Shortly after the infant baptism discussion my mother started to get the idea that we were really looking into the doctrines of the Catholic Church. She had never been one to press too hard but when we started asking questions she would give us the answers we needed. Finally she decided to head all of our questions off at the pass by handing us a 2 VHS tape series that she had seen on EWTN called "Household of Faith". This series was hosted by Kristine Franklin and Rosalind Moss. Moss is a convert from Judaism to Evangelical Protestantism and then finally into the Catholic Church. Kristine Franklin is a convert from Evangelical Protestantism. Each episode used personal stories regarding their conversions to Catholicism focused around a particular topic. The series was broken down into 16 parts.
After the first video my wife and I both, for the first time on our journey towards the Catholic faith expressed a great deal of excitement. We thought "maybe this IS the Church founded by Jesus Christ". What impressed me most about the series is that these two women were the people we were used to going to church with, just Catholic. They could talk the Evangelical talk. They loved the Bible. They were missionaries and active members of their former churches. Over the 16 episodes they skewered many common misconceptions about the Catholic faith which fell right in line with the atrocious treatment we had noticed of others towards the Catholic faith. Every episode was similar to one that had played out in my life at the very churches I had gone to. The women were emotional and they loved the Catholic Church. You could see real JOY. This wasn't the works based, sour faced scrooge religion I had been told about. This was everything I had but more complete. The excitement built and built over every episode. We liked it even more because they explained doctrines in a way that glorified the One who gave them to us. A perfect example was Rosalind Moss in explaining how our sufferings add to those of Christ.
"If Christ's sacrifice was sufficient, then how was it that we added to it? Because to offer ourselves with Christ is to say that His sacrifice is not sufficient. And everyone I had asked said we didn't add to it because they wanted me to understand that the Catholic Church believed that Christ's sacrifice was sufficient. But Msgr. O'Connor said to me, 'Yes, we add to the sacrifice of Christ; and yes, His sacrifice was sufficient. No, He doesn't need us; but He receives us. We legitimately add.'
"I thought, 'Aha! The truth is out at last. This is heresy. You believe that we add to the sacrifice of Christ and now it's out in the open. I <knew> I couldn't trust the Catholic Church.'
"And in the next moment what he had said penetrated my mind, or my heart, and became the most beautiful thought I'd ever heard. I thought immediately of a mother baking a cake, and her little child in the kitchen with her. The mother has everything there sufficient for the cake; but here comes the daughter and says, 'Mommy, I want to help.' So the mother receives the daughter because that love receives. She lets the daughter put the eggs in. Is the mother sufficient? Yes. Does she need the daughter? No. Does she allow the daughter to add? Yes. The daughter's addition is not needed, but it's received and it's a true addition. And I thought, 'That's love.'
"The human mind, and certainly the Protestant mind, could never conceive of it. Two weeks later, driving home from Mass, I realized for the first time, 'I don't think I want to be outside of this too much longer.'"
Long after the fact I realized that watching this series marked an important point in my conversion. I was moving into another phase of my conversion in a manner that is common to many converts. The first phase is, as G. K. Chesterton identifies in "The Catholic Church and Conversion"
... when he imagines himself to be entirely detached, or even to be entirely indifferent, but in the old sense of the term, as when the Prayer Book talks of judges who will truly and indifferently administer justice. Some flippant modern person would probably agree that our judges administer justice very indifferently. But the older meaning was legitimate and even logical and it is that which is applicable here. The first phase is that of the young philosopher who feels that he ought to be fair to the Church of Rome. He wishes to do it justice; but chiefly because he sees that it suffers injustice. From The Catholic Church and Conversion by G. K. Chesterton - Chapter III: The Real Obstacles
Check. I had been there. The next phase was upon me. To further quote Chesterton
The second stage is that in which the convert begins to be conscious not only of the falsehood but the truth and is enormously excited to find that there is far more of it than he would ever have expected. This is not so much a stage as a progress; and it goes on pretty rapidly but often for a long time. It consists in discovering what a very large number of lively and interesting ideas there are in the Catholic philosophy, that a great many of them commend themselves at once to his sympathies, and that even those which he would not accept have something to be said for them justifying their acceptance. This process, which may be called discovering the Catholic Church, is perhaps the most pleasant and straightforward part of the business, easier than joining the Catholic Church and much easier than trying to live the Catholic life. It is like discovering a new continent full of strange flowers and fantastic animals, which is at once wild and hospitable.
The next several months were ones of excitement where I learned much about the Catholic faith and began to really take ownership of the concept that I was in the presence of the truth. Thats the real gist of it. Any and everyone who has been through this process can tell you when asked "Why did you convert?" --- "Why simply, because its true."
