Saturday, May 23, 2009

Does the Bible Say Anyting about Having Priests in the Church?

Yes it does. God told his people through the mouth of Jeremiah, “I will give you shepherds after my own heart who will feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jer 3:15). It was through His holy priesthood that God guided his people and provided for their worship and holiness both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament.

In the Old Testament, there was the high priest (Aaron, cf. Exo 28:3), the ministerial priests (Aaron’s sons, cf. Exo 28:40-41), and the universal priests (Israel, cf. Exo 19:6). The New Testament priesthood also has three offices: High Priest (Jesus Christ, cf. Heb 2:17; 3:1), ministerial priests (the ordained bishops and priests, cf. Rom 15:16; 1 Tim 3:1,8; 5:17; Titus 1:7), and the universal priests (all the faithful, cf. 1 Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6). The whole of salvation history evidences this hierarchy within the People of God.

Note that there is a high priest and a ministerial priesthood, but there is also a universal priesthood. In other words, Catholics affirm a universal, or a “spiritual” priesthood just like Protestants do. The Church teaches that we are all incorporated into the priestly office of Christ upon our baptism. We are all priests, called “to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:5).

But, the Church also believes that, from among these people, Jesus Christ calls certain individuals to make His authority, His priesthood, His very Person present in the Church in a more profound way. These individuals make up the ministerial priesthood, those special men who God has called to make the sacraments available to us and to “feed” and “tend” the flock of the Lord (Jn 21:15-17).

In Scripture, we are commanded to obey these “elders” (Gk. presbuteros, or "priests") of the church (cf. 1 Thes 5:12-13; 1 Tim 5:17; 13:7,17; 1 Pet 5:5), and those who reject their authority are looked down upon and judged harshly (cf. 2 Pet 2:10-12; 1 Jn 4:6; 3 Jn 1:9-11; Jude 1:8-11). After all, God says of his priest, “men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts” (Mal 2:7).

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen on "What's My Line?"



This video is such a joy to watch! Fulton Sheen is in his element here, showing his great sense of humor and ability to laugh.

I am particularly blown away by the profound respect that everyone has for him. The crowd gives him a hearty applause when he is revealed as the mystery guest. The host of the show calls him, "Your Excellency" and tells the great bishop how thankful he is that Sheen is on ABC. He breaks the rules and gives Sheen's cause the maximum amount of money, promising to "add some more to it" as well. The panel is eager to shake his hand and the last lady even kisses his hand.

Such a scene is certainly far removed from our current cultural situation, which makes this video a welcome reprieve.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Scripture on the Anointing of the Sick

Does the Bible say anything about the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick?

Yes it does. The most explicit reference comes from the Letter of St. James:
  • “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” (Jas 5:14-15)

There is also the work of the apostles, when Jesus sent them out “two by two”:
  • “And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. … So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.” (Mk 6:7, 12-13)

In both cases, the apostles and elders of the Church heal by anointing the sick with oil, which is what takes place in our sacrament. Paul healed a man of fever and dysentery by laying his hands on the sick man (cf. Acts 28:8), which is an important part of the sacrament as well. The fact is, “many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles” (Acts 5:12), and one of these was the power to heal the sick (cf. Acts 5:15-16; 8:7; 19:11-12).

Note however that the benefit is not always physical. Since God does not always desire that we be cured of our infirmities, He also gave the apostles the power to strengthen the sick spiritually. So, we often see that, along with physical healings was also the casting out of demons (cf. Mk 6:13; Acts 5:16; 8:7) and the forgiveness of sins (Jas 5:14-15). Similarly, in the sacrament, the sick person may not be physically healed by the action of the priest, but he is always given the grace to persevere with courage, to unite his pain with that of our crucified Lord, and to resist the devil, who tempts us in our deepest suffering to renounce our faith in God.

The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is an amazing gift to anyone, young or old, who begins to be in danger of death.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Monday, May 11, 2009

Poll-Release Monday #66

After a long, exorbitant hiatus, here is your new poll-question:
  • True or False? The Eucharist is also called Holy Mass because it concludes with the sending forth of the faithful to fulfill God's will in their lives.

What do you think? Vote in the poll in the sidebar.

