Friday, October 31, 2008

Proud of our Shepherds

I’m not sure about you, but I for one am very proud of our bishops for standing up for our Catholic faith. Here’re a few examples in just the last day or two of various bishops saying enough is enough with this idea that protecting life is equal, or less important than, the stock market, housing, the war, etc. Certainly these are important things, but are they more important than the taking of life? How many people feel my parents should be able to seize my home? My 401(k)? Why can parents choose to take their children’s life?

Whoops, got on a soap box there. Back to our bishops:

Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, PA showed up, uninvited, to one of his parishes last Sunday and crashed a forum discussing the USCCB’s Faithful Citizen document. The point of the forum? To discuss how it could be interpreted to read that voting for a pro-abortion candidate is fine. This put a damper on the pro-choice mood of the event to say the least. Not only did Bishop Martino let them know that this is a mischaracterization of the document, he also has release the video available below:

http://dioceseofscrantonarchive.org/video/the%20Catholic%20Church%20and%20the%20Life%20Issues.wmv

Elden F. Curtiss, Archbishop of Omaha, NE, has released a letter to be “made available” to all people in his archdiocese this weekend. The archbishop quotes Mother Theresa as saying:

"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 portrayed the greatest of gifts - a child - as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience" (Letter to US Supreme Court, February, 1994).

Want to read his whole letter? Find it here: http://www.archomaha.org/newsandevents/pdf/ArchbishopsVotingStatement.pdf

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, MA, is no less subtle. Here’s a snippet of a statement released by him recently:

"In defending the cause of life, we are not only fulfilling our vocation as Catholics, but we are also defending the vision of democracy that ... we are all created equal and are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, the first of which is the right to life,"
Full Text: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/10/30/cardinal_omalleys_statement_on_abortion_issue/

Not enough for you? How about this list of bishops who have stated that life & family issues are the “defining issues” of this election? The list was compiled by InsideCatholic.com: Full Article: http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_myblog&show=What-Bishop-Is-Not-On-This-List-.html&Itemid=99999999

This list speaks for itself; our bishops are leading! Now let’s follow…

1. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver
2. Bishop James Conley, auxiliary of Denver
3. Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.
4. Justin Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities
5. Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, chairman of the Committee on Doctrine
6. Edward Cardinal Egan of New York
7. Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo
8. Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh
9. Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs
10. Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio
11. Bishop Oscar Cantu, auxiliary of San Antonio
12. Bishop William Murphy of Rockville
13. Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa
14. Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas
15. Bishop Gregory Aymond of Austin
16. Sean Cardinal O'Malley of Boston
17. Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando
18. Archbishop John Nienstedt of Saint Paul/Minneapolis
19. Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, President of the USCCB
20. Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker
21. Bishop Jerome Listecki of La Crosse
22. Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland
23. Bishop Ralph Nickless of Sioux City
24. Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco
25. Bishop Glen Provost of Lake Charles, LA
26. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn
27. Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton
28. Archbishop Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura
30. Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte
31. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh
32. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, KS
33. Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO
34. Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, WS
35. Bishop Ronald Gilmore of Dodge City, KS
36. Bishop Paul Coakley of Salina, KS
37. Bishop Michael Jackels of Wichita
38. Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito of Palm Beach
39. Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Fort Worth
40. Bishop Rene H. Gracida, retired, of Corpus Christi
41. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of Houston
42. Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington
43. Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond
44. Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Center
45. Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester
46. Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Patterson
47. Bishop Robert Herrmann of St. Louis
48. Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore
49. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix
50. Bishop Thomas D. Doran of Rockford
51. Bishop Joseph A. Galante of Camden
52. Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham
53. Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett of Seattle
54. Bishop J. Peter Sartain of Joliet
55. Bishop John M. Smith of Trenton
56. Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing
57. Bishop Leonard R. Blair of Toledo
58. Joint Statement by the bishops of New York State (22 bishops)
59. Joint Statement by the bishops of Pennsylvania (10 bishops)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

40 Days for Life Closing Prayer Service: Sunday, Nov. 2nd

40 Days for Life is just about over, the last day is this Sunday, November 2nd.  Below is an email I received for Loren Loh, who works with the North Dakota campaign, regarding an upcoming prayer service that everyone is invited to attend.  Loren's email is posted below; please check it out for the details and please make plans to attend if you'll be in the Fargo area this Sunday.  Thank you for your support of the 40 Days for Life campaign!  Of course, there are still four days left (including today) so it's not too late to start praying or standing vigil.