NOTE: Fiath is spelled incorrectly in the title because in the introduction to every "Household of Faith" series episode they spell the word FAITH one letter at a time. Only, they spell it FIATH. It took us six or so episodes to notice this. From that point, my wife and I began to refer to the series as the Household of FEE-ATH series.
When I first became a Protestant the young lady that I was attending Church with knew I was raised Catholic. She also rejected outright my baptism as an infant. She asked me to review baptism in the Book of Acts in order to be baptized at her church. I never did that while in school but the general idea of reviewing Acts stayed with me. After graduating from college and beginning to attend a non-denominational church, I started to think more about it. Upon looking at the concordance in the back of my brand spanking new NIV, I noticed that the Book of Acts contained scores of refrences to baptism. At that point I read the references in the Book of Acts.
A sampling of references stack up like this:
Acts 2:38 ... Repent and be baptized ...
Acts 2:41 Those who accepted his message were baptized ...
Acts 8:12 But when they believed ... they were baptized, both men and women.
Acts 8:13 Simon himself believed and was baptized.
Acts 18:8 ... and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized
Acts 19:5 On hearing this, they were baptized ...
This caused me to doubt the baptism of my youth. I came to a simple conclusion. You had to believe in order to be baptized. Thus, in my mid-twenties, I was "baptized" again by full immersion.
A few years passed. In that time, I left the non-denominational church and joined the Episcopal church. I got married and my wife and I had two children. We had our first son baptized even though in my mind it was more of a baby dedication like we had at my old non-denominational church. I wasn't torn over the idea. I figured Espicopalians had to have good reasons to baptize infants but I didn't believe at the time that was what was going on. I figured it couldn't hurt. When our second child was due up for baptism we had a long discussion in our family about infant baptism.
The same verses in Acts were presented in support of belief coming before baptism. The contrary case was also made. "All of these people were converted adults. Even today, the Church baptizes those who convert to the faith after belief." I had never thought about it that way before. The Book of Acts occurred in a unique time in history. There were lots of non-Christians around thus there were lots of conversions going on. Of course they were not born into the faith. This normitive case today was unusual then. The discussion veered in the direction of baptism by immersion only. After all, we (Episcopalians) didn't typically immerse infants as that was practically problematic. Certainly a requirement to immerse would lend sufficient cause to reject infant baptism. This case, however, was not very convincing to me. The immersion only case insists the Greek meaning of "baptizo" means immersion in every case. I find this assertion weak, especially due to the fact that there two instances in the New Testament of "baptizo" explicitly being translated as wash (Luke 11:38, Mark 7:3–4).
A few more verses rose to the surface. While there are no instances of infant baptism in the Bible, there are multiple instances of entire households being baptized (Acts 16:13-15, 1 Corinthians 1:16). Also nowhere in Scripture do we read of children reaching the age of reason before being baptized. The whole households were. It certainly stands to reason that there were young children in those families. Furthermore Catholics refer to baptism as the new cicrcumcision (Colossians 2:11–12). If circumcision was done to infants in the Old Covenant then certainly the New Testament fulfilment of circumcision would also be performed on infants.
Finally, during the discussion I thought the zinger that laid to rest all doubt about infant baptism came to light.
1 Peter 3:21 (NIV): and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge(1) of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1. Or response
Here it seemed to me that a pledge on the part of the believer was requried for baptism. I left the discussion less assured that infant baptism was wrong but not entirely convinced that it was right. Upon reading that verse over and over that night I realized that it did not refer to the promise of the Christian. It refered to the response by God of a "clean conscience". This fit in nicely with a regenerative understanding of baptism. This verse is often used by apologists to show as much. This is a doctrine that I had no qualms with. The verse in no way undermined infant baptism as I had originally thought.
We followed through with the baptism of our son retaining the justification that it couldn't hurt.
What started to change my mind on the matter was Martin Luther who stated
But if God did not accept the baptism of infants, He would not give the Holy Ghost nor any of His gifts to any of them; in short, during this long time unto this day no man upon earth could have been a Christian.-- XIII A. Part Fourth: Of Infant Baptism. in Martin Luthers Large Catechsim
Here Luther appealed to history. It certainly made sense to me as few had questioned the doctrine of infant baptism prior to this point. So what of history on baptism?
In the first century we see in the Didache the early use of pouring thus supporting the case of the Catholic Church and more mainline Protestant denominations against "immersion only" opponents:
And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit.