As for the previous poll, here are the results:
  • True or False?: In the Eucharist we raise ourselves above concern with the material order of creation in order to maintain a spiritual union with the Father.
    • True: 25 (57%)
    • False: 19 (43%)

The correct answer is:
  • False, cf. CCC no. 1359: The Eucharist, the sacrament of our salvation accomplished by Christ on the cross, is also a sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for the work of creation. In the Eucharistic sacrifice the whole of creation loved by God is presented to the Father through the death and the Resurrection of Christ. Through Christ the Church can offer the sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for all that God has made good, beautiful, and just in creation and in humanity.

The paragraph from the Catechism that is cited here doesn't really seem to answer the question, in my opinion. I too would have said, "False" ... but for a different reason.

Instead of "rising above concern for the material order," the Eucharist is actually what strengthens us and spurs us on to go out and feed the poor, clothe the naked ... in other words, to do those charitable works that provide for the material needs of others. The Eucharist is a call to address the "material order," to bring about justice within it, not to "rise above it" or neglect it.

Does that make sense? Let me know.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Brothers of Jesus: Part 2

Someone left an anonymous comment on my post about the brothers of Jesus, saying that my "reasoning seems rather closed minded and prejudiced." I would like to respond to his reasons for saying such a thing.
  • Your reasoning seems rather closed minded and prejudiced. If you read additional scripture you will see that it says that Joseph did not know Mary until after Jesus was born. This infers that he did know her in the biblical way after Jesus was born. So Mary would not be a virgin her whole life as the Catholic church teaches.
Not so fast. In Scripture, the Greek word heos (as well as heos hou), which we translate as "until," does not always infer that the status of something up to a certain point will change after that point. In other words, when Scripture says (cf. Mt 1:24-25) that Joseph did not know Mary until she had born a son, this does not necessarily mean that he "knew her" after Jesus was born. This is made evident by other uses of the word "until" in Scripture in which it is more obvious that the situation in question is not going to change after a certain point [the OT passages are from the Greek Septuagint]:

Gen 8:7 and sent forth a raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth.

Gen 26:13 and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy.

Deut 2:15 For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from the camp, until they had perished.

Deut 34:6 and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-pe'or; but no man knows the place of his burial to (or "until", heos) this day.

2 Sam 6:23 And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to (or "until", heos) the day of her death.

1 Chron 6:32 They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, until Solomon had built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem; and they performed their service in due order.

2 Chron 26:15 In Jerusalem he made engines, invented by skillful men, to be on the towers and the corners, to shoot arrows and great stones. And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong.

Psa 57:1 To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave. Be merdiful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in thee my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of thy wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.

Psa 110:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my lord: "Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool."

Psa 123:2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he have mercy upon us.

Mt 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to (or "until", heos) the close of the age."

Mk 13:19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will be.

1 Cor 1:8 who will sustain you to (or "until", heos) the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Cor 3:15 Yes, to (or "until", heos) this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds;

As you can see, there are plenty of examples in Scripture of the word "until" not necessarily inferring a change in status of the clause that precedes it. Thus, there is no requirement based on the word "until" to believe that Joseph knew Mary after Jesus was born.

  • According to the society and culture in those times, they would have had many more children.
Well, this family is obviously not your typical family.

  • The Bible does not mention a lot of things directly, so not saying that Mary and Joseph looked for Jesus with his brothers means nothing. They most likely would have looked there first as most of us would have done.
First of all, my conclusion does not rest solely on that argument, but instead on the cumulative effect of that argument along with the other arguments I made in defense of Mary's perpetual virginity. Also, you have to admit that no mention of the "brothers" of Jesus at the one time when you expect to read of them the most is surely an odd omission if these brothers really did exist.

  • There is also a word that is usually used in Greek to mean cousins or distant relatives. The word that you propose means cousins or distant relatives does not make sense in the context is is used.
Yes it does, just as it does in the context we use it today. In English too, we have words for "cousin" and other distant relations, but we use "brother" instead. I use this word quite often in fact to refer to guys that I am close to who are not my actual siblings. The New Testament audience was used to this way of speaking, so the writers utilized it, even though technically they had a word they could have used for "cousin."