40 Days for Life North Dakota has reaped the success of babies saved, hearts converted and our Lord glorified by your efforts to bring an end to abortion in our state.  You are invited to take part in the closing prayer service for 40 Days for Life on Sunday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m., at the abortion facility, 512 1st Ave North, Fargo.  Following the prayer service will be an open house to share the good news of 40 Days for Life at Babb's Coffee Shop, 604 Main Avenue, Fargo.  At 11 p.m. Nov. 2, Bishop Samuel Aquila will offer a Mass of thanksgiving at the Cathedral of St. Mary, 604 Broadway, Fargo.  You are welcome to join in any or all of these celebrations of God's goodness.  Please spread the word to those who might not be on our email list.


Podcast updates have been made, please listen to them here: http://content.streamaudio.com/podcast/1666/ChannelID_418.xml
40 Days for life is an ecumenical effort, please be sensitive to people of all faiths.   The common goal of praying and fasting to end abortion in our community has united us.  Let us remain united in prayer.   Ecumenical prayer cards can be found in the back pack.  For more information click here: http://www.40daysforlifend.com/prayerguidlines.php


Open time spots:
Thursday Oct 30: 2,3,4,6, & 7 am  12 noon and 10,11 pm
Friday Oct 31:  12,1,4,5,6 am 12 noon and 6 & 9 pm


User submitted videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwLY_HRt-AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61wj4tJICcc


May God Bless you!
The 40 Days for Life committee

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Novena for the Election

Well, I'm two days late but I guess it's better late than never.  All Catholics have been asked to take part in a 9-Day novena for the upcoming election.  To take part, simply say a rosary each day through election day (For those of us coming in late, I guess this is a 7-day novena).

As you offer the rosary, please pray with the intention that God's will be done.  You may be pulling for one presidential candidate more than the other but remember that there are many things being voted on that are out of our control.  There are marriage amendments on the ballot in California and Arizona, South Dakota has an abortion bill on their ballot, and many more states are being asked to decide serious life and family issues.  No one can vote for them all, so please pray for God's will to be done as people across the nation cast their votes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Abortion Explained

Today's post is just a link to an article written by Cardinal Edward Egan, Archbishop of NY. Please take a few minutes and read what he's written.

I suppose it's pretty clear where I stand on the abortion "issue". Yet my eyes were still opened after reading what Cardinal Egan has to say on the topic. He's not graphic, but he is very clear on what abortion is and is not. Here's an example:
If you can convince yourself that these beings are something other than living
and innocent human beings, something, for example, such as "mere clusters of
tissues," you have a problem far more basic than merely not appreciating the
wrongness of abortion. And that problem is—forgive me—self-deceit in a most
extreme form.

Please take a moment to read the rest of his article by following the link below:

http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/oct/08102701.html

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bible Myth #43: Catholics chained Bibles to the pulpit

Did you know that the Catholic Church chained bibles down so no one could use them except the priests? This way they could keep lay people from reading it and were able to invent all sorts of traditions that had nothing to do with the Bible.

Using that logic, then all universities of the time also must have had a conspiracy going on since they also chained down heir books. Do you think Oxford was trying to keep people from learning science by chaining down their books? Maybe there was another reason.

Before the printing press, books were rare and extraordinarily expensive. It cost three years’ wages to get a bible before the printing press. That’s about the cost of a house today. Do you leave a couple years’ paychecks sitting on the back table?

Not only did the Church, and Oxford, not want their expensive books to walk off, but they also wanted them to be available. Each church needed a Bible for readings. Each church had the Bible available for viewing by the public (those few who could read). They didn’t have library cards so you could check it out and bring it back later. They only had one copy so it had to stay right where it was so everyone got to use it.

The common argument, that the Bible was chained down so priests could stop people from having access to it is the opposite of the truth. It was simply a custom of the time; and I would’ve done the same thing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Resume Next Monday

I'm sorry to have to say this, but we've had a family emergency pop up and I won't have time to write articles for the rest of the week. If you want to say some prayers for my family, that would be appreciated.

We will be back with more posts next Monday. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Contraception Myth #61: Teaching youth how to use contraception is responsible

This only makes sense if one assumption is held true; that young people are going to have sex anyway. This myth requires the assumption that young people will engage in risky sexual behavior whether they know how to use contraception or not; so it’s better if they use contraception, right?

