Tag Archives: Jesus

Baptism radiates light…

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“Baptism is God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift. . . . We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism because sin is buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed; enlightenment because it radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God’s Lordship.”

St. Gregory Of Nazianzus, Oratio 40,3-4:PG 36,361C

Congratulations to a faithful friend…

To learn more about the necessity of baptism for salvation and eternal life, click here.

Full Text: Pope Francis First Homily — Sistine Chapel

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In these three readings I see that there is something in common: it is movement. In the first reading, movement is the journey [itself]; in the second reading, movement is in the up-building of the Church. In the third, in the Gospel, the movement is in [the act of] profession: walking, building, professing.

Walking: the House of Jacob. “O house of Jacob, Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” This is the first thing God said to Abraham: “Walk in my presence and be blameless.” Walking: our life is a journey and when we stop, there is something wrong. Walking always, in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with that blamelessness, which God asks of Abraham, in his promise.

Building: to build the Church. There is talk of stones: stones have consistency, but [the stones spoken of are] living stones, stones anointed by the Holy Spirit. Build up the Church, the Bride of Christ, the cornerstone of which is the same Lord. With [every] movement in our lives, let us build!

Third, professing: we can walk as much we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a pitiful NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ. When one does not walk, one stalls. When one does not built on solid rocks, what happens? What happens is what happens to children on the beach when they make sandcastles: everything collapses, it is without consistency. When one does not profess Jesus Christ – I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy – “Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.” When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.

Walking, building-constructing, professing: the thing, however, is not so easy, because in walking, in building, in professing, there are sometimes shake-ups – there are movements that are not part of the path: there are movements that pull us back.

This Gospel continues with a special situation. The same Peter who confessed Jesus Christ, says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. This has nothing to do with it.” He says, “I’ll follow you on other ways, that do not include the Cross.” When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, Popes, but not disciples of the Lord.

I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage – the courage – to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord: to build the Church on the Blood of the Lord, which is shed on the Cross, and to profess the one glory, Christ Crucified. In this way, the Church will go forward.

My hope for all of us is that the Holy Spirit, that the prayer of Our Lady, our Mother, might grant us this grace: to walk, to build, to profess Jesus Christ Crucified. So be it.

FULL TEXT: The Final Angelus of Pope Benedict XVI

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The final Angelus……..with outstretched arms Pope Benedict XVI acknowledges a packed St. Peter’s Square beneath him as he delivers the the final Angelus devotion of his tenure as Pontiff 24 February 2013 in this handout photo provided by Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano. The Pontiff’s resignation officially takes effect at 8pm local time on 28 February 2013. EFE/EPA/OSSERVATORE — at Città Del Vatican

Full Text:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On the second Sunday of Lent, the liturgy always presents us with the Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The evangelist Luke places particular emphasis on the fact that Jesus was transfigured as he prayed: his is a profound experience of relationship with the Father during a sort of spiritual retreat that Jesus lives on a high mountain in the company of Peter, James and John , the three disciples always present in moments of divine manifestation of the Master (Luke 5:10, 8.51, 9.28).The Lord, who shortly before had foretold his death and resurrection (9:22), offers his disciples a foretaste of his glory. And even in the Transfiguration, as in baptism, we hear the voice of the Heavenly Father, “This is my Son, the Chosen One listen to him” (9:35). The presence of Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets of the Old Covenant, it is highly significant: the whole history of the Alliance is focused on Him, the Christ, who accomplishes a new “exodus” (9:31) , not to the promised land as in the time of Moses, but to Heaven. Peter’s words: “Master, it is good that we are here” (9.33) represents the impossible attempt to stop this mystical experience. St. Augustine says: “[Peter] … on the mountain … had Christ as the food of the soul. Why should he come down to return to the labours and pains, while up there he was full of feelings of holy love for God that inspired in him a holy conduct? “(Sermon 78.3).

We can draw a very important lesson from meditating on this passage of the Gospel. First, the primacy of prayer, without which all the work of the apostolate and of charity is reduced to activism. In Lent we learn to give proper time to prayer, both personal and communal, which gives breath to our spiritual life. In addition, to pray is not to isolate oneself from the world and its contradictions, as Peter wanted on Tabor, instead prayer leads us back to the path, to action. “The Christian life – I wrote in my Message for Lent – consists in continuously scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love “(n. 3).Dear brothers and sisters, I feel that this Word of God is particularly directed at me, at this point in my life. The Lord is calling me to “climb the mountain”, to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church, indeed, if God is asking me to do this it is so that I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done thus far, but in a way that is better suited to my age and my strength. Let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary: may she always help us all to follow the Lord Jesus in prayer and works of charity.

I offer a warm greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer, especially the Schola Cantorum of the London Oratory School. I thank everyone for the many expressions of gratitude, affection and closeness in prayer which I have received in these days. As we continue our Lenten journey towards Easter, may we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus the Redeemer, whose glory was revealed on the mount of the Transfiguration. Upon all of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

END

Full Text — Pope Benedict XVI Resignation Speech

POPE

 

“Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.”

END

Extraordinary Form Coming to Southern Oregon

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 UPDATE — The first quarterly Mass in the Extraordinary Form offered at Our Lady of the River will be this Sunday, February 10th 2013, at 6 PM.

