Tag Archive: scripture


The Milk of the Mass.

milk

 

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” – Isaiah 55:1

The Mass is comprised of two parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which provide nourishment and strength for our souls. We “feed” on the Word and then on the Eucharist. Their source is in Christ, the true life of the Church. What the Holy Scripture speaks of in figure, prophecy and the words of Christ, the Eucharist fulfils. We learn of the true manna from heaven, sit at his feet, and then feed upon Him. This is the milk of the Mass, which flows freely from Christ and is a supreme gift to all who believe.

All of the other gifts pass through and originate from these two teats by which the Holy Church feeds her hungry children. This is why we refer to the universal Church as “Mother Church” because she embraces and feeds people of all nations, helping them to grow into saints. Through the liturgy of the Mass, something divine descends upon us, making our hearts grow bigger, stronger and able to make more room for God’s love. As we become mature Catholics, we will draw from the ample fount of the church’s milk time and time again. Listening to the Gospel, we digest the message, letting certain words come to us and as Mary, ponder the meaning in our hearts. In such sweet instruction, we learn to become a holy people, in stinging rebuke, we notice areas that must be improved. This is the milk working in us, to bring about Christ in us.

Ingesting the Eucharist unites us with Christ. Scripture says: “A man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife- and they shall become one flesh”. At the moment of consecration, Our Lord leaps down from heaven’s height and takes shelter in the hands of the priest. As the canopy of love is raised over us, Christ comes forth. The one true Savior, concealed under the appearance of bread and wine, dwells in one flesh with his people, his bride. With each reception of Holy Communion, we grow more and more like Christ, our Divine Spouse. In essence, we become what we eat. What makes this mystery even more beautiful is that it is God’s work, not our own. This is the paradox of Christianity, the Living God who did not deign equality with God but became a slave. We are the truly poor ones but he becomes a poor one, ground by our teeth, totally annihilated out of love. That which is high is made low and that which is low is made high for from our feeble, sinful lays, we are called to partake in his riches.

When Scripture says, “Man does not live on bread alone but by every word that passes from your mouth,” we hear a reference to this sublime milk, offered in both the Gospel reading and the Holy Eucharist. For God’s word speaks to us in holy writ and it is the word of God, uttered through the priest that transforms mere bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. At the powerful word of God, every gift of the Mas springs to life. In a new creation, this life throbs, flows and covers the earth. It is important that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is prayed, lived and absorbed into our very being. How rich and blessed are we to be partakers in such choice, divine foods!

The Honey of the Mass.

honey

 

“Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” – Proverbs 24:14

There are some things about the Mass that we can just savor. In a sacred place, praying silently, folding our hands, perhaps whispering, we are comforted. Eyes closed, hearing a gentle hymn about the mercy of God, we are given hope. Seeking him, we know he seeks us. This is the honey of the Mass: God’s peace, which the world cannot give. The soft prayers, small gestures and mumblings of the priest are soothing to watch and hear.  A pilgrim people, we are nestled in the arms of God, and there, tell our many petitions.

Honey shows our special relationship with God. Our liturgical gestures reveal a people conversant with God, knowing him as both friend and lover. Every movement is charged with meaning, every word profound. Listening to the Gospel, let us remember that His word is like a honeycomb, beckoning us closer. As the priest recites prayers we may not be able to hear, remember that Jesus often went alone to pray. It reminds us to watch and pray.

You may notice that the words said at Mass have a set text. They are moreso echoed in every Catholic Church around the world. These petitions, handed down in the Church’s wisdom, are the prayer of the universal people of God who intercede for the world.  We don’t just recite these prayers, but enter into them, learning their meaning as we hear them again and again.

And how sweet the words of Jesus that flow from our mouths when we say: “Our Father, who art in heaven”? Our prayers join with those of the whole Church and Christ, who is the Head of the Body, prays with us. In receiving the Holy Eucharist, God becomes our humble guest. In silence, we talk to him, tell him our many needs and the needs of others. At this time, we might say private prayers in our hearts.  Because it is savored so long in the heart, honey characterizes the end of the Mass which is petition.