But is that assumption true? The core purpose of contraception, especially to a young person with crazy hormones, is to avoid getting pregnant, or to avoid getting someone else pregnant, right? We can talk about how some forms of contraception reduce the chances of getting sexually transmitted diseases, but I remember being a teenager and when I thought about these things, I was worried about pregnancy; STD’s only happened to other people in big cities. Besides that, condoms are only 86% effective at stopping HIV and are near useless against HPV, which is the cause of 99% of all cases of cervical cancer. But I digress.

Is it true that teens and young adults will have sex just as much if they don’t have contraception? Common sense says ‘no’ and so does every medical statistic I’ve ever heard. Let’s use an analogy, would you expect young people to cheat on tests more or less if the penalty for cheating was removed? This is a rhetorical question but feel free to answer if you wish.

The fact is that contraception reduces (though most young people treat that as removes) the chances of getting pregnant. A baby is not the goal of promiscuous youth. A baby is a deterrent, though I hate to use that word, it’s the truth.

Barack Obama said it best when he said he didn’t want his daughters “punished for making a mistake” by having to have a baby. He was speaking about why abortion should be legal, but the same applies to contraception. Pregnancy is seen as a punishment for having unprotected sex.

Going back to the cheating on a test analogy; if you remove the threat of “punishment”, then will something be done more, less, or the same amount? It only makes sense that more people will do something they shouldn’t if they won’t have consequences, doesn’t it?

So is more contraception training at younger and younger ages the answer to increasing promiscuity in youth? Or would it make more sense to teach kids about the dignity of men and women, the sanctity of sex, and a respect for the life that sex is intended to bring about.

Young people aren’t dumb. They aren’t animals. They can handle the truth. In fact, from what I’ve seen, they’d rather be challenged to live up to a high goal like chastity and abstinence than condescendingly told that they’re animals who must give into their instincts.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What do you want to know?

Today I'd like to put out an invitation to each reader to let me know what topics they'd like addressed here on the Catholic Connection.  Today I pretty much post on topics I think people are interested in and try to cover a variety of topics and questions facing the Church today.  However, it's important to make sure the questions that you have get answered.

Please let me know what you'd like to see more of here.  What questions do you have that you would like an answer to?  I'll do my best to answer them, or to find someone who can!

Thanks for reading and have a great Monday.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Choice is good if the choice is yes

Does pro-choice mean choice is good if that choice is yes? It seems that as the 40 Days for Life Campaign goes on it’s becoming more and more clear that abortion providers (who make money from abortion) are slow to defend a woman’s right to choice, if the choice is no. I don’t generally report on this stuff, but this really makes me upset.

In June 2008, two female volunteers for the college organization Students for Life of America took hidden cameras into two Planned Parenthood centers in North Carolina. The two women posed as 14 and 15 year-olds. They told clinic workers that they had just had unprotected sexual intercourse… with their mother’s live-in boyfriend. And no, mom doesn’t know.

The law is pretty clear that statutory rape is intercourse between an adult and a minor. This is a criminal offense and under N.C. Gen. Statue 7B-301 and 7B-101, the employees at the abortion clinic were obligated to tell police. Both clinics told the girls this was statutory rape and that they had to report the incident.

So what happened? Did the clinics call this in, tell the mother, get the boyfriend arrested, and rescue these girls (who were actors) from this horrible situation? No, they instead gave the women the morning after pill (which will cause an abortion if the girls were to have conceived) so no one would find out and sent them home.

SFLA filed a records request to see if the crimes had been reported. They had not.

I guess when you’re in business; you do what you can to promote your business. If your business is killing babies, and that baby is inside a 14-year-old and was put there by her mother’s boyfriend then that’s fine. He can keep doing what he wants, as long as he pays her medical bills. I guess they’re concerned about his choice and less about hers

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why do Catholics reject Sola Fide?

Did you know that Catholics think they can work their way to heaven? We think that if we just do enough hard work, are nice enough, and don’t do bad things that we can earn our way to salvation. At least, that’s what some folks would have you believe.

You may hear that we are saved through faith and faith alone. You may hear John 3:16 or Romans 3:28 as proof of this. You may hear that the Bible is clear that you do not need to do any work. All you need is faith and you will be saved. This concept is called Sola Fide, or “Faith Alone”.