We further see support in the second century for a regenerative understanding of baptism, of which Luthers assertion assumes a belief in:
As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, "Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." -- St. Justin Martyr First Apology, 61
Finally we see in the second century a direct support for infant baptism:
For He came to save all through means of Himself -- all, I say, who through Him are born again to God -- infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men. He therefore passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, thus sanctifying infants; a child for children, thus sanctifying those who are of this age, being at the same time made to them an example of piety, righteousness, and submission; a youth for youths, becoming an example to youths, and thus sanctifying them for the Lord. -- St. Irenaeus Against Heresies 2:22:4
My post discussion research also introduced me to the Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas. During the discussion the Summa was directly appealed to on behalf of Catholics. The pertinent passage is whether children should be baptized?. Here Aquinas defends against common objections on requiring intent and faith. He places the burden of each of these on the Church for
like carnal birth, in this respect, that as the child while in the mother's womb receives nourishment not independently, but through the nourishment of its mother, so also children before the use of reason, being as it were in the womb of their mother the Church, receive salvation not by their own act, but by the act of the Church.
Once again, I found the biblical case sound and the historical case nearly irrefutable.
The doctrine of sola scriptura is not one that I thought much about in my Protestant days. It was a given. It was never expounded or explained. Usually it was just expected to be held. I simply adopted the mindset that what was in the Bible was good enough for generations of people to surround themselves with. They could have good fellowship and learn from our love letter from God. I never questioned this doctrine nor did I understand the implications of it. That changed upon reading an essay by Jimmy Akin that challenged not the biblical basis of it but the practical problems associated with it. Without reprinting the whole of the text (available online here), I will summarize the points that most resonated with me:
1. Private interpretation is a necessary corollary of sola scriptura. 2. Most people do not have the time required to become Scripture scholars. 3. History shows that most people were illiterate thus if Bible reading were THAT important, Christians historically would have placed a high priority on literacy. 4. But that wasn't necessary because the printing press was not invented until the 15th century, thus access to books was very limited not because the Church kept the scriptures from the people but because it costs several years wages to get your hands on a Bible.
Thus, historically speaking, heading to church with a Bible in tow to hear a preacher expound upon the Word is a recent historical innovation. It simply was not possible until mass production processes made books affordable and available to the masses. Beyond that the typical arguments against the Church regarding the Bible were almost easily explainable as I soon learned by reading Catholic/Protestant debates on the matter.
Charge: The Church prohibited translations and kept the Scriptures from the people. Response:: In some cases, this is true but the reason was to safeguard the accurate meaning of the Scriptures. This phenomenon was largely limited to England.
Charge: The Church chained down Bibles because they didn't want people to have them. Response:: Bibles were valuable. They were typically available for people to read but the reality is that most people could not read.
Charge: The Church added books to the Bible. You can see this by their affirming the Canon containing these books after the time of Luther. Response:: The Gutenberg Bible, a Catholic Bible, contained the Deuterocanon (see Reminder that the Deuterocanon is in the Gutenberg Bible). Numerous references the deuterocanonical books can be found throughout the historical documents of the Church (Early Church Fathers: Old Testament Canon). Earlier local councils (Council of Rome in 382 and the Council of Hippo in 393) affirmed the Deuterocanon which was not in dispute until the time of the reformation.
Charge: Catholics were ignorant of the Scriptures until the reformation Response: It is historically verifiable that Catholics were taught about the Bible before the reformation. The documents of the early church fathers are strewn with Bible verses and commentary which rivals that of the best preachers today. Books written by the saints further underscore this point. You can find excellent Bible commentary from just about every century of the Church. Furthermore, one only needs to look at the stained glass windows of Sainte Chapelle in France to realize that pre-reformation Christians were not ignorant of Scripture. The entire collection of images in the building is a history of the Church (with some French embellishment towards the end) ... Most of your Bible stories are contained. A cursory review of art history, especially western art in the time frame just prior to the reformation includes numerous examples of Bible events, especially those in the New Testament.
Another key point that really hit home with me is that none of the defenses that Catholics use against Protestant attacks on their understanding of the Bible are new. From St. Thomas Aquinas back to the time of St. Clement of Rome, writings can be found that defend certain Catholic doctrines in the same manner they are defended today by Jimmy Akin, Dave Armstrong, Mark Shea and others. St. Francis de Sales was not treading much new ground when he wrote his defenses of the Church against the reformers.
Finally, the doctrine of sola scriptura is foreign to Scripture. That would make it, as is often charged of Catholics, a tradition of men.
The passage most commonly brought up by Evangelicals and Fundamentalists is 2 Timothy 3:16–17. In the King James Version, the verse reads this way: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteous- ness; That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
Many claim that 2 Timothy 3:16–17 claims Scripture is sufficient as a rule of faith. But an examination of the verse in context shows that it doesn’t claim that at all; it only claims Scripture is "profitable" (Greek: ophelimos) that is, helpful. Many things can be profitable for moving one toward a goal, without being sufficient in getting one to the goal. Notice that the passage nowhere even hints that Scripture is "sufficient"—which is, of course, exactly what Protestants think the passage means.