ROGUE RIVER: It’s confirmed… What was previously known as the Tridentine Mass, or Traditional Latin Mass, and most recently, the “extraordinary form” of the Mass, will be periodically offered to worshipers at Our Lady of the River Catholic Church in Rogue River, Oregon.

The first Mass is scheduled for Feb 10th,2013, at 6 pm.

ADAMKOTAS420035_306336446081758_565442446_nAs you may recall, Pope Benedict XVI liberalized celebration of the extraordinary form in September of 2007 in his Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum, which lifted restrictions on celebrations of the Mass according to the Roman Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII.

According to my Pastor, Fr. Bill Holtzinger–who authorized the periodic Mass–announcements and details concerning the new offerings are forthcoming.

But, here’s what we know:

The celebrant will be Father Adam Kotas, from the Diocese of Santa Rosa, Pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Crescent City, California.

After messaging Father Kotas myself on his Facebook page to confirm him as celebrant of the new offering, he replied and affirmed. And most kindly, offered up some helpful suggestions for those of us unfamiliar with the traditional form. He highly recommends reading up on it to familiarize ourselves with the mass before attending, in order to help us appreciate it a lot more.

I’ve provided the suggested links, as well as a bio on Fr. Kotas below.

On a final personal note: I would like to thank both Pastors, Fr. Holtzinger and Fr. Kotas for the opportunity for our family to experience the extraordinary form. 

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE LATIN MASS

“What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.” — Pope Benedict XVI’s Moto Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, 2007.

· The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is our opportunity to stand on Calvary with our Lady, St. John and the holy women and offer ourselves to Jesus just as He offers Himself for us on the cross.

· At Mass we unite ourselves with Christ, who offers us with Himself to God the Father. It is the way that we render perfect adoration unto the Father. And we do this as a community, not simply as individuals gathered together. In this process the priest represents all of us and presents all of us to God.

· Thus, the priest offers this form of the Mass facing the same direction as the people, because he is taken from among the people to render sacrifice to God. He is not excluding the people, but rather he is leading the faithful in offering worship and sacrifice.

· All face ad orientem (to the East) because the East, according to St. Augustine, is where Heaven begins (symbolized by the rising sun), and it from the East that Christ will return to judge the living and the dead. Thus we face the East in joyful anticipation of our salvation.

· The Traditional Latin Mass is divided into two main parts: The Mass of the Catechumens (the purpose of which is to offer prayer and to receive instruction) and The Mass of the Faithful (by which we re-offer the sacrifice of Calvary and receive Holy Communion).

TIPS FOR ATTENDING YOUR FIRST LATIN MASS (Low Mass)

1. While at first glance the Extraordinary Form of the Mass may seem very different from the Mass you are used to attending, it is helpful to realize they each have a similar structure. Mass begins with prayers, moves through the readings (or lessons), the Gospel, the liturgy of the Eucharist, reception of Holy Communion, and closing prayers with a blessing.

2. Don’t worry if you can’t “keep up” with what the priest is saying, or you can’t find the right page of your missal or booklet. It may take a few times before things start to feel comfortable and you become familiar with the flow of the Mass. If you get lost, just keep giving thanks to Jesus for His sacrifice and prepare your soul to receive Him in Holy Communion.

3. The readings (lessons) and the Gospel are first read in Latin, and then repeated again in English before the priest begins his homily.

4. The daily readings and certain prayers are not included in the red Mass booklets. If you decide to come to the Latin Mass on a regular basis, you will probably want to buy a full Latin Missal, which has all the readings and prayers for any Mass you might attend.

5. The Pater Noster (Our Father) is prayed aloud by the priest, with the congregation joining only for the final line: sed libéra nos a malo (but deliver us from evil).

6. To receive Holy Communion, approach the altar and kneel at the next empty spot at the altar rail. The priest will place the sacred Host on your tongue while saying the words, “Corpus Dómini nostri Jesu Christi custódiat ánimam tuam in vitam æternam. Amen.” (May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve thy soul unto life everlasting. Amen.). You do not need to say “Amen”. When the person next to you has finished receiving Communion you may rise and walk back to your seat.

7. After the final blessing the priest will read the Last Gospel (the beginning of the Gospel of St. John). Afterwards, he will kneel before the altar and lead the congregation in the prayers after Mass. These include: the Hail Mary, Hail Holy Queen, the Prayer to St. Michael, and the prayer “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us” (3 times).

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LATIN MASS

Q. I don’t know Latin. How am I supposed to know what is happening during Mass?

A. Easy-to-use booklets are available at the back of the church for you to borrow for the duration of Mass. These red booklets have the words in Latin on the left and in English on the right. They also include illustrations to help you follow the movements of the Mass, as well as brief explanations about the parts of the Mass.

Q. Why is it so quiet during Mass? I can’t hear what the priest is saying!

A. During most of the Mass the priest prays to God on our behalf in a low voice. It is not necessary to hear what he is saying, however, you may follow along in the Mass booklet or Missal. This silence means there are less distractions and more time to meditate on the mysteries of our Faith and on Christ’s love for us.

