Monday, December 31, 2007

Poll-Release Monday Archive

Here you'll find all of the issues of "Poll-Release Monday" that have appeared on this blog. You can still vote in all of them, except for the ones I have closed (because they are no longer relevant). Just click on the poll you want to vote in and a new window will open where you can vote. Polls are listed in order from newest to oldest.

If a poll is a question with a right or wrong answer, then it probably came from the quiz on the Catechism from the USCCB. Go there to find the answer.

Pax Christi,
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Poll-Release Monday 2009
Poll-Release Monday 2008
Poll-Release Monday 2007

Daily with De Sales: 12/31/07

Here we are at the end of the old year; tomorrow will be the beginning of the new. We must bless the Lord for the many graces we have received. May it please God that by means of these fleeting years we may happily arrive at the permanent year of a blessed eternity! Let us make good use of these small passing moments, living them out in that kindness and humility which Jesus, right from the time He was a child, taught us.
-- Letters 883; O. XV, p. 315

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Daily with De Sales: 12/30/07

So this year has disappeared into the abyss where all the others have gone. How desirable is eternity when we consider these miserable and fleeting changes! Let the time pass by as we, little by little, run with it to be transformed into the glory of the children of God.
-- Letters 563; O. XIV, p. 234

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Holy Water Debate: Part 2c

Here is the final Q&A from phase 2 of my debate with tfan on the effectiveness of holy water against demonic forces. Next comes his opening statement, which I am really looking forward to. He is certainly at an advantage, since he got to read my opening statement and ask me 3 questions before he even had to write his opening statement. But, I'm not sure if there was any way around that. I feel like I probably walked in to a situation that is balanced in his favor, but oh well, it's a good learning experience.

Anyone keeping up with this debate so far? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Pax Christi,
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In your opening statement, you wrote: "Bede “the Venerable” (672-735) reports in his Ecclesiastical History of England that a bishop cured a sick woman with holy water (see here), and that devils were cast out by it (see here)."
I would respectfully submit to you that in the latter case, the devils were cast out by the use of soil, not water, according to your source, and that the water involved in conferring special powers to the soil was not consecrated water, but water that had touched a relic.
Do you concur?
Well, before we begin, here is the passage from Bede's Ecclesiastical History were he reports that demons were cast out by holy water:
  • "Then they poured out the water in which they had washed the bones, in a corner of the cemetery. From that time, the very earth which received that holy water, had the power of saving grace in casting out devils from the bodies of persons possessed" (see here).
Now, to respond to your first point, it is true that those possessed by evil spirits were freed when said persons came in contact with the earth where the water was poured out. BUT, it was because of the holy water that the soil had that effect. Were it not for the water the soil would have done nothing. So, it appears to me that the water is the primary agent for the casting out of the evil spirits, not the soil.

As for your second point, how the water is made holy does seem to be as important as the fact that, at the end of the day, water is being used to expel demons. This shows that the use of water to achieve that purpose is far from superstitious ("superstition" of course being the attribution of magical effect to an object or practice that actually has no such effect).

Pax Christi,

Holy Water Debate: Part 2b

Here is the second of three Q&A's that make up the second phase of my debate with tfan on the effectiveness of holy water against demonic forces. So far, so good....

Pax Christi,
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Your secondary source’s quotation from the “Apostolic Constitutions” seems to be a corruption of: “vouchsafe them the laver of regeneration, and the garment of incorruption, which is the true life; and deliver them from all ungodliness, and give no place to the adversary against them; “and cleanse them from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and dwell in them, and walk in them, by His Christ; bless their goings out and their comings in, and order their affairs for their good.” (source)
Can you provide any other citation to the Apostolic constitutions themselves?

Well, first off, here is the part in my opening statement where I quote from the Apostolic Constitutions:
  • For example, in the Apostolic Constitutions (400 AD), holy water is called, “a means of warding off diseases, frightening away evil spirits, a medicine for body and soul, and for purification from sins” (see here).

Now, I realize that I was using a secondary source and I apologize for that. But, I don't think that the quotation, as found in the secondary source, is a corruption like you describe it. You say it is from Book VIII, Section II. However, it appears to me that the quotation comes from Book VIII, Section IV, where we read:
  • XXIX. Concerning the water and the oil, I Matthias make a constitution. Let the bishop bless the water, or the oil. But if he be not there, let the presbyter bless it, the deacon standing by. But if the bishop be present, let the presbyter and deacon stand by, and let him say thus: O Lord of hosts, the God of powers, the creator of the waters, and the supplier of oil, who art compassionate, and a lover of mankind, who hast given water for drink and for cleansing, and oil to give man a cheerful and joyful countenance; do Thou now also sanctify this water and this oil through Thy Christ, in the name of him or her that has offered them, and grant them a power to restore health, to drive away diseases, to banish demons, and to disperse all snares through Christ our hope, with whom glory, honour, and worship be to Thee, and to the Holy Ghost, for ever. Amen.

I should have looked that up in the beginning, but I didn't have the time. At any rate, that is the most explicit statement I was able to find in the Apostolic Constitutions. There are two other passages (from Book VII, Section III) that I found interesting, but they aren't as important to me as the more explicit statement. They include the following:
  • "Let him be instructed why the world was made, and why man was appointed to be a citizen therein; let him also know his own nature, of what sort it is; let him be taught how God punished the wicked with water and fire, and did glorify the saints in every generation"
  • "Him, therefore, let the priest even now call upon in baptism, and let him say: Look down from heaven, and sanctify this water, and give it grace and power, that so he that is to be baptized, according to the command of Thy Christ, may be crucified with Him, and may die with Him, and may be buried with Him, and may rise with Him to the adoption which is in Him, that he may be dead to sin and live to righteousness."

I hope that answers your question.

Pax Christi,

Daily with De Sales: 12/29/07

I never think of eternity without a great deal of tenderness, because I reflect: How can the soul ever extend its thoughts to such infinity unless it has some possibility of attaining it? Certainly the power that aspires to an object must have some reasonable relation with it. When I am aware that my desire turns toward eternity, I am very pleased, knowing quite well that I can never strongly desire anything that is impossible. From my very desire, therefore, I am assured that I can reach a blessed eternity...and what else remains for me but the hope of possessing it? This is assured me by the knowledge I have of the infinite goodness of God; He would not have created a soul capable of thinking of and longing for eternity if He were not willing to give it the means of arriving there.
-- Letters 647; O. XIV, pp. 395-396

Friday, December 28, 2007

Blog Update

Just wanted everyone to know that I went back and posted the entries from St. Francis de Sales for the 25th through the 28th. So, make sure to scroll down and check that out. I'm sorry I didn't post the entry for those days as they came. I haven't been able to get on the computer as much, and quite frankly, I haven't always wanted to.