Point out that the context of 2 Timothy 3:16–17 is Paul laying down a guideline for Timothy to make use of Scripture and tradition in his ministry as a bishop. Paul says, "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (Greek: theopneustos = "God-breathed"), and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:14–17). In verse 14, Timothy is initially exhorted to hold to the oral teachings—the traditions—that he received from the apostle Paul. This echoes Paul’s reminder of the value of oral tradition in 1:13–14, "Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us" (RSV), and ". . . what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2:2). Here Paul refers exclusively to oral teaching and reminds Timothy to follow that as the "pattern" for his own teaching (1:13). Only after this is Scripture mentioned as "profitable" for Timothy’s ministry.
The few other verses that might be brought up to "prove" the sufficiency of Scripture can be handled the same way. Not one uses the word "sufficient"—each one implies profitability or usefulness, and many are given at the same time as an exhortation to hold fast to the oral teaching of our Lord and the apostles. The thing to keep in mind is that nowhere does the Bible say, "Scripture alone is sufficient," and nowhere does the Bible imply it. Catholic Answers: What's Your Authority?
A crisis of faith
This caused a radical shattering of some presumptions I had. Without an authority, the Scriptures alone were not sufficient to logically support themselves. After all, why would I trust them over any other book that someone hands me and says "THIS is the inspired Word of God". One of two solutions seemed possible and they were both uncomfortable. The first was to find myself outside the Christian faith. I could not understand how God would have allowed his faith to wander aimlessly for 3-4 centuries without something so critical as the Bible itself. The Canon of the New Testament is first documented by St. Athanasius (who further believed in the Primacy of the Roman Church, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Apostolic Tradition). I thought long and hard about this. Over time I came to the conclusion that I had seen too much of what God had done in my life to ignore it. The other solution was to review the path of the apostolic churches, the ones that had continuity with history and championed some role of having guarded the deposit of the faith since the time of Christ.
The Church preserves many beliefs and practices that generally are accepted or publicly commanded. Some are taken from written teaching; others have been passed on to us “in a mystery” by the tradition of the apostles. In relation to true religion, both of these have the same force.
OK, this is a big work in progress but I am posting the gist of it now anyway
On June 17, 2000 my wife and I were married in a small Episcopal Church. We did a lot of things pretty traditionally. Other standard American marriage traditions we didn't mind so much. One was the way we dealt with taking pictures. We did so before the ceremony. My wife showed up a few minutes after we did but a few hours before our early bird 9:30 am wedding. I still to this day can see her joyous smile peering from the back seat of her mothers car. Her smile was aimed only at me, as if I was the only thing in the world that existed. Another thing we decided to do was make it very clear that our marriage was focused on our relationship with Christ. He was going to be the center of our relationship. We took the opportunity to create a long program for our wedding knowing that many people would be coming from different backgrounds. The Catholics in our family would be familiar with the liturgical order of the service. The Protestants in our family would be familiar with some of the more contemporary Christian musical choices that we made. We also decided to print all of the scripture readings we selected and the responses that were expected from the attendees.
Our song choices were: Classical tunes: "Clair de Lune" - Claude Debussy, "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" - J.S. Bach, "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" Ludwig von Beethoven, "Brother James Air" - Bain Contemporary tunes: "Lord I Life Your Name on High", "You Are My All In All", and "Shout to the Lord"
Our Scripture readings were: Song of Solomon 2:10-13; 8:6-7 Psalm 127 1 John 4:7-16 John 15:9-12
From that point on, time flew. Before I knew it I was standing face to face with her and all I could see was gold illuminating her face. This woman was soon to be my wife and God was making it very apparent to me that this was a special moment in my life. The grace abound was astounding -- so thick nearly that I felt I could physically see what was happening in a way I knew no other person in the room could see. My wife told me afterwards that she saw the same thing. We both knew that something extraordinary had happened that morning. It was more than a social contract appeasing our parents. It was blessed by God to be something special.
A few years later, our lives brought us to consideration of Catholicism. What was different between it and the Anglican communion of which the Episcopal church was a part? I found in the back of the Book of Common prayer some "historical documents" of which a declaration called the 39 Articles was included.
XXV. Of the Sacraments. Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God's good will towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in him.
There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.
Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures, but yet have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord's Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.