In our desert lives, it is necessary to seek refreshment. The sweetness of the Mass gives us energy to confront a world that is seldom peaceful. Jesus came to give us peace, to bring good tidings to all men. He taught us how to pray and united with him, we worship the Father. Our lasting union with him, is supreme happiness. In him, is our hope and the Mass reminds us of this time and time again. In his body, he died, rose and ascended. Knowing that Our Lord and God endured the hardships of life, gives us courage to face our own trials. Honey sweetens the vinegar of suffering.

Credo

What is this Catholic faith of ours? What does it mean to be Catholic? It is history, beauty and majesty. It is a love story between God and man. It is not the mundane entertainment of the world nor is it some abstract concept of our intellect. It is a real covenant relationship, a way of life lived to the fullest. It isn’t the way of death, some sterile, modern standard that is pressed upon us day in and day out, no it is life- defying death. Jesus spoke of this saying:

“I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly” -John 10:10.

Too many people look at our faith as a set of rules and doctrines. They don’t realize that these rules and doctrines are actually a deposit of rich treasure, lovingly passed down by the apostles, and those saints and martyrs before us, originating from Christ’s undying love for us. Our doctrines and expressions are a gift, a sweet yoke. Not like the yoke of the world which burdens and destroys us. We must cast that yoke off and leave it behind. Then we can truly understand the Church’s wisdom, which is as a fount from heaven.

We worship in a liturgy because creation is liturgy, love is a liturgy. It is an act of giving and receiving and then giving again. It is speaking and being spoken to. God has always spoken to us in the law of gift. Moved by love, He spoke and all things in the universe were made and He pronounced them good. Each person, created in God’s image is a gift to be given. Christ offers us the gift of His very flesh and blood. He makes His life our own and we, enraptured by this act of love, can do nothing but adore and cry out “Amen!!”

Catholicism is a wedding, lasting throughout the ages. It is a lush garden where souls are planted and tended, where men become saints. God’s only son, the loving Bridegroom leapt down from heaven and became flesh to rescue us, to deliver us from sin and death. He gave all he had, his very life, for us. When water and blood poured from the side of the crucified Christ, a bride was taken and many sons and daughters were born anew from this union. We become God’s own sons and daughters. Because of this new identity:

“The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” –Psalm 92-12

In this family of the Catholic Church, we have a foretaste of our promised inheritance. As a wedding gift, He bestowed the Holy Ghost, the spirit of God, so that in a spirit of hope, charity and self-sacrifice, we may show others this Kingdom of God. The husband and wife reveal God’s covenant with man, made from the beginning. The priest’s celibacy shows his mystical marriage with the Church, the chosen Bride. Nothing like this has ever happened! Through the sacraments, which are seven jewels of great price, God makes us partakers in His Divine Life. Everything that belongs to God now belongs to His people.

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” – Song of Solomon 6:3

What we see in the visible Church points to a wondrous, unseen reality. Our communion here on earth is united to a greater communion in heaven, those who have fought and loved before us. Out of their sacrifices, modeled after the One Sacrifice of Christ, comes our power and strength. We are weak and have nothing in this world for our treasure is elsewhere.

The Catholic faith proclaims the forgiveness of sins, that when Jesus climbed up on that rugged cross, He undid the sin of Adam and reopened the gates of paradise. And how immense is God’s love that when a priest says “I absolve you from your sins” that through the blood of Christ, we are washed clean. Our faith is one that believes second chances are possible!

“Love covers a multitude of sins” – 1 Peter 4:8

This is our faith, why add or take anything away from it? Why not love and cherish it as Christ loved and cherished us? Catholicism is the pure water in which we have been reborn. It is the Precious Blood we drink. It is God’s Holy Spirit moving and breathing within us. It is the anticipation of life and resurrection and of every good thing in the world to come.

The Pope Goes Away

I woke up from a hard night’s work (security not the other thing) to hear my mom telling me the pope had resigned. I responded, “Don’t joke around with me.” However, learning it was true, my cantankerous bout of denial changed into thoughts summing up to something more like: “WHY, GOD, WHY!!” This was very bad news and I didn’t know which messenger to shoot.

no daddy

Allow me to explain why I had such intense feelings about this. For those of you who don’t know, I became Catholic 5 years ago, back in 2008. At this time Benedict XVI was the pope and in my rebelliousness, I deemed him as a person who must earn my respect. I immediately set out to know more about this man and procured some of his writings from the Newman Center Library. Still influenced by growing up Protestant, I held his writings to Scripture and what I understood as Christian orthodoxy. What I gathered from the pope was a central message of God’s love and our need to know Jesus Christ personally. I was yet getting to know Christ personally and during this journey, the pope’s writings were greatly helpful. They erased former preconceptions about Catholic belief, laid bear some of the difficult mysteries of Scripture and established a rational basis for faith. Even though hundreds of miles away, the pope became my teacher, my father in faith.

