Sunday, December 11, 2011

Repost from Another Blog..."God's Plan"

So, I wrote something and posted it onto my "Rachel's Vineyard Healed Me" blog today and then, realized that it coincides with my faith journey.  Therefore, I felt it was appropriate to post a link to that article here on this blog.

God has a funny way of revealing things to us at times and recently, I've been reflecting upon my life's journey quite frequently.  Those reflections resulted in the following post:


I hope you enjoy the read.

Many blessings to you.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Road Less Traveled is Less Traveled Cuz It's Hard!!!

So, my life has been filled with quite a few ups-and-downs in the past two years.  I lost a job, found a part-time job, volunteered more, went back to school...part-time job became full-time job, volunteering less, school is full-time, hubby and I are down to one car, filed bankruptcy, etc.  Each quarter, we brace to see if our interest rate has gone up, which will determine if we keep our house, and I have an unavoidable surgery coming up this year forever solidifying my inability to have children (naturally). 

So...what do I think about all is this???








Some of you may find that surprising.  Indeed.  I suppose it could be surprising to find out that Bill and I are stronger in our marriage than ever before, our faith lives are more focused now, and the clarity with which we view major decisions and obstacles is better than we could have hoped.  All of this in spite of the curve balls that flew at our faces for the past two years.  Wow!
 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.  --Romans 8:18-19
When I reflect upon these things, I am not, however, filled with awe over our  (me and Bill) response.  Sure, we experienced a few tense moments while all this began, but not very often.  In fact, when I think about all that we've endured and the things still to come, I do not feel panicked or accursed in any way.  On the contrary, I feel closer to God.  I finally, for the first time, understand that my faith MUST be unwavering ESPECIALLY during the times of uncertainty and in the midst of struggles.

Does this mean I am free of all worries?  

Am I am impervious to doubt?

No.  I am human, after all.  Rather, I know that through it all...through everything, God is with me...with us...and regardless of the battles we must endure, His perfect and permissive Will shall overcome all. 
 28 And we know that [k]God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  --Romans 8:28
As long as we are obedient to Him...to our Catholic faith...to His desire for our lives, then all things will be revealed in time.  In HIS time.  My journey of faith has allowed me to realize this after many years of struggling with relinquishing control. 

9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is [d]alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies [e]through His Spirit who dwells in you. --Romans 8:9-11
It certainly doesn't mean I am perfect in that faith.  I still have "bad days" when I am cranky, moody, or even succumb to tears.  But, God placed amazing people in my life to help lift me up in those weak moments.  He does that for all of us if only we will choose to see it.  Even in our loneliness, He finds a way to be with us...to give us some sort of comfort and quiet strength.  All that I've endured has led me to believe this wholeheartedly. 

I pray for those who are unkind to me, I pray for my own strength and forgiveness of my own shortcomings and sins, and I pray for the ability to forgive others their trespasses.  Always.  The more I allow myself to follow HIS WILL and not my own, the more attacks I notice coming my way.  At times, from the most unexpected of places.  But, I will not give into despair, nor turn away from what God has asked because I know He will guide me and help me to weather the upcoming storms.

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  --Romans 8:37-39
Peace be with you.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Listening to God - Believing in the Power of One to Affect the Many

