Thursday, May 31, 2007

More Goodies

Here are some more goodies from the grab-bag that is the internet.
  • The new Catholic Carnival has been up for two days now. Check out what Catholic bloggers are writing about.
  • Perfect for today's feast day is a great new blog I found: UNBORN WORD of the day. This blog is devoted to promoting the Gospel of Life through meditations on the unborn Christ Child. Pretty dope idea, and the design for the blog is well done too.
  • The Truth Facts over at Catholic Exchange are free again!! Personally, I'm psyched about this. When I first found the Truth Facts, about 3-4 years ago, anyone could access them. But, when CE launched their Catholic Scripture Study, they changed it to where you had to be a member of one of the study groups to access the page. Well, it looks like the Truth Facts are back for the general public again. Great collection of Q&A's. Enjoy them while it lasts.
  • I received a totally random email today about a site called Gimundo [ji - MUN - doe]. I haven't read all of the content yet, but what I did read was pretty cool. Also, for some strange reason, I LOVE the tree on the left. Maybe I'm wierd, but it appeals to me. Like, I want to look at it forever. Strange.
  • Finally, I found a great new online reference work [well, it's probably not "new" per se, but it's new to me]. It's called the Dictionary of Mary. You know how much I love online Catholic resources, and this is definitely one of them. Actually, the entire Mary Page is an extensive resource on all things pertaining to Mary. Truly invaluable.
Well, that's it for now. Have a blessed day.

Pax Christi,

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Visualizing Jesus' Descent

I just noticed that I have made several posts on my blog about Jesus' descent into hell, despite the fact that this topic is relatively obscure. In the process, I have found some pretty cool artwork depicting this descent that I have used to illustrate my posts. I would like to share them here:

Pretty cool, huh? Click on each image for a larger version of it. I wish I was an art major so that I knew better how to interpret the various actions and objects that appear in these paintings. A few things I notice are:
  1. The Cross bridges the gap between heaven and Hades. This is because it is by the work of the Cross that the early Fathers are freed.
  2. The righteous souls appear in a tomb because, like Hades, a tomb is the "abode of the dead."
  3. In two of the paintings Jesus stands on the devil because, in conquering Hades, Jesus, "the Author of life" destroyed "him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage" (Heb 2:14-15; cf. Acts 3:15).
If anyone has more insight to that effect, please leave a comment.

If you would like to learn more about Jesus' descent into hell, go here. You can also see the following blog posts: Pax Christi,

Jesus in Hell?: Part 2

This does not say he went to Hell this only says that people will go through trails but we are suffereing for the sake of Christ. Why do people die?? Because they sin right?? Well to die for sin Christ had to die. People go to hell for not accepting Gods right?? Well Christ is God so why would he go to hell?? saying he went to hell is a contradiction to the scripture saying only one sin is punishable by death which is blasphemy of the holy spirit! write back let's talk about it.
Exodus, did you read my earlier post? When the Apostles' Creed states that Jesus "descended into hell", it is not referring to the firey pit of the damned. That place is Gehenna. Instead, it is referring to Hades, the abode of the dead, the place where all souls--both the righteous and the unrighteous--went when they died. Jesus went there to save all of the righteous souls who came before him and to lead them up to heaven. After the righteous departed Hades, it became simply a place of torment for sinners, what we commonly think of when we hear the word "hell."

That Jesus descended into Hades is one of the most ancient Christian beliefs, as evidenced by its presence in one of the most important Creeds of all Christianity. Make sure you read my earlier post again for all the biblical evidence.
When Christ is on the cross he says two things that make me think.
1. "It is finished" - If Christ was going into hell why would he call it finished on the cross before he was dead?? If more had to be done why then say it's finished?
The "it" that was finished was the objective redemption. This is distinct from the subjective redemption. The objective redemption was achieved when Jesus died for all man's sin and made it possible for man to have union with God. The subjective redemption is achieved when the grace from His work on the Cross is actually applied to us and the actual union becomes a reality in our lives.

So, to use a popular protestant example to illustrate my point, the objective redemption took place when Jesus died for all man's sin. The subjective redemption takes place whenever a person repents of his sin and confesses that Jesus Christ is his personal Lord and Savior. The subjective redemption is the application of the objective redemption.

Knowing this, we can now understand Jesus' words on the Cross in light of his descent into Hades. When he said "It is finished" he is saying that the objective redemption has been achieved. When he descends into Hades and preaches the Gospel to the righteous who came before him, then the subjective redemption is achieved in the lives of each one of these souls. Now that they have been redeemed by Christ, the only fitting place for them is in heaven with the Father. "Therefore it is said, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives" (Eph 4:8).
2. "Father into your hands I commend my spirit" - Was God the Father in the Hades that u refer to?? This would imply he was not in heaven but in the hades where all the dead went. Which makes me ask u why then did the heavenly bodies raise. Did they leave the Father in Hades and want to heaven??
I've actually never studied this verse in depth and I don't have my books with me, so I can only make an educated guess. Jesus has a human spirit along with the Word that is hypostatically united to Him. So, it could be that it was his human spirit that he was commending to the Father and that it was the Word who freed the righteous souls in Hades.

Once I can get home and do some research, I'll let you know if there's a better answer to this question. I hope that helps.

UPDATE: According to the Catechism (no. 637) my "educated guess" above is wrong. I'll have to get back to you on this.

