Catholic Faith: Blog
This Catholic Faith Blog is Maintained by the Catholic Rebuttals Research Team. Here You Will Find Responses to Reader's Questions, Catholic Commentary and Other Resources!
As is many traditions in the Catholic Church, this washing of the priest's hands is a symbol of the washing away of his own sin, making him worthy of consecrating the Body and Blood of our Lord.
Over the years my Protestant friends have accused me of following the traditions of man, via Catholic worship, doctrines and devotions. From the critic’s misinformed perspective, I can easily see why these false claims are made against my fellow Catholics and I. Once the critic is enlightened, it is evident that what often times is considered to be a ‘man-made tradition’ is truly a tradition built upon the words of Jesus Christ.
In yesterday’s Gospel Reading, Mark 7:1-13, Jesus condemns the Pharisees because they were only concerned with washing the outside of the body (external environment). If you have ever been to a Catholic Mass, this may shock you - the priest actually washes his hands before consecrating the Eucharist! Jesus emphasizes that it is the heart (internal environment) that must be cleansed and directed toward God, via worship. Merely going through the motions of piety and worship is of little or no value, for the Lord will judge our hearts (Proverbs 3:1-7). Once the heart is cleansed, piety becomes a holy exercises. As is many traditions in the Catholic Church, this washing of the priest's hands is a symbol of the washing away of his own sin, making him worthy of consecrating the Body and Blood of our Lord.
It has been said that every human being possess the Holy Spirit, whether one believes or does not believe; God never gives up on anyone. It is true that God calls all mankind to himself; however, not all will accept the call. We have the freedom to choose. This freedom is expressed in the intellect, the will and the heart of every man. At the moment of conception, God imprints on each of us a code of conduct to guide and counsel our hearts, giving us the ability to, “Discern by reason between the good and the evil” (CCC 1954). This code is the law of man's nature; it is who we are. This law separates man from animals and the rest of creation. This “code” is our wiring, so to speak, and is referred to as the moral or natural law. This law raises man up to the likeness and image of God.
“According to Christian tradition, the Law is holy, spiritual and good" (CCC 1963). It reveals the dignity of every man and directs the basis for his core rights and duties. The moral / natural law is permanent in man’s heart. Even complete rejection of its goodness cannot remove it; therefore, it is eternally sealed in every man’s soul. The moral law is the foundation from which man is created and drawn toward God. It is the first stage to the fulfillment of what God intends for his children, which is: life, knowledge, and love. These three were damaged through sin, and it is through the New Law (the law of the Gospel) that man is to be reconciled back to The Father. “The New Law is the grace of the Holy Spirit received by faith in Christ, operating through charity."
For further study refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, article 1, 1950, The Moral Law.
What does it mean to be human? Well, one of the fundamental forms of human expression is the act or art of creating. You see it everywhere you go. This expression is found in art, architecture, gardening, science and business. Early civilizations were not instructed to build; they just simply built.
Why does it seem as though humans are called to be creators? My argument reverts back to the biblical expression that as humans we are created in the image and likeness of God - the divine creator. Since we are created in God's image and likeness; we too must be creators. Therefore, go out and create. Create art, buildings, gardens, innovations and businesses but bring the glory to the one who instinctively taught you how to create - God himself!
Why did Jesus say before the Ascension, "If I do not go, the Spirit will not come.”? Wasn't the Holy Spirit present at the Conception of Jesus and throughout his ministry? I would enjoy getting some insight into this question. Many thanks! Leo L.
Great question! What you are referencing here is Jesus’ Departure; Coming of the Advocate, detailed in the Gospel of John, Chapter 16. First, let’s make it clear that The Holy Spirit did exist prior to the birth of Jesus, and the Spirit has always been fully present with Him. Scripture, as well as the Catechism demonstrate very clearly that Jesus was conceived “by the power of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 484). It is important to note that though the Spirit was with Him, the Spirit has not always been present with His Church. Let me explain further.
Do you remember when Jesus said to, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?” (John 20:29)? Even Paul said that “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:6-7). I’m sure that you would agree that if Jesus were still walking around with us today, it would not require much faith to believe in Him. Will we believe in Him when we come to our final resting place, the throne of the Most High God (beatific vision)? Of course we will! In heaven, faith will naturally vanish as fact is proven in front of our very eyes. For this reason, I believe Jesus had to ascend. Jesus ascended from this earth so that we could exercise our faith. We exercise our faith with the power of the Holy Spirit so that we can prove our loyalty and worthiness of heaven. Jesus said, “And [behold] I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Jesus left this earth so that the Spirit could testify through men.
God the Father was first revealed in the Old Testament. Throughout the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit touched those chosen to prophesize about the coming of the Messiah. Jesus was not fully revealed until the Incarnation, His mission, passion, death and resurrection. “From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16).