I have given a lot of thought to the fact that it simply takes one person, one voice to start change.  It means that even if everyone is telling you something is impossible, if you believe in your heart that it is possible, then you should not give up.  If your faith calls you to it and The Holy Spirit is guiding you, then do not interfere with the Will of God.  That means listening to Him and not to those persons in the world who may be clouded in their judgments.
(Hebrews 11:1) 1 Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen.
My Catholic faith has, at times, cost me relationships with those I love.  My faith compells me to do more for those who need assistance.  It is my faith that connects me with God's Will for my life and that faith drives me to seek out whatever He wants from me.  Often, that means doing things when I am exhausted both physically and mentally.  That means pushing through headaches, foregoing plans with friends and/or family, and even taking away time from my husband in certain cases.  I am called to follow Him and there is no bigger commitment than that!  Unfortunately, the cost of that faith is ultimately to push people away who do not understand it.  They view it as their being abandoned rather than my call to help the lives of others. They do not see that because I have faith, I am compelled to do good things and cannot simply pray and call it a day.  I must do more...be the true Hands of Christ to others.  Otherwise, what good is my faith?
(James 2:14-17) 14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him? 15 And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you tells them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled;” and yet you didn’t give them the things the body needs, what good is it? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself.
Now, don't get me wrong.  I still enjoy time with my husband.  We talk daily, we make the most of our time together, and we support one another in our endeavors.  My marriage, after all, is my first vocation and must always be cared for as is God's Will.  However, because I am married to a man of true faith and love for God, I am able to receive his full support on my path.  He knows my intentions and that I follow God's Will for my life.  He is wonderful at keeping me focused.  My loving husband also walks the path with me and, he keeps me from overshooting it when my zeal threatens to do so.  God provided me with the perfect husband on Earth so that I might be fully able to do God's Will during my life.  My friends are the kind of friends everyone should have because they remain loving and supportive in spite of my absence in their lives.  God has blessed me, immensely!
(Ephesians 5:25-33) 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the assembly, and gave himself up for it; 26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the assembly to himself gloriously, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 Even so husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. 29 For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord also does the assembly; 30 because we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones. 31 “For this cause a man will leave his father and mother, and will be joined to his wife. The two will become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is great, but I speak concerning Christ and of the assembly. 33 Nevertheless each of you must also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
During my journey, I have experienced many ups and downs.  I know that this will continue throughout the course of my life.  After all, following God gives no guarantees things will be easy.  No, often it is the opposite.  However, what God does promise is that He will NEVER abandon us.  He will give us exactly what we need to endure whatever challenges we face.  All we need to do is lift ourselves up to Him with prayer and it shall be done.  Sounds easier said than done, right?
(Hebrews 13:6) 6 So that with good courage we say, “The Lord is my helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
I realize in our time of grief, sorrow, anger, and/or frustration the last thing we want to do is reach out toward God.  We are comfortable with our sadness and despair in that moment.  The feelings consume us and we are fully focused on continuing on that path of self destruction.  However, I have come to find that if we take but one moment to cry out to God for His strength, for His comfort, for His Will, a peace is awaiting us that cannot otherwise be felt.  Perhaps it is because of our self destructive nature that we hesitate to reach out to Him?  Perhaps we want to feel low and defeated, just as a child wants to pout rather than admit that it might not be the best solution to the problem?  I can admit it.  I have done just that...refused to pray for God to help me BECAUSE I wanted to remain in that ridiculous state.  I suppose it always comes down to just that...we are His children and He is the Father waiting for us to get through out pity-party and ask for His help and comfort.

(Psalms 46:1) 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalms 138:3) 3 In the day that I called, you answered me. You encouraged me with strength in my soul.
God is not unsympathetic, however.  He knows that our problems are quite real to us.  He hates to see us suffer and is willing to provide the guidance we require at any moment.  I am certain, at times, He does shake his head when we wallow in our suffering for no reason other than not "wanting" to feel better.  If we are honest with ourselves, we will all realize that we DO succumb to those childish feelings at times.  It is normal to feel that way, but we must remember to turn back to God always.  Otherwise, the despair that Satan promotes will seep into everything else in our lives.  We must avoid handing over such power to a being that only wants our demise.
(James 4:7) 7 Be subject therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 
(I John 4:4) 4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.
God gives each of us gifts.  Every person is different and therefore, it takes all of us working together to achieve God's goals.  It is imperative we use His gifts for His purpose so that others might recognize His Will in our actions and then, in turn, use their gifts to accomplish His Will.  It begins with one person, one voice.  That's all it takes to set things in motion.  If no one uses the talents bestowed upon them by God, then how will God's mercy, love, justice, and comfort reach those in need?  If we are unwilling to become the vessels for His truth, then how will others know to do the same?  How often have we been prompted to increase our own faith life or commit an act of kindness or mercy simply because we saw one person doing the same?  Think about how amazing it would be if everyone committed to doing just one thing for God every day!  Can you imagine the effect that one person can have on another?  The ripple caused by those actions is capable of traveling around the world if we believe in God's plan.
(1 Peter 4:10) 10 As each has received a gift, employ it in serving one another, as good managers of the grace of God in its various forms.
We must choose to listen to God.  He is always with us, always ready, always guiding.  However, we must choose by our own free will to follow Him.  It is because Christ sacrificed Himself for our failings that we now have the opportunity to right wrongs, to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others.  Our calling is to follow Him and for some that means serving the poor, for some it will be through leading a spiritual community, and many other ways.  If we listen to God and open ourselves to His Will, then all we do shall be in accordance with Him and how can we go wrong if that is the case?
(Hebrews 13:6) 6 So that with good courage we say, “The Lord is my helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
(John 14:27) 27 Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, give I to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Confusing Tolerance and Acceptance