Pax Christi,

Jesus in Hell?: Part 1

I haven't posted a debate in a while, so this should be fun. What follows is a debate currently taking place at the HCR "General Theology" board on whether or not Jesus descended into hell. The debate is mostly between me and a poster by the name of "exodus." His words will be in dark gray/silver/whatever you want to call it.
Hey I was having an interesting discussion with my friends and then the topic was, "Did Jesus go to Hell?" Without sayin what I think I wanna know what u guys think first. Did Jesus go to Hell? Use scriptures that we can read while we continue to discuss it. Thanks, Exodus
Yes, he went to hell, but by "hell" we should understand Hades, the abode of the dead, not Gehenna, the abode of the damned. That Jesus descended into "hell" is one of the most ancient Christian beliefs, as witnessed by the mention of it in the Apostle's Creed:
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. AMEN.
As for a Scriptural defense, we know first of all that Jesus was like us in all things, but sin (Heb 2:17; 4:15). The descent into Hades was something that every soul experienced, and Jesus did too. But, we need not worry about who shall go down to save him from this abyss (Rom 10:6-8). Thankfully, He was not abandoned there like David was (Acts 2:27-31). Instead, he conquered it! He preached the gospel even to the dead (1 Pet 4:6) and he ascended from that place, leading with him a host of captives (Eph 4:8). He now holds the keys to death and Hades (Rev 1:17-18), and we have the courage to say, "O death (thanatos), where is thy victory? O death (Hades), where is thy sting?" (1 Cor 15:55).

For more on this, you may also wish to read my debate with Seal on 1 Pet 3:18-20.

I hope that helps.

Pax Christi,

My Hour Has Not Yet Come

Jacob asked the following question in response to my earlier post on Mary's lifetime of sinlessness:
You said that Mary's and God's and Jesus' will were so aligned that she would not ask for something he did want to do, but didnt Jesus say that it wasnt his time, and wonder why she asked it of Him?
First of all, congratulations on being my 100th Q&A! I wish there was a gift I could give you! Perhaps this answer will suffice.

Now, let's look again at the passage in question:
Jn 2:1-5
1 On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there;
2 Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples.
3 When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine."
4 And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come."
5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
Recall that I explained in my earlier post that another way to translate the Greek for "O woman, what have you to do with me" is as "What is that to you or to me?" Jesus is asking her if she understands how drastically her request will impact both of their lives. I think the next sentence ("My hour has not yet come") further drives home his point.

As of that moment, Jesus' hour had not yet come. But, once he performs the miracle, then his hour will begin. His march to the Cross will begin. A course will be set that will cause great suffering for both him and his mother. I think Jesus simply wants to make sure that Mary truly understands what is about to happen and the full scope of her request.

And she does. After all, Simeon had already told her at the Presentation in the Temple, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed" (Lk 2:34-35). She knows what must be done. She is not afraid. That's why she immediately turns to the servants and says, "Do whatever he tells you."

May we all be like our Blessed Mother, never afraid to walk with Jesus to the Cross.

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Are You "Joost" Yet?

A couple of days ago I received an invitation to Joost, which is a service that allows you to watch TV via the internet. Here's a Quicktime video that tells you a little bit about it:You can also view some screenshots.

What makes it different from regular cable or broadcast TV is that the shows aren't scheduled. So, with Joost you can watch a certain show (or episode from a show) whenever you want. It's pretty cool, but when I want to just chill in front of the TV and I don't really care what's on, it's a hassle to skip through the shows and episodes until I find one I haven't seen already. But, it is still in beta testing, so hopefully that can still be fixed somehow (maybe by separating the shows you've already seen from the one's you haven't seen yet).

Besides that, I can dig it. The interface is pretty cool, there's a good selection of channels (with more to be added soon), and there's widgets you can use while your watching TV, such as a news ticker, a widget that reports the weather, a chat box you can use to talk to other people who are viewing the same show, and a few others I don't recall. The website basically tells you everything you need to know, so make sure you check that out.

The service is free, but you can't join right now without an invitation (it's in beta testing mode). I have invitations to give away, so if anyone wants one just leave a comment or send me an email. Make sure you give me your name and your email address or I can't send you the invitation. You should also know that, just like with regular TV, there are at least two channels that are not good for Christians to watch. They are not pornographic per se, but they have sexual content (like Spike TV late at night, or MTV during Spring Break). So, you have to use the same discretion in using Joost that you have to use when deciding to buy (and watch) a regular TV.

Pax Christi,

Poll-Release Monday #16

Here is this week's poll question:
  • Which Catholic prayer/devotion do you like the most?
    • Praying the Rosary
    • Praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet
    • Wearing the Brown Scapular
    • Wearing the Miraculous Medal
    • Praying the Stations of the Cross
Make sure you click the link underneath the poll and tell me why. You'll find the poll towards the top of my sidebar.

As for last week's poll ("What is your favorite religions order?"), here are the results:

I think St. Thomas Aquinas is responsible for the popularity of the Dominicans. Very few men have effected the way Catholics think about the world and understand their faith the way Aquinas has. His use of "accidents" and "substance" to describe transubstantiation and the Real Presence in the Eucharist made a profound impact on me when I first learned it. From what I can tell, the Dominicans have effectively continued his work in the world through their teaching, writing, and scholarship (they aren't called the "order of preachers" for nothing). Oddly enough, even one of my teachers here at Franciscan University was a Dominican, and he gave an excellent systematic presentation of the theology of the Church (ecclesiology).

Of course, St. Francis (whose order came in second place) will always be an endearing Catholic figure as well. This man, who loved lepers and the poor, renounced the riches and glory of this world so as to embrace the least of his brethren and spread the Gospel of Christ. Francis was a man singularly devoted to the Will of the Lord and the salvation of souls. In his time, Francis' preaching and his example led hundreds of people from all walks of life to follow him, and he still has that effect today. He was truly a holy man of God.

The orders voted on in the "Other" category were the Carthusians, the Legionaries of Christ, the Cistercians, and the Congregation of Holy Cross. For more information on these and the other five religious orders, see the following links:Pax Christi,

Who Said Memorial Day Weekend Was Supposed to Be Fun?

I'm telling you, I must be the most absent-minded human being on the face of the planet. Friday night, Amy and I went to the Pittsburgh Airport to pick up her friend, and I left my debit card in one of the ATM machines! Of course, I didn't find out until we were back in Steubenville. Ugh! I'm such a moron. Oh, and since I chose the perfect weekend to lose my debit card, I had to wait four days before I could do something about it.

This was the first time I've actually hated Memorial Day. Usually I praise God for a long weekend, but this one just sucked because the only thing on my mind the whole time was the fact that my debit card was gone, and I had no access to my money because--as luck would have it--I didn't have anymore checks in my checkbook. It was definitely a long weekend! But oh well, today I called the credit union that owns the ATM and I should be able to pick up my card tomorrow.

