, bene, bene - "What do we call our children, beyond their literal names?  What do we say to them?  No matter how old they are, how often do we tell them that they are good, and it is well that they are here?"

Every American Catholic Must Fight for Religious Freedom - "There may well be no perfect candidate, but there will be those who pose a greater threat to our Catholic principles. Pope Benedict XVI has given us our priorities: the defense of human life from conception to natural death, the defense of the family and the defense of religious liberty."

Top Catholic bishop feels betrayed by Obama - "I had to share with him [Obama] that I was terribly let down, disappointed and disturbed..." - (Archbishop Dolan) [I don't mind saying: "I told you so." Why did the bishops put there confidence in a guy who supports abortion and the destruction of traditional family when he says that he's going to fix healthcare??? Don't you realize that his plan will include the evils that we oppose?? Why do Catholics support the Democratic Party??? You're just asking to get burned. The Republican Party is not perfect...]

Contraception mandate prompts Peoria bishop to instate St. Michael Prayer - "The move comes in response to a new federal requirement that will force many Catholic organizations to provide insurance coverage for sterilizations and contraceptives."

Pope Benedict, President Obama and religious freedom - "The bottom line, [Pope Benedict] said, is that America's once-strong political consensus has 'eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.'"

The Bell Is Tolling - "Without change, Catholic institutions will soon be legally required to provide services which violate a fundamental principle of our religious beliefs. If plans go unchanged, the Catholic Church, acting through our Catholic institutions, will no longer have legal protection for the free exercise of religion."
Forgotten religious relic rediscovered in New York - "The tapestry contains a calendar of 365 relics of the saints, one saint's relic for each day of the year. And in the center of the roughly 2-foot-by-3-foot tapestry are what are supposed to be the relics of the actual crucifixion of Jesus: a piece of the Crown of Thorns, the sponge used to dab his lips, and a sliver of the cross itself, all woven into the cloth."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quote of the Week

"America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts -- a child -- as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters
"...Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign." 
- Blessed Theresa of Calcutta

Friday, January 20, 2012

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...

Spiritual but not Religious? - "This just means the person is too lazy to look beyond their adolescent bias. They are too lazy to learn what it means to be truly religious." [AWESOME!!]

God Matters: Ethical Theory and Divine Law - "Contemporary theorists hope that bracketing the question of God’s existence will clear the way for agreement on a conception of the natural world, which they assume will be less controversial than natural theology. But theists and atheists disagree about the existence of God because they already disagree about the nature of the world, including the nature of morality."
The Apple Argument Against Abortion - "I think most people refuse to think or argue about abortion because they see that the only way to remain pro-choice is to abort their reason first." [In #13 of this article you'll find a particularly good critique of the pro-choice position. But do read the whole article.]

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? - "...suppose that bad things didn’t happen to good people.  Going to church would suddenly be like getting vaccinated.  Worshiping God would no longer be about Him but about the person who does not want an illness or an untimely demise.  Faith becomes motivated by fear rather than love."

A reader asks about a neighbor's Bible Study - "...what you might do is not only graciously accept the invitation in the spirit of neighborliness, but also (after you have been a couple of times) extend an invitation to these folks to come to Mass with you (it will be an absolutely new experience for them, most likely)." [I generally dislike Mark Shea's writing - style and content - but this piece is pretty good. I'll give credit where credit is due.]

How Ratzinger Reacted to Becoming Pope Benedict - "Yes, the thought of the guillotine occurred to me: Now it falls down and hits you. I had been so sure that this office was not my calling, but that God would now grant me some peace and quiet after strenuous years."

The Other Successors of Peter: The Patriarchs of Antioch - "...This is how it came to be that the Church of Antioch now sports five successors of Peter, although the city in which the disciples were first called Christians is now such a backwater that none of them are actually based there." [Interesting history lesson.]
Is the Historical Chair of St Peter at the Vatican? - "I suppose that there is no way to know for sure, but Tertullian (cf. De præscriptione hæreticorum, 36) and others seem to suggest or assume that a true physical chair kept in Rome had been that of Saint Peter."

Raising Independent Catholic Kids in an Age of Conformity - "I recently took some time to observe dozens of other children in approximately our sons’ age range in a variety of locations and situations in our area.  I also stay current about what is happening to young people in general.  All I have observed and read is troubling and has prompted a lot of reflection and prayer."

The Twilight of Protestant America? - "In a talk he gave this summer, Cardinal George said that he was much less worried about Protestant America, and much more worried about post-Protestant America.  I think we're going to have to start thinking much more seriously about just what this entails, because America's post-Protestantism is descending upon us rapidly."

Pope Benedict creates new science and faith foundation - "The new foundation builds on the work of the STOQ project – Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest – which was created by Pope John Paul II in 2003."