So, it's been a long while since I've taken to the blog.  I apologize.  since now I am a full-time student as well as working full-time, I find it more difficult to sit down to write about my thoughts.  I do, however, find many opportunities to do so in my various classes.

Recently, we had a speaker in my Sociology class.  I found it interesting that God should put me in a classroom with a speaker from Planned Parenthood of all things.  It would seem I had my opportunity to "put my money where my mouth is" considering my strong views.  This was also a moment for me to challenge all of my own beliefs not only spiritually and morally, but from a perspective of being able to disagree with someone on such hot-button items while still maintaining dignity and respect.  Could I do it?  Could I actually follow through with all of the things I have espoused over the years?  Or, would I become a coward and hide from any real questions or accountability?  It was time to find out.

In the classroom, I took the position of listening to everything the speaker presented.  After all, it was his viewpoint I disagreed with, right?  He is still a person of Christ, of God, here on Earth to whom I should extend dignity.  Regardless of his personal beliefs, I was called to show Christ in the way I chose to respond to him.  So, I resolved to take thorough notes, mark items to question at the appropriately set-aside time and be open to hearing what he was saying rather than assuming it was all wrong or terrible.

Our speaker was Mr. Tommy Chesbro.  He is the Vice President of Education at Planned Parenthood.  His speech began with a little background on Planned Parenthood ("PP") and our teacher asked him to clarify that PP is NOT federally funding abortions.  The federal funds go to other projects.  They really wanted to point that out to the class.  I took note of it, but remained silent on the issue considering the speech just began and we could be arguing almost right away. 

I would like to note, here, however, that the media misrepresents the reasoning behind our disagreement with continuing to fund PP, as well.  The fact remains that federal funding of PP allows its doors to remain open.  Those are doors that invite women in crisis pregnancies in and counsel them on having abortions...they perform abortions.  That fact makes moot the point of other services offered.  Additionally, we now know that abortions are a HUGE cash cow for PP.  So, why should my tax dollars go to an instituation that supports, allows, and encourages the destruction of human life?  Mind you, not only the life of the child, but the life of the mother and father, as well?  The media misrepresents it that way because it is easier to paint people like me as radicals who don't want women to have access to necessary healthcare and also, to assume I am uneducated in understanding how the funds are dispersed.  Regardless of where the funding goes, specifically, the fact remains PP allows abortions.  Keeping its doors open with my money allows more children to be murdered.  I cannot nor will I accept that ... nor should I be forced to accept it.

Mr. Chesbro discussed human sexuality with our class and made various points.  While I welcome his passion for the AIDS community and love that he is so committed to providing dignity to this population, I found that we disagreed on many other points.  Mr. Chesbro is passionate about helping those who suffer from AIDS as well as other STDs and for that, I am grateful.  It is in the method and morality counts where he and I will disagree.  Abstinence is something that should be promoted more thoroughly as I have seen little to no evidence of the sex education mantra doing anything in way of slowing down, stopping or preventing the matters it was intended to "make better."

I noted questions during his speech and listened intently.  Below, I am posting my paper written on his visit to my classroom.  I hope you will read it and take note of the issues and points I have raised.  It is imperative we never blindly accept what is presented to us as fact...we must ALWAYS be willing to seek the truth.  Mr. Chesbro even conceded that the information he presented to us could (and is) be disputed.  The fact that he thought to say this in response to my follow-up questions only further acknowledges to me that he knows his arguments and supporting data is flawed and easily broken down.  I am unsure if this was noticed by any other students.  I can hope and pray that it was, however.

For if Christ stands with us, who then can stand against us?  Let the truth prevail.