Ok, let’s talk about this. First, Catholics do not think that we can earn heaven. We are saved through Jesus’ sacrifice for us. We believe that faith is essential to salvation, as the above passages state.

But neither of the above passages mentions the word “alone” do they? In fact the only place in the Bible where the words “faith alone” appears together is in James 2:24:

“You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (NAB)

Since most non-Catholics also believe in Sola Scriptura, or the Bible alone, it only makes sense that we’re saved by faith alone since the Bible clearly says we’re not saved by faith alone. Oh, wait…

Why does nearly every reference in the Bible to judgment refer to judging us by our works? See Mat 24, John 15, Rom 2, and Rev 20. If that’s the case, then wouldn’t you think that works are important?

It looks like the Bible is disproving Sola Fide. That’s an interesting twist.

Let’s see where logic leads us, just in case the Bible Alone isn’t enough to dissuade those who hold to Sola Fide.

Do you have to love to be saved? Isn’t love an action beyond faith? Isn’t love a work (trust me, as a father I can tell you it is work). Or do you think that you don’t need to love anyone, including Jesus, to be saved as long as you have faith?

Do you have to forgive to be saved? Forgiveness is certainly a work. If you forgive someone’s sins against you then you’re taking an action outside of faith. If you don’t, then according to the Lord’s Prayer you’re sins aren’t forgiven either; which would put a damper on the whole salvation thing. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us?

Catholics don’t think we can earn heaven. That’s impossible. God doesn’t owe us anything. However, we do recognize that we can’t just accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and keep on living a life of sin. We believe that we participate in our own salvation. We don’t save ourselves, but as Christ reaches out his hand to save us, we must also reach out and grasp his hand.

What do you think? Let me know your thoughts by putting a comment on this post. I’d be interested in what you think about Sola Fide.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Linda Gibbons Charged with Disobeying a Court Order

Remember a few days ago when we talked about an authentic Canadian hero, Linda Gibbons, being released from jail after silently holding a sign outside an Toronto abortuary? She was in violation of a 1994 “temporary” injunction prohibiting protesters from coming within 20 meters (60 feet) of the clinic.

Guess what? The grandmother was arrested again outside of the abortuary last Wednesday. This time she’s been charged with the more appropriate disobeying a court order. This will allow a jury trial and will open the “temporary” injunction up to a constitutional challenge; something pro-lifers have wanted for a long time.

Please pray that things go well for Linda Gibbons, and for the pro-life movement in Toronto. In America today we enjoy the right to assemble peacefully (most of the time), but in Canada it’s looking more and more like George Orwell’s 1984. We’ll let you know what comes of this trial; I’m sure it’ll be very interesting when it’s all said and done!

Monday, October 13, 2008

40 Days for Life Tele-conference Coming Up

Tomorrow, October 14, there will be a second tele-cast thing with 40 Days for Life. I was in on the last one and it was great. I got a ton of information on the campaign and what I can do to help. This time, halfway through the 40 days, we'll get an in-depth update on how things are going, how many children have been saved by our efforts, and what other fruits have come from our prayers, vigils, and everything else we've done to help.

I'd encourage you to listen in by phone or online tomorrow night to get some great information as we start the downhill slide toward the end of this year's campaign.

What you need to know:

* WHAT: 40 Days for Life MIDPOINT Tele-Rally and Web Simulcast
* DATE: Tuesday, October 14
* TIME: 9 PM Eastern (8 PM Central, 7 PM Mountain, 6 PM Pacific)
* FORMAT: Simulcast! (Attend via phone or webcast -- it's your choice)
* REGISTER TO ATTEND:
http://www.40daysforlife.com/midpoint
*****************************************************
On the call, you will learn about:
* The latest breaking news from the front lines of this historic 40 Days for Life campaign
* How local campaigns across North America are mobilizing record numbers of people and having a powerful impact
* The up-to-date tally of lives saved from abortion during the first half of this fall's campaign -- this alone will boggle your mind!
* The abortion industry's increasingly desperate attempts to try and stop 40 Days for Life
* How YOU can help build the momentum and make a powerful impact -- right where you live -- during the second half of this 40 Days for Life campaign
During the live event, you will hear from:
* FR. FRANK PAVONE, national director of Priests for Life
* SHAWN CARNEY, outreach director of 40 Days for Life and host of EWTN's "being HUMAN" series
* DR. ALVEDA KING, niece of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
* Me, DAVID BEREIT, national campaign director of 40 Days for Life
* Members of the Priests for Life pastoral team including FR. VICTOR SALOMON and FR. PETER WEST who are visiting many 40 Days for Life sites
* Several local 40 Days for Life campaign leaders
* And some VERY EXCITING surprise guests (including one that you will not want to miss!)
If you are serious about turning the tide in NorthAmerica and ending abortion, then you need to be onthis call or web simulcast!
There are limited slots available for the call, so besure to grab one now before they're all taken.
Register to attend the tele-rally and webcast at:
http://www.40daysforlife.com/midpoint
Hope to talk with you Tuesday, Dan!
Here's today's devotional from Fr. Frank Pavone,National Director of Priests for Life...

