Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Updates, updates, updates!

Wow, how does this thing work again?

Seriously, it's been a while since I last posted to the blog and there's pretty good reason for that: not enough time to do so! July and August have been pretty intense months for myself and my family and September looks pretty busy for us as well.

I've got a stack of draft blog entries in my "To finish" pile so it's just a matter of finding the time to grind them out gradually. I hope to have something new for you all very soon.

In the mean time if you could please keep me in your prayers. I'm on the lookout for a new job at the moment (still in teaching). Things have gotten to a point at the school that I work at at the moment where I feel I could be giving more but not given the opportunity to do so. It's as though I'm starting to outgrow this shell and I need to find a new home... just as a hermit crab would.

There's much to discern and much to pray about.

Thank you, as always, for your support and for reading.

God bless.

Pax vobiscum.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Trinity... in Genesis??

Did you know that the truth of the Blessed Trinity is revealed in the Old Testament? You might answer "yes" to that question, but what if I told you that the truth of the Blessed Trinity - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - is revealed in the first three verses of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis? Now you might be thinking "Oh really? Tell me more!"

This is something I never noticed until someone else pointed it out to me, and all credit is given to Dr. Scott Hahn who makes this mind-blowing observation. Let's read the first three verses of Genesis 1 first:

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light." - Genesis 1:1-3

Broken down, verse by verse:

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." - Genesis 1:1
--That one's pretty obvious; God the Father "creator of the heavens and the earth" (CCC, par. 239)

"The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters."  - Genesis 1:2
--"... and the Spirit of God" i.e. The Holy Spirit "... was moving over the face of the waters". This is a really cool one. The first thing that came to mind for me with this verse was John 3:5...

"Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.'" - John 3:5

Through Baptism we are made anew; the baptismal waters are the wellspring of holiness (CCC, par. 1218). It is the Holy Spirit that gives life to the unformed earthly void.

Furthermore, through Christ's own baptism in the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist, as Christ is revealed as the "beloved Son" (Matthew 3:16-17), the inheritance of the eternal life is revealed to us (CCC, par. 1224; ibid., par. 2009).

"And God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light.'" - Genesis 1:3
--Light distinguishes from darkness; darkness is the absence of light. One could suggest that without Christ, the light, evil prevails. The light of Christ casts away the darkness of sin (CCC, par. 1691, 1695).

"And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God." - John 3:19-21

"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" - John 8:12

Do you see how the dots are connected?

In summary:

Genesis 1:1 = God the Father
Genesis 1:2 = God the Holy Spirit
Genesis 1:3 = God the Son

Nifty. :)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

My 'Pratically Apologetic' talk at Turrist Orationist Ministry, Friday May 16 2014

On Friday, May 16 I gave my 'Practically Apologetic' talk at the Turrist Orationist Ministry, an Indonesian Catholic prayer, praise and worship group. Here's the audio:

In the ~48 minute talk I covered the following topics:

- St. Peter "the Rock" and the foundation of the Catholic Church;
- the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ark of the New Covenant; and
- the Eucharist, source and summit of the Christian life

I had a lot of fun giving this talk; I hope that you enjoy listening to it.

God bless. :)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Barbershop philosophy, Love and Responsibility...

I had my haircut before my younger brother's wedding a couple of weeks ago, and as you do with your barber/hair dresser, you engage in some small talk and before you know you're having a conversation and solving all the world's problems... or are you?

My barber asked me what I do for work (be assured that in turn I did not bother to ask him), so I told him that I'm a high school theology teacher. He admitted that he wasn't too familiar with theology so he asked me what that entailed. I told him in summary that it entailed teaching about the Catholic Church (I teach at a Catholic high school after all), Her teachings and doctrines, key beliefs, responses to contemporary issues, moral theology, a bit of philosophy, and so forth. His interest seemed piqued. "I'm a bit of an atheist, myself" my barber replied. With my interest piqued, I replied with "Oh really?"