Guest Speaker: Tommy Chesbro

On April 7, 2011, our class welcomed a guest speaker from Planned Parenthood. His name is Tommy Chesbro and he is the Vice President for Education at Planned Parenthood. Mr. Chesbro spoke about the various services offered at Planned Parenthood including mentioning that most of its funding comes from private donations.

Mr. Chesbro brought up interesting facts (some specific to Oklahoma), regarding human sexuality. The first were statistics regarding teen pregnancy. In the Nation, Oklahoma ranks second among 18 and 19 year olds in teen pregnancy. We are fifth in the Nation among pregnant teens in general. He made mention that this appears to be the case in places like Oklahoma with high conservatism.

He broke down sexual diversity into various categories. They are as follows: anatomical, biological (genetic), gender identity, sexual orientation, gender role, and sexual behavior. Mr. Chesbro stated, “Sexuality is a complex interplay between biology and environment.” He further said, “Environment can, in fact, have an effect on a person’s sexuality.” Essentially, different people respond differently based upon their genetic makeup. I found this statement to be interesting as most people in favor of gay adoption, for instance, stand firmly on the opinion that gay couples raising children has no effect upon the sexuality of the children. This is not to say that heterosexual couples do not “turn out” gay children, either, I only found it interesting considering some arguments I have heard used.

Several times during Mr. Chesbro’s presentation, he mentioned that many cultures determine sexual orientation based upon gender roles differing instead of the “boxes” or stereotypes currently subscribed to in our own culture. He discussed that stereotypes fuel stigmas, as well. I asked him to elaborate on those cultures, specifically.

Mr. Chesbro made mention of several Native American cultures (prior to European contact) allowed for various genders. In many instances, he stated these people were revered. In some Asian cultures the people are friendlier toward transgendered individuals. He specifically talked about Thailand having a famous actress who is transgendered. Further, he discussed that some Pacific Islanders expect that young boys have sex with one another in order to become “men” and then, later, are still expected to have a family and produce offspring.

While I appreciate his historical information and discussion of these cultures, I could not help but think about the fact that his first example was about people who believed such things in the distant past. For me, this is not unlike the growth of many cultures where they find nothing wrong with certain taboos until they develop beyond them and realize their harm (i.e., slavery, abuse of children through grueling working expectations, women having no rights and viewed as property, the Aztecs believing human sacrifice was appropriate, etc.). Some Christians even believed in slavery, murdering those different from us, etc. However, none of those things are just, correct, or acceptable. Each is considered to be deviant behavior and not a part of the culture with good reason.

Mr. Chesbro’s second and third examples were of cultures that struggle with moral corruption of the highest degree (Thailand is one of the top places to experience sexual depravity – an “anything goes” culture). These examples were meant to illustrate how some cultures define deviance differently. I understand that point. However, it further pointed out (to me, personally) that because a culture finds something to be acceptable, it still does not make it socially or on any other level to be correct. I also cannot help but notice the utter poverty in which the people in these two examples exist and wonder if a study exists to review a possible link between that and the accepted social NORMS in those areas?

In my opinion, it is imperative we do not lose sight of those things that will serve only to further harm our society all in the name of wanting to be accepting and so-called fair. I believe our culture and many others continue to support the reality of right and wrong. Some rights and wrongs are not a matter of fitting into “boxes” or being relative to a particular culture. For instance, I cannot see a place or time where a man having sex with a boy (think NAMBLA) is acceptable nor should it be accepted. In other words, I cannot foresee a time when that act would not be considered deviant behavior. At times, yes, a thing is simply wrong and while we are called to respond with love, we are, nonetheless, called to respond.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Let's Talk About Common Misunderstandings, Shall We?

So, I have a dear friend who recently contacted me on Facebook about a post she read in here Theology Class group.  It was concerning a woman who is at odds with her in-laws with regard to their Catholic faith.  My friend asked me to please provide a means of response to this post because she does not feel that Catholics are in opposition to Christ's Teachings.  She feels this way because she knows some very devout Catholics (I am humbled to be on her list, in fact) who practice their faith fully and therefore, it's obvious to her that Catholics are, indeed, one with Christ and His Teachings. 

As I welcome inquiries into my faith and am thankful for a wonderful friend who asks questions rather than making assumptions, I was happy to oblige her.  Below is the excerpt of the post she sent to me and then, my response to her.  Perhaps some of you may find this helpful, as well?  Perhaps, it might give you pause? Ultimately, I hope that it will remind you that if we are following Christ and are "for Him" then we are inevitably "on the same team."