Also, I've been thinking about changing to a new daily series for next year. Daily entries from G. K. Chesterton, St. Augustine, or all the early Church Fathers is also a possibility. What do you all think? I would make a poll, but we already have the poll on Christmas (see the sidebar) and I don't want to wait until this coming Monday to see what you all think. So, I'm asking everyone to leave a comment on this post and let me know which one of the following options you would prefer:
  • Keep Daily with de Sales
  • Switch to "Daily with G. K. Chesterton"
  • Switch to "Daily with Augustine"
  • Switch to "Daily with the Early Church Fathers"
These daily entries are for you, so let me know which one you would like to see for the new year. I'll put a link to this post at the top of my blog so that no one will miss it.

Pax Christi,

Holy Water Debate: Part 2a

The next phase of my debate with "tfan" on holy water consists of three Q&A's based on my opening statement. What follows is the first of the three.

Pax Christi,
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PhatCatholic wrote: "Ultimately, to reject the effectiveness of holy water against demonic forces is not just to ignore the biblical witness, but to also essentially discredit 2,000 years of Christian witness and experience."

But, as PC admitted, there is no Scriptural example of "holy water" being effective against demonic forces, nor is there any other Christian testimony I could locate to the efficacy of "holy water" among the church fathers before the eighth century (leaving aside the “Apostolic Constitutions”). Have I missed something or is the experience and witness really not 2,000 years old?
I'd like to be able to give you more evidence from the Fathers but information on the internet is limited and the books I need won't be available to me until after the deadline for this answer. My local library at home is sorely inadequate when it comes to researching this question, but a few books are on the way.

At first I was trying to work with what little is available to me, which is why it has taken me so long to respond. But, I finally had to just accept the fact that more information on the use of holy water in the early Church will have to wait. Perhaps I can give you more information in response to a subsequent question, or in my rebuttal post.

That said, the witness of the Apostolic Constitutions shows that the practice is at least 1600 years old, and that's certainly nothing to scoff at. Also, note that, in the Catholic Church, the period of antiquity ends with St. John Damascene (d. 749 AD) in the East and with St. Gregory the Great (d AD 604) or St. Isidore of Seville (d. 636 AD) in the West. So, my citation of Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England (which he wrote in 731 AD) falls within that timeframe as well. However, my point with the statement you quoted was not to record, down to the very year, exactly how long holy water has been in use. I was simply trying to show that such use is an ancient practice and that to dismiss it is to ignore the experience and witness of hundreds (thousands?) of individuals who have seen with their own eyes the power that holy water has had over demonic forces. Is that really something you are prepared to do?

Pax Christi,

Daily with De Sales: 12/28/07

The years pass by; they blow away unnoticed one after the other, and when they finish they bring to a close our mortal life...Oh, how much more desirable is eternity! Its duration is without end, its days have no nights, and its consolations suffer no changes...What happiness does our soul enjoy if the mercy of God allows us to savor such sweetness! As we wait to see Jesus glorifies, now we contemplate Him in His poor cradle.
-- Letters 939; O. XVI, pp. 119-120

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Daily with De Sales: 12/27/07

The beginning of good deeds is good, their progress is better, and their completion is the best of all. However, the beginning is good insofar as it is a beginning, and the progress is good in its character as progress, whereas to wish to complete the work at its beginning or during its progress is to reverse the order...It is very praiseworthy to make a start at learning, but a person who would start without the intention of ever finishing would go against all reason. Fear and the other motives for repentance of which we have spoken are good for the beginning of Christian wisdom...but one who would deliberately wish not to arrive at love or at perfect sorrow would not be acting according to the order established by God...
-- T.L.G. Book 2, Ch. 19; O. IV, pp. 152-15

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Daily with De Sales: 12/26/07

One who truly desires love seeks it; one who truly seeks it finds it one who truly finds it has found the fountain of life from which to draw salvation from the Lord! Night and day let us cry out, "Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Your love." O heavenly love, when will you fill up our souls?
-- T.L.G. Book 12, Ch. 2; O. V, p. 322

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Daily with De Sales: 12/25/07

Stand alongside the sacred grotto, where our Savior teaches us so many virtues by His silence. And what does He say to us? While He immolates Himself for the love of us, His little heart must set ours on fire. See how lovingly He carries your names within that divine heart that beats out of affectionate desire for your growth in virtue and does not send a single sigh toward His Father in which you do no share, nor a single aspiration that is not aimed at your happiness. The magnet attracts iron and straw and hay; as for us, who are iron by our strength and straw by our weakness, we should unite ourselves to this Infant Who is true thief of hearts.
-- Letters 1498; O. XVIII, pp. 334-335

Monday, December 24, 2007

Poll-Release Monday #39

So....yea....I totally let "Poll-Release Monday" slip since I've been on break. I completely forgot about it! Anyway, I remembered today, so here is this week's poll question:
What do you like the most about Christmas? (Be honest! You can also type in and vote for your own answer)
I say "be honest" b/c I anticipate people voting for what they should like the most instead of what they actually do like the most. Don't forget that you can type in your own answer and vote for it. You can also click the "Explain your answer" link below the poll and tell me why you voted the way you did. To vote, see the poll in my sidebar.

As for last week's poll question ("Do you display an Advent wreath in your home during Advent?"), here are the results:
  • "Yes": 26 (67%)
  • "No": 12 (31%)
  • "What's an Advent wreath?": 1 (3%)
Thanks everyone for voting. If you don't display an Advent wreath, you may want to consider it. I think it's a good way to remind ourselves that we are waiting in anticipation for the coming of the Savior. To learn more about Advent and Advent wreaths see this post and this post.