I remember a time, shortly after I expressed interest in Catholicism and enrolled in RCIA, when the pope visited the United States. He was in New York, I think. I hounded my Catholic friend (and RCIA sponsor) to watch some of his visit with me. Coming down into my dorm-room lounge, we turned on the big TV and tuned into the pope. There were crowds of people around him, showing a bit much enthusiasm in my opinion; however, I remember the peaceful look on his face. For all his powerful estate and glory, he seemed genuinely interested in those people, eager to give them God’s word. In his presence was the true presence of an apostle. I never had that. Pastors always had been big men, too big for their britches, who had to insert weight into their words because they were opinions. There was no real unity in the churches I attended in my youth and later during college. I had no way of knowing what any given pastor said was authoritative, solid or in line with the teachings of Christ. We had the Bible- but too many different ways to interpret it. Now, here before me was a brazen trail leading back to the apostles, told of in the very Scriptures and with a guarantee from Christ himself. I already knew and studied the Biblical basis of the papacy. Now I understood it.

Fast-forward about two years. As a new Catholic, I zealously defended the papacy and the pope’s ministry from many objectors, some of whom were not so gentle. While visiting a friend’s Baptist Church, I was basically screamed at and called a child of the anti-Christ for objecting to their charges against the pope. Here was a man who wasn’t evil so much for anything he did but  because he was simply the pope. The Baptists didn’t care that John Paul II or Benedict were good guys who preached an unwavering Gospel. They didn’t care that the popes brought hundreds-if not thousands to believe in Christ as the Savior of mankind. All they cared about was that they held a position as “The Vicar of Christ”. Of course, they didn’t believe Christ had any vicars. No one could speak for Him or clarify what He taught us. Only confusion under the guise of “Biblical-believing Christianity” was acceptable.

Benedict XVI was a bastion of intellect, kindness and Christian truth for me. It was he who taught me to have hope in suffering, to find friendship in Christ, to love sinners, non-Christians and those who hated us. For a man so frequently called “homophobic”, he taught me to love gays. For a person dubbed “misogynist”, he taught me the true worth of a woman. For someone called “demonic” and “anti-Christ” he taught me to love Christ more deeply.

Back to 2008: During RCIA, I had acquired a certain nickname amongst my fellow Catholics: Latin Girl. This was because of the Latin Masses I attended (which drew me to Catholicism), the fact I prayed in Latin and because I went crazy-happy every time I heard a Latin hymn. Little did I know that Benedict XVI was to become a champion for the Latin Mass. He allowed for wider celebration of the Extraordinary Form and even promoted it as an equally-valid form of liturgy to be esteemed. Perhaps, the good pope saw how much of our priceless culture and heritage was being lost in the average parish. He understood Vatican II in its original terms; that the Latin language is to be preserved in the Roman Rite- not done away with and shoved in a corner never to see the light of day. Let me clarify that I have nothing against vernacular in the Mass or against the Ordinary Form, I just want to acknowledge that many people haven’t properly heeded Vatican II or the pope as to how Mass should be done.

Anyway, I’m getting off topic. In short, this Pope Benedict XVI was a man after God’s heart and a man after my heart. I didn’t respect him or love him at first. He had to earn my admiration- and earn it he did. I feel as if I’d lost a friend or my dear, old granddaddy. He was, for the most part, blameless yet others sought blame in him. He devoted himself to faith, the Scripture and the liturgy yet many took offense at him. He was misunderstood, introverted and coldly rational yet scorned for not being another John Paul II (another pope, by the way, I really love). Everything he did was wrong. Do it or don’t, he was damned. Everything he said was twisted and everything he lived for was mocked and ignored by the world. In the manner of our Lord Christ, he was a sign of contradiction. I pray that he, in the manner of Lord Christ, will lead a life of faith, eventually die in faith and by his faith, be reborn into life eternal.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, The prophet Isaiah, of old, once said, thousands of years before the birth of Lord Christ: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, and that preacheth peace: of him that sheweth forth good, that preacheth salvation, that saith to Sion: Thy God shall reign!”