Peace be with you.

I am married to a converted catholic and have struggled for nearly 20-years with the issue of the crucifix with my in-laws. My mother-in-law believes so strongly in this symbol that she actually snuck one into the back of a picture frame that she gave to me at my baby shower. She knew that I disapproved of the use of the crucifix, so she figured that if it was taped in the back of the frame that her grandson would be protected by the power of it and that I would never know. Years after the birth of our son I discovered the secretly hidden object in his room. I was initially angered by the clandestine actions but through God’s grace I was able to eventually discuss it with her. God knows that at times we are unable to handle certain events and allows them when He knows we can deal with them. Had I found it the first few years of my sons life I would have been unable to peacefully discuss it.

Her belief in that symbolic figure is so important to her that she is unable to understand why I am so equally opposed to it. I guess that is why the first few paragraphs of this article really stood out to me. When he says, “a number of Christians feel that their gospel presentations should include simply the fact of Christ’s death, but not his resurrection. Some go so far as to have a crucifix in their homes or around their necks with a corpse hanging on it. Certainly such a picture elicits remorse and pity. But does it offer hope” I was immediately reminded of my in-laws and many of the other catholic acquaintances in my life. The idea that they seemingly worship a dead savior and not a risen one grieves my heart.

Wallace so clearly shows how vital it is to understand why the resurrection is so important for our lives. The fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy and the wiping away of our sin debt is a clear reason to display a bare cross to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus and the gift of eternity. As Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”.

I do love you so dearly! :-) Thank you for coming to me and asking me the question. I am never offended or dismayed by anyone questioning the "why" of things we do as Catholics. Being a devout Catholic, myself, I often have to clarify common misconceptions.
  • Some are brought on by Catholics who are "Catholic" in name only.
  • Others are brought on by perpetuated myths and misunderstandings about our faith.
  • And still yet, there are times when it is a combination of both poor Catholic representation AND perpetuated misunderstandings...those are always fun! LOL

First of all, I think I explained the rosary, right? It is our way of keeping "time" or "focus" while praying. It helps us to keep "track" of where we are in the prayer, as well. As we've discussed before, when we are praying the "Hail Mary" we are repeating what was spoken to Mary by the Angel as well as her cousin, Elizabeth and then, asking for her help in prayer. We do not worship her and the full rosary is about meditation...focusing on Christ's amazing life and sacrifice for us while praying for an intention. When we ask for Mary's prayer, we are doing the same thing that anyone might do in a time of need...asking someone they love and trust to please pray for them and/or their need. :-)

Second, the post you sent is quite clearly tinged with significant emotions, indeed. You are correct in your assumption that it appears she has a strong bias toward Catholicism based upon her own upbringing. The strong language she uses to describe certain events and feelings indicates that wholeheartedly. I think that her case is a combination of misunderstanding and possibly, not a full or correct representation by her Catholic in-laws. Sometimes, too, there are cases where the Catholic is a devout Catholic, but perhaps lacks the skills of properly and clearly explaining our faith, which can also lend itself to a lot of confusion. Maybe that is what's occurred here? I'm not sure.

However, to properly explain...the crucifix is NOT our way of recognizing only Christ's death and ignoring His resurrection. It is a symbol - not unlike plain crosses to others - that reminds us of His incredibly selfless sacrifice. It is sacred as a symbol because Christ's life, death AND resurrection is sacred to us. We never want to forget all that He did for us so that we might be saved and receive hope of meeting our Father in Heaven...without His sacrifice...without His death AND resurrection...we would all be lost. Catholicism is also a combination of Scripture (mostly Scripture) and oral tradition. It's important to note that the Bible was originated by the Catholic Church...therefore...it cannot be in opposition to the Church's teachings because the Bible came from those teachings. Does that make sense?