  • I am not a Bible scholar by any means, but it seems that you are trying to add your meaning to the Bible to fit your beliefs instead of making your beliefs fit the Bible which is the Word of God.
The same could be said of you ;) All I've done so far is analyze the Biblical evidence. You should do the same.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Divine Mercy of Jesus

I don't have time to post very much today (or all week really) but I did want to at least make a short post in honor of last Sunday, "Divine Mercy Sunday."

The Divine Mercy chaplet has had a great impact on my life, and I credit the slow, gradual progress I have made in my spiritual life to the faithful praying of this chaplet. The fact that I have been able to make positive steps at all is a testament to the power of God's mercy and of the trust in His mercy that is cultivated by this devotion.

Please, learn more about the appearances and private revelations of Jesus Christ to Sister Faustina and consider faithfully praying the Divine Mercy chaplet. Hopefully, the entry in the Directory on Jesus' Divine Mercy can and will be your guide. Also see my earlier blog post: What's the Divine Mercy Chaplet All About?

Jesus, I Trust in You!

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Palm Sunday Homily

As you know, my twin brother Matt is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Louisville, KY. Part of his current formation is to prepare homilies and deliver them to the priest at the parish where he is concluding his pastoral year. Here is his homily for Palm Sunday [I took the liberty of giving it a title]:Make sure you leave a comment on his blog and let him know what you think. He appreciates the feedback and needs it in order to improve as a homilist.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Faith in Medication

Am I showing a lack of faith if I take medication?

I don’t think that there is anything inherently “anti-faith” about taking medication. Wine, oil, balm, figs, leaves, salt, bandages, salve, and similar things are all utilized in Scripture to cure various ailments, and such use is laudable and encouraged:

  • 2 Kings 20:7 And Isaiah said, "Bring a cake of figs. And let them take and lay it on the boil, that he may recover."
  • Isa 1:6 From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and bleeding wounds; they are not pressed out, or bound up, or softened with oil.
  • Jer 8:22 Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored?
  • Jer 51:8 Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken; wail for her! Take balm for her pain; perhaps she may be healed.
  • Ezek 16:4 And as for your birth, on the day you were born your navel string was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor swathed with bands.
  • Ezek 47:12 And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing."
  • Lk 10:33-34 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
  • 1 Tim 5:23 No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.
  • Rev 3:18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.

The fact is, God can use the things of this world and the advances that man has made in science and medicine to heal us. It does not imply a lack of faith to take medicine anymore than it does to go to a doctor or a dentist. We also have the responsibility, as good stewards, to take care of our bodies and provide for their vitality. Taking medicine and going to the doctor is one way that we do that.

The important thing is to keep the Lord involved as well. We don't want to be like King Asa and only consult physicians (cf. 2 Chron 16:12). We want to also seek the Lord. So, pray to Him daily for healing. Acknowledge the "Great Physician" working through the human physician. The amazing accomplishments that mankind has been able to achieve in science and medicine often lull us into thinking that we can do just fine without God. We must never forget that He is at work in all that is good, and we depend on Him for everything.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

ps: "japhy" alerted me to Sirach 38, and it perfectly addresses this topic:
1 Honor the physician with the honor due him, according to your need of him, for the Lord created him; 2 for healing comes from the Most High, and he will receive a gift from the king. 3 The skill of the physician lifts up his head, and in the presence of great men he is admired. 4 The Lord created medicines from the earth, and a sensible man will not despise them. 5 Was not water made sweet with a tree in order that his power might be known? 6 And he gave skill to men that he might be glorified in his marvelous works. 7 By them he heals and takes away pain; 8 the pharmacist makes of them a compound. His works will never be finished; and from him health is upon the face of the earth. 9 My son, when you are sick do not be negligent, but pray to the Lord, and he will heal you. 10 Give up your faults and direct your hands aright, and cleanse your heart from all sin. 11 Offer a sweet-smelling sacrifice, and a memorial portion of fine flour, and pour oil on your offering, as much as you can afford. 12 And give the physician his place, for the Lord created him; let him not leave you, for there is need of him. 13 There is a time when success lies in the hands of physicians, 14 for they too will pray to the Lord that he should grant them success in diagnosis and in healing, for the sake of preserving life. 15 He who sins before his Maker, may he fall into the care of a physician.
Thanks japhy!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Brothers of Jesus Don't Scare Me

Why does the Bible say that Jesus had brothers if Mary was a virgin her whole life?