Friday, October 10, 2008

ND Catholic Conference Voting Information

Today I want to put a plug in for a website launched by the North Dakotan bishops (all two of them) and the North Dakota Catholic Conference. The site, www.yourfaithyourvote.org, give a lot of useful information for all Catholics as we approach this election.

I'm not equipped to tell anyone how to vote with this blog. I know already what I'm doing, yet for me to push you one way or another isn't what I'm here for. That said, our bishops have made statements regarding faithful citizenship; how Catholics in America should behave. Our bishops are in a position to speak to us, their flock, on what role we play in the political process. The site, www.yourfaithyourvote.org, discusses things like each candidate's positions on life issues (abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research), separation of church and state (whether Catholics should vote along their faith or leave faith out of it), and other information to make you an informed Catholic voter.

Certainly, each of us should learn all we can about the people we're asked to choose between as we go to the polls. We should also be careful about what sources we use for our research. As we're bombarded by attack ads, media pundits with their not-so-hidden agendas, and the like, it's a good time to "consider the source" and at least go see what our bishops have to say on the matter.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why do Catholics believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary? (cont’d)

Yesterday we started talking about the Immaculate Conception of Mary and discussed that no, in fact, not “all” people have sinned; contrary to how you may read Rom 3:23.

Today we’ll talk about why this isn’t an “invented doctrine” even though it’s only 150 years old and where we find evidence of the Immaculate Conception in the Bible.

First, we need to understand that unwritten Sacred Traditions of the Catholic Church do not need to be explicitly stated in the Bible. Why is that? Because Catholics don’t believe in Sola Scriptura or, Scripture Alone. We believe that unwritten tradition, those traditions handed down orally from the apostles, are perfectly valid so long as they have at least an indirect reference from the Bible and, obviously, don’t contradict the Bible.

The indirect reference to the sinless state of Mary is found in Luke 1:28 where the angel Gabriel says “Hail, full of grace.” How can Mary be full of grace if she has sinned? How can she be full of grace if she had original sin? We don’t believe that’s possible. See paragraph 490 of the Catechism for more info on that.

Now let’s look at why this isn’t an “invented tradition”. Yes, Pope Pius IX did state this infallibly in 1854, but that doesn’t mean he made it up at that time.

Catholic Traditions don’t have to be formal. They can exist in unwritten form but are defined when one of two things happen; if new revelation is imparted to the Church through the Spirit (see below) or if it becomes a point of confusion or is being misrepresented. This particular Tradition has been held since the early church fathers but wasn’t defined because it was never argued, confused, or further revealed. It was held as a given that the Tabernacle (which is what Mary truly is) must be completely stainless for it is the holy of holies, as we see in the Old Testament.. As far as further revelation, let’s check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church for more on that:

“Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of
grace" through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what
the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in
1854.” (491 CCC, See 490-492 for more context)
The statement didn’t “invent” the doctrine. It solidified it and affirmed what we already knew but hadn’t defined.

This doctrine is the foundation of other Marian dogmas and traditions such as the Assumption and the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven. I encourage you to do some more homework on this because a firm understanding of the Immaculate Conception really helps explain the rest of our beliefs regarding Mary.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Why do Catholics believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary?

Not only do Catholics say that Mary never sinned while alive, they go a step farther and say that when she was conceived; it was without original sin. Don’t they realize the Bible says that “All have sinned” so it’s impossible, in addition to being entirely unlikely, that Mary never sinned? Where in the Bible does it say that she was born without original sin either? Plus, this was a recent proclamation. How can this not be an invented tradition if it was made in 1854?