A common misconception (one I had myself, before I learned about it and converted, actually) is that Catholics worship images/idols/statues rather than Christ and God. That is wholly untrue. The statues and artwork you see are simply more reminders - things we keep close to help us to NEVER forget why we are here...why were are blessed...why we are Saved! We don't worship those things, but they help to serve as constant reminders of what our faith is about...at its core. It is always and has always been about Christ's love for us and how He sacrificed Himself...how God sacrificed His ONLY Son for our sins...that because He did this, we are not doomed to Hell. He created that "bridge" between us and God. In our creed, we discuss what we believe and it clearly states that Christ "died, was buried and rose again" so we most certainly do not ignore that He is the RISEN LORD. :-)

Many people get hung up on things because, to put it in simple terms, they have been taught to believe that way by leaders of other denominations. I always like to remind people that "denominations" are not "of God" but rather, are manmade. Once Christ died, Catholics were made up of the Jews and Gentiles that chose to follow His way and His teachings...to answer the call He placed upon them. It wasn't until hundreds of years later that there was a split within the Church that gave us the thousands of denominations we have today. That split, while there were things that desperately needed addressing at the time, was the result of Luther taking it upon Himself to determine what Christ had ordained from the beginning...essentially, making the very mistakes in things that he so worried about. Instead of addressing them at the source, he simply created a new religion. From that...from him, stemmed all of the other Christian faiths we know so commonly today.

Before becoming Catholic, I wanted to find answers. I found them historically and Scripturally. It helped to lead me here and to a deeper found faith for which I am eternally grateful. Sadly, I find that many denominations spend entirely too much time worrying about Catholics and what Catholics "do" or "don't do" as opposed to focusing upon their own faith lives. I have yet to understand that. People get far too hung up on the differences and deciding "who" has the authority to preach the Gospel. And yet, do they not recall what was clearly stated by Christ, Himself?
"John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us."

Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward."

Mark 9:38-41
Love you - miss you!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Great Links to Amazing Speakers...

Over the years, I've been able to witness various speakers on our beautiful faith. Some have even written books. I've read some of Scott Hahn's writings and I intend to keep reading! Their journeys are amazing. They have a love, passion and knowledge that far exceeds my own. God truly does bestow particular gifts upon particular people. These are certainly some of the most gifted, indeed.

I hope you will enjoy watching them. Tim Staples and Scott Hahn are broken into smaller junks so you're not overwhelmed with watching everything at once. Fr. Corapi's is only 10 minutes long.

Peace be with you.


















Our faith is loving and beautiful.  It brings us into full communion with our Lord God.  We follow Christ and when we completely lend ourselves to listening to His Will we are able to more fully comprehend that "the greatest of these is love."

May you be blessed, always.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I'm Not a Chrisitan...What? Part III - The Bible

So, let's talk about another topic that was brought up early on in the debate on Facebook. It's one that he brought up in a couple of different ways:
1. The Catholic Church prevents Catholics from reading Scripture.
2. Catholics do not follow the Bible which is the ONLY source for Christian faith.
3. The Catholic Church's Teachings are contrary to the Bible.
We will take these points on one at a time to make it easier to follow. Some of these things are questions I had myself before converting. For those of you unaware, I was a Protestant my entire life until I came to be a Catholic, which was only a few years ago. I had many of the typical misconceptions and biases that were due, in large part, to the many "Cafeteria Catholics" I had encountered to that point in my life. It wasn't until I asked questions of educated persons...persons who actually follow the tenets as well as understand them that I began to I had been misled. Now, don't get me wrong, I realize that even with understanding the "why" of Catholicism, some people may never be able to make that jump. That is fine. It's ok to disagree with me. The only thing I ask is that a person be properly educated with the FACTS so that they actually know what it is they're disagreeing with. I think anyone would expect the same of any subject matter - religious or otherwise. Know the facts. It's common sense, really.

1. The Catholic Church prevents Catholics from reading Scripture.

Ok. I have to admit that this is not one of the misconceptions I had prior to my conversion. In fact, the first time I heard this accusation was on my Facebook page, yesterday. I was perplexed as to how someone may have gotten that idea in their head. Mind you, he was not referring to Church history where the population was largely illiterate (which prompted the creation of stain glass windows to "show" the stories of the Bible for those who could not read). No, he was stating that now...today...the Church tries to prevent our study of Scripture. Hmmmm...