What I realize now is that hidden behind the difficulties of the weekend was a missed opportunity. I could have used those four days to grow in patience and humility (I was really beating myself up over it). Better yet, I could have "offered up" my suffering for those who have no money. I'm blessed to have the problem of a lost debit card! Most people don't even have food to eat, let alone electronic access to a checking account. My suffering could have been for good, instead of for the ruin of my weekend.

But, I was too focused on my frustration to think of anything like that. I get frustrated and anxious a lot, and I think that if I could only get into the habit of looking for the good that could come out of it then I would not be so stressed out all the time. Plus, I could do something powerful with what bothers me so often, instead of allowing it to destroy me. "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet 1:6-7).

For more on the redeeming value of suffering, go here.

Pax Christi,

Friday, May 25, 2007

YouTube Summer Project

Yup. Let's do it. Let's scour YouTube and Google Videos and find EVERY SINGLE video that is faithfully Catholic. Are you ready? I hope so because I need your help.

This post will be home base for the YouTube Summer Project. As you find good, solid, orthodox, Catholic videos on YouTube or Google Videos, leave a comment providing the title of the video and a link to it. As new videos are provided, I will add them to the list. Before you submit your video, check the list and make sure it has not already been submitted. I'll provide a link to this post (either at the top of my blog or in the sidebar) so that this will always be easy to come back to. Right now, I don't know how else to organize this effort, but if anyone has a better idea just let me know.

I reserve the right to reject a submission or to delete a video from the list without giving you a reason. You reserve the right to help me fill a much-needed niche for the online Catholic community. Once we have a more or less comrehensive list, I'll make a website where all of these videos will be embedded and categorized by topic (as far as I know, this is legal, although I could be wrong).

Spread the word about this project. Anyone can help, you just have to be loyal to the Catholic Church. This can be an awesome thing, as long as we don't lose steam.

Pax Christi, and Good Luck!
- - - - - - - - - -
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen:
Law and Freedom
-- Part 1:
-- Part 2:
-- Part 1:
-- Part 2:
Signs of the Times:
-- Part 1:
-- Part 2:
-- Part 3:
Traditional Latin Mass:

Fr. John Corapi:
Being Spiritual Warriors:
Being Your Brother's Keeper:
Catechism of the Catholic Church: Gifts of the Holy Spirit
-- Part 1:
-- Part 2:
-- Part 3:
-- Part 4:
-- Part 5:
-- Part 6:
Catechism of the Catholic Church: Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God:
-- Part 1 (Jesus was buried):
-- Part 5 (Jesus' resurrection):
The Church (Introduction):
Eucharist/Priesthood (Introduction):
Fatima (Introduction):
Giving a Blessing:
Importance of Family:
Life and "Playing God":
Light of Truth:
Living Bread:
Purgatory (Introduction):
Questions and Answers (order?):
-- Part 1:
-- Part 2:
-- Part 3:
Truth and the Call to Holiness (order?):
-- Part 1:
-- Part 2:
-- Part 3:
Rosary (Introduction):
Word of God (Introduction):

Fr. Leo Clifford:
A Name Not a Number:
Abundant Living:
Banquet of God:
Blessed Sacrament:
The Building Business:
The Christ that Needs Us:
First-Hand Faith:
God's Ways:
Greatest Commandment:
Grief of God:
Heart of God:
Holy Spirit:
How to Handle Worry:
How We Handle Failure:
Importance of the Father:
Missed Opportunities:
Purpose of Life:
Reminders (of what Jesus has done for us):
Sermon on the Mount:
This Is Your Life:

Fr. Robert Barron:
Lord of the Rings:
Rome (HBO Series):
Scorsese's The Departed:
The Lost Tomb of Jesus:
Untold Blessing (Introduction):

To the Virgin:
Lady in Blue:
Mary Did You Know? (for Christmas):
Miracle of the Rosary:
Our Lady of the Pillar:
Reflection on the Holy Rosary:
She’s Got a Way About Her:
Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary:

Mother Teresa:
A Clean Heart:
God’s Presence:

NFP vs. Contraception:
-- Part 1:
-- Part 2:
-- Part 3:

Pope John Paul II:
Pater Noster:
Life and Times of Pope John Paul II:

Pope Pius XII:
The Last Years:

Sacrifice of the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal, and the Mass of Other Catholic Rites:
Christmas Mass at Night, Holy Rosary, Indianapolis, IN:
-- Part 1:
-- Part 2:
-- Part 3:
Sarum Rite (Use of Salisbury) High Mass:
The Mass:
Traditional Latin Low Mass with Meditation by St. Eymard:
-- Part 1:
-- Part 2:

That Catholic Show:
Episode 1 (Sit, Stand, and Kneel):
Episode 2 (Candles and Light):
Episode 3 (Night of the Living Catechism):
Episode 4 (Charity and Mercy):

A Tribute to All Saints:
Birth Control and Contraception:
Blackfen Parish Pilgrimage 2007:
Catholic Coke:
Catholic-True Love, True Faith:
Confirmation Sermon:
Deacon Payne, Seminary Formationator:
Die Grosse Stille (Into Great Silence) Trailer:
Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia:
Duel of the Seminarians:
Emerging from the Catachombs:
Eucharistic Procession:
Football Player Becomes a Priest:
Hannity Bullies Clergyman:
I Can Only Imagine:
It Is Finished:
Jesus in New York:
Jewish Roots of Catholicism:
Living Lent: The Temptation of Jesus:
Mad World:
Padre Pio:
Persevering in the Pro-Life Cause:
Room of Tears:
The Beauty of Eucharistic Adoration:
The Stem Cell Debate:
The Tomb of Jesus?:
Traditional Latin Low Mass Introduction (The method of hearing Mass by meditation on the Passion, taken from the writings of St. Peter Julian Eymard and offered according to the Roman Missal [1962]):
True Love, True Faith:
Vespers at St. Vincent Archabbey:
We Will Go, Lord:
What Is the Mass?:
Why I Am Catholic:

Check It Out

I found two websites recently that are just too good to keep to myself. You may already know about them, but they were new to me, so I was excited when I found them.

