Friday, August 31, 2007

Learning from St. Francis de Sales

I added St. Francis de Sales to the "Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword" section (towards the bottom of my sidebar). He was one of the greatest Catholic apologists of the late 16th and early 17th century, so the presence of his works on my blog was a glaring omission.

You can read three of his classics online:Let this saint teach you. He is one of the best. For a short biography of St. Francis de Sales, go here.

Pax Christi,

St. Joseph and John Foxe

I don't think you can find two more disparate figures! I bring them together because I found two websites today that are pretty cool, one bears the name of the saint, the other of the sinner.

First, check out St. Joseph Software: Table of Contents. It has some really helpful resources, including:
I was pretty happy to find that one.

I found the second website, John Foxe's Book of Martyrs: Critical Apparatus and Additional Material, in my research on the book and any Catholic responses/refutations of it. In case you're wondering, this book, written around the time of the Reformation, details the suffering and execution of various Protestant ministers and laymen at the hands of the Church and the State. It's a favorite of generally anyone intent on discrediting the Church and the papacy, or proving the corruption of these at that time.

As a Catholic, it's important to take an honest and objective look at this period in the Church's history, lament what was truly an abuse, defend what is true, and dismiss the wild and exaggerated polemics that often grew out of the Reformation.

This website is helpful because it not only hosts a scholarly translation of Foxe's book, but if also provides many essays and other helpful information on Foxe's scholarship and beliefs. One of the introductory essays, "'St. Peter Did Not Do Thus': Papal History in the Acts and Monuments," is particularly helpful in uncovering the plagarism and falsehoods that are found throughout Foxe's work. You can also look at all of the images in the book, along with explanations of each one. The best part is that, as far as I know, none of this material was written by Catholics, so in using it we are less likely to be accused of bias.

Here are the other resources I was able to find on Foxe and his influential book:
Good luck in your defense of the Church.

Pax Christi,

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Secret Revealed

When I was testing the look of a large first character in my earlier post, I was just joking around when I said that I was keeping the directions a secret. Honestly, I felt like I was the only one who didn't know how to do something like that, and I figured that if anyone really wanted to know all they had to do was look at my source code [to view the source code of a webpage w/ IE 6.0, click on "View" at the top of your browser, and then "Source"]. That's how I figure out a lot of things myself.

So, I never thought for a millisecond that it would actually be a big deal that I didn't reveal how to do it. But, apparently some people were personally offended and felt that I was being unprofessional and discourteous. So, here it is:

  • How to enlarge and color the first letter of every post

  • Now everyone can be cool like me (I'm just joking!!)

    Pax Christi,

    Wednesday, August 29, 2007

    "Exposit"-ing Some Answers

    After my last post, "The Expositor" responded with some interesting questions. I'm wondering if they might be traps, since they sound a lot like the common arguments that people make against Peter, but dressed up to look like a question. Perhaps he's hoping that I'll answer something incorrectly so that he can drop a verse on me. Who knows. Stay tuned to see how this develops....

    Pax Christi,
    - - - - - - - - - -
    Did Peter take on the trait of infallibility one this "true and proper" jurisdiction was conferred upon him?
    I don't think there's a teaching on this, so I don't really know for sure, but I'd imagine that Peter was given the charism of infallibility either:
    1. when the Father revealed to him that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the Living God" (Mt 16:16-17),
    2. when Jesus changed Peter's name and declared that He would build His Church on him (Mt 16:18), or
    3. when Jesus gave Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Mt 16:19).
    Basically, I'd say it happened some time during the conversation between Jesus and the apostles in Mt 16:13-20.
    It's my understanding that the pope's words are deemed infallible.
    Well, yes and no. The pope's words are deemed infallible, but only when, as the successor of St. Peter given the task of feeding and tending the sheep, he articulates some point regarding faith or morals meant to be held by all the faithful.

    Actually, you mentioned the First Vatican Council in this thread, and that Council addresses when it is that the pope is infallible:
    Therefore . . . we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the church, irreformable.
    I hope that answers your question.
    Another question: Could an apostle who's been given apostolic primacy be rebuked by a lesser apostle?
    Yes, and I know what you're referring to: Paul's letter to the Galatians where he talks about rebuking Peter to his face. What you have to keep in mind is that Peter is being rebuked for misbehaving, not for teaching error on matters of faith or morals. Infallibility does not mean that a pope will always live his life in perfect uniformity to what he believes, or that he will never sin. All of the popes of the Church were sinners and there were a few who actually led quite scandalous lives. I don't deny that in the least. Furthermore, no man is above fraternal correction. Even the pope has a confessor.

    Infallibility simply means that the Church is protected from teaching in a formal capacity any doctrinal error. Since Peter was not propogating doctrine, Paul's rebuke of him does nothing to reject Peter's primacy or his infallibility.
    Would the apostle with primacy be the one to make final declarations, or could that authority be given to another?
    I have a feeling you're referring to the Council of Jersualem in Acts 15, but I'll wait until you specifically say something about that before I give you my take on it.

    Regarding your question, the pope is the final and highest authority in the Church. But that does not mean that he always has to have the final say on everything that happens within the Church. For example, the bishop for each diocese is the one responsible for the liturgy in his diocese. So, if there's a problem in the diocese, the pope doesn't have to be the one to handle it and it is not necessary for the pope to sign off on the legitimate decisions that the bishop makes within the bounds of his authority.

    Similarly, the pope signed off on all 16 documents of the Second Vatican Council, but various committees of bishops and expert theologians/liturgists were responsible for the implementation of the documents.

    So, there is a hierarchy and a delegation of responsibility within the Catholic Church, but, the pope is always the highest authority.

    Pax Christi,

    Luke and John in Defense of Peter

    Since I haven't heard from "The Expositor" yet regarding my defense of Peter and the papacy from Mt 16 and Isa 22, I thought I would go ahead and bring in a few other passages commonly used in this debate.

    First, we read from John:

    Jn 21:15-19 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." 16 A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." 17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go." 19 (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, "Follow me."

    Note that in vs. 15, Jesus asks Peter, "Do you love me more than these?" ("these" being the other apostles). Jesus is interested in singling out Peter from among the group. This is b/c Jesus has a great task for Peter: to "feed" and "tend" His sheep. These are the actions of a shepherd, and He's asking Peter to play this role.

    When we look closer at this "feeding" and "tending" we find that there is actually much more at stake. First, the greek word for "feeding" is bovskw (or "bosko") and it denotes promoting the spiritual welfare of others (see here). Also, the greek word for "tending", poimaivnw (or "poimaino") actually has the alternative meaning of ruling a people (see here). This is seen in verses from Matthew's Gospel (cf. Mt 2:6) and Revelation (cf. Rev 2:27; 7:17; 12:5; 19:15) where the word is translated as "rule" or "govern." So, essentially, we have here Jesus setting Peter apart from the other apostles to be His shepherd, providing spiritual nourishment and rule for his fellow servants and for the whole Church.