On this night, I say to you as we have heard in the Scriptures:

“For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.”

What are we to make of all this? Surely our minds and hearts are dizzied by the news: Our Savior has come! He is given to us. Given! And he shall reign forever! When we see the sadness and brokenness of the world, it becomes obvious that mankind longs for a Savior. We long to be rescued and delivered from evil, the wickedness of others and most importantly, our own wickedness. Don’t deny it, dear children, for soon as we think ourselves perfect, we have fallen.

But do not despair in the pit of sorrow, do not yield to your sin and say “It is hopeless” -good news has been announced to us! I often think of how the angel song broke out over the plains, announcing “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men of good will”  No great heralds or procession marks the coming of this little prince. he is born in quietude, humility and meanness but, how a heavenly sign appears- the very angels sound their trumpets.

It is an announcement of peace. Peace has rained down from heaven and kissed the earth, and how the earth trembles in anticipation of the long-awaited Savior!  Can you imagine the beauty contained in this moment? When the stillness of our dark night is finally broken by this bright light and these angelic cries of joy?

We have a Savior and moreso, not a distant Savior who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has come as man, who was made like us in all things- but sin. This is wonderful! Do we realize that death and sin have been answered, have been challenged by the cry of a tender babe in Bethlehem? His cries echo our cries and He will deliver us! I say to you: Open your hearts for Thy God, the Prince of Peace, shall reign!

 

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A lot of churches don’t seem to take Baptism seriously. They baptize with no questions asked. I have seen churches re-baptize those who are already validly baptized “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.

– That additional baptism is playing around with water. Baptism should be seen as entry into the Kingdom of God, an act that confers graces by obedience. The power of baptism comes from the name of the Trinity and the grace of God, not the amount of water used or the number of times it’s done. It is entering into the Christian faith and should be treated as a promise to God and to the faith. Many see this as an empty “symbol”

 

Here is what your standard, secular source (www.wikipedia.com) will say about baptism:
“In Christianity, baptism (a word derived from Greek baptizo: “immersing”, “performing ablutions”)[1] is the ritual act, with the use of water, by which one is admitted as a full member of the Christian Church and, in the view of some, as a member of the particular Church in which the baptism is administered. The most usual form of baptism among Early Christians was for the candidate to stand in water and water to be poured over the upper body. Baptism has traditionally been seen by many as necessary for salvation.

The article continues:
Baptism makes the person share in the Trinitarian life of God through “sanctifying grace,” the grace of justification that incorporates the person into the body of Christ and his Church), also making the person a sharer in the priesthood of Christ. It imparts the “theological” virtues (faith, hope, and charity) and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and marks the baptized person with a spiritual seal or character that indicates permanent belonging to Christ. Baptism is the foundation of communion between all Christians.” 

 

Even those who aren’t Christian at all realize the history of how Christians have viewed baptism and how they have held it to be a most-sacred sacrament.

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “ – John 3:5

This also matches the wording of Jesus when stating another point central to Early Christianity: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” – John 6: 53.

The Apostles baptized and broke bread…and they took it very seriously. They believed that the act of consuming communion gave them life! What does this have to do with anything? Jesus states that baptism and communion are central to the faith. They are incorporating the faithful into His life. When Jesus’s side was pierced, blood and water poured out. These things are the life of Christ. – And the apostles knew it.

“Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of
God?  This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by
water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy
Ghost: and these three are one.  And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” – 1 John 5:5-8

 

Baptism and Communion in particular is what made Christians distinguishable from many of the early pagan sects. Sure these pagan sects had ceremonies similar to Christian baptism and communion but it was precisely the action of Christ that distinguished them. These previous things were just symbols and ceremonies, for the Christian, these are sacraments, actual manifestation’s of Christ’s promises!

Baptism is mentioned in the ancient Apostle’s Creed as a definition of faith “We believe in one baptism” (“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” -Ephesians 4:4-5 ). The creed and Paul’s letter to the Ephesians both state one baptism. It is one baptism that gives us re-birth in Christ, not two or three or four. One baptism is all that;s needed!

I think that in order for churches to be more unified and strong, they need to stop reducing Christ’s sacraments to symbols. These were teachings held dearly by the Apostles, given by Christ. They need to partake in the blood and water…and be nourished.