Let’s take this one step at a time. First, the Immaculate Conception is the statement by the Catholic Church that Mary was conceived without Original Sin. I’ll let Pope Pius IX explain it:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854:  S 2803).

Ok, now that we know what it is, let’s talk about objections to it. Some point out that the Bible says “All have sinned” (Rom 3:23) so it is impossible that Mary was conceived without sin, much less never sinned after being born. To address this, we need to think about what the word “all” means. I’ll be the first to admit, this seems like splitting hairs, but the argument rests upon this word. It’s worth looking at.

Does “all have sinned” mean each and every person has sinned without exception? Did Jesus sin? He was a human, he was tempted like us, and yet he didn’t sin. Do unborn babies sin? Do mentally handicapped people sin? No they don’t. How is this possible?

What about this verse? In Mt 3:5-6 we see:

At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. (Emphasis mine)
Did all of Judea go get baptized? Really? Every man, woman and child went to the Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist? Did they carry the ones too sick to walk? Or is it more likely that “all” actually means “many” or “most”? The translation from Hebrew (as I understand, I’m not Hebrew expert or anything) is a word meaning just that, “mny”, and the word used in Matthew and Romans that’s been translated to “all” is the same.

Yes, many have sinned, but not all; we have only to look at Jesus for proof of that.

Next, let's talk about why this isn’t an “invented doctrine” even though it’s only 150 years old and where we find evidence of the Immaculate Conception in the Bible.

First, we need to understand that unwritten Sacred Traditions of the Catholic Church do not need to be explicitly stated in the Bible. Why is that? Because Catholics don’t believe in Sola Scriptura or, Scripture Alone. We believe that unwritten tradition, those traditions handed down orally from the apostles, are perfectly valid so long as they have at least an indirect reference from the Bible and, obviously, don’t contradict the Bible.

The indirect reference to the sinless state of Mary is found in Luke 1:28 where the angel Gabriel says “Hail, full of grace.” How can Mary be full of grace if she has sinned? How can she be full of grace if she had original sin? We don’t believe that’s possible. See paragraph 490 of the Catechism for more info on that.

Now let’s look at why this isn’t an “invented tradition”. Yes, Pope Pius IX did state this infallibly in 1854, but that doesn’t mean he made it up at that time.

Catholic Traditions don’t have to be formal. They can exist in unwritten form but are defined when one of two things happen; if new revelation is imparted to the Church through the Spirit (see below) or if it becomes a point of confusion or is being misrepresented. This particular Tradition has been held since the early church fathers but wasn’t defined because it was never argued, confused, or further revealed. It was held as a given that the Tabernacle (which is what Mary truly is) must be completely stainless for it is the holy of holies, as we see in the Old Testament.. As far as further revelation, let’s check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church for more on that:

“Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854.” (491 CCC, See 490-492 for more context)

The statement didn’t “invent” the doctrine. It solidified it and affirmed what we already knew but hadn’t defined.

This doctrine is the foundation of other Marian dogmas and traditions such as the Assumption and the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven. I encourage you to do some more homework on this because a firm understanding of the Immaculate Conception really helps explain the rest of our beliefs regarding Mary.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

40 Days for Life Update

Today I'd like to share one of the daily emails I receive from the 40 Days for Life Campaign that's going strong and is saving children from abortion right now.  I'm sharing this to give an update on how things are going and to give an example of what you would get every day if you sign up for these email alerts yourself.

The emails follow a similar structure every day.  They give an update on how the campaign is going, a daily prayer intention to focus on as you pray throughout the day for 40 Days for Life, a Scripture passage, a reflection written by a variety of notable Catholic authors, speakers, & clergy, and a formal prayer for the success of that day. 

If you would like to sign up for the emails, check out www.40daysforlife.com and it's in the lower right corner.  Below is yesterday's update:

We have now received reports from across North America of at least 89 babies whose lives have been saved through the efforts of people just like you, praying outside abortion facilities in more than 170 cities during this fall 40 Days for Life campaign.

89 babies!!!

And 89 women spared from a lifetime of regrets!

Here are the stories of three of those innocent lives saved from abortion...

FROM NEW JERSEY...

Jennifer wrote to say that she made a mistake the other day -- or so she thought.

She asked Sharon to help at a New Jersey 40 Days for Life vigil at 11 AM... but then realized she actually needed someone at 1:30 PM and not 11 and called Sharon back.