Q. Why don’t we get to say anything? I want to participate in the Mass, too!

A. Since Vatican II, many people have become used to the idea of the laity having specific verbal or physical opportunities to participate in the liturgy. This idea comes from the Latin term participatio actuosa. However, the actual meaning of this “active participation” specifically refers to an interior participation by being attentive during Mass, praying, and giving thanks to God for His many gifts. Our prayers are joined with the entire Communion of Saints who are worshiping God along with us during the Mass. While we cannot see or hear them, they are there – actively participating, too. So, while you may be quiet and still on the outside, your mind and soul should be very active during Mass.

Q. Why do some women wear veils? Do I need one?

A. Women traditionally were required under canon law to cover their heads during Mass. While this tradition fell out of practice after Vatican II, it is still appropriate for women to veil their heads, but not required. Many women view it as a way to give honor to God present in the Holy Eucharist, and also as an act of humility.

MORE LATIN MASS RESOURCES

Una Voce America – Support and resources for the Latin Mass

St. Sylvia Latin Mass Community – A PDF tip sheet for attending the Latin Mass

The Catholic Liturgical Library – Latin and English prayers of the Latin Mass

Sancta Missa.org – more Latin Mass resources & educational material

adamstf_oxzhuxFather Adam Kotas was born in Poland on November 15, 1984 and moved to Chicago, IL when he was eight years old. He lived in Chicago with his family in Polish neighborhood and attended a Polish Church in Chicago where thousands of recently arrived Polish immigrants gathered to worship in their native tongue. From an early age Father Adam felt a calling to the priesthood as he admired his parish priest in Poland and the priests he came in contact with at his parish in Chicago. At the age of 14, Father Adam entered Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago in August of 1999 where he graduated in 2003. Father Adam always wanted to be a missionary to spread the Good News of the Gospel to those who have not yet heard it. He wanted to particularly work with the poor. Right after attending the high school seminary he spent a year with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a missionary group of priests and brothers whose main mission is to spread the Good News to the poor, in their pre-novitiate program in Miramar, FL where he attended St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, FL. St. John Vianney Seminary in Miami, FL is a bilingual seminary (English-Spanish) and this is where Father Adam first came into contact with Spanish. He studied Spanish diligently and ministered in the Spanish speaking parish in Miramar as well as at other nearby Spanish speaking parishes. After spending a year discerning whether the Oblates of Mary Immaculate were the right fit for him, Father Adam decided he was not called to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and left the pre-novitiate program. He returned to Chicago where he sought admission to St. Joseph College Seminary on the campus of Loyola University Chicago. Father Adam was accepted into the seminary formation program and at the same time he was accepted into the undergraduate program at Loyola University Chicago. Because Father Adam had accumulated many Advanced Placement college credits while in High School and because he took many more than the required minimum credits per semester while at Loyola University Chicago he graduated Cum Laude after only spending 2 years at Loyola University Chicago with a Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy and Spanish in May of 2006.

Upon his graduation from College Father Adam entered the graduate theological seminary of the Archdiocese of Chicago in Mundelein, Illinois where he spent a year. After one year at Mundelein Seminary Father Adam transferred to Ss. Cyril and Methodius seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan. Ss. Cyril and Methodius seminary is a Polish-American theological seminary whose main mission is train priests for missionary service in the United States of America. Priests who graduate from Ss. Cyril and Methodius seminary serve in places around the United States where there is a lack of priests. While at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary Father Adam met Father Thomas Diaz who was at the time the vocation director for the Santa Rosa diocese within whose boundaries St. Joseph Parish in Crescent City is located. St. Joseph Parish is the last parish in the diocese of Santa Rosa going north. The diocese of Santa Rosa is comprised of Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte counties. During his three years at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary Father Adam was ordained a deacon at the seminary on April 23, 2009. For one year while at the seminary Father Adam served as deacon at St. Mary of the Hills Parish in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Father Adam graduated Summa Cum Laude from Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in May of 2010 with a Masters of Divinity degree. He was ordained right after his graduation to the priesthood by the former bishop of the diocese of Santa Rosa, the Most. Rev. Daniel F. Walsh. The ordination took place on May 22, 2010 at St. John the Baptist parish in Napa, California.

During his time at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary Father Adam was given the opportunity to study at the University of Detroit Mercy. He pursued a Masters of Arts degree in Religious Studies. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies from the University of Detroit Mercy in May of 2010. Thus Father Adam not only has a Masters of Divinity degree (M.Div) but also a Masters of Arts degree (M.A.).

Father Adam is fluent in English, Spanish and Polish. He also reads and understand Latin as he studied Latin for four years. Because he knows fours languages from different language families he is able to communicate and read and comprehend many other languages.

Father Adam was appointed right after his ordination to the priesthood as Parochial Vicar (Assistant Pastor) at St. Francis Solano Catholic Church in Sonoma, CA. While at St. Francis Father Adam was responsible for the growing and ever expanding Hispanic ministry. Under Father Adam’s leadership the Hispanic community grew dramatically and many ministries were started at St. Francis including 3 different youth groups.

Father Adam was appointed interim administrator of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Calistoga in February of 2012. He remained in that post unit June 18, 2012 when Bishop Robert Vasa appointed him as Pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Crescent City, California. St. Joseph Church is the only Catholic Church in Del Norte county and this makes Father Adam the only priest in the entire county.