In the words of Tiny Tim, "God bless us, everyone!" (I know, it's cheesy, but I couldn't help myself)

Pax Christi,

Daily with De Sales: 12/24/07

My God, the birth of the Lord gives rise to a thousand thoughts and affections in our hearts! Never could there have been a poorer or a happier birth, nor at the same time a more radiant and happy mother! Saint Paula preferred to live as a pilgrim in Bethlehem than as a society lady in Rome, being convinced that day and night in this hospice where she was staying she could hear the cries of the little Savior in the crib. As Saint Francis of Assisi used to say of little Infant of Bethlehem, He inspired him to despise greatness and earthly ambitions, summoning him back to the sublime love of abjection.
-- Letters 1864; O. XX, p. 212

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holy Water Debate: Part 1

Here is my opening statement in the debate with "Turretinfan" on the effectiveness of holy water against demonic forces. The entire exchange will be posted on his debate blog. I will post my responses on my blog as well. Stay tuned, and feel free to comment here on the debate. You can comment over at the debate blog too, but not until the debate is over.

Please pray for me that I will valiantly defend the Church.

Pax Christi,
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First I want to thank "tfan" for this opportunity to defend my use of holy water, as I describe it in this blog post. May our debate prove to be mutually edifying.

Now, before I begin I would like to anticipate two possible objections:
  1. "We're supposed to combat demonic forces, not by holy water, but by (fill in the blank) "
  2. "There is no example in Scripture of someone using water against demonic forces"
Regarding the first objection, it is often asserted that, instead of using holy water to stop demonic forces, we should use faith, or our authority as Christians, or the name of Christ, or Scripture, or prayer. But, I agree with all of these approaches in one way or another. As such, there is no point in defending any of them. Instead, the task for anyone who objects to my use of holy water is to show that water has no effect against demonic activity (or perhaps more generally speaking, no spiritual effect).

As for the second objection, let me state that I agree with it as well. It is true that there is no explicit example in Scripture of someone using holy water against demonic forces, or commending its use. I am aware of that. BUT, there are no verses that speak directly against this practice either. In situations like this when there is no explicit Scriptural witness, we have to rely on the implicit witness, as well as the principles that inform the practice in question. If the principles are biblically sound, then the practice is sound.

That said, here are the principles that inform the practice of using holy water:
  1. God uses the things of the created order to produce supernatural effects in our lives.
  2. In Scripture, water is used to cleanse, purify, and heal human beings.
  3. Demons are rightly repulsed by anything that is holy or blessed by God, and are expelled by His cleansing grace.
Now, to elaborate on each point.

1. God uses the things of the created order to produce supernatural effects in our lives

There are many examples in Scripture where Jesus and the apostles use created things to produce supernatural effects in the lives of human beings. Jesus’ garment healed the woman with the hemorrhage (cf. Mt 9:20-22), and his saliva mixed with dirt (along with water from the pool of Siloam) gave sight to the blind man (cf. Jn 9:6-7). Many were healed by being anointed with oil (cf. Mk 6:13; Jas 5:14-15; Rev 3:18), and Paul’s handkerchiefs cured disease and expelled evil spirits (cf. Acts 19:11-12). Elijah’s mantle parted the Jordan (cf. 2 Ki 2:8,14), and the bones of his apprentice, Elisha, brought a man back to life (cf. 2 Ki 13:21). Of course, the Lord wrought innumerable miracles through the rods of Moses (cf. Exo 4:2-4; 9:23; 10:13; 14:16; 17:9-11; Num 20:11) and Aaron (cf. Exo 7:10-12,20; 8:5-6,17; Num 17:8) as well.

Many other examples could be provided. The point is, God is certainly not averse to accommodating our senses and using the objects of our material world in order to have a very real impact on our lives.

2. In Scripture, water is used to cleanse, purify, and heal human beings

Believe it or not, there are examples of holy water in Scripture:
  • Exo 23:25 speaks of water that has been blessed
  • In Num 5:17, the priest uses “holy water” in the judgment of the woman
  • In Num 19:9,13-20, anyone who is unclean remains so until the “water for impurity” is sprinkled upon him
  • In 2 Ki 2:19-22, Elisha makes the water “healed” (KJV) or “purified” (NAS).
So, the idea of “holy water” and its use is not foreign to Scripture. Notice from the third passage that a person remained unclean until water was sprinkled upon him. This points to an important 3-fold purpose for water in Scripture.This is very significant, considering that demons were considered “unclean spirits” (cf. Mt 10:1; 12:43; Mk 1:23,26-27; 3:11,30; 5:2,8,13; 6:7; 7:25; 9:25; Lk 4:33,36; 6:18; 8:29; 9:42; 11:24; Acts 5:16; 8:7) and any person was unclean if possessed by one. It only makes sense that something that cleanses, purifies, and heals can be put to good use against something as unclean as a demon.

3. Demons are rightly repulsed by anything that is holy or blessed by God, and are expelled by His cleansing grace

Does this really need a defense? We’ve already seen how Paul’s handkerchiefs expelled evil spirits (cf. Acts 19:11-12). The holy name of Jesus causes them to flee (cf. Mk 9:38-41; Acts 16:18). Demons are simply repulsed by things that are holy. When water is blessed it becomes holy and thus an effective weapon against the devil.

If the biblical evidence were not enough, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. Hundreds of saintly men and women throughout history have experienced for themselves the power of holy water against demonic forces. For example, in the Apostolic Constitutions (400 AD), holy water is called, “a means of warding off diseases, frightening away evil spirits, a medicine for body and soul, and for purification from sins” (see here). Bede “the Venerable” (672-735) reports in his Ecclesiastical History of England that a bishop cured a sick woman with holy water (see here), and that devils were cast out by it (see here). St. Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510) was relieved of a demoniacal vision and temptation by the devil once holy water was brought to her (see here). St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) wrote, “From long experience I have learned that there is nothing like holy water to put devils to flight and prevent them from coming back again” (see here).

Many more examples could be provided, but you get the idea. Ultimately, to reject the effectiveness of holy water against demonic forces is not just to ignore the biblical witness, but to also essentially discredit 2,000 years of Christian witness and experience.