The first is a website by Fr. Robert Barron and the Archdiocese of Chicago, called Word on Fire. The site says this about Fr. Barron:
Fr. Robert Barron was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1986. He has a Masters degree in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Institute Catholique de Paris. He is currently professor of systematic theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary. Fr. Barron is the author of four books, including Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master, And Now I See: A Theology of Transformation, and most recently, Heaven in Stone and Glass: Experiencing the Spirituality of the Great Cathedrals. He also gives frequent talks, retreats and workshops on issues of theology and spirituality.
What's great is that Fr. Barron makes short videos commenting on subjects from modern-day culture and hosts them on YouTube. These videos are pretty good too. The three most recent videos are on his website (you can view all 7 here). He also has an extensive collection of sermons in mp3 format dating back to 2001. That's hours upon hours of good Catholic preaching. If that doesn't make you giddy I don't know what will.

The other website is a Catholic podcasting network called sqpn (Star Quest Production Network). Here is a little bit of their mission statement:
SQPN (Star Quest Production Network) is a multimedia organization specializing in the production of audio and video programs faithful to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Its mission is to respond to the Church’s call to use the media for religious information, for evangelization and catechesis and for formation and education.
Maybe I'm stupid, but I've never seen a website like this, where so many great Catholic podcasts are all in one place. The design is great and easy to navigate too. If I had an awesome podcast, I'd want to align myself with these people.

Anytime I find a website with free content--and lots of it--I get psyched. Tons of articles, tons of videos, tons of mp3's --That's what I'm all about. Bring on the resources! Finding great Catholic content on the internet has become a hobby of mine, and I love it. That's why the Catholic Defense Directory is what it is, and that's why my sidebar is what it is. If you find some great content hidden away somewhere, please let me know. And, of course, as I find more and more stuff, I'll make sure I pass it along.

Pax Christi,

Thursday, May 24, 2007

YouTube Catholics

Catholic Daily (where I have a daily Q&A column) was recently mentioned in an article in the National Catholic Register on Catholics using online technology to spread the faith. Here's a teaser:
DENHAM SPRINGS, La. — First came the online network informally known as St. Blog’s. Then came the invasion of the Catholic podcasters.
Now it’s “vodcasts.”
The latest innovation on the Internet is the rise of Catholic video podcasts, otherwise known as vodcasts. Through YouTube and other media, Catholics have been able to spread the faith, provide historical footage and draw attention to liturgical abuses.
Denham Springs, La., software developer William Eunice describes YouTube, the Internet video portal that allows users to post short videos online, as a “scratchpad for our culture.”
“The Catholic content gets to the heart of what my Catholic faith is about,” said Eunice, who writes for the website “It’s real information that helps me in my life as a Catholic.”
[You can read the rest here].
I wrote an article similar to this for The Record. It was about the Internet as "the Aeropagus of our time." You can read it here or here. For more information on Catholicism and the mass media, see the following links:
Anyway, it was good to see Catholic Daily get a plug (even if it was indirect). Chris Jernigan and I have been working really hard on it, with many improvements left to be made. Eventually, I hope that it will become a simpler, more streamlined alternative to Catholic Exchange (which I think is way too cumbersome).

Another good idea for a website would be to collect all of the Catholic videos from YouTube that are actually worth something and put them all in one place. A lot of these YouTube videos have "Catholic" as a tag, but I have no clue why. There's also a lot of anti-Catholic videos. I know all about GodTube, but even there the search is tedious. Solid, orthodox, Catholic videos are just hard to find and it would be cool if someone would do all the work for us. In fact, I think I'll make that a summer project. I'll keep you posted.

Pax Christi,

Preparing for Battle

Matt emailed me the following question:
Do you have a recommended reading list for those of us who want to ramp up our apologetic knowledge of the Catholic church? I have to add that I have a wife and four kids, so my reading time is limited. Thanks and keep up the good work.
Just like in my last post, I'll have to forward you to the Catholic Defense Directory. Under the Catholicism and Mass Media entry there's a subcategory for books. In there you'll find everything you need. There are general reading lists, as well as reading lists pertaining to Catholic apologetics, general Christian apologetics, and other theological topics.

That should keep you busy ;)

As an aside, everyone who reads my blog needs to make sure they are well-acquainted with the Catholic Defense Directory. I've already found all the links you'll ever need. Once you familiarize yourself with how the entries and sub-entries are organized, you should be able to find whatever you are looking for.

Pax Christi,

Resources on Ethics and Morality

Timothy sent me the following email:
I’m working on a paper titled: “The Ambiguity of Ethical Leadership in Higher Education: Like the Weather?” for a conference at Penn State in late September. I was wondering if you could direct me to some good writing on ethics/ethical behavior/ethical decision-making from a Catholic perspective. I’m thinking Middle Ages theologians or earlier…or later.
Check out the Morality, Ethics, Truth entry in the Catholic Defense Directory.

You'll notice two large boxes (one on top of the other), and two small boxes at the right side of the page. We are concerned with the two large boxes. The top box has the subcategories. So, for this entry you have the following subcategories: Click on each subcategory for a list of articles on that subject.

In the bottom box, you have a list of comprehensive articles on morality, ethics and truth. These are articles that speak generally, or that cover many topics at once. In other words, these articles are not particular enough to be listed under one of the subcategories.

In this entry you should find a lot of good information. Let me know if you don't find what you are looking for and I will help you find something else. Of course, if anyone else has any good resources, leave a comment and let me know.

Pax Christi,

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Image of the True Knight

While I was looking around for an image to put in my last post, I came across a picture of a knight praying. I have always been fond of such images. In my opinion, a knight in prayer is the perfect symbol of true masculinity. The knight already symbolizes strength, courage, devotion, and chivalry. When he prays, he shows his humility, his commitment to the Lord, and his power against "the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph 6:12). I truly believe that a knight in prayer is everything that all men are called to be.

