Salvation, Grace, and Reconciliation

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The Sacrament of Reconciliation

  • The Church prior to the 1960s often spoke of Hell as being the punishment for sinning. However, even after the Vatican II council, the Church stressed its pastoral teaching on the goodness of Christ—both periods have failed to highlight our treasures in Heaven.
  • Who is going to Heaven?
  • How do you know?
  • Often we’re told that if we do good and are a good person that will qualify us for the reward of Heaven–This is not what the Catholic Church teaches. In fact, this teaching can be found in a heresy refuted by St. Augustine called Pelagianism.
  • We cannot get to Heaven by our own good actions.Jesus said, “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 [c]He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; 19 honor your father and your mother’; and ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” 20 [d]The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect,[e]go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. 23 [f]Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
  • 25 [r]When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?”
  • 26 Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

 

We are given Salvation as a Free Act of God by Grace. ~Prima Gratia~  After God gives us Grace by our own Free Will we have a choice to cooperate with God or not.

What is Grace ? Can we achieve everlasting happiness without it? No. Again, this is the 5th century heresy known as Pelagianism. One of the fundamentals of this heresy is that Pelagius denied our Fall from God’s Grace and Original Sin.

According to St. Thomas Aquinas there are six different types of Grace, we’ll take a look at four of them:

Sanctifying Grace: Grace given by God to a person to make him Holy and to unite him to God as a participate in His divinity.

Gratuitous Grace: Grace given by God to a person to enable him to lead others toward God.

Cooperating Grace: Stregthens our will and gives us the ability to do good works, which comes from Free Will

Operating Grace: Grace that directly moves us to action.

God gave us Free Will so we must cooperate with Him to see Him in Heaven, subsequently because of our Free Will we can fall into Mortal Sin and cannot merit ourselves a restoration to grace. God must do this for us and he does through Apostolic succession with the Sacrament of Reconciliation:

Christ says to St. Peter, “18 [a]Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

What is Sin? The Catechism says:
V. THE GRAVITY OF SIN: MORTAL AND VENIAL SIN

1854 Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. The distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in Scripture,129 became part of the tradition of the Church. It is corroborated by human experience.

1855 Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.

Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it.

1856 Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us – that is, charity – necessitates a new initiative of God’s mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation:

When the will sets itself upon something that is of its nature incompatible with the charity that orients man toward his ultimate end, then the sin is mortal by its very object . . . whether it contradicts the love of God, such as blasphemy or perjury, or the love of neighbor, such as homicide or adultery. . . . But when the sinner’s will is set upon something that of its nature involves a disorder, but is not opposed to the love of God and neighbor, such as thoughtless chatter or immoderate laughter and the like, such sins are venial.130

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”131

1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.”132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

How do we recognize ourselves as sinners? What if we don’t recognize ourselves as sinners?

Pope Francis says, “ I would advise them to ask for the grace of feeling like one!…even recognizing oneself as a sinner is a grace.”

Is Enlightenment Philosophy Moral?

Should Christians value Enlightenment Philosophy? Is it moral? Does it erode the foundation of our society like an acid rain on brick?

All Along the Watchtower

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An issue that I have with my American Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ is a beam that I use to have in my own eye. Those in favor of originalism of the United States Constitution, Enlightenment philosophers, and the natural law that they speak, have created idols out of the founding documents, the men who created them, and the supposed “rights” which out of the Enlightenment has promoted the ideology of self-idolization in the form of “Individualism.” Of course, one can make the argument that relativism was birthed from the Protestant Reformation, given a pedestal during the Enlightenment, and now has led to secular atheism of Western Civilization as it’s logical conclusion. No doubt, some friends here will certainly disagree, but the statement must be stated regardless.

We could certainly look to Locke’s anti-Catholicism or Paine’s flirtation with Atheism or pantheism at best, but instead, let’s look at Rousseau…

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Silence

Check out my review of the book Silence by Shusaku Endo on the blog All Along the Watchtower.

All Along the Watchtower

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Shusaku Endo’s book is very well written and a fine piece of literature; however, Endo’s theology and conclusion reached at the end of the story is simply bad theology and not a conclusion that is Catholicism, but rather a new age religion. The book has great value when describing events that actually occurred in Japan to those who professed the Christian faith.