Pax Christi,

Daily with De Sales: 12/23/07

May the great yet small Infant of Bethlehem be the delight and love of our heart!...If I contemplate Him upon the knees of His holy mother or in her arms, with His little mouth like the bud of a rose...I see my God more splendid on this throne than Solomon on his throne rich with gems...May the great Saint Joseph help us to partake in his joy; may the most holy virgin give us His love; may the Child deign to fill and infuse the grace of His merits into our hearts!
-- Letters 940; O. XVI, pp. 120-121

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Daily with De Sales: 12/22/07

How many holy thoughts germinate in our hearts when we consider the birth of the Infant Jesus! We are filled with a holy contempt for material things, for pomp and the amusements of the world. I do not know of any other mystery which so wonderfully unites tenderness with sincerity, love with rigor, gentleness with harshness. Never has a mother been seen who was so poor, yet so happy. She who conceived the Son of God certainly would not be concerned about the consolations of the world.
-- Letters 1864; O. XXX, p. 212

Friday, December 21, 2007

Daily with De Sales: 12/21/07

Sweet-smelling ointments are not left exposed to the air, because they would begin to lose their fragrance...and so their value. Just souls, afraid to lose the worth and value of their good works, preserve them, not in a common box, but in an alabaster vase such as is used for precious ointments. This alabaster vase is holy humility, within which (as in a golden vessel), we must enclose our virtues and all that would make us esteemed by others, to seek only to please God. Consider St. Joseph. He not only received a very great measure of all the virtues, a reflection of those practiced by the most holy virgin, his wife, but also had a divine treasure, the Infant Jesus, His Lord and Master, Who had been entrusted to him....He was His foster father and the spouse of His mother; yet he kept himself hidden, kept a low profile, so as to appear as an ordinary man.
-- Spiritual Treatises XIX; O. VI, pp. 363-364

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Daily with De Sales: 12/20/07

Ships at sea have a mariner's needle which always points to the north star; although the ship may be headed south, the needle never fails to point north. It sometimes seems that the soul at prayer is going straight south, since it is greatly bothered by distractions; nevertheless, the highest point of the spirit always looks toward God, Who is its north. People who are the most advances in the spiritual life often have such great temptations, even against faith, that it seems to them that their whole soul consents to these temptations. Yet they still resist at the deepest level of their being. Even though all their other faculties and powers may be filled with distractions, their spirit is praying.
-- Sermons; O. X, p. 68

Quick Update

Things have been so busy since I got back from the men's retreat that I haven't had time to post. But, I have a few things in the works.

I plan on making a post about the retreat and reviewing Wild at Heart, which influenced the retreat a great deal. I'm also currently working on my opening statement for a formal debate on whether or not holy water is effective against demonic forces. The impetus for the debate was a response by "Turretinfan" to my earlier post on combatting the devil. It should be interesting, so stay tuned for that as well.

Thank you all for your patience while I complete these projects.

Pax Christi,

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Daily with De Sales: 12/19/07

You will never acquire perfect gentleness and charity if you do not exercise them amid repugnance, aversions and dislikes. True peace does not consist in not fighting, but in winning. Those who are defeated and no longer fight do not possess true peace. Let us humiliate ourselves deeply, seeing that we have so little control over ourselves and love ease and repose so much! The Babe Who is about to be born does not come on earth to have an easy life or to enjoy spiritual and temporal comforts, but to fight, to mortify Himself and to die.
-- Letters 2001; O. XII, pp. 44-45

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Daily with De Sales: 12/18/07

May the small yet great Babe of Bethlehem always be the delight of our heart. How beautiful is the poor little Babe! I bed you to take your repose close to Him, because He will not fail to love your heart just as it is, with all its lack of tenderness and of feeling. Do you not see how He receives the breath of the oxen and the ass, which have feeling at all? And how will He not appreciate the operations of your poor heart, which, even though it lacks tenderness, yet throws itself resolutely and firmly at His feet, pledging itself to be always a faithful servant of His divine heart and that of Mary?
-- Letters 940; O. XVI, pp. 120-121

Monday, December 17, 2007

Daily with De Sales: 12/17/07

We always want this thing or that thing, and even when we have Jesus Himself in our breast we are not satisfied. Yet He is all that we could possibly desire...At the birth of the Savior the shepherds heard the songs of the heavenly spirits, but Sacred Scripture does not say that they were heard by the Madonna and Saint Joseph, who were closer to the little Babe. Instead, they saw the Divine Child trembling with the cold, His eyes bathed in tears! And what do we prefer--to stay in that dark stable which echoes with the cries of the Babe, or to be outside listening with the shepherds to the angelic choirs? Certainly we should choose the former, because it is better, even in the darkness to stay close to Jesus.
-- Letters 359; O. XIII, pp. 202-203

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wild at Heart

Tomorrow morning (Monday), I'm setting out into the wilderness with my brother's parish for a three-day men's retreat, loosely based on two books: John Eldredge's Wild at Heart, and Neal Lozano's Unbound. I'm not really sure what to expect. So far I've read half of the first book and I've already gotten a great deal out of it. I've never read the second book.

I might blog about the experience when I get back on Wednesday. But, then again, I might not. I did the "Daily with De Sales" posts for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday ahead of time so that we don't fall behind. But, besides that, don't expect any more posts until Wednesday night, at the earliest.

Please pray for me that God will give me a new heart, and form me into the man that He has called me to be.

Pax Christi,

Daily with De Sales: 12/16/07

Behold the most lovable Jesus, Who is about to be born in our commemoration of the forthcoming feast. He is born to visit us on behalf of the Eternal Father. In return, the shepherds and the kinds come to visit Him in His crib. Visit Him as well during this novena; caress Him, make Him welcome in your heart, adore Him frequently; imitate His humility, His poverty, His obedience and His gentleness...
-- Letters 1582; O. XIX, p. 86

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Daily with De Sales: 12/15/07

One of the signs of the genuineness of inspirations, especially extraordinary ones, is peace and tranquility of heart in those who receive them, since the Holy Spirit is indeed powerful, but with a strength that is gentle, mild and peaceful...On the contrary, the evil spirit is turbulent, bitter and restless. Those who follow his hellish suggestions in the belief that they are heavenly inspirations can usually be recognized because they are unsettled, headstrong and haughty. Under the pretext of zeal, they silence everyone and find fault with everything...In the name of zeal for God's honor they indulge in the passion of self-love.
-- T.L.G. Book 8, Ch. 12; O. V, pp. 100-101

Friday, December 14, 2007

Headin' Home for the Holiday

I am finally packed (praise God), so I'm off to "My Ol' Kentucky Home." It's a 7.5 hr. drive and I think it's going to snow along the way, so please pray for me that I make it home safely. Also, I may not be able to post as much for the next 3 weeks or so. It really just depends on whether or not I can tolerate my parents' computer. For some reason, I can't spend a great deal of time on anyone else's computer but my own.