This bothered me, partly from my experience at our wedding and further from my experience as a married man. I had already encountered more Catholic understandings of marriage through reading on birth control. I found it wholly repugnant to ignore that Christ's first miracle occurred at the wedding at Cana and further to ignore St. Paul's having compared it, in a very real way to the Church itself. The actual grace that comes from trying to be a faithful Christian husband to your wife is readily apparent to any and all who partake in marriage. How could the obvious fruits of marriage, including children be anything less than a sign of God's love and grace to all of us? The actual grace was undeniable. I have heard it said by some that the ordinary means of salvation for the majority is through the faithful service of ones spouse and the right upbringing of children in the faith. Of all the arrangements in my life, the most clear arrangement resulting in closeness with God is my marriage. To say it is not a sacrament was tantamount to insulting all that I held dear about marriage and to further relegate it to a mere social contract as if God had no intent in the right ordering of spouses towards sacrifice and sheer dependence on grace to even make it work. I decided to share my dismay with other Episcopalians. Upon this inquiry I found that whether or not we believed the contents of the "39 Articles" was really up to us. I could hold a sacramental belief about marriage. I further found this difference in belief also included our beliefs on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist which we found differed in the church from actual belief in the Catholic doctrine all the way to those who believed it no more than bread and wine.
To me this was even more bothersome. The Eucharist either IS or it IS NOT Christ. Marriage either IS or it IS NOT a sacrament. Those are pretty fundamental things to disagree on and here I was going to church with every manner of person believing as they wish. The relativistic aspect I was encountering on matters of doctrine was giving me strong cause to reconsider my affiliation with the church I was going to. The lack of real support for young married couples was even more pressing at that time in our lives. Our church was simply lacking in young families. We desired Christian friends with young children even if only for fellowship reasons. This collection of reasons gave us what we needed to justify church shopping.
It was a difficult path though. We loved the people we went to church with. What about those relationships?
A few years before we converted my to be brother-in-law was spending time with my mother. You see, my mom is the neighborhood matronly figure that many of my friends adopted as their second mom. It was not unusual to me to hear of my friends talking to my mom and breaking down in tears over some personal struggle in their lives. Its different talking to someone else's mom. There are times when you are not really quite sure you want your own mother to know about something in your life -- not yet -- but you still want sage advice from those who have been through the fire already. Other friends parents often fit the bill quite nicely. Over the course of normal discussions my mom simply handed him a copy of popular Catholic apologetics book. The thought of converting to Catholicism was quite far from his mind at the time.
The time following this is somewhat of a mystery to us. Eventually he announced to his family that he intended to convert to Catholicism. We had no idea what was going on. He was pretty much dismissed by my wife and I as being an angst ridden and defiant -- so typical of men his age. At the time the concept of returning to the Church was so foreign to me that I fell prey to one of the most common anti-Catholic assumptions about conversion. I thought "He just didn't KNOW what he was giving up." Today I read people, especially Presbyterians, say this about Scott Hahn quite a lot. The thought of someone converting for a REASON is just poppycock to them. So it was with me and my brother-in-law. When you are in that mindset there HAS to be another, more irrational reason. What sane person would so such a thing as to give up the freedom of grace based Protestantism for works based, archaic, and heavily rule-laden faith such as Catholicism? Time passed, and it became something of a novelty when we would mention it to our Protestant friends. The response was almost always "Why I've never heard of such!" "Me either", I would retort. We all fell blind to that assumption. Everyone knows that faithful Christians only leave the Catholic Church. My poor deceived brother-in-law, turned over into a religion of bondage. Still, I had sympathy for him. I had never thought too poorly of the Catholic Church. I at least gave them the title Christian, just an odd sort of faith with lots of useless rubrics added to it.
Eventually my wife had a discussion with him about it. "Why on earth?" -- His response was quite simple. "If the Catholic Church is who it claims to be, then I had to be part of it." I was thinking when I heard of this -- 'Oh, do tell, what is it that the Church claims to be?" He told my wife that the Catholic Church claimed to be THE Church founded by Jesus Christ. Over time he had come to the conclusion that it was and furthermore that it was disobedience to Christ to remain apart from it. The thought was interesting but as far as I was concerned it was preposterous to think that any Christian Church had all of the truth. The reason people changed churches is because, just like the Catholic Church did during reformation times, they tend to become corrupt under the influence of the traditions of men running them. Eventually we all have to judge them against Scripture and when they err we simply find some other group more in line with what the good book says. (Little did I know this would play out in our lives in the near future) ... Further discussion with him also led him to pointing out that the real kicker for him was a chapter in the book "Catholicism vs. Fundamentalism" on the canon of the New Testament and history of the Bible.
All in all it was intriguing to understand why someone would do so. It seemed sensible but we had our own experience to show us otherwise. In reality, it was another seed. The occasions to discuss it became occasions to demonstrate the irrational understanding of others about what the Catholic faith was really about.