Sharon said she couldn't be there at 1:30, but would be there to pray at 11 o'clock anyway.

A short time after she arrived at the clinic, a young woman came out and said another volunteer, Bill, had given her some material to read before she went in for an abortion.

Bill had completed his turn and was no longer outside, so the woman told her story to Sharon. "I didn't do it," she said. "I couldn't do it."

Sharon is now sharing that story with everyone she knows, asking others to pray at the 40 Days for Life vigil. "God wanted Sharon to be there -- at 11:00," Jennifer said. "God doesn't make mistakes."

FROM ILLINOIS...

We're also hearing stories that show that Christ meant it when He promised the Holy Spirit will give you the words you need.

Ivana tells of going to pray at an Illinois clinic for one hour every day. She felt called to do more, but really wasn't sure, since she had no formal
training in sidewalk counseling.

Still, she approached a young woman outside the clinic and handed her a flyer.

"I pulled her to the side to talk to her," Ivana  said. "After talking to her, she decided that she was going to call the pro-life pregnancy center. She gave me a hug, and left the clinic happily with her boyfriend without getting the abortion."

FROM FLORIDA...

These are all stories that would not have been told if people just like you had not stepped forward to answer the call to constant vigil that is one of the main foundations of 40 Days for Life.

Susan writes that there is usually not a pro-life presence at one South Florida abortion facility on Fridays. Because of 40 Days for Life, however,
Fridays are covered. On this particular Friday, that presence paid off.

A woman who was five months pregnant arrived with her sister, who actually helped talk this mom out of the abortion. The boyfriend was along as well, and although at first he wasn't too pleased, he eventually accepted the mom's decision to keep the baby -- a decision that may have never been reached without the peaceful presence of those standing in prayerful vigil outside the abortion facility.

With God, all things are possible!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Month of the Rosary

If you couldn't guess from the title, October is the month of the Most Holy Rosary!  This is a month when the Church really encourages us to blow the dust off those old beads and put them to use.  October 7th marks the feast of the Most Holy Rosary, so consider praying a rosary to honor our mother on this particular day. 

If you have any questions on how to pray the Rosary, this history of the Rosary, or where to get one, check out http://www.familyrosary.org/main/rosary-explanation.php for some good information.  The rosary is one of the most peaceful and meditative prayers we can pray.  It calls us to reflect on stages during Jesus' and Mary's lives while asking Mary to join us in prayer for the needs of our heart. 

This month I ask you to  give the rosary a try if you haven't for a while.  Don't have a rosary on hand?  It's no coincidence that you have ten fingers, I guess.  Particularly as we go through this 40 Days for Life Campaign I'd encourage everyone to to pick up a humble set of beads to unleash the intercessory power of Mary, our mother and Queen of Heaven.  Our mother, Mary, wants to be part of our lives...if you ask her to intercede for you, I can guarantee you that she will!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bible Myth #60: The Bible contradicts Catholicism

Many non-Catholics try to disprove Church teaching by citing passages in the Bible. They’ll say that 2 Tim 3:16 indicates that we only need Scripture so tradition is bunk. Therefore the Catholic Church is wrong. They’ll cite passages that “prove” we’re saved by faith alone. Or they’ll show you a verse that says “Call no man Father”, so Catholics are going against the Bible by calling priests “father” (more on that another day).

How is a Catholic to defend his or her faith against such clear contradictions to the Bible?

Simple; just understand that it’s objectively impossible for the Bible to contradict Catholic Tradition and work from there. It’s not that the majority of bible passages support Catholicism. It’s not that the important ones support Catholicism. They all do. It is impossible to contradict a Catholic Tradition from the Bible.

Sound a bit overconfident? Let’s see why I would have the nerve to say that.

The Bible was written over the course of about sixty years. From Jesus’ death in 33 A.D. until the Gospel of John in the 90’s. During this time, well over 250 documents, letters, books, etc were written that claimed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. Yet only 27 are now in the Bible.

The Holy Spirit guided the canonists as they selected which books belonged and which did not. We can all agree on this. The problem for the non-Catholic is that the canonists were Catholic bishops headed by the pope in the late fourth century.

To make matters even worse for the non-Catholic, the core test that a book had to pass to get into the Bible was for it to conform to all oral tradition of the Catholic Church.

Therefore, it is a factual impossibility for a book in the caon of the New Testament to disprove any tradition of the Catholic Church. Each book was hand picked by a team of bishops specifically because it upheld those traditions.