    From here we move to Luke's Gospel, where we again see Peter being set apart for a position of unique leadership:

    Lk 22:31-32 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren."

    Notice that the "you" in vs. 31 is plural but the "you" in vs. 32 is singular. So, while satan wishes to deceive the entire group of 12, Jesus responds to this by praying specifically for one of them: Peter. Why would Jesus do this, unless He intends for Peter to be the one from among them who will govern them and keep them from error? As you can see, Peter's unique authority is closely tied to his primacy among them.

    Besides the examples I have already provided, in which Peter alone is called the Rock (Mt 16:18), given the keys (Mt 16:19), instructed to feed and tend the rest (Jn 21:15-19) and specifically prayed for by Jesus (Lk 22:31-32), we have many other examples that, when taken as a whole, portray Peter as holding a position of primacy among the apostles. There are many examples in fact (you can read them all here and here), but I would like to mention only the ones that stand out the most in my mind.

    For one, Peter's name appears more often than the names of all the other apostles combined (195 to 130). In the lists of the apostles, Peter is always named first (Mk 3:14-19; Mt 10:2-4; Lk 6:13-16; Acts 1:13). Often times his is the only name given (Mk 1:36; 16:7; Lk 9:32). What is particularly interesting is this verse from Matthew's gospel:

    Mt 10:2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zeb'edee, and John his brother

    There is more to this word "first" than meets the eye. Charles F. B. Allnat has this to say:

    "Wherever the Apostles are enumerated in the Gospels, St. Peter is invariably named first. St. Matthew expressly calls him 'the first' (10:2), the same Greek word (protos) being rendered 'chief' in 20:27 and other passages. Mr. Allies remarks: 'Now, that second and third do not follow, shows that "first" is not a numeral here, but designates rank and pre-eminence. Thus in heathen authors this word "first" by itself indicates the mor excellent in its kind: thus in the Septuagint occur, "first friend of the king," "first of the singers," "the first priest," i.e., the chief priest (Nehem 12:46; 2 Chron 26:20). So our Lord: "Whichever among you will be first" (Mat 20:27); "Bring forth the first robe" (Luke 15:22); and St. Paul: "Sinners, of whom I am the first," i.e., chief (1 Tim 1:15). Thus "the first of the island" (Acts 28:7) means the chief magistrate; and "first" generally, in Latin phraseology, the superior or prince.' "
    Also, Peter often acts as a representative for the 12, or speaks on behalf of them (cf. Mt 17:24; Mk 10:27-28; Lk 8:45; Jn 6:67-69; Acts 2:14). Peter initiated the succession of Judas (Acts 1:15-26), enacted eternal judgment upon Anani'as and Sapphi'ra (Acts 5:1-11), and made the decision to admit Gentiles into the Church (Acts 10), a decision the apostles and the "circumcision party" later defer to (Acts 11:1-18). Peter also either led or held a prominent role in the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), and it was Peter with whom Paul consulted after his conversion (Gal 1:18). All things considered, Peter definitely held a position of primacy among the apostles.

    Now, we have so far established that Peter, who was the pre-eminent apostle, was given unique authority over the Church by Jesus Christ. But, this means nothing, and has little to do with the papacy today unless this same authority is passed on to Peter's successors, who are the popes.

    In Acts 1:15-26, we see Peter instituting this very succession. If even Judas, the least of the apostles, is provided with a successor, then Peter, the greatest of them, surely was! Throughout Acts, we continue to see the apostles raising others to their place (almost always thru the laying on of hands) as the work required (Acts 6:1-7; Acts 13:1-3; Acts 15:22-27) and especially as new churches were formed (Acts 14:21-23; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6; Titus 1:5). Note that God not only commissioned Paul, but Silva'nus and Timothy as well (2 Cor 1:19-22), and placed upon them the seal of his spirit, which is what takes place upon ordination.

    What is also worth nothing is the term "office" that Paul uses to describe his position, which is essentially that of a bishop (Col 1:25; 1 Tim 3:1). This word is also used to describe the position of the steward, the head of the King's house, back in Isaiah:

    Isa 22:19 I will thrust you from your office, and you will be cast down from your station.

    This office too had successors (from Shebna to Eli'akim), just like its parallel in the New Testament. Note that an office by its very nature has successors. As long as the position is necessary, there will be a need for someone to fill it. Can we really be so bold as to say that the authority of the apostles died with them? It would be rather imprudent of the Lord to give so much authority to Peter and the rest if it was only meant to benefit their contemporaries.

    [See Part 4 for the conclusion of this debate]

    Pax Christi,

    Tuesday, August 28, 2007

    A Little Something for St. Augustine

    I've been very busy today, and now I'm about to pass out b/c I'm so tired. But, I wanted to at least post something for today, the feast of St. Augustine. So, here's a link to an entry on St. Augustine that I made for the Catholic Defense Directory. It's a pretty good collection of articles on his life and thought. I hope you find it beneficial.

    Pax Christi,

    Just a Test

    Check it out! Now my blog looks like a magazine, with the large first letter thingy and justified text. I'm thinking about making each post look like this from now on. It's pretty cool. Definitely something you don't see on a lot of other blogs. I might mess with the color and the size. Anyway, leave a comment and let me know what you think. If you want to do this on your blog, just go..........nah, I think I'll make this my little secret :D

    UPDATE: For the secret revealed, go here.

    Pax Christi,

    Monday, August 27, 2007

    The Authority of Peter in Mt 16

    The primary passage in support of the authority of Peter (and of subsequent popes) is Mat 16:18-19. Here is the passage, in context:

    Mt 16:13-20 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare'a Philip'pi, he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of man is?" 14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli'jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

    Much can be said about this passage, but for now I want to restrict myself to two points: Peter as the rock of the Church and the authority of the Keys.

    When Jesus calls Peter "Rock" (vs. 18 ) he is actually fulfilling what He said would happen to Simon when He first met him (cf. John 1:42). And so it is that Simon will now be called Peter. Note here that name-changes are not w/o import in the Bible. As it was when Abram's name was changed to Abraham (Gen 17:5) and when Jacob's name was changed to Israel (Gen 32:28), the changing of Simon's name to Peter indicates a change in mission and purpose.

    But how should we understand the role of Simon now that he is "Rock"? Jesus answers this question for us:

    Mt 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter [Rock], and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.

    Jesus changed Simon's name to Rock b/c Simon would now be the rock upon which the Lord will build his church.