Gotta be careful ... upgraded my blog software to a beta version and lost my last post because it logged me out ... hmmmmm
Anyway, here is the short version.
I spend WAY too much time trying to make this blog look better. Yesterday I fiddled with CSS for about 4 hours. The result is what you see now. Welcome "Gill Sans" as the typeface. Also, I added a little quote mark for things I quote. See below for an example ...
Was clearing out my Google Reader shared items ...
The motu proprio has been released! The next step is to start putting the Catholic faithful who want to assist at the extraordinary form of the Holy Mass in touch with Catholic priests who want to say the extraordinary form of the Holy Mass. Please fill out the form below with your contact information so we can help you make a connection. Your personal information will not be shared with ANYONE without your consent.
The new web site ... provides general information about the history, structure, and government of Vatican City, and links to some of the departments of greatest interest to visitors, including the Vatican library, publishing house, and stamp office. The site also provides links to the Vatican Museums and the media sites operated by the Holy See.
Question: Why do most Catholic blogs tend towards orthodoxy?
Thursday, July 19, 2007
I just wanted to throw this out for discussion ...
Why do the majority of Catholic blogs tend towards orthodoxy? In general the Catholic blogosphere is not a mirror of your average parish. In your average parish for example apparently 90+% of married couples contracept. In the 1000+ blogs that make up what is typically considered St. Blogs almost every railing I see regarding contraception is perfectly in line with Humanae Vitae. Why is this?
I have seen a listing indicating official membership in St. Blogs requires fidelity to the Magisterium but as a practical reality I don't see how that is a requirement to be a Catholic blog. I have not seen a similar "Spirit of Vatican II" version of St. Blogs out there. I have some theories but I wanted to open the question up to anyone who sees this. Don't be shy ... please comment.
When EPA-funded scientists at the University of Colorado studied fish in a pristine mountain stream known as Boulder Creek two years ago, they were shocked. Randomly netting 123 trout and other fish downstream from the city’s sewer plant, they found that 101 were female, 12 were male and 10 were strange “intersex” fish with male and female features.
It’s “the first thing that I’ve seen as a scientist that really scared me,” said then 59-year-old University of Colorado biologist John Woodling, speaking to the Denver Post in 2005.
They studied the fish and decided the main culprits were estrogens and other steroid hormones from birth-control pills and patches, excreted in urine into the city’s sewage system and then into the creek.
In the spirit of fairness "decided" is not as useful as "demonstrated" or "proved" ... Still, the findings are alarming.
Harden said the growing knowledge of estrogen-polluted water may expose the cultural double-standards that protect birth control from the scrutiny given to other chemicals and drugs.
“It’s going to start looking funny,” Harden said. “The radical environmentalist won’t eat a corn chip if the corn contacted a pesticide. But they view it a sacred right and obligation to consume synthetic chemicals that alter a woman’s natural biological functions, even if this practice threatens innocent aquatic life downstream.”
Despite growing and nationwide knowledge of birth-control pollution in rivers and streams, leading environmentalists remain unfazed – even in Boulder, where it’s been known about for years.
Curt Cunningham, water-quality-issues chairman for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Sierra Club International, worked tirelessly last year on a ballot measure that would force the City of Boulder to remove fluoride from drinking water, because some believe it has negative effects on health and the environment that outweigh its benefits. But Cunningham said he would never consider asking women to curtail use of birth-control pills and patches – despite what effect these synthetics have on rivers, streams and drinking water.
“I suspect people would not take kindly to that,” Cunningham said. “For many people it’s an economic necessity. It’s also a personal freedom issue.”
I have always wanted to wear an anti-contraception/pro-NFP t-shirt to Whole Foods with the tagline "If you are going to go natural, go all the way." I am not sure how well it would go over.
It was church shopping in my Protestant days that resulted in us sitting through a beautiful Catholic mass one Sunday morning. Our criteria at the time was 1) liturgical, 2) Lords Supper every week 3) young families ... We got Catholic.
"For an honest theological dialogue to happen, one should have a clear view of the position of the other side," said Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk, the leading ecumenical official of the Moscow patriarchate.
Quite honestly I don't know why non-Catholics get bent out of shape by reitterations of this. Non-Catholics claim their biblical interpretation is superior to the Catholic Church. I don't get bent out of shape about it. Some claim their liturgy is better than the Catholic Church. I don't get bent out of shape about that. Geesh, I mean, most of the world claims it is more enlightened than the Catholic Church. Nope ... not staying awake over it.
This is THE claim of the Catholic Church and its one that begs the question -- Is the Church right about this?