Before I could ask my barber anything about his atheism, he began to inquire about why I teach theology. I gave him my life story in cliff notes and explained that I have a love for my faith, so why not make a living teaching it? He then asked, "So why not become a priest?" Good question! For a time after leaving high school I did in fact discern the priesthood. The priesthood was always something at the back of my mind as I went through university, even as I dated some girls during my late teens and very early 20s. Ultimately, as I explained to my barber, I felt the undeniable call from God to family life and to fulfil my vocation as a husband, parent, and teacher. I am grateful to God that I can make a career of the vocation of teaching.

I suspected that a question about the priesthood was imminent, and before I knew it...

"Do you think that by allowing priests to marry all of those... 'problems' might get solved?" my barber asked.

If by "problems" he meant the sexual abuse scandals and so forth, it's something I had already pondered. When I was in Sydney giving presentations for Parousia Media back in February, I received a question very similar to that one. Basically it was suggested that by allowing priests in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church to marry, it would either eradicate or lower the incidence of sexual abuse against minors by Catholic clergy. "We're animals after all, aren't we?" by barber suggested, "... we have needs, right?"

A few things:

1. Let's assume that a clergyman with a inclination to pederasty or with a sexually oriented attraction to minors is allowed to be married because the Church has changed its position on the discipline of celibate clergy. Does allowing this clergyman to marry suddenly rid him of his inclination to pederasty or his sexual attraction to minors? Let's answer that this way: if there exists a person with a inclination to alcoholism, does replacing all of their drinks with water or other non-alcoholic beverages remove their inclination to alcoholism? Not necessarily. One's inclination to pederasty or sexual orientation to minors may have a psychological genesis and therefore must be managed at its genesis. Permitting marriage for clergymen with such an inclination is not a solution or treatment.

2. If marriage for priests of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church is permitted as a "solution" to the sexual abuse scandals, are we not then advocating an attitude that objectifies women, dehumanises them, and treats them as beings that exist simply for the sexual gratification of men (i.e. lust)? Would we not then be warping the true meaning of marriage and distorting the act of conjugal love between a husband and wife? Marriage is not a license which permits coitus exclusively with one's spouse. This "solution" - apart from being counter-intuitive - degrades the integrity of the human person. While sex is pleasurable, we should be reminded of the wisdom of St. Pope John Paul II regarding the human person:

“A person’s rightful due is to be treated as an object of love, not as an object for use.” - Love and Responsibility, 1993

3. "We're animals after all, aren't we?" This is a depressing attitude. What separates us from the animals is our ability to rationalise and ponder things that are beyond the perception of the human senses: sight, taste, touch, sound, and smell. For example: the reality of God, or - if you're on the agnostic end of the spectrum - the possibility that there exists a being beyond our human comprehension that somehow put everything into existence and desires to have a personal and intimate relationship with us. Yes, we're mammals with an instinctive drive, but we are not solely driven by instinct. As St. Thomas Aquinas describes, humans possess what is called a "rational soul" which allows us to communicate using complex language, have abstract thoughts, experience a complex range of feelings and emotions, etc. If we are merely animals then why bother bathing, going to work, engaging with others in dynamic and thought-provoking dialogue and so forth? Why not just devolve to the days of pre-historic man and sort out our problems with blunt objects?

I wasn't trying to be argumentative with my barber (a lot of what's up there are after thoughts) but my opinion was asked for and I gave it in the most non-confrontational way I could muster at the time (he was holding a razor at the time).