    Now, it is widely debated what we should make of the different Greek words used in this verse for Simon's new name (petros) and the rock of the church (petra). However, we have scholars from many different Christian traditions who all assert that:
    • the two Greek words did not differ in meaning by the time they were used here,
    • different Greek words were used so that Simon could be given a masculine name, instead of a feminine one (which would have been improper), and
    • since Jesus and the apostles spoke Aramaic and since there's a strong indication that Matthew's Gospel was originally written in Aramaic, the same word kepa was used both for Simon's new name and for the rock of the Church.
    After the name change, we notice something else truly spectacular: Jesus grants to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

    Mt 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven

    Now, what does this mean? Well, first note that "keys" are a symbol of teaching authority (cf. Lk 11:52). So, we see in them the authority to "unlock" the Truth and to bind men to it. We also recall the structure of Davidic kingdoms. In these kingdoms, the king appointed a cabinet of ministers for specific tasks in the kingdom (cf. 1 Ki 4:1-6; 2 Ki 18:37). Among these was a prime minister who was second in authority only to the king (Gen 41:39-43; Esther 3:1-2). In Isaiah we see that the transfer of this authority from one prime minister to another is symbolized by the handing on of "the key of the house" [emphasis mine]:

    Isa 22:15-22 Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, "Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the household, and say to him: 16 What have you to do here and whom have you here, that you have hewn here a tomb for yourself, you who hew a tomb on the height, and carve a habitation for yourself in the rock? 17 Behold, the LORD will hurl you away violently, O you strong man. He will seize firm hold on you, 18 and whirl you round and round, and throw you like a ball into a wide land; there you shall die, and there shall be your splendid chariots, you shame of your master's house. 19 I will thrust you from your office, and you will be cast down from your station. 20 In that day I will call my servant Eli'akim the son of Hilki'ah, 21 and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. 22 And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

    As the "Son of David" instituting a kingdom, it makes perfect sense that Jesus would imitate the OT structure of Davidic kingdoms. We even find much of the same language in Jesus' words to Peter that we find in the passage from Isaiah. So, in granting the keys to Peter, Jesus gives him both teaching authority and administrative authority as the steward over His house.

    On the surface, all of this seems contradictory. Afterall, isn't Jesus the Rock? (cf. 1 Cor 10:4). Doesn't Jesus hold the keys of the kingdom? (cf. Rev 1:18; 3:7). Of course He does! What we have to keep in mind is that just b/c Jesus grants this authority to Peter, that does not mean that He must relinquish it Himself. When we say that Peter possesses the authority of Christ over His Church, we do not intend to replace Jesus with Peter. Instead we see Peter as Jesus' representative, the physical extension on Earth of the authority that Jesus wields in Heaven over his Church. It is b/c they both hold the keys--Jesus in Heaven and Peter on Earth--that we can rightfully say that whatever Peter binds and looses on Earth will be bound and loosed in Heaven (cf. Mt 16:19).

    Another way to explain this is to say that Jesus exercizes His authority over the Church in the person of Peter, or through Peter and with Peter. That is essentially what the King did while he was physically apart from his kingdom: he continued to exercise his authority over the kingdom through the person he established as his steward, who represented the authority that the King still held. The pope is our shepherd and "father" in the same way that the steward of the King's house was a father for the King's people (cf. Isaiah 22:21).

    As I mentioned earlier, much more can be said about this passage, but I wanted to keep it brief. Also, note that this defense of Peter's authority is only from Mt 16. Other passages can be brought to bear upon this topic as well (see Part 3).

    Pax Christi,

    Peter, the First Pope?

    While I was away on vacation, "The Expositor" created a thread in the HCR forum seeking a defense of the authority of Peter. Of course, I am happy to oblige. What follows is my response to a few comments made by him and "RJ" in that thread. Other people chimed in as well, but these two more directly address the topic at hand. "The Expositor" will be in gray/silver. "RJ" will be in blue.

    In my next post I will provide a preliminary Biblical defense of Peter and the papacy.

    Pax Christi,
    - - - - - - - - - -
    Do you believe that if a person denies that Peter was the first pope, they are accursed?
    What about all succeeding Popes? If we deny the primacy of the Pope and deny that he has full jurisdiction over the whole church, are we accursed?
    Well, first of all, the Church never damns people to hell. That's not what anathemas are. An anathema means that a person has separated himself from the Church on a particular point of dogma. The result is excommunication. However, note that only formal heresy is anathematized, and only formal heretics are excommunicated.

    The entry on heresy in the Modern Catholic Dictionary provides the following explanation [please read it!]:
    • In the Roman Catholic Church, heresy has a very specific meaning. Anyone who, after receiving baptism, while remaining nominally a Christian, pertinaciously denies or doubts any of the truths that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith is considered a heretic. Accordingly four elements must be verified to constitute formal heresy; previous valid baptism, which need not have been in the Catholic Church; external profession of still being a Christian, otherwise a person becomes an apostate; outright denial or positive doubt regarding a truth that the Catholic Church has actually proposed as revealed by God; and the disbelief must be morally culpable, where a nominal Christian refuses to accept what he knows is a doctrinal imperative.
      Objectively, therefore, to become a heretic in the strict canonical sense and be excommunicated from the faithful, one must deny or question a truth that is taught not merely on the authority of the Church but on the word of God revealed in the Scriptures or sacred tradition. Subjectively a person must recognize his obligation to believe. It he acts in good faith, as with most persons brought up in non-Catholic surroundings, the heresy is only material and implies neither guilt nor sin against faith.
    So, knowing all this, you tell me? Are you a formal heretic? If so, the anathemas apply to you. If not, they don't.
    Pope is a weird term. First used to mean "a supreme bishop," it grew quickly into more.
    Not exactly. The word "pope" comes from the Greek word papas, which originally meant "father." For proof, see pope in the Online Etymology Dictionary.
    Peter was not a pope, nor was he the first bishop of the church. Historically, that would have been James the Just (Righteous) -- assumed to be the brother of Jesus. Peter was however a chief elder, and along with James and John basically set the stage for the church's growth and doctrine.
    No one ever said that Peter was the first bishop. All the apostles are bishops. However, Peter was the first "pope," not in the developed sense in which we understand the word today (the Church was, after all, in its infancy stages), but in the sense that:
    1. Peter held a position of primacy among the apostles,
    2. Peter is the rock upon which Jesus built his Church (cf. Mt 16:18),
    3. Peter was the one to whom Jesus granted the keys of the kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 16:19), and
    4. Peter was the one to whom Jesus gave the responsibility of feeding and tending His sheep (cf. Jn 21:15-17).
    Those are the claims that we make regarding the authority of Peter.
    Peter may have been a chief elder and apostle, but when it came to matters of the church (ecclesiology), Paul seemed to have that covered, as he wrote epistles to the churches, dealing with both doctrine and Christian conduct. If Peter was bishop and chief over all the apostles, then why didn't he handle the ecclesiastical duties?
    Paul wrote to the churches he established, or to the churches upon whom he was a great influence. That all seems very logical and practical to me. Surely you don't expect Peter to be handling every single affair of the Church. He can't do it all and Jesus never expected him to, or there'd just be one apostle instead of 12 (or 13 counting Paul). Each had a role in building up the Church. But, that doesn't mean that Peter wasn't the primary apostle, or that Paul was just b/c he wrote more.
    Catholic members should be pulling from whatever council, creeds, traditions, etc, that are endorsed by the RCC. If they are consistent Catholics, they will agree with whatever the councils, creeds, edicts, etc., say.
    I appreciate you allowing me to use my own sources of belief in addressing this issue.
    Actually, according to Vatican I, when they say he was the first pope, they mean that he had apostolic primacy and "true and proper" jurisdiction over the whole church. He was head over all matters. It wasn't just a matter of honor, but of true and proper jurisdiction. They claim this is evidenced in Matthew 16:13. Not true, however.
    Well, actually, it's farther down in Mt 16:18-19, but I know what you mean. As for the truth of this claim, I'd like to post something that I wrote a while back on this. See my next post.