Here are a few examples of what I have in mind:

If you can find any others, please leave a comment and let me know. For more on what it means to be a true man of God, go here.

St. George, the dragon slayer....pray for us.

Pax Christi,

Some Good News

Two great things have happened recently that I wanted to tell everyone about.

One is that my paper on Haight's Symbol of God has been chosen as one of the possible papers to be presented at next year's Theology Colloquium. As grad Theology students turn in their papers, the professors are supposed to be on the look out for the ones that are particularly well-written. These papers are then collected and reviewed by a panel of Theology professors.

Usually, three papers from this group are selected to be presented by the author at the colloquium, and each presenter receives a small stipend. All grad theology students are required to attend, so it's a big deal. I also consider it a great honor because no one present is a slouch by any stretch of the imagination. Great minds are present (even in a small city in the middle of nowhere) and these people are the ones who will go on to do great things for the Church.

To be honest, it's something that I've always aspired to be a part of and I've always felt like I could be one of the ones up there presenting. Please pray that the Lord's Will be done, and if I win, that I won't become prideful and that all glory will be given to God.

The second thing is a little mini-retreat that one of the professors told me about after Church last Sunday. Apparently an Opus Dei priest from Pittsburgh comes to Steubenville and leads a two-hour retreat for men on the fourth Wednesday of every month. There are usually two homilies by the priest, with a fair amount of time in between for confession and silent prayer. The Recollection ends with Solemn Benediction. It sounds like it will be an awesome opporunity to fellowship with other men (something I don't get to do very much) and, more importantly, to get my spiritual life back on track. I'm going tonight and I'm really looking forward to it.

Praise God for all that He is doing in my life.

Pax Christi,

New Goodies in the Sidebar

Besides the music player of course, I've added a few new things to the sidebar.

The most obvious change is the addition of a few pics of St. Michael. I thought that would break up the text a little bit and make the sidebar easier to look at. When I was looking for pics to use, I tried to find some that were intriguing and not what you are used to seeing. I think I found some pretty good ones.

Also, I moved my badge from the Bloggers Choice Awards up towards the top and used it as a replacement for the message that was appearing at the top of all of my posts (vote for me, blah blah blah). I was kinda getting tired of it myself. I replaced my old message with a sort of disclaimer saying what you'll need to use to view my blog as it is intended to look. I was checkin out my Google Analytics and I saw that people were using various browsers and screen resolutions that don't make my blog look right.

Finally, I added some pretty dope links from the new version of Catholic Culture:I'm particularly psyched about the last two links. Fr. John A. Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary is an excellent resource to finally have on the internet. His Pocket Catholic Dictionary is already online, but the Modern Catholic Dictionary is more comprehensive.

The Fathers of the Church collection is sweet because it groups the Fathers chronologically (as well as by name). So, if you are only interested in the Fathers from a particular time period or group of periods, you can easily find what you are looking for. Early Christian Writings does the same thing, but with the addition of resources about each work along with the work itself (which is really helpful). What bugs me about New Advent's collection is that you have to dig around to find the time period in which each work was written. If you want the ECF's topically arranged, see the following sites:I hope these additions will be helpful.

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Salvation and CINO's

"rhapsody" asked a good question in response to my post on salvation and the Catholic Church:
What about the fact that one must be a faithful Catholic - not just a CINO? Some of my non-Catholic Christian friends point to well-known CINO's as examples of hypocrisy within our Church, which is an inaccuracy. When a Kerry-Catholic is pointed out to me, I will mention that our former president & his misses made quite a photo op out of holding hands Sundays at church. That usually makes my point that hypocrites are everywhere. So being a Catholic does not assure Heaven, whereas many of my Protestant friends think they're going straight up. How else might this misconception be corrected?
First of all, I'm assuming that "CINO" stands for "Catholic In Name Only." That said, why do people get so excited about exposing Catholic hypocrites, as if it were this big secret that no one knows about? So they found a hypocrite. Congratulations. All they did was prove that men are sinners....but then again, we knew that already (see this post).

What they haven't proven is that the Catholic Church is bogus, or not the Church of Christ. Since when do CINO's become the stewards of a Church they don't even follow? That doesn't even make any sense, and this same standard applied to any other institution or group of people would instantly result in public outcry. If you want to see the fruit of the Church, look for the ones who actually live the life of the Church, and who inform their lives by what she teaches. A representative or a steward embodies his affiliation. He brings his business/corporation/institution/church/community/nation to others. You can only do that by being as faithful to your group as possible.

Furthermore, saying that the Catholic Church possesses "the fullness of truth" and that it is the Church founded by Jesus Christ Himself does not mean that every member of the Church will be a perfect saint. All men sin. What makes the Catholic Church unique is that she is the normative and most perfect instrument through which these sinful men may find salvation. In her are found inumerable graces and the Real Presence of Jesus Christ Himself. But, the radical freedom that we all possess is such that, even in the midst of so many heavenly aids, men still have the power to turn away from God and reject his grace.

As such, your ticket isn't punched, so to speak, just because you happen to be a Catholic. We must still be faithful and obedient, and avoid sin if we are to enter heaven. A Catholic in name only is in a particularly perilous position because of the scandal that he causes to the Church and to the world by poorly representing the Church. We must all conform ourselves to Christ and make his presence more profound in the world. Only then will we come to see Him face to face.

Pax Christi,

Catholic Resurgence at Oregon State University

I received the following email a few days ago and I thought I would pass it along.
- - - - - -
I am writing to inform you of a project that took place at Oregon State University. This university has a strong liberal presence. You might remember that The Insurgent student newspaper at the U of O (in Eugene, 40 minutes away) printed pornographic drawing of Jesus Christ about a year ago. This was lauded by some here at OSU. The university has a very strong gay presence (with pride week, featuring "lube olympics" and other vile events). Despite the secularism and liberalism, the Catholic students here are pretty cool.