Thank you in advance for your prayers.

Pax Christi,

Daily with De Sales: 12/14/07

Tranquility of spirit is one of the most pleasing virtues in the spiritual life; every Christian must try his or her hardest to acquire it. How sweet and pleasant is the consideration of the life of our Savior! In it we see marvelously resplendent this perfect tranquility amid the multiplicity of events that succeeded one another.
-- Sermons 40; O. IX, p. 445

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"It Is Finished"

These last 3-4 weeks of the semester have been such a burden that I couldn't help but recall the words of Jesus on the Cross. Finally, it is finished. Christmas break shall be my resurrection, my rising to new life. But, for now, it's off to Hades. In other words, don't wake me for three days....

Pax Christi,

Dailly with De Sales: 12/13/07

If we have a bit little of the love of God is us, to Him alone should we give honor and glory; He has placed it in us, for without Him we can do nothing. There remains for us the obligation of gratitude. This is the way God works toward us in His goodness; He gives us His benefits and expects only our thanks in return. Since without His grace we are nothing, assuredly we should live in thanksgiving, doing nothing except for His glory.
-- T.L.G. Book 4, Ch. 6; O. IV, p. 235

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Daily with De Sales: 12/12/07

The consideration of sins committed is accompanied by a certain horror and consternation which terrifies the soul, so there is need to replace it with confidence in God...It is necessary to fear, but it is likewise necessary to have hope: fear, so as not to become proud; and hope, so as not to become discouraged or despair. Fear and hope should never be separated, because if fear alone is present, then we give way to desperation; and if there is hope without dear, then we have presumption...Yes, we must always unite a confident hope to the fear that arises out of an awareness of our sins.
-- Sermons 40; O. IX, pp. 443-444

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Important Sidebar Updates!!

I made some changes to the sidebar that I'm pretty psyched about :D

First off, I changed the names of the expandable/collapseable sections (aka "buttons") in the sidebar so that they better reflect the content found therein. Originally I thought it would be cool to carry the warfare theme into the name of each section, but I finally just realized that all that does is make things confusing for people. Plus, all the buttons are in a section of the sidebar called "Military Arsenal", so the warfare theme is still maintained.

Secondly, I added a new button! The name of it is pretty self-explanatory: "Catechetical materials to download." Instead of having the "My Files" BOX widget for sharing files (which just made my sidebar load slower), I just created a new button, which contains links to each file. Since I have webspace to host these files, the widget was kinda pointless anyway. I guess I just thought it looked cool. But, what's more important to me is that my blog loads a little faster, and I think it does now. Anyway, for now, this new section/button will just contain catechetical material, but I may expand it to include other things if that becomes necessary.

Finally, a minor change: instead of having a section for subscribing to my blog and a section for my contact info, I just put them together in a section called "War Correspondence."

I hope you all like the changes. You know me....I can never leave this blog well enough alone. If anyone has any questions about the sidebar, just let me know.

Pax Christi,

Daily with De Sales: 12/11/07

There is no need to doubt that we possess faith in God, simply because we find it difficult to keep clear of sin, or find ourselves diffident or even fearing that we will not be able to resist occasions of temptation. No! Diffidence in our strength of will is not due to lack of resolve but is a true acknowledgement of our misery. The fear of being able to resist temptations is better than considering ourselves strong and secure, because all that we do not expect fro our own strength we hope to receive by means of God's grace...We must simply be on our guard and be humble so as not to fall victim to temptation.
-- Letters 1974; O. XXI, pp. 12-19

Monday, December 10, 2007

Poll-Release Monday #38

Here is this week's poll question:
Do you display an Advent wreath in your home during Advent?
Vote in the poll in my sidebar and let me know. In case you don't know what an Advent wreath is (or you would simply like to learn more about them) I have provided the following links:I will also add these links to my Advent resources page.

As for last week's poll question ("Have you read the pope's new encyclical [Spe Salvi]?"), here are the results:
  • No, but I plan on reading it: 13 (65%)
  • Yes: 6 (30%)
  • No, and I doubt I ever will: 1 (5%)
To all of those who voted, "No, but I plan on it"....I'm holding you to it!! As an incentive to read Spe Salvi, here are some links to summaries and commentaries of the encyclical:You may also wish to read the articles I collected in a previous post that explain the theological virtue of hope. May we fix our eyes on the source of our hope during this Advent season (read Spe Salvi if you don't know who/what that is!!)

Pax Christi,

Daily with De Sales: 12/10/07

You will show me the path to life," says the psalmist [Ps 16:11], not only because our temporal life depends on the Divine Will, but also because our spiritual life consists in its fulfillment...The rebellious spirit, instead, wants its heart to be full of itself and its will to be above that of God. Eternal God, do not permit this disorder to take root in my soul!"...not my will but yours be done." [Lk 22:41] You alone can give me the grace to have no will but Your own.
-- T.L.G. Book, Ch. 7; O. V, p. 79

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Transcription of My Confrontation with the Devil

What follows is a transcription of an audio recording (which I can no longer find) of me telling my story to an RCIA class at FUS. This was one of my first times ever speaking in front of a group, so my words have a colloquial sound to them. You'll find a lot of like's and um's, and words like that. Apparently I use the word "just" a lot too. Wierd. Anyway, this story was spoken before it was written, and when I spoke it I was very nervous. I pray that our Lord will still find some use for it.

Pax Christi,
- - - - - - - - - -

Around the time when we were getting the whole RCIA team up and running, we were starting to establish who was going to be on the core team, starting to organize things, who was going to do what, what we were gonna teach, and who was gonna teach. I think if you were to ask any one of us we would tell u that we started to feel some spiritual battles taking place in our lives. I think we all really felt that we were about to embark on something that was really special and that the devil didn’t like that very much. I experienced some spiritual battles myself. Well, only one of them was a battle I suppose, but just some really spiritual things happened to me.