Some things to note/references:

In Eastern rites of the Catholic Church, priests are allowed to marry. It is important to clarify that when the Catholic Church is being spoken of as a whole, there exists more than the Roman Catholic Church. Yes, it is the Roman Catholic Church that you often see in the media, but not all Catholics are Roman. Recommended reading: What Catholics Really Believe - Priestly Celibacy

Regarding the Catholic Church's teachings on Homosexuality:

It's very important to note - despite what the mainstream media, certain lobby groups, and secular institutions may tell you - that the Catholic Church does not advocate hatred towards homosexuals and does not tolerate it either. Quite the contrary:

"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfil God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition." - Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2358 (bolded for emphasis)

Regarding the Catholic Church's teachings on Marriage (more specifically concerning the objectification of women and distorting the meaning of conjugal love), St. Pope John Paul II in his September 17, 1980 Theology of the Body address to the general audience stated:

"Lust has the internal effect, that is, in the heart, on the interior horizon of man and woman, of obscuring the significance of the body, of the person itself. Femininity thus ceases being above all else an object for the man. It ceases being a specific language of the spirit. It loses its character of being a sign. I would say that it ceases bearing in itself the wonderful matrimonial significance of the body. It ceases its correlation to this significance in the context of conscience and experience. Lust arising from concupiscence of the flesh itself, from the first moment of its existence within the man—its existence in his heart—passes in a certain sense close to such a context. (Using an image, one could say that it passes on the ruins of the matrimonial significance of the body and all its subjective parts.) By virtue of axiological intentionality itself, it aims directly at an exclusive end: to satisfy only the sexual need of the body, as its precise object." - 'Mutual Attraction Differs from Lust', St. Peter's Square General Audience, September 17, 1980

* * * * *

It ended up being a very good discussion between myself and my barber. We didn't get that detailed or go that deep, but I feel that at my next haircut (a couple of weeks away) we may pick things up where we left off and pose some more challenging questions. In the meantime I'm going to be praying for my barber. Please too pray for him and for myself.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Shadows of the New

About four and a half years ago I blogged about how the Chair (or "Throne") of St. Peter (i.e. The Holy See) was prefigured in the Old Testament, specifically in the book of Isaiah. You can find that blog entry here

What I found this evening on Facebook was a chart that clearly and with more detail identifies the parallels between the Vicar of the Throne of David in the book of Isaiah and the Vicar of the Throne of David in the New Testament. All credit goes to St. Joseph Studios; it came from their Facebook page:

Feel free to share. 

God bless. :)

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Quick Thought: Chameleon Evangelisation

Since Westboro Baptist Church's "elder" Fred Phelps died, the attention the church has gained has intrigued me. At the same time, however, it embarrasses me that members of WBC call themselves "Christian". What they do - and more specifically how they do it - is diametrically opposed to Christianity. They want to win souls for God, but sometimes you can win the battle but lose the soul.

The church's actions have made me seriously think about how I evangelise and how I talk to people about Christ and the Catholic Church. I have also thought about my own failings as a human being. I'm a Christian. I am a Catholic-Christian. I'm not a perfect Catholic-Christian nor am I perfect human being. What I am is this:

I am a person made in the image and likeness of God doing his best to cooperate with God's grace and liveout the Gospel message. This means that at times I will strongly disagree with some societal trends, certain behaviours, and even go as far as to call them "sinful". At times I may fall, stumble, and seem hypocritical, but such failings are not indicative of what I believe in or what I stand for, no; they are indictments on my own failings as a human being. I desire to continue to grow in holiness and become more Christ-like.

The world is changing and it has become so diverse. As a Christian, to help bring the Gospel message to others, I may be required to speak differently to others depending on their personal context - as Christ did - in order for the Gospel message to be heard. As St. Paul writes in Corinthians, I must "become all things to all men":

"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law I became as one under the law—though not being myself under the law—that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law—not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ—that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." - 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

This does not mean that I compromise my beliefs or suddenly become tolerant of sin or actions that are contrary to Natural Law, but rather I am required to look at others through the eyes of Christ and to see Christ in the eyes of others. Blend in, but remain steadfast in who you are:

"Learn who you are in the eyes of God." - St. Eugene de Mazenod


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A brief reflection on fatherhood/motherhood/parenthood

My wife is away overseas for work at the moment so I'm taking care of the kids on my own for a little while. This time has provided for me a few opportunities to ponder the gift of parenthood and the unique role of fatherhood. At the same time I'm able to appreciate the work that a more does and the care she has for her children.