    Pax Christi,

    Poll-Release Monday #26

    Turning again to Bible trivia, here is this week's poll question:
    • "For wherever you go I will go . . . your God will be my God." Whose words are these?
      • Naomi
      • Mary
      • Esther
      • Ruth
      • Eve
      • Judith
    Remember, vote first and then look up the answer! Do you know your Old Testament?

    As for the most recent poll, here are the results:

    The results were pretty inconclusive, which at first I thought was a bad thing, but now I think it's good b/c it means that no matter which background I choose a good number of you will like it. So, I'm just going to stick with this one until I get bored with it again :D

    Thanks everyone for voting. Don't forget to vote in this week's poll, and feel free to get other people to come and vote too.

    Pax Christi,

    Back to Business as Usual

    Well, I'm back from vacation now (*sob*). The 11-hr drive back to Steubenville was pretty tough, but we made the most of it. We even stopped at this fireworks place that just so happened to also sell knives, swords, nunchucks, and blow guns! And to top it all off, it was connected to a Jelly Belly. It was pretty much the craziest thing I've ever seen, but wicked freakin cool.

    A few highlights from the trip:

  • The winter home where we stayed is A LOT cooler than the pics are able to illustrate. I mean, this place is dope. It looks just like a ski lodge, and it has ten-kinds of room. All the wood is real (in the pics it looked kinda fake to me), and it has doorways made out of tree trunks with knots in them, and sleds and snow shoes and other winter stuff hanging on the walls. It was just really nice and I hated to leave. Maybe I'll buy the place one day....

  • The Baseball Hall of Fame was probably my favorite of the various places we visited. The history of baseball is just so rich and amazing. It's impossible to soak it all in with just one trip, so I'll definitely need to go there again.

    One thing that struck me while I was there is that several Christians were likely enjoying the Hall with me. They've all come to connect with their heroes, with men (and women too!) who have long since departed this world. They do this through the things these players have left behind: gloves, uniforms, baseballs, pictures, autographs, etc. They do this in a place built specifically to honor meritorious figures in the world of sports.

    Is this not what Catholics do when they venerate the relics of the saints? Our heroes are men and women of spiritual prowess who have departed this world. We seek to connect with them through relics, the things they have left behind. We honor them in our churches and in our homes. It's not such an appalling concept once you consider the various ways in which the secular world and non-Catholic Christians have honored deceased men and women throughout the ages.

  • Finally, the pleasant surprise of the vacation was this little coffee shop that Sean and I chilled in while we waited for the mechanic to finish with the mini-van. Actually, that whole day was really nice b/c he and I were able to relax and do whatever we wanted while everyone else was away at The Great Escape nearly-vomitting on the various roller coasters. Plus, we were fixing the van without them knowing it, so it felt good to be a part of that and to surprise them when they got back home.

    But, back to the coffee shop. Sean and I walked over to this place, just hoping for a place to read while we waited on the van. It turned out being such a cozy little spot. It kind of had a record store vibe, with old rock posters and record covers all over the walls. But, it had a coffee shop vibe too, with little couches and tables and nooks tucked away where you could just sit and enjoy a cup of cofee and some relative peace. So, I sat there, with some hot chocolate and a small plate of crumb cake, reading Jesus of Nazareth and, honestly, wishing I could never leave. Unfortunately, they closed at 4pm (which sucked mightily) and we had to find another place to go. But, being at that coffee shop was one of my favorite moments of the trip.

  • I should have pics and even a video coming soon. Now, let's get into some apologetics....

    Pax Christi,

    Friday, August 17, 2007

    One Last Hoorah

    I'm going out to lunch again :D This time, I'm heading for the Adirondack mountains to spend a week vacationing with Amy and her family. She vacationed with my family in Hilton Head. Now, it's my turn! Amy has been at home with her family for the past month, and I can't tell you how much it has sucked not having her here. I can't wait to see her again, and to have one final week to relax before the Fall semester starts.

    While we're there, we'll be doing some pretty cool stuff. First, check out where we'll be staying:

    Pretty dope :D It also has a jacuzzi internet access! I'm actually looking foward to that. Sometimes it's good to take a break from all this and just chill. I don't know if people realize how much work it takes to post 3 times a day and have each post be remotely substantive. But, one day this blog will be the greatest of all time, so it's all good.

    If chillin in the cabin weren't enough, we'll also be going to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. I've been wanting to see that place since I first started collecting baseball cards in the late 80's. I can't believe that I'm finally going to go there. Priority #1 is to find "The Wizard" Ozzie Smith as soon as possible. My whole family --and my dad especially-- worshipped him growing up. Is there a greater shortstop who ever lived? I doubt it.

    If that weren't enough, we'll be ending the vacation with a trip to Saratoga Racetrack. Amy's dad is the hugest horse racing fan that ever walked the Earth, so it will be cool to share this moment with him. Plus, racetracks are just fun, I don't care who you are. If you've never been to see a race, you need to go. Even when you don't bet, it's fun. The food's good, the beer's definitely good, and it's exciting to pick a horse and see if it wins. Of course, being from Kentucky and living a few years in Louisville, Churchill Downs will always hold a special place in my heart, but I hear Saratoga is pretty dope too. I looking forward to going there.

    I'm pretty much psyched about the whole thing. This is going to be an awesome vacation, and I'm very thankful for the opportunity to spend some time with Amy's family. Since they live in Maine, I don't get to see them very often. For the next week you won't see me very often either. In fact, you won't see me at all. I'll be back on the 26th. Please pray for me that my trip to and from New York will be a safe one and that I will be able to relax (which is difficult for me) and enjoy this awesome opportunity.