Wherever Jesus is, the Trinity is present. Throughout scripture, Jesus explained that He and The Father are one – if you see Jesus, you see The Father (John 10:30,38). Upon His ascension The Paraclete would come to guide and counsel The Church. Holy Spirit has always been present throughout God’s revelation to man. However, the Lord has revealed himself in parts (stages) over time. He promised Adam to put enmity between the seed of the woman and the serpent; this foreshadows Jesus (Genesis 3:15). Similar to the Lord’s revelation, the promise of a Messiah is revealed to us in stages via many other covenants (Abraham, David, etc.). Each covenant was increasingly intense, revealing more and more of God’s plan of salvation. After the ascension, The Spirit came to us intensified, and fully revealed Jesus as the salvation for all mankind. This ended the Lord’s revelation to mankind, and is known as “The Final Covenant.” Jesus said, “You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe (John 14:28-29).” Upon the full revelation of the Holy Spirit, the people of God enter a new age known as the Church age (John 15:26). Jesus also said, “I will not leave you orphans” (John 14:18). He knows our weaknesses and human limitations, we cannot do it alone. Therefore, He promised to send us The Spirit to dwell in our hearts as we await His second coming or our own death. The Spirit is made present to those who believe that they are the temple of the Spirit.
In Short: Jesus had to ascend so that the Holy Spirit would descend, in full intensity. The Spirit had to descend so that his disciples could believe in Jesus and his word - even when Jesus was gone and their faith was shaken. His words come to pass as proof to what he says is trustworthy upon His believers - this strengthened the disciples to do great works of faith. These works of faith evangelize Jesus’s message (salvation) to all those called to be saved (humanity), but not all will go. It’s sort of like when your mom and dad teach you how to do something, but you really can’t prove yourself effective until they walk away and you do it ‘all by yourself.’ Jesus completely understands our humanity.
The Catholic "Religion" is Catholic's relationship with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
What the Church Teaches
Religion is a relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit; and also with the people of God, his children. Through this relationship, we are able to become stronger in our faith, richer in our hope and mirrors of His love.
The angel “was whiter than snow, transparent and brighter than crystal pierced by rays of the sun.” Sister Lucy of Fatima description of the liminus being who appeared to the three shepherd children in 1916 could well have been that of the humble shepherds on that first Christmas night when “ the angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Lk 1:9).
Sister Lucy also related that the children were left in a state of physical prostration by the appearance of the angel. Likewise, the Christmas shepherds “were left in a state of physical prostration by the appearance of the same message: “Do not be afraid” and “peace to those on whom God’s favor rest” (Lk 1:9.
Angels are servants and messengers of God. “They have been present since creation and throughout salvation history, announcing this salvation from afar or near, and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan” (CCC#332). Our Blessed Mother, Queen of Angels, also uses them as her messengers. Just as at Christmas, when the angels announced the Good News of Jesus’ coming, an angel was sent to announce her coming, which was to serve “the accomplishment of the divine plan” for peace in the world.
Sr. Lucia recounts the angel’s message: “Do not be afraid. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me. “ Then prostrating himself with his forehead touching the ground, he gave the children this prayer. “My God, I believe, adore, I hope and love you. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love you. Pray in this way. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are ready to listen to you. “In another visit the angel exhorted the children: Pray, pray constantly . . . In everything you do offer sacrifices to God to make up for the sins by which He is offended. In this way you will draw peace upon your country.
The angel’s message were the prologue to those of Our Blessed Mother, who promised that, if what she asked: prayer, sacrifice, reparation, devotion to her Immaculate Heart, was heeded, there would be peace. Obviously, her words have not been accepted by enough of her children, but hopefully the graces of this special Year will inspire many more to respond to her.
Christmas has been called the feast of angels, whose song of praise, first heard at Jesus’ birth, still resounds in the Church’s liturgy: “Glory to God in the highest” (Lk2:14). Christmas of this Centenary Year can be special feast of the Angel of Fatima. It is an opportune time to reflect on his words and renew ourselves in living out Our Blessed Mother’s request. And, as Jesus was born and held close to her Immaculate Heart on that first Christmas. Then the angel’s promise of “peace to those on whom God’s favor rest” will be our’s There is no gratitude for your faithful generosity, we will ask this for you in prayer as our particular Christmas gift and as a special intention of the Novena offered for you , your family and your personal needs. May the Hearts of Jesus and Mary listen to our prayers for you and for our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
Your devoted Carmelite Nuns
As Thanksgiving passes us all by, it draws me to pause, and take a few moments to meditate on all the good things in my life. Putting everything into perspective, the first thing I reflect on, is how blessed I am to know that I am loved by The God of the universe. I thank God for the graces he has given me to have faith in Him and His Church, the Catholic Church.
I think about my wife and her tremendous support and love for me and our children. I think about my children, and how pleased I am with the people they have become. My son Reece and his wife Maegan, my daughter Arrie and her fiancé John. They have all grown to become outstanding members of the Catholic faith, and responsible citizens, who do their absolute best in whatever task they face.