Well, some friends of mine got the idea to "Saint bomb" campus. Using chalk, hundreds of Catholic Saint names were written all over campus last week. This was done during perhaps the busiest week of spring term. Many events took place this week on the Quad. The Genocide Awareness Project came to the quad, drawing a large number of people. The "Snow in the Quad" (put on by the Protestant apparel designer CIVIL) came to set up the next day. The Relay for Life event happened at night on the quad, which meant hundreds of students were walking by Saint names nonstop all night long. We also used chalk to advertise Mass times. Lots of exposure for the Church!

Here are two videos documenting this event: here and here

The Newman Center had a booth set up inside the Memorial Union building with a "Find your Saint" computer set up. Some non-Catholics came by to find their Saints. Other Catholics who haven't been to Church for a while saw their confirmation Saint name on the ground. Other Catholics got a lot of joy to see the names and to see Christ's presence in a tangible form on campus. And some others were annoyed at the audacity of these students.

We are trying to get more exposure to this project, so if you'd like to link to this video, please do! We'd like to see others get this idea, and maybe do it at their campus, to remind wayward Catholics of their roots and to show a strong presence of Faith! The response we've gotten from people around the community has been amazing, and the priests loved it!

One more thing to note... we got permission from the Memorial Union (the student union on campus) as well as the Church before doing this.

Garrett Vogenbeck
Oregon State University

Monday, May 21, 2007

Contradicting Contraception

"judimarti4444" sent me the following email:
Is this an actual question or are you just venting? :D I know it's frustrating anytime a priest gives you advice that is contrary to the teaching of the Church. We go to priests for their wisdom and spiritual direction. We shouldn't have to worry about whether or not what they say is actually true. So, I can see why you would be a little perturbed.

As for why a priest would say something like that, we can only speculate. It could be that he received inadequate formation in moral theology (especially if he was a seminarian in the 60's and 70's). A lot of priests had a difficult time with Humanae Vitae when it first came out, and I think it had a lot to do with what theologians and professors were teaching at the time.

Some people disagree with the Church out of a deliberate act of disobedience and others are simply ignorant of what the Church teaches (or they know the teaching but they have not been exposed to the arguments in defense of it). I know that some people will disagree with me on this, but I think that when it comes to priests, we should give them the benefit of the doubt and never assume that they are being purposefully malicious.

Also, never assume that you are better than or smarter than your priest. If he needs correction on a doctrinal or liturgical matter, approach him with humility and the utmost respect. "Father, I thought it was supposed to be like this, can you help me understand?" If the priest is your professor, bring it up once, as a matter of clarification. If it requires more conversation, meet him in his office. Never berate him or belittle him.

I hope that helps.

Pax Christi,

Poll-Release Monday #15

Here is this week's poll:
  • What is your favorite religious order?
    • Franciscans
    • Dominicans
    • Benedictines
    • Jesuits
    • Carmelites
    • Other (type your answer in the space below)
I know there are hundreds of other orders, but I just included the major ones. Of course, if your favorite religious order isn't listed, you can select "Other" and type your answer in the space provided. If you don't type in your answer then I won't know who you voted for and your vote will basically mean nothing. So, make sure you hypostatize your opinion (haha, nerdy Catholic humor). Also, don't forget to click the link below the poll and tell me why you voted the way you did.

As for last week's poll (the one that no one seems to want to vote in), here are the results:

I think I finally settled on a player that I like (thanks to Amy). It took me forever because each player is different and none of them do everything I want it to do. The one I have isn't perfect either, but I think it's the best one out there.

I know the music selection is slim right now, but I hope to change that soon. With this player, you have to upload your own songs, so I was flipping through my CD's and I soon realized that the vast majority of them were CD's that I downloaded illegally back in the day when I was into that sort of thing. So, I threw them all away (ugh! that was hard to do....) and what I was left with wasn't much. But, I want to slowly build up my library again, and as I do I'll add more songs to the player. I also plan on adding some Gregorian chant and some latin hymns, for those of you who aren't too keen on secular music.

I realize that many of you could probably care less about this thing (I should have added an "I don't care" option to the poll) but I want to make sure that I'm making changes to my blog that my visitors like. I'm doing this for you all. Plus, I think it adds something fun and interactive to my blog. Text gets old after a while. I want to appeal to all of your senses :D

Let me know if there's anything else I can do to make my blog better.

Pax Christi,

Friday, May 18, 2007

And Your Old Men Shall Dream Dreams (Acts 2:17)

"la milagrossa" sent me the following question via email:
i was on and somehow came unto your space. i want to ask you if you believe in communication through dreams?
Yes I do. This article is very helpful. In it we find the following passage:
In the light of the belief and practices of the ancient peoples, we are better able to judge the belief and practices recorded in the Bible. That God may enter into communication with man through dreams is asserted in Numbers 12:6, and still more explicitly in Job 33:14 sqq.: "God speaketh once. . . By a dream in a vision by night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, and they are sleeping in their beds: then he openeth the ears of men, and teaching instructeth them in what they are to learn." As a matter of fact, Divine revelation through dreams occurs frequently in the Old and in the New Testament. In most of the cases recorded the dream is expressly said to come from God; of this description are, e.g., the dreams of Abimelech (Genesis 20:3); of Jacob (Genesis 28:12; 31:10); of Solomon (IIIK.,iii,5-15); of Nabuchodonosor (Dan.,ii,19); of Daniel (Dan., vii,1); of Joseph (Matthew 1:20; 3:13); of St. Paul (Acts 23:11; 27:23), unless we should interpret these passages as referring to visions granted to the Apostle while awake. God is said to appear Himself only in a few instances, as to Abimelech, to Jacob, to Solomon, and to Daniel, if, as is generally admitted, the "Ancient of days", spoken of in this connection, should be understood to be God; in other instances He is said to speak through an angel, as in dreams narrated by St. Matthew and St. Paul. The Bible records other dreams, which, though prophetic, are not distinctly said to come from God (Genesis 37:6; 40:5; 41:1; Judges 7:13; 2 Maccabees 15:11). It appears, however, from the circumstances and from their prophetic import, that their Divine origin cannot be doubted; at least their interpretation is declared (Genesis 40:8) to "belong to God". Accepting the historical truth of these facts, there is no reason indeed why God should not use dreams as a means of manifesting His will to man.
As you can see from this passage (and from the rest of the article) there is much evidence from the Bible that God communicated to men through dreams, and there's no reason to think that he does not continue to do so. Now, are all dreams a communication from God? I doubt it. Psychology has revealed that the events of our day, unresolved issues, your last thoughts before you sleep, and even what you eat can all cause a person to have dreams. But, when God's talking to you, it's usually pretty clear ;)
i've been dreaming of Jesus on and off for about 6 months now. in one dream he asked me to swim with him in an ocean that seemed dark and cold. i hesitated (i don't like to share water) and when i realized that it was Him, i accepted. i dove in, He said that He would reveal all to me. the water was warm and when i realized that i could breath underwater, he began to tell me all that he promised.
Are you wanting me to interpret this for you? I actually learned how to do this sort of thing when I was working on my M.Ed. in Mental Health Counseling. A lot of it also comes from being able to find the underlying meaning and symbolism of objects and events. But, I hestitate to do that here because I would need to know more about you, and your history, and your present circumstances before I could speculate as to what it means.