 

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click to enlarge

No Church, No Bible

From: ( http://allthingscatholic.tumblr.com/ )

 

Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Church decided which books were inspired and which were not, at the Council of Rome in AD 382, under the authority of Pope Damasus I. The same canon was reaffirmed at the Council of Hippo, Africa, in AD 393 at the Council of Carthage, AD 397; also at the ecumenical councils of Florence (1442), Trent (1546), Vatican I (1870), and Vatican II (1965).

When you quote the Bible you accept the authority of the Catholic Church.

Abridging the Bible: Masoretic or Septuagint?
Cleverly, Luther did not remove the books entirely, he merely sidelined them. Initially the seven Books continued to be placed in a section called the Apocrypha. But since it was cheaper to print bibles without them, the seven books were slowly dropped altogether. By the 19th Century, the vast majority of Protestant Bibles did not carry the seven Books at all. Protestants began to get used to not seeing these Books in their Bibles, and to imagine that their Bibles were perfectly complete without them.

Btw, the deuterocanonical (aka “apocryphal”) books are found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Codex Vaticanus, the Codex Sinaiticus, …
…both 1 and 2 Maccabees are in the Gutenberg Bible, published a century before Luther was born, which proves that the Catholic Church didn’t add them at the Council of Trent after the Reformation; they were taken out by Luther during the Reformation.
Catholic Bible 101: Purgatory

[To what extent are Protestant bibles different from Catholic bibles?]
The difference goes beyond the mere deletion of books, such as changes made to specific phrases in in the books of the New Testament. Question is, can we still obtain authenticity from such changes in the Protestant bibles?


I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me.

— St Augustine of Hippo (November 13, 354 – August 28, 430) [Contra epistolam Manichaei, 5, 6: PL 42, 176]

It was St. Augustine, you know, who insisted on putting Revelation as well as Hebrews in the New Testament Canon at an African bishops’ council held at the end of the fourth century.
— Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel CFR, foreword to The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth by Scott Hahn

The Bible itself came from the Liturgy of the Church.
— Dr Scott Hahn, ex-Presbyterian minister

Whenever we take up a Bible we touch Saint Irenaeus’ work, for he played a decisive role in fixing the canon of the New Testament.


How can the Bible be infallible if the Church who compiled it isn’t as well?

The Church or the Bible?
Christ sent His Apostles with authority to teach all nations, and never gave them any command of writing the Bible. And the Apostles went forth and preached everywhere, and planted the Church of God throughout the earth, but never thought of writing.

Apostolic Tradition — Jesus commissioned the Apostles to “go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations. Baptise them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you” (Mt.28: 19-20). He promised that the Holy Spirit would “instruct you in everything and remind you of all that I have told you” (John 14:26). Just before his ascension into heaven Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16: 15). He commanded them to do precisely what He himself had done, namely, deliver the Word of God to the people by the living voice and granted them, through the Holy Spirit, the gift of tongues. He told them, “He who hears you hears me and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects Him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16) It was by this oral Apostolic Tradition that the Church discerned which books should be included in the New Testament. Many were already in use in the house churches (Christianity was “underground” for three centuries and much persecuted) St. Augustine endorses the same position when he says: “I should not believe the Gospel except on the authority of the Catholic Church” (Con. epist. Manichaei, fundam., n. 6). As St. Paul urged in his epistle, 2 Thessalonians 2: 15, “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” The books of the New Testament were written between about A.D. 45 and as late as A.D. 100 but were not put into a defined canon or single collection until the end of the fourth century. Why not? The Holy Spirit protected the oral Tradition or Apostolic Tradition taught by the true Church, which by A.D. 100 was already known as the “Catholic Church.” See the seven letters of Ignatius of Antioch, accepted by both Protestant and Catholic scholars as legitimate. Sacred Tradition has for its subject the Holy Spirit, indwelling the Church as the soul animates the body. The Spirit guides the Church in her interpretation of the Word and in her liturgy.
http://www.catholicfaithandreason.org/the-bible-in-the-church.html

“I realised I had to break an old habit that, despite my newfound awareness of sacred Tradition, had continued up till then to affect the way I thought about Catholic Marian teachings. It was the habit of looking for a biblical basis for this and that Catholic teaching. For the simple fact was that the authors of the New Testament did not base their faith on the Bible. They based it on apostolic Tradition, both written and unwritten, which is incarnate in the Church. For them, this Tradition is a unified whole, like a weave. And it maintains its integrity even as it grows from mustard seed to mustard plant. Because of that, the question that always faced the Church was not ‘Is this Bible based?,’ but ‘Is this apostolic?’”
— Mark Shea, ex-Protestant