Father Adam leads St. Joseph’s with a passion for the Gospel. He is focused on strengthening the parish with Bible studies, retreats, missions, and engaging liturgies that call attention to the need to be re-evangelized as Catholic Christians in the 21st century. Father Adam is known for his humor and infectious laughter. He is very approachable and easy to talk to and always available to anyone that seeks his guidance and input. Do not hesitate to call on him for spiritual help. Father Adam emphasizes that he is a priest for all people whether they are members of St. Joseph Church or not. Father Adam is a very welcoming and loving priest who tries to make the Masses he celebrates welcoming celebrations of God’s loving presence in our lives.

Read the Catechism in a Year: Day 3

Catechism Clips
Catechism Clips (Photo credit: thicke)

Prologue (1 – 25)

“FATHER, … this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” “God our Savior desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” – than the name of JESUS.

V. PRACTICAL DIRECTIONS FOR USING THIS CATECHISM

18 This catechism is conceived as an organic presentation of the Catholic faith in its entirety. It should be seen therefore as a unified whole. Numerous cross-references in the margin of the text (numbers found at the end of a sentence referring to other paragraphs that deal with the same theme), as well as the analytical index at the end of the volume, allow the reader to view each theme in its relationship with the entirety of the faith.

19 The texts of Sacred Scripture are often not quoted word for word but are merely indicated by a reference (cf.). For a deeper understanding of such passages, the reader should refer to the Scriptural texts themselves. Such Biblical references are a valuable working-tool in catechesis.

20 The use of small print in certain passages indicates observations of an historical or apologetic nature, or supplementary doctrinal explanations.

21 The quotations, also in small print, from patristic, liturgical, magisterial or hagiographical sources, are intended to enrich the doctrinal presentations. These texts have often been chosen with a view to direct catechetical use.

22 At the end of each thematic unit, a series of brief texts in small italics sums up the essentials of that unit’s teaching in condensed formula. These IN BRIEF summaries may suggest to local catechists brief summary formula that could be memorized.

VI. NECESSARY ADAPTATIONS

23 The Catechism emphasizes the exposition of doctrine. It seeks to help deepen understanding of faith. In this way it is oriented towards the maturing of that faith, its putting down roots in personal life, and its shining forth in personal conduct.

24 By design, this Catechism does not set out to provide the adaptation of doctrinal presentations and catechetical methods required by the differences of culture, age, spiritual maturity, and social and ecclesial condition among all those to whom it is addressed. Such indispensable adaptations are the responsibility of particular catechisms and, even more, of those who instruct the faithful:

Whoever teaches must become “all things to all men” (1 Cor 9:22), to win everyone to Christ. … Above all, teachers must not imagine that a single kind of soul has been entrusted to them, and that consequently it is lawful to teach and form equally all the faithful in true piety with one and the same method! Let them realize that some are in Christ as newborn babes, others as adolescents, and still others as adults in full command of their powers. … Those who are called to the ministry of preaching must suit their words to the maturity and understanding of their hearers, as they hand on the teaching of the mysteries of faith and the rules of moral conduct.

Above all — Charity

25 To conclude this Prologue, it is fitting to recall this pastoral principle stated by the Roman Catechism:

The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.

Copyright © 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc. [Get your own copy of the Catechism here.]

Day 2 – 4

Read the Catechism in a Year: Day 1

St John Chrysostom (c.349—407) Archbishop of C...
St John Chrysostom (c.349—407) Archbishop of Constantinople (398—404) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prologue (1 – 25)

“FATHER, … this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” “God our Savior desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” – than the name of JESUS.

I. THE LIFE OF MAN — TO KNOW AND LOVE GOD

1 God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.

2 So that this call should resound throughout the world, Christ sent forth the apostles he had chosen, commissioning them to proclaim the gospel: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Strengthened by this mission, the apostles “went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.”

3 Those who with God’s help have welcomed Christ’s call and freely responded to it are urged on by love of Christ to proclaim the Good News everywhere in the world. This treasure, received from the apostles, has been faithfully guarded by their successors. All Christ’s faithful are called to hand it on from generation to generation, by professing the faith, by living it in fraternal sharing, and by celebrating it in liturgy and prayer.

II. HANDING ON THE FAITH: CATECHESIS

4 Quite early on, the name catechesis was given to the totality of the Church’s efforts to make disciples, to help men believe that Jesus is the Son of God so that believing they might have life in his name, and to educate and instruct them in this life, thus building up the body of Christ.

5 “Catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life.”

6 While not being formally identified with them, catechesis is built on a certain number of elements of the Church’s pastoral mission which have a catechetical aspect, that prepare for catechesis, or spring from it. They are: the initial proclamation of the Gospel or missionary preaching to arouse faith; examination of the reasons for belief; experience of Christian living; celebration of the sacraments; integration into the ecclesial community; and apostolic and missionary witness.

7 “Catechesis is intimately bound up with the whole of the Church’s life. Not only her geographical extension and numerical increase, but even more her inner growth and correspondence with God’s plan depend essentially on catechesis.”