Even then, it's important to note that mine would simply be one of many possible interpretations. So, it's good to take it for what it's worth. I also feel that the "client" should be the one doing most of the interpreting, with the "counselor" helping him along by asking probing questions. Talking about your dreams with a wise and knowledgeable person can be helpful, perhaps within the context of therapy or spiritual direction. I've been able to help several people that way.

last night i dreamed i was sitting around a table with saints, they were giving me instructions, but i can't remember about what. after i was in a store a woman approached me and told me that tonight, 5-11-07, is the most important day for praying, specifically 12pm-1am. what does it all mean???? are these just dreams or is something up? i'm not sure who to turn to. i figured a perfect stranger is the safest route.
It does seem that there is more to this than simply what you had for dinner, especially since your dreams are spiritual or religious in nature. Pray for wisdom that you will be able to know more fully what God wishes to communicate to you, even if that be nothing at all. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful here. I'm tempted to interpret your dreams, but I just don't think that would be very responsible.

Mary, Seat of Wisdom....pray for us.

Pax Christi,

Holy Spirit Novena Starts Today

Today is the first day of the novena to the Holy Spirit for the Seven Gifts. This article tells us the following:
The novena in honor of the Holy Spirit is the oldest of all novenas since it was first made at the direction of Our Lord Himself when He sent His apostles back to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost. It is still the only novena officially prescribed by the Church. Addressed to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, it is a powerful plea for the light and strength and love so sorely needed by every Christian. [. . .] The Novena begins on the day after the Solemnity of the Ascension, Friday of the 6th Week of Easter, even if the Solemnity of the Ascension is transferred to the 7th Sunday.
To print out the novena, see the above link.

Pax Christi,

I'm a Soul Man

Steve sent me the following question via email:
I don't know if you'll know how to answer this (or if I even know how to ask it), but I was grappling with the question of what is the soul?
The soul is the animating principle, that which gives life to a thing. It is the power that sets the body and all of its inner-workings into motion. We die when the body becomes so impaired that the soul can no longer animate it. Here are a few definitions from Catholic scholarly sources:
  • New Advent: Soul -- The soul may be defined as the ultimate internal principle by which we think, feel, and will, and by which our bodies are animated.

  • Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed., Glossary: Soul -- The spiritual principle of human beings. The soul is the subject of human consciousness and freedom; soul and body together form one unique human nature. Each human soul is individual and immortal, immediately created by God. The soul does not die with the body, from which it is separated by death, and with which it will be reunited in the final resurrection (363, 366; cf. 1703).

  • Modern Catholic Dictionary: Soul -- The spiritual immortal part in a human being that animates his body. Though a substance in itself, the soul is naturally ordained toward a body. Separated, it is an incomplete substance. The soul has no parts, it is therefore simple, but it is not without accidents. The faculties are its proper accidents. Every experience adds to its accidental form. It is individually created for each person by God and infused into the body at the time of human insemination. It is moreover created in respect to the body it will inform, so that the substance of bodily features and of mental characteristics insofar as they depend on organic functions is safeguarded. As a simple and spiritual substance the soul cannot die. Yet it is not the total human nature, since a human person is composed of body animated by the soul. In philosophy, animals and plants are also said to have souls, which operate as sensitive and vegetative principles of life. Unlike the human spirit, these souls are perishable. The rational soul contains all the powers of the two other souls and is the origin of the sensitive and vegetative functions in the human being.
Click on each of the above links for more information.
I understand that we believe that our bodies are material, but the essence of our existance is not exclusively material as it includes a nonmaterial soul. I don't quite understand how this works though. If the egg and the sperm, which are purely material and lack a soul, can join to form a human person, where does the soul come from?
The soul comes from God. At the moment that a human being is conceived, God creates a unique soul for that human being.

If human beings are more than material, how is in vitro fertilization or human cloning (embyronic or otherwise) able to create a person with a soul? If we are able to "build" people, does that totally negate the spiritual side of us?
Well, regardless of how a human being comes to exist, be it by cloning, or in-vitro fertilization, or naturally through the marriage act, the moment he comes to be he is give a unique soul by God. Nothing we do to assist the process of conception can change that. Even with cloning, the soul of the child is different from the soul of the mother.

I hope that helps. For more information on the soul, see the following links: Pax Christi,

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Oh Happy Day!

Yea, you wanna know what makes me happier than a pig in slop? (There's a good down-South metaphor for you). When I get a book in the mail. Want to make Nick jump up and down like a little schoolboy? Put a nice, shiny, brand-new book in his mailbox. It's the key to my heart.

Today is one of those happy days. Want to know what the book was? Oh, it was..........THIS:

Praise God!! I can't wait to read this book. I'm gonna devour it. Or, in the words of Jesus, I'm gonna trogo it, haha :D (nerdy Catholic apologist humor). In fact, I think I'll make a blog post about each chapter as I'm reading it. That'll be dope.