I am so thankful to God for his obvious hand in directing our country down a more Christian path. How He (God) answered thousands of faithful people's prayers in this presidential election. I understand that half the country will not agree with me here, but if your candidate didn't win please try your best to give President Elect Donald Trump a chance to prove himself. Many people have prayed for this outcome. Now is the time to pray even harder, that those with governmental authority will do the will of God, and move our country down a path that is good for all people, whatever race, creed or political point of view.
Even if your candidate didn't win, we have a lot to be thankful for. We are alive - that means we have the opportunity to make the world a better place.
A Pray of Thanks
You are lavish in bestowing all of your gifts, and we give you thanks for the favors you have given us. In your goodness you have favored us and kept us safe in the past.
We ask that you continue to protect us and to shelter us in the shadow of your wings.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
The current U.S. election campaign is certainly one of mass confusion. There is so much fraud, misinformation, and defamation that it can become slightly intoxicating. The two presidential candidates, both Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton, wrongly focus on each other’s characters. They fail to realize that the judgement of their characters is not in their own hands, but in the hands of the American people. While a person's character traits are important, especially his or her moral character, remember that we are all sinners. Yes, we ALL have regrets, we all have skeletons in our closet. All that we can do to rectify our wrongdoings is apologize and ask for forgiveness. Donald Trump is doing just that; Hillary Clinton is falling short.
Now with that being said, for a public official to outright lie to the American people, to lie to congress, under legal and spiritual oath, and never apologized for it, is indefensible. Let's be honest, and think about our children's future here. If she is capable of this deceitful behavior, how in the world can she be trusted? To paraphrase Luke 16:10 – if we cannot trust Ms. Clinton with the largest of matters – how can she ever benefit our country? Hillary Clinton is scandalous, the integrity of character is what’s really “Deplorable.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) describes a ‘scandal’ as such; CCC-2284 “Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.”
CCC-2286 Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion. Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to “Social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible.”
CCC-2288 This is also true of business and political leaders who encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger, or manipulators of public opinion who turn away from moral values.
CCC-2287 Anyone who uses the power at his or her disposal, in such a way that it leads others to do wrong, becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. Remember, Jesus tells us that “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom (through whom) they come!" (Luke 17:1)
May God bless this nation,
Have you ever thought about the popular phrases we use to communicate a sense of certainty to others? Things like, “What I’m about to tell you, you can take it to the bank." Some others are, “Trust me, what I’m telling you is the truth,” or “Just take my word for it." When we attempt to communicate the seriousness of what we are saying, and we want our listener to receive our thoughts as accurate, we usually pour our emotions into the mix. We give it our all – we swing for the fences.
Jesus Christ was no different. He was very emotional when he spoke. Due to His divinity and His humanity, He knows us better than we know ourselves; therefore, Jesus used emotionally charged body language to communicate the importance of his words. For instance, when He flipped over the money tables at the temple, and said that they were using His Father’s House for a den of thieves. I’m sure He got their attention pretty quickly, after money went crashing to the floor.
Jesus also used specific phrases to capture His audience's attention, but more importantly, to help them realize, the importance of what He was saying. Our contemporary “…take it to the bank;” was most likely predeceased with ‘amen,’ in the Bible. ‘Amen’ is a derivative from the Hebrew verb aman, which means "to strengthen" or "Confirm". The verb form of the word ‘amen,’ can take on different meanings, such as: to take care, to be faithful, reliable or established, or to believe someone or something. In short, it means “so be it,” and it is used more than a hundred times throughout the Old Testament. It is used to end or confirm the prayers of Israel, see (1 Chron 16:36, Neh 8:6). It is used at the end of each of the first four books of Psalms, see (Psalms 41:13, 72:19; 89:52, 106:48).
‘Amen’ has other meanings also; it is used as a proclamation, to assure God is the ultimate ‘Amen,’ and He is the epitome of trustworthiness and faithfulness. ‘Amen’ can be used as an oath, to bind the contract between people, see (Isa 65:16; see also Rev 3:14). Jesus’ alliterative of ‘amen’ in the Gospel of John seems to be an assertion that His words are certainly true.
So, when Jesus uses the term, “Amen, Amen I say to you,” or “Truly, Truly,” (some translations use, “Verily, Verily”) we can be sure what follows these introductions is extremely important and true. Would you not agree?
In the gospel of John, chapter 6:22-59, known as, The Bread of Life Discourse, Jesus uses a double ‘amen,’ as a way to grab his disciple’s attention. Keep in mind, what he is about to say is a crucial teaching of his - there is no negotiation on this command. Pay attention as I lay the details out for you…
The Walk to Emmaus, found in Luke 24:13-35, takes my points even further. Take notice in verses 30 - 35 how their eyes were opened at the breaking of the bread, which Jesus had blessed. Why did their eyes finally open to the truth?
The Holy Eucharist is truly, truly, the real presence of our Savior Jesus the Christ.
May God bless you all.