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.”
 Proverbs 3:5-6

“It is, then, undoubtably true to say that, in the present order of Providence, it is owing to the Catholic Church that we have a Bible at all. And no-one will be a bit the worse Christian and Bible-lover if he remembers this notable year that it is to the Mother Church of Christendom he must look if he would behold the real preserver, defender, and transmitter of the ‘Word that endureth forever.’
— The Right Reverend Henry Grey Graham, Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church


Indulgences
 granted for reading the Bible:
http://www.yenra.com/catholic/passages/indulgbible.html


Extra nugget of info:

Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton (1207-1228) painstakingly numbered all the verses of the Bible. Anytime we mention a Bible verse like “John 3:16”, we are taking advantage of his great labour of love.

Back in my college days when I played Dungeons & Dragons, there was a term amongst my friends known as “rules lawyering” which implied a person so rigidly stuck to the rule-book that the game became slowed down and less fun. Today, I see many Christians who do the same. Well-meaning, they insist every single thing pertaining to faith and belief must be spelled out explicitly in Scripture. If the Bible does not state it, they don’t do it. They insist that the entire faith must “be Biblical”.

Certainly, there is nothing wrong with consulting Scriptures and I don’t intend to say that at all. The word of God was truly given to us for instruction, edification and correction. But when Christian faith becomes a matter of defining and limiting everything to written Scripture, the meaning is lost. There exists an entire array of beautiful Christian thought, symbolism and devotion that doesn’t appear underlined in bold.

Scripture itself says “Not everything that Jesus did and taught was written down” – John 21:25. It shows us that the apostles preached by word and oral tradition instead of toting a Bible everywhere.  Paul says that the Gospel comes by hearing. His spoken words struck hearts to believe- not looking at scrolls. Paul’s 2nd letter to the Thessalonians says “He called you to this through our gospel that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which were taught, whether by word of mouth or by epistle.” (2:14-15). Paul teaches Timothy, his disciple to preach orally (1 Tim 4:14 and 2 Tim 1:6,)

For the early Christians, faith was an expression of a new life and a new fulfillment of God’s law, through Christ. Christ often speaks against those who “rules lawyer” who hold every little thing up to the Law. He teaches us that God’s law is more than just a rule-book; it is something that must be written in the heart.  In fact, the Pharisee’s question “Is this according to the Law?” sounds an awful lot like the modern Christian’s protest “Where is this in the Bible?”

For some Christians, it must all be in the Bible. What we sing, what we do, what we think. I can’t say, “Blessed virgin Mary” or “Holy Trinity” unless those words appear in the Bible. I can’t call the church “our mother” or Christ “our brother” unless the Bible states it first. This rules-lawyering becomes hampering to our own spiritual growth. The integral message is slowed down and our flame of love burns less bright. We loose sight of the “game”, so to speak, and can’t remember why we are “playing” it in the first place. If God wished us to strap a Bible to our foreheads and consult it before every single action, He would have dropped a fully-bound King James Version from the sky! But instead, Our Lord chose 12 apostles and sent them into all corners of the world preaching orally. While Jesus attested to the Law, He perfected the Law. He became the Law and gave it all a new meaning, a fulfilled meaning in Him. Jesus took upon human flesh so that we don’t have to beat eachother over the head with a rule-book. He gave us an active, living faith.

 

As Christians, we preach the Gospel and live it. No one needs a Bible in order to feel the presence of God protecting them from grave danger. A Bible verse isn’t necessary for someone to repent and reject a life of sin. Sometimes, the sweet name of “Jesus” helps one who is deeply suffering; sometimes a simple sign of the cross drives away demons. The power of Christ isn’t limited to written Scripture. God isn’t bound by words. The Bible is important and we should study our Scripture often however, we can express love for God without it. We can sing a hymn in the woods without worrying if it’s Biblical or not, we can call the church “our mother” and call Christ “our brother”, we can freely say “Blessed virgin Mary” and “Holy Trinity” because God is present in those things. It’s difficult to run a race when one constantly holds the rule-book in their hands. That VCR will never get fixed if we don’t lay aside the instruction manual and get to work! Instead, we should let our Holy Scripture be a gentle guide and a lamp unto our feet- and not a heavy stone in our shoe.