The first one was just being asked to be on the team. That may sound really trivial, but to me I just thought that was so awesome and providential because I always wanted to do something like this. But, Scott really didn’t know me from anybody and I just took a chance and asked him if I could be a part of it and he actually said yes. And I just thought, “Wow, God must really want me here for some reason.” I was just really blown away by that. The second thing: I remember I was praying in mass. Usually whenever we receive communion and go back to our pew, we spend that time just kneeling in prayer, contemplating on what we have just done, and I just remember falling deep, deep into prayer to where I forgot that I was kneeling. I just totally forgot, I couldn’t even feel my back hurting or my knees hurting or really anything physical. I just fell into deep prayer and I just remember feeling so comfortable and when the priest finally said, “Let us pray,” man, his words just shot through my mind and just totally woke me up and I was like, “Man, what just happened?” The third thing was a bout with the devil.

I remember one day, it had been a really long day, I was really tired. I was also feeling really down, just down about sin in my life and my ability to overcome that. I was feeling really down about it. So, when I finally got back to my bedroom it was like 11:00 at night and I was like, “Man, what a day. I’m just gonna check my email really quick and then I’m just gonna go to bed.” I mean, I had homework to do but I really needed to just sleep. So, I go to check my email and as soon as I get on the computer, an instant message pops up and this friend of mine is like, “Dude, I need your help, you really need to talk to this girl, I think she’s possessed by the devil.” And I was like, “Are you serious?” I mean, I just wanna go to bed right now! A part of me just didn’t even want to mess with it at all. So, I was like, “I dunno man, I don’t know if I can talk to her right now.” And he was like, “You have to, you’re a counselor, you have all these skills, you know so much about God. You have to talk to her right now.” I was like, “Man, I dunno.” But, he just kept pushin me: “You have to talk to her.” And I was like, “Alright dude, let me just pray for a second at least.”

So, I was sitting there and I’m like, “Man, can I really do this?” I don’t even feel like I’m the right person for the job here. I mean, where’s Fr. Scanlan when you need him? Why can’t I just call one of the friars? They’re much better at this than I am. I’m struggling with sin in my life right now, ya know? I’m supposed to be able to engage the devil? It was just really overwhelming. But, I was thinking about it and praying about it and this thought just came to me: “You’re right Nick, there probably are a whole lot of people who would be better at this than you. But, right now, in this situation, you’re the man. You have to do it.”

So, I typed to my friend and I said, “Alright, give me her screen name and I’ll chat with her.” So I got her screen name and I said, “Hey...what’s goin on?” I mean, how do you start a conversation with somebody who has the devil really strong in her life, almost to the point to where they’re possessed? But, I just started the conversation, and we got into it right away. There wasn’t a whole lot of, “So, how’s your day?” She just got right in to blaspheming the Lord, unbelievably blaspheming the Lord. One thing that shocked me so much: when she was typing and she would be talking about the devil, she would use upper-case letters for “he” and “him.” Ya know how, when we, to show our reverence for God, we’ll capitalize words that are in reference to Him. She would capitalize those in reference to the devil. But then, when she would talk about God, she would use a lower-case “g,” and “Jesus” with a lower-case “j”. But it was just so amazing what happened next.

When she would start to make the claims of the devil, claims that the devil tries to make for your happiness and for your future, and that the devil is the only one that cares...Scripture, the Word, it was just coming right out of my fingers, every verse that talks about the great deceiver, the serpent who’s head is crushed by the woman, who tries to go after the offspring of the woman--all the verses that talk about how he’s the liar, he’s the one who sold to mankind the greatest lie in the very beginning--all the verses that would combat the devil and all his claims, they just came to me like inspiration. And there was nothing that she could say or do that could refute the Word. I knew that! And it emboldened me so much, and I just knew that as long as I stay with the Word, as long as I stick with the inspired Scripture and what we know from God Himself about the devil and how he cannot overcome Jesus Christ and he cannot overcome His mother--all of those words came to me like weapons in my repertoire. My sword against the devil was the word of God. It was just an amazing experience.

I didn’t even have to think about what I was going to say. I mean, you think about talking with somebody who is possessed by the devil, that’s one of the scariest things you can ever do! Beforehand I was so worried, “What am I gonna say to her?” But, Scripture was my weapon and my words to this girl. Eventually she was like, “Stop it!” She would beg me to stop it. I asked her, “Can I send you a prayer?” because I had a spiritual warfare prayer that you’re supposed to pray in times of demonic influence. And she was like, “No! do not send me the prayer. He’ll make me suffer even more, he’ll attack me if you send this prayer.” Eventually she just quit responding to me. I would try to say things to her and it would be a long time of silence. And I was like, “Are you there?” and she wouldn’t say anything back to me.

Then I just became really worried. I really felt that the devil now was just really attacking her in that moment, to where she just couldn’t even engage me in conversation anymore. So, I said the prayer. It’s an awesome prayer. I wish I had it memorized so that I could say it to you. One thing I remember about the prayer that is just so awesome: it was invoking the name of Jesus Christ. There’s no more powerful weapon against the devil. “In the name of Jesus Christ.” Every knee bows at that name. Even in Scripture, when people, possessed by demons, when Jesus would come to them, even though they are from the devil they still acknowledge his lordship over them. I knew that this was the perfect prayer to send to her. “In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus.” I sent it to her, and then I felt like there was nothing else for me to do. I had done everything that I could do.

So, I’m sitting there, and I’m thinking about it. Then...I don’t do I describe was just a feeling that it was not gonna be enough for the devil to attack her. He is going to want to attack me too, because I really gave him some intense, wounding blows with the word of God and with the name of Jesus Christ. I felt fear for my safety and I felt a strong urge to do something soon and right away to protect myself from the devil. I knew that my roommate had a little vial or little container of holy water, so I rushed and got it. The whole time I’m praying prayers, I’m saying the Hail Mary prayer just over and over again. I had this small crucifix and the whole time I was talking to her--when it was finished, as I go down to get the holy water--basically that whole night from the moment I started the conversation was consumed by the Hail Mary prayer and just caressing the crucifix. “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” I just knew that he would be my Rock and my Savior.