There are several verses in Scripture that refer to the “brothers” of Jesus (cf. Mt 12:46; 13:55-56; Mk 3:31; Lk 8:19; Jn 7:1-10; Acts 1:14; Gal 1:19). However, it is not necessary to believe that these “brothers” were actually His siblings.

Remember, the New Testament was written in Greek. The Greek word for “brother” in these verses is adelphos. This word can mean “sibling,” but it is also used in Scripture to refer to those of the same nationality; any man, or neighbor; persons with like interests; distant descendants of the same parents; persons united by a common calling; mankind; the disciples; and all believers.

Considering the broad meaning of the word, we can just as easily say that the “brothers” of Jesus were not Jesus’ siblings but instead were related to Him in some other way. Scripture tells us that at least four of them – James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas – were actually Jesus’ cousins, since their mother was Mary’s sister (cf. Mt 27:56,61; 28:1; Mk 15:47; Jn 19:25). That fact alone is reason to give us pause, instead of jumping to the conclusion that every brother of Jesus mention in the NT is an actual sibling of Jesus.

The customs of the day are helpful here as well. For one, Jesus was the first born of the family, so these brothers would be younger than Him. In Jn 7:1-10 we see them giving Jesus orders and practically reprimanding Him. Yet, in Jesus' day, no younger brother would dare speak to the eldest the way these brothers speak to Jesus.

Also, it was Jewish custom for the eldest son to take care of his mother once his father died. Once the eldest son died, this responsibility fell on the next son, and so on. Yet, Jesus gave his mother to the Apostle John, not to any of His brothers (cf. Jn 19:26-27).

Furthermore, there are a couple of places where one would expect to see these siblings of Jesus, but they are conspicuously absent. For example, if Jesus had siblings, where were they when Mary and Joseph lost Jesus on the way back from celebrating the Passover in Jerusalem? These siblings certainly would have been traveling with them. Yet, there is no mention of them at all in the account of what happened. Note also that, when Mary and Joseph realized that Jesus was gone, they didn’t go to his supposed siblings, which would have been the logical thing to do. Instead, they looked among their “kinfolk and acquaintances” (Lk 2:44).

Where were the siblings of Jesus at the wedding feast at Cana? Mary was invited, Jesus was invited, even Jesus' followers were invited, but we don't read of any invitation for His siblings, for "Jesus and His brothers" or anything like that (cf. Jn 2:1-2). Were they just snubbed? Highly unlikely. Marriages were a whole community affair. Everyone in town would celebrate. The most plausible explanation for why the siblings of Jesus weren't invited is because they did not exist.

Why, if Jesus had other siblings, is He referred to in Scripture as "the" son of Joseph and Mary, instead of "a" son (cf. Mk 6:3; Jn 1:45; 6:42). Maybe there's nothing there, but it seems to me that if Mary had multiple sons, "a son" would have been the more appropriate phrase.

So, we can see from the underlying Greek, from the customs of the day, and from other peculiarities in Scripture, that it's quite reasonable to conclude that Mary did not have other children.

We even have reason to believe that she never intended to. How else do we explain the confusion that Mary expressed when the angel told her she would conceive and bear a son? From Lk 1:34, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man" (KJV), "since I have no relations with a man" (NABRE). If she intended to have children, there would be no confusion. She would have just assumed that once she entered into Joseph's house, they would have marital relations and she would conceive a son. But, she's confused. She doesn't understand how this can happen.

Does she not know how babies are made? I think she's confused because she intended to be a virgin dedicated to the Lord. The angel relieves her anxiety and concern by basically saying, "Don't worry, you will remain a virgin, the child will be conceived not in the usual way, but by the power of the Holy Spirit" (cf. Lk 1:35)

All of this explains why Catholics have nothing to fear when they read of the “brothers of Jesus” in Scripture.

Peace of Christ to you,
phatcatholic
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