Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Musings

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

I came across a Facebook page appropriately named "Ask a Catholic Priest" which (as the name suggests) allows readers to post a question that will then be answered by a Catholic priest. A question recently asked there about paranormal activity piqued my interest:
Ghosts, souls and spirits whatever you may want to call them. Persons who have passed away are caught on camera or evp etc. From professional hunters of this phenomenon, In the bible it states that the soul returns to the one who gave it to you. Are these paranormal events part of purgatory of the human soul. Or is it something evil and demonic playing with peoples minds and their equipment. And their are also mediums who say they can speak or feel the presence of a person and read their actions of intent whether they are demonic presence or a actual trapped soul of a human being who has passed away.. Is this a form of purgatory or is this something else. Does the church believe in trapped souls on earth in this situation. The demonic I believe is everywhere to deceive us. But how can you tell the good from the bad...
The answer given by a Fr. Scott Brossart, SOLT, was simple, clear, and solid. The story he tells in the beginning was also compelling:
There are honest cases of souls in purgatory who can make noise, appear, move things, a physical way because they need our prayers and help. Sometimes they need help from others in making atonement for what they have done. I know of one case where, after a pastor had died, a week later there were strange knocks in the rectory. After an exorcist was called, they found through an investigation that this pastor had stored up Mass intentions that were never prayed and he just stuck them in a drawer. His soul is accountable for having those masses said and once the intentions were spread throughout the diocese for other priests to offer up and a Mass was said for the repose of his soul.. the knocking stopped.

This is not always the case as the demonic can also try to steer us into error and darkness by mimicking the dead but a well trained priest can recognize the difference by the fruits of the alleged appearances/disturbances. This is why it is so important not to seek psychic mediums, etc. because one does not know who is really on the other end and furthermore God commands us knock to seek communication with the dead.

I am not going to give advice on how to tell the good from the bad because we should never try to deal with these things on our own because of the level of deception and harm that can come as a result, but rather seek the help of a competently trained priest.
With shows like "Ghost Hunters" and other paranormal franchises out there for consumption in the pop culture, it's important to remember that the spiritual world is not a game or source for entertainment. These are real souls, real people, and even real demonic forces that can cause us real harm.

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I've been discussing some doctrinal issues with a few Protestant friends recently. I've had many debates/discussions/dialogs like this with Protestants before, but I am always struck by one comment they frequently make. These Christians will sometimes disagree with their particular denomination, church, or pastor on a doctrine or a specific teaching, and they will explain that this is OK because their church is capable of error. To them the church is a fallible, error-prone institution. There is no reason to think that their preacher or church leaders have absolute certainty on doctrinal matters more so than any individual layman might. If they disagree with their church on a doctrine, it's no big deal.

The thing that struck me in my recent conversations is that these Protestants lack a certain zeal or sense of earnestness when I challenge their church's doctrines. If I point out that this or that  doctrine is false, they reply, "Well, I kind of see your point. Yeah, maybe my church is wrong on that. But then, it wouldn't be the first time I disagreed with my church. I guess this is just another point where we disagree."

As a Catholic it just seems so uninspiring, so empty. I mean, I am certain that my Church CANNOT err! - not on matters of faith, not when Christian Truth is at stake! It always surprises me when I encounter the limp and lukewarm uncertainty of Protestantism.

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Still no missal. It's still on back order. Frustrated!

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