Hawking's Bummer Birthday: No Eternal Universe  - "No model of an eternal universe works...'All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.'" 

Why the Hobbit Trailer Creeps Me Out - [This is a great read for "Lord of the Rings" fans. Although personally I think the author is way too critical of Peter Jackson's films. I understand some of his complaints, but much of what he says is off-base. I am REALLY looking forward to the Hobbit movies!]

17 Big Companies That Are Intensely Religious -  [Interesting...]

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Musings

A few random thoughts and ponderings to start the week...

I think I might have mentioned this here before, but the thought entered my head again this Sunday while at Mass: Since the introduction of the new Mass translation during this past Advent, the popular Mystery of Faith proclamation, "Christ has died; Christ has risen; Christ will come again," is no longer listed as an option in English language missals. Indeed, this option was never a part of the original Latin text and (in my opinion) should not have been introduced into our English Mass. It strikes me as bold and un-Catholic the way such additions and alterations were made to the liturgy post-Vatican II. To simply invent an option that did not exist before flies in the face of a true understanding of the ancient Liturgy.

The widespread use of this invented text was, to me, emblematic of the whole post-Conciliar era. It seems that everybody used this Mystery of Faith as their go-to option (many parishes I attended used it almost exclusively)...but nobody knew that is was a purely invented line that did not appear in the Latin. So too with many other liturgical inventions: everybody does it, because nobody knows that it should not be done.

I am grateful that the new Mass translation has served to tighten up our liturgical practices.

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I recently had a conversation with some Protestant friends concerning Sola Scriptura...I plan to post some of what I said during that conversation in the form of a blog post in the coming days. Maybe that will kick-start my writing since I seem to be in a bit of slump.

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This Sunday's Gospel told of the Apostle Andrew going to his brother, Simon (Peter), and telling him that he had "found the Messiah." Meanwhile, the Epistle reading mentioned purity of heart, and living a moral life. Our priest used these passages to point out the necessity of "fraternal correction." It is our duty to tell others about Jesus, and to bring them into a relationship with Him (as Andrew did), and a huge part of that evangelizing includes living a moral life and teaching others to do the same. We are called to be temples of the Holy Spirit (as the Epistle said) living our lives accordingly. If we are to bring others to Jesus, as Andrew brought Simon to the Lord, then we must teach others to live according to His commands. It was good to hear our priest speak so forcefully about fraternal correction, since the topic is often avoided in our "live-and-let-live" society.

Friday, January 13, 2012

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...

Two Interesting Arguments for God: Intelligibility & Desire - "I wanted to share two simple arguments for God's existence that I don't see used very often :the argument from intelligibility, and the argument from desire."
Theology: The Spiritual Danger of the Bella Figura - "As the Church, the body of Christ, we are at our best when we see ourselves for who we are—fallen men and women in need of a savior."

Converts and the symphony of truth - "If there is a thread running through these diverse personalities, it may be this: that men and women of intellect, culture and accomplishment have found in Catholicism what Blessed John Paul II called the 'symphony of truth.'"

How the Church Fathers Can Help Us Engage the Culture for Christ - "...despite the limits of argument, we should never fail to offer arguments when they are demanded of us."

What Makes Norman Rockwell Possible? - "Though he wasn’t a regular churchgoer, he seems to have beheld the world with a sensibility that, in the history of the world, has only developed within a Christian civilization. It is what made his art conceivable."

Controversial John Paul II statue will get makeover - [Well, that's good to know. If you've seen it, you'll know why.]

Art & Liturgy: The Splendor of Faith - "In manifesting the underlying principles of the Catholic faith, liturgical art is integral to both the lex orandi (mode of prayer) and the lex credendi (mode of belief) of the Church."

"Marky Mark" Grew Up And Digs the New Translation - [Watch the video - it's refreshing to hear a celebrity talk about family and faith in this way.]

Jehovah’s Witnesses Came by Today - [More Catholics should be prepared to do what this author did.]

Should priests with effeminate manners work to correct them? - [Interesting question... As usual, a hard-hitting answer from Fr. Z.]

Conservatives Remain the Largest Ideological Group in U.S. - [Good news on the political front. Hopefully this is a trend for the future.]

And finally, I saw this posted at a blog I happened upon:
"True story. Someplace 'out East' (as we say in the Midwest). Second Sunday of Advent. Pastor began Mass by reporting that he received an angry letter from a parishioner. Seems the priest had changed all the words of the Mass last Sunday, even the consecration. “If you don’t stop this immediately, I’ll report you to the Pope."

I've been slow getting back into blogging after the Christmas Season, so I threw these links together at the last minute. Feel free to post any other links of interest in the Comments Section below.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monday Musings (...one day late)

A few random thoughts and ponderings to start the week...