    Pax Christi,

    More Art as Servant

    You may recall that, a while back, I made a post about a drawing by David Myers of St. Michael the Archangel. Well, I dig the guy's artwork so I'm posting some more pieces from him, along with the description he provides for each one. His depiction of St. Francis and the Crucified Christ is my favorite. For more of his artwork, go here. To order prints or to commission an original, go here.

    Pax Christi,

    ps: If your resolution isn't set to 1024x768 then the layout for the artwork and the descriptions may not look right.
    - - - - - - - - - -
    This drawing was a happy find among things that my wife and I were unpacking as we moved. I drew it probably about two to three years ago. I had seen a mother holding her child at Mass, smiling at him and holding him close, and immediately thought of Mary and Jesus. I thought that it would be beautiful to portray their joy in each other.

    - - - - - - - - - -
    "Most High, glorious God,enlighten the darkness of my heart,and give me right faith,certain hope,and perfect charity,wisdom and understanding,Lord, that I may carry out your holy and true command.Amen."
    - Prayer of Discernment before a Crucifix, by Saint Francis

    My dearest friend among men, Brother Gregory Plow, T.O.R., will take the solemn vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience this weekend, to become a fully professed friar of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis. This drawing is a small thanks to God for His Benediction, and to my friend for his intense charity, and his "YES!" to God's calling.

    Brother Gregory is one of the most incredible human beings that I know, and there is no one else that I know personally who more fully reflects in his own life the charism of Saint Francis. I know no other person who, on reaching Brother Gregory's years, has been able to keep so untarnished a youthful optimism and zeal for life and for others.

    As I behold this completed drawing, I think of my friend, who has continued to become more and more the friend of Christ. For me, this drawing speaks to that friendship and intimacy with God that each of us should strive for. I know that Our Blessed Lord, and Gregory's spiritual father, Saint Francis, embrace him today, as he commits himself in a new and profound way to the work and person of Christ.

    "The Lord be between me and you forever." - 1 Samuel 20:42
    - - - - - - - - - -
    I hope that you will enjoy this new portrait of St. "Padre" Pio, the "Miracle Worker" I have just completed. For those who do not know a lot about St. Pio, please visit this link - St. Pio was a true miracle worker of the 20th Century. He's pretty incredible.
    "Pray, Hope, and don't worry." - St. Pio

    - - - - - - - - - -
    This is a drawing I am immensely proud of. It is a tribute to "the Divine Michelangelo," the great genius of the Italian Renaissance. Here he is depicted carving the 17 foot tall statue of David, his greatest (with the possible exception of the Pieta) achievement in sculpture. I hope that this will be the first of many such tributes to the great masters, whose works do not cease to inspire, but rather grow in their power to awe with the passing of each generation. Many sculptors and carvers may cringe at my depiction (the marble rock was done completely from imagination, and Michelangelo would certainly have used a scaffold rather than a ladder to move around his gigantic subject), but the desired effect here is dramatic rather than precise. May God give us a new renaissance(rebirth) in art, especially art in the Church.
    - - - - - - - - - -
    A very dear friend of mine was ordained to the Priesthood two Saturdays ago, and this image is for his thank you cards. The drawing of St. Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch was commissioned for his holy cards, and I think that he was pleased with them. I was glad that I was able to find an image of him actually receiving the impostion of hands by our bishop, but, as the photo I had was very fuzzy, a good likeness of the bishop was impossible. Anyone who knows my friend, now a priest, will probably recognize him here however.

    "How shall I repay the goodness of the Lord to me? The cup of salvation I will take up, and call upon the Name of the Lord..." Psalm 116:12-13

    Thursday, August 16, 2007

    Respect Your Bishop

    Check out the new T-shirt from

    Pretty dope. Plus, if someone sees it and doesn't know what it means, they'll ask you and then you'll get a chance to explain the importance of respecting your bishop. There's other phat shirts too. To get your own, go here.

    Pax Christi,

    UPDATE: Apparently there's people who actually can't tell what the design is. So, for the slow-on-the-uptake among us, I offer the following hint: think chess pieces

    Sinning with Impunity

    Today's Catholic quotation is ingenious:
    "If you find a place where God is not, go there and sin with impunity." —-St. Anselm
    Does anyone know the source for this quote? I love it. It's such a creative way of making the point that God sees all, and even the sin you commit in your closet is known by Him. I imagine Anselm saying this in response to someone bragging about having gotten away with murder, or stealing, or adultery, or some scandalous sin. A wise man can put a person in his place with one sentence, and I have no doubt that Anselm had that ability. I also have no doubt that the person to whom he said this walked away with his tail between his legs. That's what you get for assuming that you can ever break God's laws and get away with it.

    Pax Christi,

    Background Options

    To help you all vote (see the poll in the sidebar) here are links to the two backgrounds mentioned in the poll:Let me know which one you like the best.

    Pax Christi,

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007


    From the Archives: A Debate with "Little Less" on the Assumption of Mary, Part 3

    Here is the final installment of my debate with Little Les, where I provide the evidence for the Assumption from Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Also see Part 1 and Part 2.
    - - -
    Sacred Scripture

    First note that the concept of the Assumption is not foreign to scripture. We will all experience the resurrection of the Body when Jesus comes again (cf. John 5:28-29; 6:39-40; 11:24-25 and chapter 15 from 1 Corinthians to name a few). Likewise, Mary was not the only one to experience this before the second coming. Enoch (Gen 5:24; Heb 11:5) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11-12; 1 Mac 2:58; Sirach 48:4,9) were assumed into heaven. Paul suggests that a third man may have been as well (2 Cor 12:2-3) and Matthew speaks of "many bodies of the saints" who were raised from the tomb after Jesus' resurrection (Mat 27:52-53). So, the principle is scripturally sound. We have left only to answer the question, "Did this happen to Mary?"

    As far as explicit references go, this can be neither confirmed nor denied. I find nothing in scripture, explicit or otherwise, that condemns the teaching. What I do find, however, are several verses that seem to point to it, at least implicitly [from the RSV, unless otherwise noted]:

    Psalm 45:9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

    Psa 132:8 Arise, O LORD, and go to thy resting place, thou and the ark of thy might.

    Isa 60:13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the plane, and the pine, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious.

    So 3:6 What is that coming up from the wilderness, like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the fragrant powders of the merchant?

    So 8:5 Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?

    Rev 11:19-12:1
    19 Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
    1 And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars

    Rev 12: 13-14
    13 and when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had borne the male child.
    14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle that she might fly from the serpent nto the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.

    I acknowledge full well that the literal intention of these verses is not to support the Assumption. However, even the NT writers themselves, when quoting the OT, were fond of seeing in various passages a meaning not originally intended by the author. The Messianic verses in particular are treated this way. Look at them (here). You'll notice that the majority of them were first about a king, or some holy object, or a prophet speaking about himself. But the NT writers saw them as pointing to Christ.