I believe the Church is the One. I could get nice liturgy at my local Episcopal church. I could get exciting bible teaching at my local baptist church. I could get Starbucks at my local mega-church. I could get tolerance at my local Unitarian church. There is no reason to be Catholic if you do not believe its fundamental claim that it is THE Church founded by Christ -- a visible reality -- One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.
If you wanted to take the count to an extreme you could just count individual Protestants and say there are that many denominations. Many Protestants today hold as I used to hold that there is no church that has got it all right so the primacy of ones interpretation of Scripture was supreme. In essence that would make ME a denomination if you are considering minutia in differentiation. In reality though my beliefs were pretty much in line with many other people I knew or read.
Quite frankly I think 30k is an overstating the case somewhat in terms of what I would consider core beliefs. So many of those differently labeled churches hold nearly identical core beliefs. The diversity of "non-negotiable" doctrines outside the Catholic Church can well be demonstrated without resorting to numbers which, to me, are truly difficult to accurately quantify. If you limited yourself to demonstrating 10 differences in belief on baptism alone you would get the point across far more effectively and without denigrating your opponents position to that of mere fancy.
From a discussion on theistic contributions to the advancement of science
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
I posted this .... in this case Catholic
A Jesuit priest Father Benito Vines was also very instrumental in the development of early hurricane forecasting.
I first read about this in a secular book on hurricanes and not from a Catholic source.
On October 6, 1900, Willis L. Moore, Chief of the U.S. Weather Bureau, wrote in Collier's Weekly that ". . . probably the Reverend Benito Vines gave more intelligent study to the investigation of tropical cyclones than any other scientist."
In an address today to those gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus, the Pope wished to all, "especially those most in need, the possibility of taking a little vacation to reinvigorate your physical and spiritual energies and recover a salutary contact with nature."
John Paul II
In this oasis of quiet, amidst the marvelous spectacle of nature, one easily senses the value of silence, today an increasingly rare good. The many opportunities for relationships and for information that modern society offers risk sometimes eliminating room for recollection, to the point of making people incapable of reflecting and praying. In reality, only in silence can man succeed in listening, in the intimacy of his conscience, to the voice of God which truly makes him free. And vacations can help us rediscover and cultivate this indispensable inner dimension of human existence. -- via Papal Wisdom: I need a vacation!!!
It is good to see that B16 and JP2 both feel that vacation should involve getting back to nature ... ahhhhhhh
Without indulging in a tirade, I would also like to point out that Americans do not get enough vacation time ...
I have seen much liberal hand wringing in the press about the Pope granting greater freedom to those who love the Latin Mass. Supposedly its a major blow to liberal advances in the Church. Even worse, it includes supposed anti-semitic verbiage like praying for the Jews to convert to Catholicism.
Cafeteria is Closed has included links to some of the finest hand wringing including choice gems:
My first mentor in matters journalistic, Seattle's David Brewster, once said that journalism's claim to being a "profession" would remain an affectation until journalism became self-disciplining (like law and medicine), with the members of the guild taking real responsibility for policing themselves. Such professional responsibility means editors keeping editorials out of the news hole, and reporters telling the whole truth. That the misshapen stories cited here are hardly rarities suggests the unhappy probability that David Brewster, who was right thirty years ago, will remain right long into the future.
Which is bad news for American democracy.
The cream will rise to the top from alternative sources. Quite honestly, people prefer spin and that is why they go for sources containing it. The MSM knows this much. The only way the major news media might regain its slipping foothold on credibility would be to implement something like what they mention here. If I could count on the news to not have thin syrupy veiled bias all throughout I might be more prone to read it. That said, I don't think the MSM gets it and they may not get it until their entire profession has been replaced by more talented amateurs who turn professional and drive readership by their skill and not just because they happen to work for the New York Times. They are trying to compete with a new model that they are not set up to compete with.
As an exercise I recommend an occasional browse through a Google News search on Catholic Church ... the ignorance will floor you.
Why would I trust a journalist with limited knowledge of my faith to inform others when there are so many knowledgeable Catholics who write well and, more importantly, who will get facts about my faith right?
"I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it," then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said. "It's impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that."
I think it is about as simple as that. To pretend that this is a battle over the teachings of Vatican II is to ignore what a council is and to suggest that the faith is one borne of popular whim and not guided by the Holy Spirit. Quite simply, Vatican II is not going to be reversed because devout Latin Mass loving Catholics do not have to resort to drastic measures to attend a mass they should have already had access to.
This is a test using my blog with Jott. I plan to add new features in the near future. I am really excited about the possibility of doing things like this. We will see how it works. I hope you enjoy. Bye.