Well, I'm off to bask in the glow of the Pope's brilliance. I think I hear angels singing....

UPDATE: You can read an excerpt from the book, on the meaning of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan (and consequently, our own baptism) here. You're not ready.

Pax Christi,

"Bread" and "Wine", or Something More?

"Ebeth" sent me the following question via email:
What comment would you leave this person? He is a very high profile homeschooler in NC.
First off, here is the post in question, from "The Inundated Calvinist":
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
-- Matthew 26:27-28

This was part of the passage for our men's Bible study Tuesday and it struck me as significant. Jesus Himself, not merely a human priest, took the cup, blessed it, announced that "This is My blood" -- and immediately referred to it as "this fruit of the vine".

When Luther met Zwingli to debate the nature of the Lord's Supper, before he sat down he chalked the words Hoc Est Corpus Meum on the tablecloth before Him. And so it is -- but it's still bread, and the wine is still the fruit of the vine.
What we have to remember here is that there are different ways of speaking of the same thing. Often times when we speak, we use the "language of appearances." For example, when night turns into day we say the sun has "risen." This would be the language of appearances, and we usually use it for the sake of simplicity and ease in speaking.

But, if we were in a setting where more technical language was required, like in a Science class, we would instead explain that night turns to day because of the rotation of the Earth on its axis and the revolution of the Earth around the Sun (I think that's how it works, haha, I'm not a science major). This would be the "language of reality."

Note that, depending on our audience and our purpose for speaking, we often switch between the two types of language, even in the same discourse. That's what Jesus is doing in Mt 26 (and in all of the Institution narratives). When he refers to "the blood of the new covenant" he is using the language of reality. When he refers to the "fruit of the vine" he is using the language of appearances.

For more on this, see this excellent blog post by Jimmy Akin. I also employ this argument in Part 2 of my debate with Briguy on the Real Presence in the Eucharist. It sort of came to me intuitively before I even knew about the "language of appearances" vs. "language of reality" distinction. See the following passage:
Secondly, there is a sense in which the Blood of Christ may still be called "wine." This is done for the sake of simplicity and to avoid any scandal that would result from associating the Catholic practice with what cannibals do. So, we often refer to consecrated wine, and consecrated host, which is actually the Real Presence under the appearance of bread and wine. The Church often refers to the Eucharist as "daily bread" and "bread of life" and "bread from heaven" even though we believe that it is much more than mere bread that we consume.
Now, besides the way Jesus is speaking, there is another way to solve the problem. It has to do with the cup that Jesus was referring to. What a lot of people don't realize is that there are four cups in the Passover meal. See the following paragraphs from Part 1 of my debate with "Briguy":
Jesus isn't referring to the same cup here. Scott Hahn provides some helpful context to these words (from this article):
There are four cups that represent the structure of the Passover. The first cup is the blessing of the festival day, it's the kiddush cup. The second cup of wine occurs really at the beginning of the Passover liturgy itself, and that involves the singing of psalm 113. And then there's the third cup, the cup of blessing which involves the actual meal, the unleavened bread and so on. And then, before the fourth cup, you sing the great hil-el psalms: 114, 115, 116, 117 and 118. And having sung those psalms you proceed to the fourth cup which for all practical purposes is the climax of the Passover.
The meal ends with the singing of the psalms (cf. Mat 26:30; Mark 14:26), so we know that the cup they drank was the third cup. Since they drink no more after this, then the "fruit of the vine" of which he will not drink "until the kingdom of God comes" (Luke 22:18) is the fourth cup. Also, what's interesting is that in Luke, Jesus actually tells them about not drinking of the vine before they drink the third cup (cf. Luke 22:18-20). So, this must mean that the third cup was more than just fruit from the vine.
Does that make sense? If Jesus says that he won't drink of the fruit of the vine and then he drinks the cup he has in his hand (as Luke tells us), then that means that what he drank was not the fruit of the vine. Instead, drinking the fruit of the vine was a reference to the fourth cup, which various passages (for example Mt 20:22-23 [cf. Mk 10:38-39] and Jn 18:11) tell us is his death on the cross.

I hope that helps.

Pax Christi,

Under Construction

I am currently in the process of adding subject labels to all of my posts. Then when I'm done you'll be able to browse my blog by category and subject, which will make content easier to find. So, if you subscribe to my blog feed and you're wondering why old posts are getting bumped to the top, that's why. Every time I add a label to a post, it sends the post to your feed reader as if it were brand new.

Thanks for your patience.

Pax Christi,

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Salvation and the Catholic Church: Part 2

In my earlier post on salvation and the Catholic Church, I stated at the end that I would answer the question of how a Buddhist could get to heaven without an explicit knowledge of Christ. Well, come to find out, I've answered it already. I write and think about a lot of things and sometimes it's hard for me to remember what I've already blogged about. Anyway, you can read it here.

I would really appreciate your comments on my answer to this question. It didn't get a lot of comments when I originally posted it. Also, note that I consider my answer to be a theological exercise that is open to correction, especially regarding my use of various Scripture passages. I don't consider this to be the definitive resolution of the matter at hand.

Pax Christi,

Scripture and Gnosticism

"Hidden One" (what a mysterious name) sent me the following question via email:
I'm attempting to correct an anti-Catholic whose site (among other things) uses an article (here) to say, well, what the article says. It's on a document called 'The gift of Scripture', and I'm wondering if you could lend me a hand on this (the article can't posibly be true, right?).
Right. Jimmy Akin made a blog post about this that pretty much ends the debate. Basically, that Times Online article is ludicrous. I don't trust any of their coverage on religious issues.

That said, it appears that Dr. Brooker is not very interested in dialoguing with you, so you may want to consider shaking the dust off your feet and going some place where your efforts will be more fruitful --although, I have to admit, his cute little chart is a tempting project to tackle.

As an aside, would you happen to know of any great resources on Gnosticism for a school project?
These links might help: Good luck on your project.

Pax Christi,
Related Posts with Thumbnails