    And so it is with these verses. Though, in the literal sense, they speak of other things, the Church sees in them certain forshadowings of Mary's Assumption. Why? Because just as the NT writers saw in the OT what they believed about Christ, the Church sees in the OT what she believes about Mary. The Church's beliefs come from the Sacred Deposit she has received, and the ECF's testify to this. The light of the NT and this Sacred Deposit often reveals meanings to Scripture other than what the authors initially intended.

    Sacred Tradition

    Contrary to what you claim, modern research reveals evidence of belief in Mary's Assumption from as early as the third century. I offer you the following points:

  • This article from New Advent attributes Joannis liber de Dormitione Mariae, or "the book of John on the Dormition of Mary" (read a summary of it here or the full text here) to the third to fourth century.
  • This book, which is considered one of the most objective and scholarly works on Mary's Dormition and Assumption, states that "a few of the narratives were almost certainly in composed by the third century, if not even earlier."
  • This article states that "written records dating back to as early as the third century" gives accounts of her Dormition and Assumption in Ephesus.
  • According to this article, "The Acts of John — a fifth-century text from Constantinople that includes material originally written in the second century — recalls that 'the mother of us all has departed this life' ” which is quite an enticing statement.
  • I have read several articles that speak of a version of the Transitus Mariae stories that dates from the third century as well (for example, here and here).

  • What all of this shows is that scholars are beginning to find evidence of the assumption from a much earlier time then first expected. The fact that the earliest Marian feast in the Church is of her Dormition/Assumption (fourth century) tells us that belief in this was widespread and longstanding. Church feasts don't just sprout up with every "new" doctrine or "pious legend" that surfaces. They arise as a result of the traditional beliefs of the people.

    From here we come to the more explicit references:

    "If therefore it might come to pass before the power of your grace, it has appeared right to us your servants that, as you, having overcome death does reign in glory, so you should raise up the body of your mother and take her with you, rejoicing into heaven. Then said the Savior [Jesus]: 'Be it done according to your will" [Pseudo-Melito, The Passing of the Virgin 16:2-17; (300 AD)].

    "If the Holy Virgin had died and was buried, her falling asleep would have been surrounded with honour, death would have found her pure, and her crown would have been a virginal one...Had she been martyred according to what is written: 'Thine own soul a sword shall pierce', then she would shine gloriously among the martyrs, and her holy body would have been declared blessed; for by her, did light come to the world" [Epiphanius, Panarion, 78:23 (A.D. 377), in PG 42:737].

    "Therefore the Virgin is immortal to this day, seeing that he who had dwelt in her transported her to the regions of her assumption" [Timothy of Jerusalem, Homily on Simeon and Anna; (400 AD)].

    "And from that time forth all knew that the spotless and precious body had been transferred to paradise" [John the Theologian, The Falling Asleep of Mary; (400 AD)].

    "The Apostles took up her body on a bier and placed it in a tomb; and they guarded it, expecting the Lord to come. And behold, again the Lord stood by them; and the holy body having been received, He commanded that it be taken in a cloud into paradise: where now, rejoinedd to the soul, [Mary] rejoices with the Lord's chosen ones..." [Gregory of Tours, Eight Books of Miracles, 1:4; (575-593 A.D.) ].

    "As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him." [Modestus of Jerusalem, Encomium in dormitionnem Sanctissimae Dominae nostrae Deiparae semperque Virginis Mariae (before A.D. 634), in PG 86-II,3306].

    "It was fitting...that the most holy-body of Mary, God-bearing body, receptacle of God, divinized, incorruptible, illuminated by divine grace and full glory...should be entrusted to the earth for a little while and raised up to heaven in glory, with her soul pleasing to God." [Theoteknos of Livias, Homily on the Assumption; (before 650 A.D.)].

    I had hoped to provide some more commentary on this evidence from Tradition, but since I have already exceeded my word limit, this must suffice. However, I anticipate being able to elaborate further on this in response to your analysis of it.

    Pax Christi,

    From the Archives: A Debate with "Little Less" on the Assumption of Mary, Part 2

    You'll notice at the end of Part 1 that I had intended to post next about the evidence for the Assumption from Scripture and Tradition. But, instead of waiting patiently, he went ahead and responded to what I had said up to that point. Here is how I engaged that response. In Part 3, which will come next, I will post the evidence from Scripture and Tradition that I was eventually able to provide for him. He was banned from Phatmass before he could respond to this evidence, so Part 3 concludes the debate.
    - - -
    I have. It doesn't. Evidence please or withdraw your assertion.
    Munificentissimus Deus doesn't have testimony from the ECF's of the Assumption? Note the following paragraphs, which are numbered:
    17. "Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself."[11]

    18. the Gallican sacramentary designates this privilege of Mary's as "an ineffable mystery all the more worthy of praise as the Virgin's Assumption is something unique among men." .... "God, the King of the universe, has granted you favors that surpass nature. As he kept you a virgin in childbirth, thus he has kept your body incorrupt in the tomb and has glorified it by his divine act of transferring it from the tomb."[12]

    21. "It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God."[17]

    22. "You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life."[18] And another very ancient writer asserts: "As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him."[19]

    [11.] Sacramentarium Gregorianum.
    [12.] Menaei Totius Anni.
    [17.] St. John Damascene, Encomium in Dormitionem Dei Genetricis Semperque
    Virginis Mariae, Hom. II, n. 14; cf. also ibid, n. 3.
    [18.] St. Germanus of Constantinople, In Sanctae Dei Genetricis Dormitionem,Sermo I.
    [19.] The Encomium in Dormitionem Sanctissimae Dominae Nostrate Deiparae Semperque Virginis Mariae, attributed to St. Modestus of Jerusalem, n. 14.
    How could you say "It doesn't" in light of the above?
    The evidence presented shows that the myth of the assumption was first recorded in the fourth of fifth century spurious writings,and not before that time. This fact is admitted by the Catholic Encyclopedia.Catholic "tradition' was subsequently developed. If you have any evidence of a "bountiful" earlier tradition, please present it.
    I believe I have. Also note that in this article, under the section "The Transitus MariƦ or Evangelium Joannis", we read: "However, there is warrant for saying that while the tradition existed substantially in portions of the Church at an early period, and thus prepared the way for the acceptance of mythical amplifications, still its later form and details were considerably influenced by the Transitus and kindred writings." I have found this to be the consensus drawn by scholars on the subject.
    Again, as stated at the onset, facts must be proven to exist, not presumed to exist.Please provide evidence of your putative " sources of belief " by anyone prior to the 5th century claiming the assumption of Mary. And please include the date of the writing.
    I have. And by the way, I must again remind you that the task, as far as Christian testimony is concerned, is to prove that belief in the Assumption is a part of Sacred Tradition. You stated this yourself early in our debate. I have shown you that it is very much a part of the Tradition of the Church. The timeframe for the Tradition is irrelevant.
    It is necessary that a fact be established, not that, using a little creative imagination, it can be "pointed to."One must alyays distinguish between facts and fables.Again, please site your scriptural evidence for the assumption of Mary. Thus far, you have not. Nor have you cited any evidence from a source prior to the fifth century.
    Why are you imposing this requirement? There is simply no merit in it. The doctrine is not concerned with the historical facts about her assumption. Pope Pius XII did not set out to affirm or deny these details when he articulated our belief. The doctrine is this: that she was assumed into heaven at the end of her earthly life. The task is this: to prove whether or not this belief is contrary to Scripture or Tradition. Period. That's what you and I are working with. It seems that the only way you can refute what I have presented is by going beyond the parameters of our debate.
    Thank you for stipulating to that fact. The historical evidence of the legend of the Assumption, begins with spurious writings of the fifth century. I think you'll find that all Chruch writings date from after that time.
    I think you'll find that more recent scholarship is proving otherwise.