The main character of the book is Fr. Rodrigues and his story take place after the apostasy of a real priest who renounced his faith by the name of Cristóvão Ferreira.[1] I became interested in the title due to Martin Scorsese releasing a movie adaptation of the book. I decided before reading the book to read a few reviews, which of course led to spoilers—this post will have them as well. The great part about knowing the ending of the book is realizing how much the author has…

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The Gospel of Matthew and the Fulfillment of Prophecy.

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Edward Sri, associate professor of Scripture and Theology at the Augustine Institute, thoroughly examines in chapter ten of his book Dawn of the Messiah: The Coming of Christ in Scripture the Gospel of Matthew and how Matthew connects his audience to the scripture of the Old Testament with the coming Messiah. The Gospel of Matthew, as Sri highlights, examines the connections between the old Jewish scriptures and the story of Jesus’ birth in his gospel “with the precision of a Swiss watch.”[1] Matthew being highly educated, as a tax collector, would have been familiar with writing skills to illustrate a story as Sri examines for “an audience with a strong Jewish background.”[2]

Many would assume that Matthew is writing for a primarily Greek audience according to how he frames his narrative of Jesus fulfilling the messianic prophecy with  “clear, explicit connections to Old Testament passages.”[3]However, as Sri examines this is simply the most glaring method that Matthew employs while writing his gospel.[4]
Exploring the clear and explicit connections to the Old Testament; Sri highlights a passage from the Book of Isaiah and how it relates to prophecy being fulfilled in the Gospel of Matthew. In the Book of Isaiah 7:14, the Lord spoke to Ahaz saying, “the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”[5] Sri connects this to a prophecy being fulfilled in the first chapter of Matthew.[6] As Sri explains, Matthew makes the connection to Isaiah by writing, “ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.”[7]

The text may indicate that the constructed prose is for a Greek audience as the typology between the Old Testament and New Testament would appear to have been self-evident to a Jewish audience. However, Sri explains that Matthew is “connecting the dots” for his audience as “one does not need to know a lot about the Old Testament to realize that prophecy is coming to fulfillment.”[8]However, Matthew is attempting to reaffirm Christ’s case for being the Messiah to a Jewish audience who may doubt his status as the “anointed one.”

Another example of Matthew connecting the dots to another prophecy is the one given in Micah 5:1-4.[9] Chapter five of Micah begins, “But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah , too small to be among the clans of Judah, From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; Whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. Therefore, the Lord will give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth has borne, and the rest of his brethren shall return to the children of Israel. He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the Lord, in the majestic name of the Lord, his God; and they shall remain, for now his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth he shall be peace.”[10]Again, Matthew connects the Old Testament prophecy with the birth of Christ by having the chief priest confirm with Herod the prophecy stating, “For thus it has been written through the prophet: ‘And you Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.”[11]

[1] Edward Sri, Dawn of the Messiah: The Coming of Christ in Scripture (Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2005), 138.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Isa. 7:14 NAB

[6] Sri, 139.

[7] Matt. 1:22-23 NAB

[8] Sri, 139.

[9] Ibid, 140.

[10] Mic. 5:1-4 NAB

[11] Matt 2:5-6 NAB

The Gospel of Luke: How Christ’s Birth Fulfilled Prophecy.

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The beginning of the infancy Gospel of Luke is different than many stories. Instead of focusing on main characters of the story that Luke is telling, he begins with two characters of small importance to the overall theme Christ’s great sacrifice. Edward Sri explains, in his book Dawn of the Messiah: The Coming of Christ in Scripture, “Luke begins his Gospel like a good Shakespearean play: with a pair of minor characters who prepare the way for the lead roles to take the stage.”[1]

Of course, the two people are of some importance being the parents of John the Baptist—Zechariah and Elizabeth. Although the couple is not the main focus for Luke’s Gospel, Zechariah and Elizabeth play a vital role in laying the foundation of the importance of Christ’s birth to both the Jewish community and also humanity. Sri explains, “Zechariah and Elizabeth are a standout couple with high credentials in first-century Judaism.”[2] The couple both come from a priestly background, Zechariah being a priest and Elizabeth being a descendant of Aaron.[3]