8 Periods of renewal in the Church are also intense moments of catechesis. In the great era of the Fathers of the Church, saintly bishops devoted an important part of their ministry to catechesis. St. Cyril of Jerusalem and St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, and many other Fathers wrote catechetical works that remain models for us.

9 “The ministry of catechesis draws ever fresh energy from the councils. The Council of Trent is a noteworthy example of this. It gave catechesis priority in its constitutions and decrees. It lies at the origin of the Roman Catechism, which is also known by the name of that council and which is a work of the first rank as a summary of Christian teaching. …” The Council of Trent initiated a remarkable organization of the Church’s catechesis. Thanks to the work of holy bishops and theologians such as St. Peter Canisius, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Turibius of Mongrovejo or St. Robert Bellarmine, it occasioned the publication of numerous catechisms.

10 It is therefore no surprise that catechesis in the Church has again attracted attention in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, which Pope Paul VI considered the great catechism of modern times. The General Catechetical Directory (1971) the sessions of the Synod of Bishops devoted to evangelization (1974) and catechesis (1977), the apostolic exhortations Evangelii nuntiandi (1975) and Catechesi tradendae (1979), attest to this. The Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985 asked “that a catechism or compendium of all Catholic doctrine regarding both faith and morals be composed” The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, made the Synod’s wish his own, acknowledging that “this desire wholly corresponds to a real need of the universal Church and of the particular Churches.” He set in motion everything needed to carry out the Synod Fathers’ wish.

Copyright © 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc. [Get your own copy of the Catechism here.]

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DAY 2

Protestant Convert: The Authority of the First Popes

SOURCE: Patheos –

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is an American who has spent most of his life living and working in England. Fr Longenecker was brought up in an Evangelical home in Pennsylvania. After graduating from the fundamentalist Bob Jones University with a degree in Speech and English, he went to study theology at Oxford University. He was eventually ordained as an Anglican priest and served as a curate, a school chaplain in Cambridge and a country parson on the Isle of Wight.

Realizing that he and the Anglican Church were on divergent paths, in 1995 Fr. Dwight and his family were received into the Catholic Church. He spent the next ten years working as a freelance Catholic writer, contributing to over twenty-five magazines, papers and journals in Britain, Ireland and the USA.

Authority of the First Popes

The Early Church and the Development of the Papacy

The Trail of Blood

Some time ago an acquaintance from my days as a fundamentalist sent me an email. Kevin had become a Baptist pastor and was disappointed that I had been “deceived by the Catholic Church”. He wanted to know my reasons for becoming Catholic.

I get such emails from time to time, and rather than get involved in arguments about purgatory or candles or Mary worship or indulgences, I usually cut straight to the point and try to engage my correspondent with the question of authority in the Church.

Kevin told me that to follow the Pope was an ancient error, and when I asked where he got his authority he promised to send me a book called The Trail of Blood. This book, written by a Baptist pastor called J.M.Carroll explains that Baptists are not really Protestants because they never broke away from the Catholic Church. Instead they are part of an ancient line of “true and faithful Biblical Christians” dating right back through the Waldensians and Henricians to the Cathars, the Novatians, Montanists and eventually John the Baptist.” This view is called Baptist Successionism or Landmarkism and it is also taught by John T Christian in his book, The History of the Baptists.

Baptist Successionism is a theory more theological than historical. For the proponents, the fact that there is no historical proof for their theory simply shows how good the Catholic Church was at persecution and cover up. Baptist Successionism can never be disproved because all that is required for their succession to be transmitted was a small group of faithful people somewhere at sometime who kept the flame of the true faith alive.  The authors of this fake history skim happily over the heretical beliefs of their supposed forefathers in the faith. It is sufficient that all these groups were opposed to, and persecuted by, the Catholics.

Most educated Evangelicals would snicker at such bogus scholarship and many more are totally ignorant of the works of J.M.Carroll and the arcane historical theories of Baptist Successionism. Nevertheless, the basic assumptions of Baptist Successionism  provide the foundation for most current independent Baptist explanations of early Church history, and these assumptions are the foundation for the typical independent Baptist  understanding of the Church. The assumptions about the early church are these: 1) Jesus Christ never intended such a thing as a monarchical papacy 2) The church of the New Testament age was de-centralized 2) the early church was essentially local and congregational in government. 3) The church became hierarchical after the conversion of Constantine in the fourth century and 4) the papacy was invented by Pope Leo the Great who reigned from 440 – 460.

Just the Facts

The basic assumptions the typical Evangelical has about the papacy are part of the wallpaper in the Evangelical world. Being brought up in an independent Bible Church, I was taught that our little fellowship of Christians meeting to study the Bible, pray and sing gospel songs was like the ‘early Christians’ meeting in their house churches. I had a mental picture of ‘Catholic Pope’ which I had pieced together from a whole range of biased sources. When I heard the word ‘pope’ I pictured a corpulent Italian with the juicy name “Borgia” who drank a lot of wine, was supposed to be celibate, but who not only had mistresses, but sons who he called ‘nephews’. This ‘pope’  had big banquets in one of his many palaces, was very rich, rode out to war when he felt like it and liked to tell Michelangelo how to paint. That this ‘pope’ was a later invention of the corrupt Catholic Church was simply part of the whole colorful story.