Denying Christ’s promise in Matthew 16:18, lack of trust in God.

 

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

–  Matthew 16:18

 

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”  – 1 Timothy 3:15

“I solemnly tell you that whatever you as a Church bind on earth will in Heaven be held as bound, and whatever you loose on earth will in Heaven be held to be loosed.”   – Matthew 18:18

Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world.”

–  Matthew 28:20

 

Some try to discredit the Catholic Church by citing its instances of corruption and failure to uphold the truths it teaches. But, they go even further saying the corruption and failure had been so bad, God removed His favor from the established Church and inspired Martin Luther’s Reform.

Based on Scripture alone, one of Luther’s favorite ideas, this belief can be reduced to a lack of trust in God Himself.  In Matthew’s Gospel, we find first mention of “the church” when Jesus blesses his apostle, Peter and promises to build His Church- then promises it will be protected from the very powers of hell.

If one understands this Scripture, Jesus by His grace and omnipotence, vows to build the Church, protect it from demonic powers and preserve it. For how long?: “Unto the end of the world.” Jesus says he will be with his people, the church “always” not- “until the 1500’s when your clergy goes corrupt and I get sick of you.”

The Body of Christ like other bodies heals from its injuries. If Jesus stayed with his own apostles despite their sins, ignorance and faults, didn’t he remain with their successors despite their corruption, cruelty and foolishness? Moreover, the entire Church was never corrupt. Indeed throughout history, great, holy people rose up and sparked renewal. In the Old Testament, God said He will spare Sodom if: “ten righteous men are found.” Even during darkest periods such as The Crusades and Inquisition, Catholicism certainly had more than ten righteous men!

God does not abandon his children because they sin. No, He endures with compassion and mercy. The Body of Christ is always going to have tares among the wheat and Jesus Christ, its Head, will suffer those tares for the wheat’s sake.

Those who say God left the Catholic Church for the Reformation forget another important point: breaking something won’t fix it.  Now, the Reformation began on noble and honest ideals but actually resulted in so much chaos, infighting and division, Martin Luther himself lamented over it. Soon after Luther’s momentous break from Roman Catholicism, people in his own congregation squabbled and left for any of the various churches that suddenly appeared throughout Europe.

The mark of Christ’s church was, is and always will be unity. This unity endured all the attacks hell could bring against it and that is why Catholicism still stands, not because of powerful bishops, cunning popes or zealous saints. No, it’s here because Christ promised.

Exaltation of Scripture.

 

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

– John 1:14

 

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

–   Romans 10:17

 

Many opponents of Catholicism, particularly from Protestant groups, have a strange habit of exalting Scripture declaring it as the only authority for believers. Whenever reading “the Word of God” they think written pages forgetting that the Word of God existed before any language or text. An odd exclusion of any teaching source besides printed, bound Bibles causes misunderstanding of God’s nature and ignorance of history.

After the death of Christ, the apostles did not carry around Bibles or even scrolls.  They preached orally and spread the faith by word-of-mouth.

Moreso, when reading “Scripture” these people assume a fully-competed Old and New Testament. The New Testament is a product of the Church. In the 4th century, all the New Testament Gospels and letters were gathered, decided upon by council and put into the Bible we have now. Moreover, dangerous assumption that the only Word of God is written Scripture contradicts what history tells us about Christians.  Throughout early centuries, a majority of Christians were illiterate. Few if any possessed written Bibles. They learned the Gospel in churches, hearing it read aloud and seeing it pictured in stained-glass.

Absurdly, some pastors go so far as to claim God’s only communication with believers is via written Scripture. If this is true, then Christians for centuries have been hopelessly lost in darkness- even the apostles themselves.

God’s Word is a Being, transcendent, beyond paper and letters. His Spirit communicates with believers everywhere.  Whether people are illiterate, blind, handicapped, lost in the wilderness or without a Bible, God still speaks. Christ’s sacrifice and the merits thereof bring salvation- not Scripture. Helpful, wondrous and invaluable as it is, Scripture doesn’t teach everything, it can’t deliberate in church councils or suffer martyrdom.

From a Living God, the Living Word, grace, salvation and mercy comes.