Luke’s most impressive use of Old Testament typology within the narrative of Zechariah and Elizabeth is the annunciation of Zechariah. The imagery used by Luke is filled with references to Old Testament scripture that would express the importance of these events to their audience using as Sri explains “the last prophetic words of the Old Testament.”[4]

The typology in the beginning of Luke hinges on dialogue between the Angel of the Lord and Zechariah by the Holy of Holies. The Angels speaks to Zechariah and says:

6 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God,

17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Eli′jah,
to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”[5]

The typology used by Luke is to reference the audience back to the book of Malachi and frame John the Baptist as the new Elijah to “prepare the way before me” for Christ’s birth.[6] Luke according to tradition being a fairly educated man and skilled writer used his knowledge and skill to highlight the importance of John the Baptist’s birth with Christ’s birth to connect it to Old Testament scripture to prove of prophecy being fulfilled. By examining Mal. 4: 5-6, one can see that Luke uses nearly identical language:

5 “Behold, I will send you Eli′jah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.”[7]

After the Angel of the Lord makes his announcement to Zechariah before the Holy of Holies, in which it fell to Zechariah to offer incense in the temple:

8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,9 according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.[8]

It’s important to note the honor of Zechariah for being selected for this opportunity, “Most priests were honored to burn incense only once in their lifetime, this was the crowning moment of Zechariah’s ministry.”[9]

He doesn’t believe the Angel of the Lord saying:

“How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechari′ah, and they wondered at his delay in the temple.22 And when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.”[10]

Sri explains that “revealing his name was significant because the only time Gabriel is mentioned in the Old Testament (Dn 9:21)[11] is in the important visions given to the prophet Daniel.[12] Sri continues to explain that the typology between Zechariah’s visit with Gabriel and Daniel’s is abundant. For instance in Lk. 1:9, Zechariah mirrors the actions of Daniel in Dn. 9:20 by offering up incense. Gabriel also appears to both men in the evening, referenced in Dn. 9:21 and Lk. 1:10. Notwithstanding, the most significant typology of Luke during this part of his Gospel is Gabriel’s message of salvation for Israel:

Dn. 9: 23-24 RSV

23 At the beginning of your supplications a word went forth, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the word and understand the vision.

24 “Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. [13]

Lk. 1: 13-17 RSV

13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechari′ah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

14 And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth;
15 for he will be great before the Lord,
and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink,
and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit,
even from his mother’s womb.
16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God,
17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Eli′jah,
to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”[14]

[1] Edward Sri, Dawn of the Messiah: The Coming of Christ in Scripture (Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2005), 7.

[2] Ibid, 8.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 12.

[5] Lk. 1: 16-17 RSV

[6] Mal. 3:1 RSV

[7] Mal. 4: 5-6 RSV

[8] Lk. 1:8-11 RSV

[9] Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch, The Gospel of Luke: Commentary, Notes & Study Questions (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2012), 18.

[10] LK 1: 18-23 RSV

[11] 21 while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. Dn. 9:21 RSV

[12] Sri, 14.

[13] Dn. 9: 23-24 RSV

[14] Lk. 1: 13-17 RSV

Pope Francis: reflections by Phillip Augustine

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Check out my post written on All Along the Watchtower about my initial thoughts on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, and while you’re there check out a view of the other posts on the site.

All Along the Watchtower

This post is by our frequent commentator Phillip Augustine

friend of mine, who is a Deacon in the Catholic Church, is a big fan of Pope Francis. In conversations with him on topics of Catholicism and theology he often refers to the current pontiff with a boyish name of “Frankie.” The Deacon knowing that I have a great devotion to Pope St. John Paul II and his struggles in Poland has often attempted to find ways to introduce Pope Francis into the conversation. One of the conversations with the Deacon, he requested that I read Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. Of course, as one who likes to dabble in academia, I already have a very long reading list– but nonetheless, I’ve now begun to peruse the pages of this text at my friend’s request.

I surmise that one of the reasons why the Deacon wishes for me to…

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Stealing Hosts for anti-Catholic art? Not illegal, Spanish judge says. :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

.- Critics of a Spanish judge say he wrongly dismissed charges against an artist who stole consecrated Hosts for an exhibit that disrespected the Catholic faith.

The Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers announced it would file an appeal and be prepared “to go to the highest court necessary in the face of what is becoming a campaign of serious offenses against the Christian faith and religious freedom.”

Abel Azcona stole more than 240 consecrated hosts from Masses celebrated in the cities of Madrid and Pamplona. He later took nude photos of himself arranging them on a floor to spell the word ‘pederasty.’ In November 2015, he displayed the photos as part of an art display in a city-owned exhibition hall available for public use.

Readmore via Stealing Hosts for anti-Catholic art? Not illegal, Spanish judge says. :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Is Cardinal Sarah being silenced? | News | LifeSite

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Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. / Flickr

By Jan Bentz

ROME, November 8, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Is Cardinal Robert Sarah slowly being silenced? An indication of such a development surfaced with the cardinal’s withdrawal from participating in a congress in Germany.

After the recent overhaul of the Vatican liturgy office, which Cardinal Sarah heads, he is now backing out of public appearances.

In a press release by the Kölner international Liturgische Tagung (International Liturgical Conference of Cologne), Father Guido Rodheudt, conference organizer, explained that Cardinal Sarah “regrettably had to cancel his participation in the 18thLiturgical conference” in 2017.

This news came as a surprise since the Cardinal had three times confirmed his participation, including in writing, since November 2015, said Rodheudt. Cardinal Sarah cancelled not only his participation in-person, but will also not submit his written paper to be read by a representative — a practice common for cardinals in cases of emergency absence.

In an interview with the German news agency kath.net, Fr. Rodheudt explained: “Cardinal Sarah has told us that for the coming year a number of obligations came up, which force him to cancel his participation even after repeated confirmation.”….

Readmore via Is Cardinal Sarah being silenced? | News | LifeSite

Religious freedom in medicine at stake in 2016, Catholic docs say

By Dennis Sadowski

November 5, 2016

WASHINGTON – A pair of Catholic physicians argue that changes in the way health care is paid for, and stronger relationships between doctors and their patients, will do more to improve people’s health and uphold the sanctity of life than bureaucratic government-run programs and expensive insurance policies.

Dr. Marguerite Duane, adjunct associate professor of family medicine at Georgetown University, and Dr. Lester Ruppersberger, president of the Catholic Medical Association, also maintain that control over health care must be in the hands of patients and their families rather than any bureaucracy.

Both physicians offered their views during an hour-long discussion Nov. 2 in Washington sponsored by Christ Medicus Foundation at the Catholic Information Center called “The Changing Face of Health Care and the 2016 Election.”
The program took place just days ahead of the Nov. 8 election. Each of the four participants said that the next presidential administration and the new Congress will influence how the U.S. health care system evolves.

The panelists expressed concern over the erosion of conscience protections for hospitals and health care workers and the rights of individuals to choose a doctor who aligns with their religious beliefs and to purchase insurance without paying for health services that they morally oppose.

“People have to realize that Americans of all stripes, regardless of their religious affiliation, that we are losing our religious freedom … at amazing speed,” said Louis Brown, foundation director.

 

 

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BISHOP JAMES D. CONLEY, STL-What Every Evangelist Needs to Know – Crisis Magazine

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“Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of resting on the fruit of what good Catholics before us have built. We cannot be a Church of maintenance, as George Weigel reminds us in Evangelical Catholicism. We are a Church “permanently in mission.” God will judge each one of us on whether we have become his disciples, and whether we have made disciples of all nations, as Jesus commanded. We are each called to become the saints the world needs now.

Pope St. John Paul II taught that saints step forward, into a world needing the Gospel, when no one else will. That’s what Edward Creighton, along with his wife Mary and his brother John, did.

We are each called to step forward, as missionary disciples to the time and place in which we live…

The Culture We Are Living In Today
I have said before that today’s America is becoming defined by a kind of utilitarian, technocratic gnosticism.

That sounds complicated, but the idea is simple, and I’ll explain it:

The moral compass of our political and cultural leaders seems mostly governed by a set of false ideas: That we can define reality according to our preferences. That we can remake every human relationship according to the power of our wills. That we have the unconditional right to use technology or wealth to overcome the limitations of our humanity, or achieve whatever we think will make us happy.”

Readmore via What Every Evangelist Needs to Know – Crisis Magazine