So, I get the holy water, I’m still saying Hail Mary’s, and I’m putting just little bits on my finger and I’m making the sign of the Cross on every entry point that the devil could try to make in my life, into my room, into my space. So, I put the holy water on the top of the door panel and along the side, and a huge cross on my window. I know, maybe it sounds silly, but I really felt like it was necessary to do the Cross on my monitor, on my computer, on my television, above my bed. I sprinkled it across my bed and on the headboard of my bed, just everywhere because I know that holy water, holy things, the devil cannot stand holy things. So I was just trying to protect myself as much as I could with the holy water.

Then I just layed in bed. I was still fearful, I’m not gonna lie. Even after everything that I did, I was still afraid. So, I just kept it up: caressing the crucifix, saying the Hail Mary prayer over and over again. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of they womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” Over and over again, the most repetitions I’ve ever made of the Hail Mary prayer. Eventually I fell asleep.

When I woke up the next day, my eyes were closed. And then, I just opened my eyes and the bright light was filling my room. Sunshine was coming through the window and filling my whole room. I was just laying there, and I was like, “Thank you Jesus! Thank you so much! You are so powerful and so amazingly awesome. Your name is so great. Thank you so much for your holy Mother, she’s the one, her heel crushed the head of the serpent.” I just thank God so much for the strength that He was able to give me, his power, his Word, it was jut an amazing, amazing event in my life. I’ll just never forget that time, never forget the strength that he gave me to overcome the devil and overcome temptation.

After that, I’m just so much more emboldened, and filled with more hope that the sin in my life that used to make me feel so down-trodden, it is something that I can truly, truly overcome as long as I fully depend on Jesus Christ. It’s like the readings for today. You can be a tree in the most barren of lands, but if you have your hope in Jesus Christ, he will water you and from that will grow amazing fruit.

Daily with De Sales: 12/9/07

It can be said that religious perfection is the real pearl of the Gospel; to acquire it one must be prepared to abandon everything in a vastly different manner from that which is required for common Christian perfection. While this latter can be attained simply by observing the commandments of God, for religious perfection it is necessary to keep not only the precepts but also the evangelical counsels, by following secret inspirations and interior promptings. This is done be entering the religious state and renouncing all the vanities of the world and one's own possessions. Everything must be left, without exception, no matter how small that may be.
-- Sermons 44; O. X, p. 23

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Daily with De Sales: 12/8/07

The most holy virgin enjoyed the greatest privilege of all pure creatures and was to be, from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception, always completely obedient to the will of God. Never for a moment did she waver or fail to keep her resolution to serve the Divine Majesty perfectly. But we--poor creatures that we are--are so wavering in our resolutions! Who among us can say that he or she is always steadfast? Now we want one thing, and in a short time something else, and so we change our affections from one moment to the next.
-- Sermons 26; O. IX, p. 232

Friday, December 07, 2007

Daily with De Sales: 12/7/07

I would like to talk to you about Saint Ambrose, archbishop of Milan, whose feast we are about to celebrate...We should have a particular veneration for him because he was the spiritual father of Saint Augustine. He was a lovable man, full of charity and zeal for the glory of God, and a vigilant pastor; in a word, a man enriched with every virtue, very careful in carrying out all his priestly duties...Although gentle and forgiving by nature, all the same he did not fail to show firmness in correcting and punishing those who were guilty (e.g., the emperor Theodosius), without letting himself be deterred by other considerations. A man of God is recognized by his works.
-- Sermons 38; O. IX, p. 145

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Daily with De Sales: 12/5/07

When a diamond is nearby, it hinders the attraction by which iron is drawn to a magnet. It does this without taking away iron's magnetic properties, since the magnet acts as soon as the obstacle is removed. Similarly, the presence of venial sins does not actually deprive charity of its strength and power to act, yet in a certain way it weakens it and deprives it of its activity. Hence charity remains inactive, sterile and unproductive...With venial sin we concede more than is proper to a creature; we busy ourselves more than we should with things of earth, yet for all that we do not forsake the things of Heaven.
-- T.L.G. Book 4, Ch. 2; O. IV, p. 219

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

On the Washing of Regeneration

I haven't participated in any debates in a while, so this should be fun. I recently entered the fray over at HCR, in a thread on baptismal regeneration. It amazes me that there are Christians in this world who still don't believe in this. The Scriptural witness is abundantly clear! At any rate, here is my first response to, you guessed it, "seal."

Pax Christi,
- - - - - - - - - -
As far as it being a regenerative work, know that Judas was Baptized given powers to cast out demons, and did miracles yet he was a reprobate.
That doesn't mean that his baptism wasn't regenerative. It just means that he fell from his previous state of grace. Baptism doesn't grant an assurance of salvation. It cleanses us of all sin and initiates us into His Body, but we're still called to live lives of faithfulness to God. If we don't we will go to hell, even though we once were cleansed.

Acts 10 show the Holy Spirit falling on the House Hold of Cornelius before they touched the Water and they were filled with the Gift of God.
That doesn't prove anything either. Here's the passage in question:

Acts 10:44-48 While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 "Can any one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

Now, just b/c they received the gift of the Spirit before their baptism, that doesn't mean they were regenerated by that gift. That's an assumption on your part. You're basically saying, "Oh, see there, they received the gift of the Spirit. That must mean that they were regenerated. Therefore, they didn't need baptism to do that." But that's not true. The context clearly shows that when they "received the gift of the Spirit" they weren't regenerated, they were simply given the charism of speaking in tongues. God did this in order to show Peter that Gentiles too belonged to the Body of Christ. Once Peter saw that, he had them baptized, which is how one gains entrance into the Body. Again, the context bears all of that out.

Know that Apollos and several other disciples of the Apostles were baptized but didn't receive the Holy Spirit until the Apostles laid hands on them. So they had been baptized yet were not regenerated a.k.a given the Holy Spirit yet. So baptismal regeneration doesn't hold up according the scriptures.
Another assumption on your part. Here's the passage in question:

Acts 8:14-17 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Sama'ria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; 16 for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

The gift of the Holy Spirit that they had yet to receive was not the gift of regeneration but the subsequent anointing that was achieved with the laying on of hands. In other words, they were indeed regenerated by their baptism, but they had not received the confirmation and strengthening of their calling that took place via the laying on of hands.