Um diddle diddle um diddle ay Um diddle diddle um diddle ay
Superchristological and Homoousiosis Even though the sound of them is something quite atrocious You can always count on them to anathemize your Gnosis Superchristological and Homoousiosis
Um diddle diddle um diddle ay Um diddle diddle um diddle ay
Now Origen and Arius were quite a clever pair. Immutable divinity make Logos out of air. But then one day Saint Nicholas gave Arius a slap-- and told them if they can't recant, they ought to shut their trap!
[chorus] Oh, Superchristological and Homoousiosis...
One Prosopon, two Ousia are in one Hypostasis. At Chalcedon this formula gave our faith its basis. You can argue that you don't know what this means, But don't you go and try to say there's a "Physis" in between!
[chorus] Oh, Superchristological and Homoousiosis...
Um diddle diddle um diddle ay Um diddle diddle um diddle ay
Now freedom and autonomy are something to be praised, But when it comes to human sin, these words must be rephrased, For Pelagius was too confident that we could work it out-- And Augustine said *massa damnata* is what it's all about.
[chorus] Oh, Superchristological and Homoousiosis...
Heresies are arguments that you might find attractive, But just remember in this case the Church is quite reactive. So play it safe and memorize these words we sing together, 'Cause in the end you'll find, my friend, that we may live forever.
[chorus] Oh, Superchristological and Homoousiosis Even though the sound of them is something quite atrocious You can always count on them to anathematize your Gnosis Superchristological and Homoousiosis.
I am the Very Model of a Modern Unitarian via Mark Shea by Christopher Gist Raible Sung to " I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" from " Pirates of Penzance".
I am the very model of a modern Unitarian, Far broader than a Catholic, Hindu, Jew or Presbyterian. I know the world's religions and can trace their roots historical From Moses up to Channing, all in order categorical. I'm very well acquainted, too, with theories theological, On existential questions I am always wholly logical, About most any problem I am teeming with a lot of views, I'm full of fine ideas that should fill our church's empty pews.
(Chorus members: We're full of fine ideas that should fill our church's empty pews. We're full of fine ideas that should fill our church's empty pews. We're full of fine ideas that should fill our church's empty empty pews.)
I quote from Freud and Jung and all the experts psychological. I'm anti nuke, I don't pollute I'm chastely ecological. In short, in matters spiritual, ethical, material, I am the very model of a modern Unitarian.
(Chorus members: In short, in matters spiritual, ethical, material, We are the very model of a modern Unitarian.)
I use the latest language; God is never Father or the Lord, But Ground of Being, Source of Life or almost any other word. I never pray, I meditate, I'm leary about worshipping. I serve on 10 committees none of which accomplish anything. I give to worthy causes and I drive a gas conserving car, I have good UU principles (although I'm not sure what they are). I'm open to opinions of profound or broad variety, Unless they're too conservative or smack of righteous piety.
(Chorus members: Unless they're too conservative or smack of righteous piety. Unless they're too conservative or smack of righteous piety. Unless they're too conservative or smack of righteous pie-piety.)
I formulate agendas and discuss them with the best of 'em, But don't ask me to implement, we leave that to the rest of 'em. In short in matters spiritual, ethical, material, I am the very model of today's religious liberal.
(Chorus members: In short, in matters spiritual, ethical, material, We are the very model of today's religious liberal.)
As a man of faith and as show of solidarity with other "indecent families" I heartily refer you Creative Minority Report who has suffered an offense sadly common to those with larger than average families.
From a chat I had today ... I have an indecent family. I aim to offend. Our family is Rated-I
This has been all over the news here. A quick summary is that this guy was taking pictures of young girls in bikinis in a public place. He gave the police permission to search his home computer and they found 13,000 pictures of girls in bikinis and the like however they claim they found nothing pornographic. I had an urge like all men around here to rub mud on their faces, hoist torches high and head towards the jail house hollering all manner of unintelligible obscenity like calls.
Come to find out he works at a Catholic school in Lafayette and used to work at one in Baton Rouge. *sarcasm* Allow your inner conspiracy free to tie all of that together ... I am sure the Pope knew as well. Its an institutional problem you know. *sarcasm*
Finally parents have been complaining on local radio that they cannot find modest swim wear for their young girls.
Try the Internet folks - Modest Swimwear - I know you cannot try it on but I promise you can find someone who will let you return it if it doesn't fit. Time consuming yes but don't say that there isn't an option.
These headline writers have got to be more careful. I was ready to pull out the rations, overturn the tables, don the protective head gear and pull out the weapons. I know there has been a rival between certain factions in each town but this is rediculous ...
This is a "fresh" blogroll. It tends to list blogs most frequently updated at the top. It will also drop blogs not updated for a few days. Never fear though, if you post, it will show back up. If you are interested in how I did it see this post.