Any time you hear a verse that “disproves” Catholicism, do this. First, check the context, read the passages before and after. Things are often have different meanings when you understand what the author was actually saying. Next make sure no words were added by the person reciting the verse to you (like “alone” in faith alone or scripture alone, 2 Tim 3:16 never has the word “alone”, but Protestants generally ignore that little tidbit). Finally, understand that Catholic Traditions don’t need to be explicitly stated in the Bible. For example, don’t let someone tell you that the Assumption of Mary isn’t in the Bible and is therefore impossible. Four people, not counting Jesus, were assumed in the Bible (Enoch, Elisha, & 2 witnesses in Revelation), so why can’t Mary be too? There's a precident set that bodily assumption is possible, Tradition tells us Mary was assumed. What's the problem? The Bible doesn't say she wasn't?

The bottom line is that the Bible is a Catholic book that is a core part of our faith. Yes, our bishops and popes have read it. Yes, they have considered it when they formed this Church. There’s nothing in there that Catholics didn’t put there, so if you get stumped, do some homework. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Real Canadian Hero

Justice was actually served on Tuesday when Linda Gibbons was released from prison in Toronto. Gibbons has been in jail off an on for a total of more than five years for daring to do the unthinkable: standing silently outside an abortion clinic holding a sign.

In 1994, the city of Toronto issued a “temporary” injunction which prohibits sidewalk counseling, and even silently praying, near the Scott Clinic abortuary. This temporary injunction is still on the books 14 years later, and will likely remain there because every time Gibbons is arrested for infringing the injunction, she is charged with “obstructing a peace officer” instead of disobeying the injunction.

Why is this significant? If she were charged with disobeying the injunction, then the case could be appealed and the “temporary” injunction could be challanged, where pro-lifers hope, and pro-abortioners fear, it would be struck down. As long as the injunction isn’t reviewed, it won’t be struck down, and it won’t be reviewed if no one is charged with disobeying it. How’s that for justice?

Also, obstructing a peace officer goes directly to a judge. Disobeying an injunction would go to a jury. Isn’t that interesting?

On Tuesday, Gibbons’ judge found her not guilty of obstructing a peace officer. Overwhelming evidence in the form of pictures, video, and police testimony indicated that Gibbons did nothing to resist or obstruct the officers’ role as she was arrested. The judge indicated that she would probably be guilty of disobeying the injunction, but since she wasn’t charged with that crime, she was able to walk out of court a free woman.

This is a huge victory for pro-life ministers in the Toronto area who want to pray and counsel at Toronto-area abortuaries. This case will hopefully set a precedent that the bogus “obstructing a peace officer” charge doesn’t hold water so either Gibbons won’t be charged next time, another silly charge will be used, or they’ll actually charge her with the proper crime of disobeying a 14-year-old temporary injunction.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens next. I have no doubt Gibbons will be back outside the clinic tomorrow with her “Why Mom?” sign, and I’m equally sure the police will be there shortly after.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fireproof: Best movie I've seen in a long time

Last night, my wife and I went to the new movie Fireproof. We both left with a sense of amazement; we wondered where movies with such a good message come from and why we don’t hear more about them!

I had a hard time getting into the movie, I’ll admit. Mainly because the audio didn’t quite match up with the film so lips and voices didn’t quite synch perfectly; though that seemed to work itself out as time went on. It was really distracting, but I got over it, and if that's my only complaint then it wasn't so bad!

The movie deals with marriage in a very profound way. I learned a lot about my own relationship with my wife and we’ve had several conversations, some with pretty far-reaching implications, about our own marriage based on what we saw in Fireproof. I was no marriage expert in the first place, I’ll admit, but the only word I can think of to describe how this movie changes how I view my spouse and my relationship with her is “Profound”.

As a side note, don’t worry, guys, this isn’t a chick flick. In fact, I would say that this movie is more aimed toward men and how they think more so than women; but then I’m a man so maybe I just noticed the parts that really struck a chord with me. It deals with some very tough issues in a constructive way and doesn't leave many stones unturned as it goes through what destroys, and what redeems, marriage.

In any event, you can guess that this movie has my approval and I’d encourage anyone who has a relationship with another human being and is interested in improving said relationship to check this flick out. For more info, check out the movie’s website at: http://www.fireproofthemovie.com/