In the early Church, even in apostolic times, after a person was baptized, the minister layed his hands upon the person to empower him to live his new Christian life. This usually meant the imparting of a charism of the Holy Spirit, which has an empowering effect in the lives of people. The reason the people in Acts 8 were still in need of the laying on of hands was b/c they were baptized by Philip, who was a deacon and did not have the authority to lay his hands on them. As such, it was necessary to send the apostles Peter and John.

One example of baptism being followed by the laying on of hands is Acts 19, where we read:

Acts 19:4-6 And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

In this scene they received the Spirit twice, once in their baptism for the regeneration of their souls, and again in the laying on of hands to strengthen them to live the Christian life. Now, you may object that it never actually says here that they were regenerated by their baptism, but such a statement would be pointless. It's simply a given, based on everything that Scripture says about the regenerative nature of baptism (cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:3,5; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom 6:4; Gal 3:27; Col 2:12; Titus 3:5-7; Heb 10:22; 1 Pet 3:21).

As for the thief on the Cross (which I think someone else mentioned), this example does not refute baptism either. For one, we are bound by the Sacraments, but Christ is not. In other words, Scripture reveals that baptism is necessary for regeneration and entrance into the Body of Christ, so all who receive this truth and are able to be baptized must act accordingly. But, Jesus Christ can do whatever he wants. So, if he decides to cleanse someone outside of the Sacrament, then so be it.

Secondly, the thief certainly wasn't in a position to be baptized, being as he was hanging from a Cross and all. His faith came a little late in the game. Thankfully, Jesus Christ is merciful and he will make exceptions for those who, through no fault of their own, are unable to approach the waters of baptism.

Finally, what Jesus did for the thief was an exception, not the rule. The normative means for initial regeneration and entrance into the Body of Christ is still baptism.

Pax Christi,

Daily with De Sales: 12/4/07

The heart of God is so abundant in love and its goodness is so infinite that all can possess it, without anyone's share diminishing. Infinite Goodness cannot be exhausted, even if it fills all the souls in the world. God does not pour a smaller quantity of His love into a soul because He pours out His love into an infinity of others; the power of His love is not diminished by the multitude of rays that He spreads abroad, but remain ever overflowing with its immensity.
-- T.L.G. Book 4; Ch. 14; O. V, p. 215

Monday, December 03, 2007

Poll-Release Monday #37

Here is this week's poll question:

"Have you read the pope's new encyclical (Spe Salvi)?"

I haven't read it yet, but I certainly plan on it. What about you? Vote in the poll in my sidebar.

As for last week's poll question ("Is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus [cf. Lk 16:19-31] a reference to Purgatory?"), here are the results:
  • No: 10 (45%)
  • Yes: 8 (36%)
  • I don't know: 4 (18%)
  • Total Votes: 22
Now, let me give you my thoughts on this passage. First, here are the Scripture verses:

Lk 16:19-31 "There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Laz'arus, full of sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz'arus in his bosom. 24 And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz'arus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.' 25 But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Laz'arus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' 27 And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, 28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' 29 But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' 30 And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' 31 He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'"

I have seen this passage used in several apologetical essays as a defense for the doctrine of Purgatory. While I most certainly believe in the reality of Purgatory, I don't think this passage is meant to present it.

One thing I've noticed about Catholic apologists is that they like to borrow each other's arguments. That's fine and all (after all, we don't have copyrights on the truth), but sometimes it can happen that one apologist uses a bad argument and then everyone picks it up and starts using it too just b/c that apologist happens to be popular or well-respected.

One example is the argument that Simon's name in Aramaic means "grain of sand." I don't see this argument so much anymore, but apologists used to use a lot it in their defense of Peter as the Rock. The disparity between "grain of sand" and "rock" was meant to show that Jesus had great things in mind for Simon when he changed his name to Peter. However, when I reasearched this argument (consulting actual experts in Aramaic) I discovered that Simon's name does not mean "grain of sand" at all. Instead, it means "listen, hearken, obedient." If I had just accepted that argument blindly, then I would have propogated a falsehood, which isn't very cool.

I'm beginning to wonder if the same thing is going on with this passage from Luke's gospel. I just don't think it refers to Purgatory. For one, whenever Jesus told the people parables, He always referred to objects, and characters, and settings with which they were familiar. He drew from their own culture and beliefs. We have to keep this in mind whenever we are interpreting His parables.

Now, what from Jewish custom or belief could Jesus be referring to when He speaks of the destinations of the rich man and Lazarus? The Jews did believe in a place of waiting in the afterlife, and they prayed for the dead. In that way their beliefs are similar to what we believe about Purgatory. But, the Jews didn't believe in Purgatory as such, or as we understand it. As far as I know, they did not believe in a place where souls destined for heaven were purged of their imperfections.

What they believed in was Hades, and the "bosom of Abraham." Hades and Purgatory are not the same place, most notably b/c Hades is a place where all souls went once they left this world, both the righteous and the wicked ones. Hades was a place of comfort for the righteous souls, who rested there in the bosom of Abraham. Hades was a place of torment for the wicked souls, who were tortured with fire.

This is exactly what Jesus describes in the parable. He even specifically mentions the bosom of Abraham and Hades.

22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz'arus in his bosom.

Jesus is using a setting with which his audience was familiar so as to stress the importance of living righteously in this life. There are no "second chances," not even in Purgatory. And, while Hades is similar in some ways to Purgatory, I think it's too great of a leap to use this parable as a Scriptural defense for Purgatory. At the most, it could be used to establish a precedent for belief in an intermediate state for the righteous. But that's about as far as it goes. The Jewish intermediate state is still quite different from the Catholic one.

I've seen some Protestants say that the torments of the rich man are those of Hell. But this doesn't work either. For one, Scripture specifically says that the rich man was in Hades (cf. vs. 23). Secondly, the rich man is able to communicate with Abraham and to show concern for his brothers. But Hell is a place of total separation from the Body of Christ and it is filled with souls who think only of themselves.

Of course, I'm open to correction on any of the points I've made in this post. But, until then, I have decided to no longer use this parable in my own defense of Purgatory. In once sense, talk of the souls in Purgatory is "SOOooooo-November," but in another sense, we can relate to these souls in a very real way during Advent and the month of December. After all, like them (and also like the righteous who were in Hades), we anxiously await the coming of the Messiah and the salvation that He brings.

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

Pax Christi,
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