But of course, the idea that the florid Renaissance pope is typical of all popes is not a Catholic invention, but a Protestant one. Protestantism has been compelled to rewrite all history according to it’s own necessities. As French historian Augustin Thierry has written, “To live, Protestantism found itself forced to build up a history of its own.”

The five basic assumptions of non-Catholic Christians can be corrected by looking at the history of the early church. Did Jesus envision and plan a monarchical papacy? Was the early church de-centralized? Was the early church essentially local and congregational? Did the early church only become hierarchical after the emperor was converted? Did Leo the Great invent the papacy in the fifth century? To examine this we’ll have to put on one side the preconceptions and mental images of Borgia popes and get down to ‘just the facts ma’am.’

Did Jesus Plan a Monarchical Papacy?

Jesus certainly did not plan for the inflated and corrupt popes of the popular imagination. He intended to found a church, but the church was not democratic in structure. It was established with clear individual leadership. In Matthew 16.18-19 Jesus says to Simon Peter, “You are Peter, and on this Rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.” So, Jesus established his church not on a congregational model, but on the model of personal leadership.

Was this a monarchical papacy? In a way it was. In Matthew 16 Jesus goes on to say to Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” This is a direct reference back to Isaiah 22.22, where the prophet recognizes Eliakim as the steward of the royal House of David. The steward was the Prime Minister of the Kingdom. The keys of the kingdom were the sign of his personal authority delegated by the king himself.

Jesus never intended a monarchical papacy in the corrupt sense of the Pope being an absolute worldly monarch, but the church leadership Jesus intended was ‘monarchical’ in the sense that it was based on his authority as King of Kings. The reference to Isaiah 22 shows that the structure of Jesus’  kingdom was modeled on King David’s dynastic court. In Luke 1.32-33 Jesus’ birth is announced in royal terms. He will inherit the throne of his father David. He will rule over the house of Jacob and his kingdom shall never end. Like Eliakim, to whom Jesus refers, Peter is to be the appointed authority in this court, and as such his role is that of steward and ruler in the absence of the High King, the scion of the House of David. That Peter assumes this pre-eminent role of leadership in the early church is attested to throughout the New Testament from his first place in the list of the apostles, to his dynamic preaching on the day of Pentecost, his decision making at the Council of Jerusalem and the deference shown to him by St Paul and the other apostles.

Did Jesus plan the monarchical papacy? He did not plan for the sometimes corrupt, venal and worldly papacy that it has sometimes become down through history, but Jesus did plan for one man to be his royal delegate on earth. He did plan for one man to lead the others (Lk.22.32) He did plan for one man to take up the spiritual and temporal leadership of his church. This is shown not only through the famous passage from Matthew 16, but also in the final chapter of John’s gospel where Jesus the Good Shepherd hands his pastoral role over to Peter.

Was the early church de-centralized?

Independent Evangelical churches follow the Baptist Successionist idea that the early church was de-centralized. They like to imagine that the early Christians met in their homes for Bible study and prayer, and that in this pure form they existed independently of any central authority. It is easy to imagine that long ago in the ancient world transportation and communication was rare and difficult and that no form of centralized church authority could have existed even if it was desirable.

The most straightforward reading of the Acts of the Apostles shows this to be untrue, and a further reading of early church documents shows this to be no more than a back-projected invention. In the Acts of the Apostles what we find is a church that is immediately centralized in Jerusalem. When Peter has his disturbing vision in which God directs him to admit the Gentiles to the Church, he references back at once to the apostolic leadership in Jerusalem.(Acts 11:2)

The mission of the infant church was directed from Jerusalem, with Barnabas and Agabus being sent to Antioch (Acts 11:22,27) The Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) was convened to decide on the Gentile decision and a letter of instruction was sent to the new churches in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. (Acts 15:23) We see Philip, John Mark, Barnabas and Paul traveling to and from Jerusalem and providing a teaching and disciplinary link from the new churches back to the centralized church in Jerusalem.

After the martyrdom of James the leadership shifts to Peter and Paul. The authority is not centered on Jerusalem, but through their epistles to the various churches, we see a centralized authority that is vested in Peter and Paul as apostles. This central authority was very soon focussed on Rome, so that St Ignatius, a bishop of the church in Antioch would write to the Romans in the year 108 affirming that their church was the one that had the “superior place in love among the churches.’”

Historian Eamon Duffy suggests that the earliest leadership in the Roman church may have been more conciliar than monarchical because in his letter to the Corinthians, Clement of Rome doesn’t write as the Bishop of Rome, but even if this is so Duffy confirms that the early church believed Clement was the fourth Bishop of Rome and read Clement’s letter as support for centralized Roman authority. He also concedes that by the time of Irenaeus in the mid second century the centralizing role of the Bishop of Rome was already well established. From then on, citation after citation from the apostolic Fathers can be compiled to show that the whole church from Gaul to North Africa and from Syria to Spain affirm the primacy of the Bishop of Rome as the successor of Peter and Paul.

The acceptance of this centralized authority was a sign of belonging to the one true church so that St Jerome could write to Pope Damasus in the mid 300s, “I think it is my duty to consult the chair of Peter, and to turn to a church whose faith has been praised by Paul… My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the cross. As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the church is built!”