I can attest to you, as a devout Catholic, that I have NEVER been discouraged from learning Scripture...studying it...understanding it. In fact, it's quite the opposite. The Church highly encourages us to know and read the Bible. We have more Scripture read to us during our weekly Mass than you get in a Protestant service. Here is a simple breakdown of the prayer and Scripture we encounter during our Mass, just to give you an idea of the flow:
Songs of Worship
Reading from OT
Reading from NT
Reading of the Holy Gospel
More Prayer

That is just an overview of the specific instances of prayer and Scripture. It doesn't even include the Eucharist, intentions, etc. Our Mass is centered on Christ from the moment we enter the Church until we leave. Everything we do, we do to honor God and give thanks to His presence in our lives.

In addition to Mass, there is no end to all of the materials at our disposal and classes, too, if we want to learn more about Scripture. We are never denied an opportunity for Bible Studies, RCIA (classes for those who want to convert - which provides in-depth discussions and Scripturally based foundations for the Catholic faith). If it were true...if the Church wanted us to remain ignorant of Scripture, then wouldn't it have banned Bibles from being dispensed in the first place...long ago before the People were able to become more educated? I have always found communication to be quite open within the Church about questions and discussions. If it had not been so, I would not have converted as I did...as an adult.

2. Catholics do not follow the Bible which is the ONLY source for Christian faith.
3. The Catholic Church's Teachings are contrary to the Bible.
(Let's combine these two and answer them together as they can tie together quite easily.)

First, let's travel back in time a little way. It's important to understand the origins of the Bible. It was, in fact, a Catholic book. It was put together completely by Catholics (the only Christians at that time). Therefore, it's important that we acknowledge the fact that anyone has a Bible at all is due to the Catholics gathering all of the writings and placing them into one, complete book. It was the Church that scrutinized all the writings and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit divined what to place into it and what was false writing. Not an easy task and certainly not something that could have been accomplished without God's Divine Intervention at the time. A point could be made, here, that for anyone to quote the Bible and give it authority would be to recognize the authority of the Catholic Church that gave us said Bible. It's logical.
Some Scripture to reference when discussing "the Bible Alone" theory:
Matthew 16:13-20, 18:18, 28:19-20; Luke 10:16, John 14:16, 21:25; II Thess. 2:15, 3:6; I Cor. 11:2, I Peter 1:25 and II Peter 3:15-16
It's important to note that "sola scriptura" (scripture alone) is not found in the Bible anywhere. First of all, the Bible even tells us that not everything Jesus said and did were written down, so we need to include oral tradition in our following of His Teachings. Even in II Peter, it is noted that Scripture can be very hard to interpret...we need an authoritative interpreter.

Do we not all recall that the Bible even tells us that to each person God bestows a different gift? All of those gifts are to be used for the purpose of God and that not all persons can receive the same types of gifts. Wouldn't it stand to reason, then, that interpreting God's Word is not a gift He has necessarily bestowed upon everyone? If He had...then, considering it came from God, then I argue that we would, in fact, have everyone interpreting the very same things. This, however, is not the case so it should call into question whether or not everyone should be just willy-nilly interpreting such Holy Words on their own without any guidance. It certainly should, at the very least, make you think.

Do not ignore, also, that since the case is the Catholic Church gave us the Bible. Then, it stands to reason that it cannot, therefore, contradict the Catholic faith. How is that even possible? Why would the Church, which came pre-Bible, put together something that would only discredit what they had been doing for 300 years by that time? Take away your religious thoughts on this for a moment and think about that in a logical manner. Does it make sense? If the Church was evil and trying to keep us from the Bible...keep us from God...keep us from following what Christ wanted...why would they comprise the Bible of anything to the contrary of what they wanted to have us believe? They didn't. The Bible is a further extension of our beliefs and Church guarantees the Bible. They walk hand-in-hand together, always.

My hope is that this clarifies some misconceptions about the beautiful and Christ-led faith that is Catholicism. I am not worried if someone decides they don't like my beliefs nor my faith. Disagreeing is something that happens. However, I ask that people please know what it is they're disagreeing with rather than simply taking someone's interpretations of our faith as the Truth. That can only lead to further misguided opinions. I once had opinions based upon false impressions and uninformed thinking, too. Perhaps what I've written will help further educate...perhaps it will give you pause. Whatever the case, I hope it will at least shed light onto some of the dark that is creeping around out there.

Peace be with you.