    No. Apostolic Traditions cannot realistically be said to have begun six or seven hundred years after the fact.In the case of the Assumption, no tradition at all can be evidenced before the early 5th century.
    Well, for one, we find evidence of a belief in the Assumption before the fourth century. Secondly, if in fact we were to find no writings from before this time, that would not mean that no one believed it. It would just mean that we have no written evidence of it (either because they didn't write about it or because their writings on the subject no longer exist). Do you realize how hard it is to find writings about anything from the time period you stipulate? It is no small task. Futhermore, Christians during the first four centuries were primarily concerned (maybe even obsessed) with properly formulating Christian belief regarding the Incarnation and the Natures of Christ, and in battling the Christological heresies of the day. It only makes sense that there would be very little written about other Christian figures.

    Plus, it was through their formulations about the nature of the Incarnation that they were finally able to come to a greater understanding of the role and privileges of Mary. Afterall, it is from her role as the Mother of the Lord that all her other honors flow, and they could not understand what it means to be the Mother of the Lord, and the ramifications of this, until they understood the Incarnation and the Natures of Christ.

    Considering all this, it seems unreasonable to me for you to insist on a refined, explicit belief in the Assumption of Mary before the fourth century.

    And while doing so, you might want to consider this:"A popular martyrology, that was used from the ninth century to the reform of the Roman Martyrology by Baronius in 1548, was composed by Usuard, a monk of St. Germain des Pres in Paris. It stated its opinion quite bluntly in its announcement of the feast: "The Falling Asleep of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. Though her most sacred body is not to be found on earth, still Holy Mother Church celebrates her venerable memory with no doubt that she had left this life. But as to where the venerable temple of the Holy Ghost has been hidden by divine Providence, the sobriety of the Church prefers pious ignorance to any frivolous or apocryphal doctrine."11

    11 The Roman Martyrology, quoted by Paul E. Duggan, The Assumption Dogma: Some Reactions and Ecumenical Implications in the Thought of English-Speaking Theologians (Cleveland: Merson Press, 1989), 18.

    This is quoted from:The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, I think thy have a website.

    Of course, this was written before the Pius XII's infallible pronouncement, that is, before "frivolous or apoccryphal doctrine" becamse official teachings.

    I don't know how to state this any more plainly: the exact details of the assumption (when it happened, where it happened, who was there) are simply not at issue here. So, this quote of yours does little to advance your claim. Also, note that when Usuard says the phrase "frivolous or apocryphal doctrine" he is referring to beliefs about where her body was burried. This has nothing to do with the doctrine of the Assumption, which states only that she was assumed into heaven at the end of her earthly life.

    The origin of Church "Tradtion" is very much bound to a time frame.

    From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    76 In keeping with the Lord's command, the Gospel was handed on in two ways: - orally "by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received - whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit"- in writing "by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing".

    The volumnous writings of the Early Church Fathers omit any mention of the Assumption. And one of them, St. Epiphanius admits that he knows nothing about it. (Panarion, Haer, 78.10-11) See also CE, Feast of the Assumption).

    The legend of the Assumption is first found in De Obitu S. Dominae, an apocryphal treatise, which belongs to the 4th or 5th century. (See CE op cit).

    The first Church author to write of it is St. Gregory of Tours (6th century) according to Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, pp 209-210, Tan Books, 1974.

    In short, apostolic tradition, is not verified by the facts.
    You're right, the origin of Tradition is bound to a timeframe. That's because the origin is the Sacred Deposit given to the Apostles by Christ himself. However, Sacred Tradition is always with us, in the Testimony of the ECF's, in her customs and disciplines, and in her liturgies and forms of worship throughout the history of the Church. You betray a fundamental misunderstanding of what Tradition actually is. Hopefully we can remedy this. (*wink*)

    Thank you for stipulating to the fact that none of the scriptures you presented support the Assumption.
    I didn't say that. Look at my words again. I said that the literal intention was not to address the Assumption. I went on to explain that, in the tradition of the NT writers, the Church finds implicit evidence for the Assumption in these verses. Maybe you missed that part? Les, please read my posts in their entirety before you respond, instead of responding to each paragraph as you read it. I think that by employing this latter approach you are not grasping the full meaning I am trying to articulate to you.

    Pax Christi,

    From the Archives: A Debate with "Little Less" on the Assumption of Mary, Part 1

    As promised, here is my 3-part debate from Sept. 11, '06 on the Assumption of Mary. What this debate reveals is how important it is to stick to exactly what the dogma declares and nothing else. People will try to discredit the Assumption based on the various legends that surround it. But, where she died, or how many apostles were there, or what they saw when Mary was assumed is not essential to the dogma. We are called to believe only that Mary, at the end of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven. Period.

    I hope this debate is helpful to you all as you field questions today from people wondering what this Assumption of Mary is all about.

    Pax Christi,
    - - - - - - - - - -
    In history, law, medicine, science, etc., it is necessary to establish facts. They cannot be presumed to exist.However, observing Aquinas's advice which may be generally applied, "Seek such certitude as the nature of the thing allows."Dealing with a claim of the infallibility of the fact of the Assumption, the bodily assumption of Mary into heaven, we must note that Vatican I observes:"For, as the Vatican Council teaches, "the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter in such a way that, by his revelation, they might manifest new doctrine, but so that, by his assistance, they might guard as sacred and might faithfully propose the revelation delivered through the apostles, or the deposit of faith."The Deposit of Faith may be defined as: "The heritage of faith contained in Sacred Scripture and tradition, handed on in the Church from the time of the Apostles, from which the Magisterium draws all that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed.So we will use "scripture" and "tradition from the time of the Apostles" to see if evidence for the Assumption can be established.Obviously, my position is that it can't.
    I ask in the future that you provide the sources for your quotations. This will make our dialogue more efficient and our scholarship honest.