Was the Early Church Local and Congregational?

We find no evidence of a network of independent, local churches ruled democratically by individual congregations. Instead, from the beginning we find the churches ruled by elders (bishops) So in the New Testament we find the apostles appointing elders in the churches. (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5) The elders kept in touch with the apostles and with the elders of the other churches through travel and communication by epistle. (I Pt.1:1; 5:1) Anne Rice, the author of the Christ the Lord series of novels, points out how excellent and rapid the lines of communication and travel were in the Roman Empire.

In the early church we do not find independent congregations meeting on their own and determining their own affairs by reading the Bible. We have to remember that in the first two centuries there was no Bible as such for the canon of the New Testament had not yet been decided. Instead, from the earliest time we find churches ruled by the bishops and clergy whose authenticity is validated by their succession from the apostles. So Clement of Rome writes, “Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on the question of the bishop’s office. Therefore for this reason… they appointed the aforesaid persons and later made further provision that if they should fall asleep other tested men should succeed to their ministry.” Ignatius of Antioch in Syria writes letters to six different churches and instructs the Romans, “be submissive to the bishop and to one another as Jesus Christ was to the Father and the Apostles to Christ…that there may be unity.”

This apostolic ministry was present in each city, but centralized in Rome. The idea of a church being independent, local and congregational is rejected. Thus, by the late second century Irenaeus writes, “Those who wish to see the truth can observe in every church the tradition of the Apostles made manifest in the whole world…therefore we refute those who hold unauthorized assemblies…by pointing to the greatest and oldest church, a church known to all men, which was founded and established at Rome by the most renowned Apostles Peter and Paul…for this Church has the position of leadership and authority, and therefore every church, that is, the faithful everywhere must needs agree with the church at Rome for in her the apostolic tradition has ever been preserved by the faithful from all parts of the world.”

Did the Church only become hierarchical after Constantine?

Independent Evangelicals imagine that the church only became hierarchical after it was ‘infected’ by the emperor Constantine’s conversion in 315. At that time, they argue, the monarchical model came across from the court of the emperor and the church moved from being independent, local and congregational to being a centralized, hierarchical arm of the Roman Empire.

Again, this theory has no relation to reality. As we have seen, the idea of a monarchical papacy was there from the beginning in Jesus’ identity as the Great scion of David the King with Peter as his steward. The steward, like the king he served, was to be the servant and shepherd of all, but he was also meant to rule as through the charism of individual leadership. This form of governance was hierarchical from the beginning for it is grounded in Jesus’ own concept of the Kingdom of God. A kingdom is hierarchical through and through, and the church, as Christ’s kingdom is hierarchical from its foundations. Furthermore, the leadership of the Jewish church (on which the Christian church was modeled) was hierarchical with it’s orders of rabbis, priests and elders.

Obedience to the bishop as the head of the church was crucial. So Ignatius of Antioch writes to the Christians at Smyrna and condemns individualistic congregationalism in terms that are clearly hierarchical: “All of you follow the bishop as Jesus Christ followed the Father, and the presbytery as the Apostles; respect the deacons as ordained by God. Let no one do anything that pertains to the church apart from the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is under the bishop or one who he has delegated….it is not permitted to baptize or hold a love feast independently of the bishop.”

The hierarchical nature of the church is confirmed and sealed through the apostolic succession. Church leaders are appointed by the successors of the apostles, and there is a clear chain of command which validates a church and it’s ministry. So Ireneaeus writes, “It is our duty to obey those presbyters who are in the Church who have their succession from the Apostles..the others who stand apart from the primitive succession and assemble in any place whatever we ought to regard with suspicion either as heretics and unsound in doctrine or as schismatics…all have fallen away from the truth.”

Throughout the New Testament and the writings of the Apostolic Fathers the church is portrayed as centralized, hierarchical and universal. The need for unity is stressed. Heresy and schism are anathema. Unity is guaranteed by allegiance to the clear hierarchical  chain of command: God sent his Son Jesus. Jesus sent the Apostles. The Apostles appointed their successors. The Bishops are in charge. So Clement of Rome writes, “The Apostles received the gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ: Jesus the Christ was sent from God. Thus Christ is from God, the Apostles from Christ. in both cases the process was orderly and derived from the will of God.”

Was Leo the Great the First Pope?

The term ‘pope’ is from the Greek word ‘pappas’ which means ‘Father.’ In the first three centuries it was used of any bishop, and eventually the term was used for the Bishop of Alexandria, and finally by the sixth century it was used exclusively for the Bishop of Rome. Therefore it is an open question who was the first ‘pope’ as such.

The critics of the Catholic Church aren’t really worried about when the term ‘pope’ was first used. What they mean when they say that Leo the Great (440-461) was the first pope is that this is when the papacy began to assume worldly power. This is, therefore, simply a problem in definition of terms. By ‘pope’ the Evangelical means what I thought of as ‘pope’ after my Evangelical childhood. By ‘pope’ they mean ‘corrupt earthly ruler’. In that respect Leo the Great might be termed the ‘first pope’ because he was the one, (in the face of the disintegrating Roman Empire) who stepped up and got involved in temporal power without apology.