OK...I admit, it's taking me some time to get back into blogging. Hopefully, I can focus in the coming weeks and get back on track.

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And so, Christmas comes to an end as we celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord. Here are a few comments I posted recently in an online conversation concerning the Baptism of Jesus:

It is easy to think of Christ's baptism as an odd thing. Since He did not need the grace that is imparted in baptism, then why should He receive the Sacrament at all? He even told John that it was necessary that He be baptized, when John said that instead Jesus should be baptizing him. So why should it be necessary for the Son of God to be baptized...?

I have heard it explained before that Jesus did not need sanctification or grace in the waters of baptism (as we do), but the water itself was made holy by His baptism: He entered the water before us to open the Sacrament up for our benefit.

And so it is necessary that Jesus be baptized, not for His sake, but for ours. He must first open the waters to us by piecing them with His own flesh. It is Christ who makes the Sacrament of baptism effective for imparting His grace by first entering into the Sacrament in a physical and literal way. We find Christ in the waters of baptism because He truly went there.

I have read a similar explanation of Jesus' death: We encounter Christ after death because He went there before us. Prior to the Son of God becoming incarnate and dying, God had not enter into "death."And so Jesus' death was God's way of placing Himself on the other side of death's door, so to speak. So when we say that Jesus "descended into hell" or "descended to the dead" (depending on the version of the Apostles Creed), we are saying that God entered into death and opened the way for us, so that the Infinite enters into the finite; the God of Life conquers death by literally bringing His Life into the realm of the dead.

So in baptism, it is an effective sacrament (actually imparting true grace) because Grace itself first entered into the waters.

Friday, January 6, 2012

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...

Breaking Bad Liturgical Habits, by George Weigel - Part I and Part II

Why Do We Ask Saints to Pray for Us? - "Mary and the saints are more alive and more holy than our family and friends. To refer to them as dead is not at all true. They are more alive in Christ now than even the holiest person on earth."

Arianism Today - "Today Arianism takes a different form, and comes to us in the guise of humanism. By 'humanism' I mean that belief system that takes man as the measure of all things."

What does IHS stand for? - "The meaning of the Holy Name of Jesus." Also, check out this piece on the same topic.

Understanding Christ's Humanity and Divinity - "...Jesus was not human before the Incarnation, and... Nestorianism is wrong for rejecting the Hypostatic Union.  So let's address the Catholic position, and then compare it with the early heresies."

Should government be in the marriage-recognition business? - "Even when a couple chooses not to have or cannot have children, the state’s publicly and legally recognizing their heterosexual, committed relationship as marriage reinforces marriage as a procreative, child-rearing institution in general."

The Prophetic Pope Paul VI, and the Consequences of Contraception - Pope Paul VI "was able to see everything from the loosening of societal morals and the increase in infidelity, to the 'pornification' of culture (and objectification of women), to the risk of state-imposed contraception (including sterilization).  And he saw all of these things in 1968, when perilously few others were sounding the alarm."

Here Comes Fr. Everyone - "I have known priests who play the drums, and priests who look bizarre without a cassock on; preists who bubble over with mirth, and priests who struggle with depression.  Athletes, intellectuals, bon vivants, wet blankets, firebrands, gourmands, shysters, flirts, gentlemen, ascetics, exorcists, prophets, jokers, and weirdos."

Error Has No Rights: Time to Ditch Liberalism for Theocracy  - [Bold essay - can't say that I agree with the author, but he has a compelling point.] "There is no reason to be embarrassed of theocracy. It was the norm up until the eighteenth century. And what have the last three hundred years given us but a few hundred million deaths thanks to the godless spawn of Enlightenment infidels?"

Catholic Beverages: Moored by Reason and Time - "No authoritative Church documents deal with gin or Scotch, lager or stout; nor do they tell us much about how (or how much) to drink."

"My Dad, Fallen Catholic Bishop"? - [I ordinarily prefer not to highlight scandals in the Church, since that is not the point of this blog, but this article takes an interesting angle to a recent resignation of an American bishop.]

Get off the Hulu, Save America -  [This is just plain funny.]

More articles can be found at these sites:

And as always, feel free to post any links you may find interesting in the Comments Section below...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Quote of the Week

"We believe that the Word became flesh and that we receive his flesh in the Lord’s Supper. How then can we fail to believe that he really dwells within us? When he became man, he actually clothed himself in our flesh, uniting it to himself for ever. In the sacrament of his body he actually gives us his own flesh, which he has united to his divinity. This is why we are all one, because the Father is in Christ, and Christ is in us. He is in us through his flesh and we are in him. With him we form a unity which is in God."
 - St. Hilary of Poitiers