    As for the topic at hand, I commend you for acknowledging the fact that Christian doctrine must come from two sources: Sacred Scripture and Tradition. This will keep us from having to maintain a tangential debate on the rule of faith.

    Now, it will be helpful at the onset to establish what exactly the doctrine attempts to set forth. In Munificentissimus Deus it was infallibly declared that "the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory." This is the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary, and so we should restrict our comments to this statement.

    I affirm, w/ Pope Pius XII in his remarks preceeding the infallible declaration, that the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary finds support in Sacred Scripture, in the Early Church Fathers (who when in consensus testify to the Sacred Deposit of Faith), in the encyclicals and other documents of the Church, and in her worship throughout the ages. These sources comprise the Sacred Tradition of the Church, and the Assumption of Mary is firmly rooted in it.

    Your task then is to prove that the doctrine of the Assumption, as it is set forth in Munificentissimus Deus, does not find support in these sources. Make your case.
    - - -
    [In response to that, he wrote the following, and I replied accordingly:]
    You have provided only an assertion that Pope Pius XII claimed that there is scriptural evidence and evidence in the writings of the early Church Fathers as to the fact of the Assumption. But you have provided no such evidence yourself. Nor does it exist.
    Nor does it exist? Have you read Munificentissimus Deus? It is filled with testimony from the ECF's that affirms the doctrine. Do I need to reproduce paragraphs 17-38? I suggest that you read them again.

    From the on-line Catholic Encyclopedia, "The Feast of the Assumption" as to the writing of the Fathers, there is this:"Regarding the day, year, and manner of Our Lady's death, nothing certain is known. The earliest known literary reference to the Assumption is found in the Greek work De Obitu S. Dominae."
    I anticipated a response like this, which is why I made sure to point out at the onset what the infallible statement actually says. I provide it again, from Munificentissimus Deus, para. 44:
    [T]the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
    This, and this alone is the doctrine of the Assumption. This is all that we must find in Sacred Scripture and Tradition. So, the day she died is irrelevant. How she died is irrelevant. If she died is irrelevant. Who was there to see it is irrelevant. The fact that we find little record of these details is of little consequence to the belief itself. We are only expected to believe that it happened, that when she completed the cource of her earthly life she was assumed body and soul into heaven. Period. The presence of this belief in the Tradition of the Church is bountiful.

    And the nature and date of this earliest know reference, thus:"The belief in the corporeal assumption of Mary is founded on the apocryphal treatise De Obitu S. Dominae, bearing the name of St. John, which belongs however to the fourth or fifth century. It is also found in the book De Transitu Virginis, falsely ascribed to St. Melito of Sardis, and in a spurious letter attributed to St. Denis the Areopagite."

    What's your point? These are not the only sources of belief in the Assumption. All the author is setting out to do here is to begin listing the Fathers who testify to the deposit of faith on this matter. Maybe you missed the previous paragraph from the article in question, where he writes [emphasis mine]: "The earliest known literary reference to the Assumption is found in the Greek work De Obitu S. Dominae. Catholic faith, however, has always derived our knowledge of the mystery from Apostolic Tradition."

    From St. Epiphanus, the bishop of Salamis, in his Panarion (chap 78-79) (c 374 - 376) we find this admission:

    "But if some think us mistaken, let them search the Scriptures. They will not find whether she died or did not die; they will not find whether she was buried or was not buried. More than that: John journeyed to Asia, yet nowhere do we read that he took the Holy Virgin with him. Rather, Scripture is absolutely silent..."

    As I said before, it is not necessary that Divine Revelation speak of these specific details. It is only necessary that it point to her assumption into heaven.

    And a bit more current from Fr. Saunders , dean of the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College in Alexandria and pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Potomac Falls. "The Dormition of Mary": This admission."Granted, the event of the Assumption is not recorded in Sacred Scripture."

    Well, for one, no one has claimed that an explicit reference exists. This is actually quite understandable. Why? Well, for one, Mary was probably still alive when most of the NT was written! Also, the writers of the NT were concerned primarily with faith in Jesus Christ and in recording the events of his life. Actually, the deaths of many holy NT men and women are not recorded. For example, it is only from tradition that we know that Peter was crucified upside down. The nature of the deaths of the majority of the apostles is not recorded in Scripture. We cannot expect Scripture to record explicit statements beyond its breadth and intended purpose. It is simply not meant to be a catechism, which is why we also draw from the Sacred Tradition of the Church.

    Please list the alleged scriptural references to the cerain existence of the Assumption and any writing of a Father of the Church specifically mentioning the Assumption prior to the fourth or fifth century.Of course the 4th or 5th century is far removed from the time of the Apostles and hardly part of "the Deposit of Faith."

    Why must we restrict ourselves to the 4th or 5th century? The task is to find evidence of this belief in the Tradition of the Church. Tradition is not bound to this time frame. Furthermore, the ECF's, whose reflection of the "deposit of faith" comprises so much of our Tradition, reach well into the 8th century. Scholars usually mark the end of the patristic age with St. John Damascene (d AD 749) in the East and with St. Gregory the Great (d AD 604) or St. Isidore of Seville (d AD 636) in the West. I simply find no warrant for restricting our evidence to that which comes from before the fourth century.

    In my next post I will provide the evidence from Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

    Pax Christi,

    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    Plumbing the Depths of the Plumber

    For no other reason then because they're amusing, I present the following YouTube videos:

    Mario Piano

    Super Mario Brothers in 5 Minutes

    The dude goes crazy at the end of the first video, so make sure you watch the whole thing. The second video makes me anxious b/c I keep thinking he's going to die. But, somehow he beats the whole game unscathed. Pretty crazy.

    Pax Christi,

    Resisting Irresistable Grace

    There's currently a debate going on over at HCR that is tackling two topics at the same time (which is not exactly ideal). The topics are whether or not the calling of God can be refused or rejected and whether or not there is such thing as "actual grace," which Catholics would see as the type of grace that God sends us when he makes that call upon us.

    When I was looking through the Bible, for verses that speak about this, I came across a potential death-blow to the Calvinist teaching on irresistable grace (the "I" in TULIP):
    Prov 1:24 Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
    My eyes bugged out when I read it. I haven't done any extensive research on this passage yet, but it appears to explicitly reject the idea that when God calls you, you can't help but respond to it. I'm still waiting to see what the response will be.

    If you know of any verses that either reject irresistable grace or affirm the reality of actual grace, please leave a comment and let me know. For info on irresistable grace, see A Tiptoe Through Tulip and scroll down to "Irresistable Grace." For info on actual grace, go here or here.

    Pax Christi,
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