However, seeing the pope as merely a temporal ruler and disapproving is to be too simplistic. Catholics understand the pope’s power to be spiritual. While certain popes did assume temporal power, they often did so reluctantly, and did not always wield that power in a corrupt way. Whether popes should have assumed worldly wealth and power is arguable, but at the heart of their ministry, like the Lord they served, they should have known that their kingdom was not of this world. Their rule was to be hierarchical and monarchical in the sense that they were serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It was not first and foremost to be hierarchical and monarchical in the worldly sense.

The Protestant idea that the papacy was a fifth century invention relies on a false understanding of the papacy itself. After the establishment of the church at Constantine’s conversion the church hierarchy did indeed become more influential in the kingdoms of this world, but that is not the essence of the papacy. The essence of the papacy lies in Jesus’ ordination of Peter as his royal steward, and his commission to assume the role of Good Shepherd in Christ’s absence. The idea, therefore, that Leo the Great was the first ‘pope’ is a red herring based on a misunderstanding of the pope’s true role.

The Early Church Today

From the Reformation onward, Protestant Christians have fallen into the trap of Restorationism. This is the idea that the existing church has become corrupt and departed from the true gospel and that a new church that is faithful to the New Testament can be created. These sincere Christians then attempt to ‘restore’ the church by creating a new church. The problem is, each new group of restorationists invariably create a church of their own liking determined by their contemporary cultural assumptions. They then imagine that the early church was like the one they have invented.

All of the historical documents show that, in essence, the closest thing we have today to the early church is actually the Catholic Church. In these main points the Catholic Church is today what she has always been. Her leadership is unapologetically monarchical and hierarchical. Her teaching authority is centralized and universal, and the pope is what he has always been, the universal pastor of Christ’s Church, the steward of Christ’s kingdom and the Rock on which Christ builds his Church.

A reflection on the meaning of baptism

I found the description of the sacrament of baptism below to be personally true within the soul. To be “born again” by the action of the Spirit in these modern times reveals, (among a great many things), the historical reality of the presence of God in the flesh (Jesus) on earth . One learns confirmation of that visitation to his people, his death, and resurrection over 2000 years ago in one way–through the very same heart that was pierced by the Roman soldiers following his death on the cross. They wanted at that time in history to insure, with their own eyes, the death of the guilty ones; Yet, today, it is the same innocent blood and water mercifully flowing forth from the side of the Savior of the world which washes clean our sinful fallen souls, and enlightens the eyes and ears of our hearts in his bringing our souls into union with the Father—face to face in beatific communion with the Trinity. And there is no power, seen or unseen, nor evil spirit, or sin which plagues us, greater than this love of the Trinity, which God in His fullness of Glory desires to share with all men in the sacrament of baptism–Baptism reveals the meaning of life and the search for truth: To come to know, love, and serve God in this life, and be with him joyful forever in the next.

The following is from ‘Jesus of Nazareth, by Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, pg. 20:

“Jesus’ Baptism, […] is understood as a repetition of the whole history, which both recapitulates the past and anticipates the future. His entering into the sins of others is a descent into the “inferno.” But he does not descend merely in the role of a spectator, as in Dante’s Inferno. Rather, he goes down in the role of one whose suffering-with-others is a transforming suffering that turns the underworld around, knocking down and flinging open the gates of the abyss. His Baptism is a descent into the house of the evil one, combat with the “strong man” (cf. Lk 11:22) who holds men captive (and the truth is that we are all very much captive to powers that anonymously manipulate us!). Throughout all its history, the world is powerless to defeat the “strong man”; he is overcome and bound by one yet stronger, who, because of his equality with God, can take upon himself all the sin of the world and then suffers it through to the end—omitting nothing on the downward path into identity with the fallen. This struggle is the “conversion” of being that brings it into a new condition, that prepares a new heaven and a new earth. Looked at from this angle, the sacrament of Baptism appears as the gift of participation in Jesus’ world-transforming struggle in the conversion of life that took place in his descent and ascent.”

Virgin of Guadalupe image spared after fire in Juárez destroys church

 “The image had no protection at all.”

A fire destroyed a church in Juárez early Wednesday morning, but spared a Virgin of Guadalupe image, despite the fierce blaze, Juárez officials said today.
The incident took place at about 4:04 a.m. on Wednesday, at San Agustín Chapel at Paseos del Alba and Paseos del Ángel Streets, Juárez Fire Department officials said.
“The fire tore down the whole church,” said Cap. Martin Morales, of the Fire Department in Juárez, in a telephone interview.
But the fire spared a Virgin of Guadalupe image inside the church. The beloved icon, 60 centimeters tall and one meter wide, was framed in wood.
The flames destroyed other images like St. Agustín and Jesus Christ, said Efrén Matamoros, Juárez Environmental Services and Civil Defense.
“We had no explanation of that,” Matamoros said. “The image had no protection at all.” The fire also destroyed 40 pews, frames and several icons. No one was hurt.
The damages were estimated at $10,000.
The fire was ruled accidental, due to an illegal connection to the electric poles in the area, firefighters said.
The parishioners are ready to rebuild the church, Matamoros said.

STORY: El Paso Times

Marisela Ortega Lozano maybe reached at mortega@elpasotimes.com; 542-6077.