Yes, I'm the proverbial "Mr. Mum", but the only issue I have with that term of endearment (don't get me wrong, I do take it as a compliment) is this:

There is absolutely NOTHING I can do which will match the love, care, and nurturing that my wife gives to our children; everything that I do falls terribly short. To say that I am a fill-in or replacement would be an affront to motherhood. I am, however, a father and trying to be the best dad I can be. What I give is different and how I give it is different. Put the shoe on the other foot: why aren't mothers called "Ms. Dad" when the fathers are out of town?

Growing up I was very blessed to have a mother and a father who - despite the breakup of their marriage - were every bit the mother and father to me. Mum was mum to me; Dad was dad to me. Plain and simple. Neither attempted to compensate for any absences; I had exactly what I needed.

No, I'm not offended by being called "Mr. Mum" but what I'm doing is called "parenting". Secondary to that, what I am is a father and a father to my children I will always be. As a father I give my children my best. My wife - the mother of my children - inspires me to be more for my children. It's during times like these when Shannon is away that I appreciate ALL that a mother does for their children. Immeasurable, irreplaceable, invaluable.

"As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him." - Psalms 103:13

Thursday, February 20, 2014

FMI 24th Annual Congress Presentation: Salvation History 3/3

Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church, and the New Covenant 
What does this all mean for us? Let’s summarise: 
Jesus Christ’s is first of all born in the city of Bethlehem; “Bethlehem” means “House of Bread”. Jesus Christ is born in the manger, where the animals in the stable eat. This is symbolic because Jesus Christ is offered as a living sacrifice, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29; and think back to the Passover Meal in Exodus). 

Jesus Christ is baptised by St. John the Baptist in the River Jordan. But why did he do this? The Church teaches us this on Christ’s baptism: 

“Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of St. John, intended for sinners, in order to ‘fulfill all righteousness.’ Jesus' gesture is a manifestation of his self-emptying. The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his ‘beloved Son.’” - Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1224 

“In his Passover Christ opened to all men the fountain of Baptism. He had already spoken of his Passion, which he was about to suffer in Jerusalem, as a ‘Baptism’ with which he had to be baptized. The blood and water that flowed from the pierced side of the crucified Jesus are types of Baptism and the Eucharist, the sacraments of new life. From then on, it is possible ‘to be born of water and the Spirit’ in order to enter the Kingdom of God.” - Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1225 

Speaking of the Eucharist: Christ tells His followers that he is “the bread of life that came down from Heaven” (John 6:51). Again we have Christ completing what was shown in the Old Testament. The accounts of bread “coming down from Heaven” are found in Numbers 11 and Exodus 16; this bread was given because the people of God complained to Moses that they were hungry and needed sustenance. The Lord blessed them with the miracle of “manna from Heaven” and it came in abundance, so much so that they had to put what was leftover in the Ark of the Covenant; the manna was placed in a golden pot. Sound familiar? When we go to Mass, where are hosts contained? In the Ciborium, a golden pot. 

In the same discourse, Christ says this about himself but not before the Jews quarrelled among themselves about Jesus giving them His flesh to eat: 

“’I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.’ The Jews quarrelled among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.’” - John 6:51-56 

One year later, Christ institutes the Sacrament of Holy Communion, the Eucharist, at the Last Supper; giving us bread which is His body, and wine which is His blood of the new covenant, to eat and to drink so that we may have life in us. And Christ, giving up Himself for us on the cross, pours out his blood for our salvation. So just as the Hebrew people at the first Passover were saved by the blood of the lamb, so too are we saved by the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. 

Every Sunday, we Catholics have the opportunity to partake in Christ’s body and His blood so that we may become walking tabernacles of Christ; Christ resides in us and we are commissioned to bring the Good News to others, just as the Disciples, 40 days after Christ’s resurrection at the Ascension, were commissioned by Christ to bring Christ to all nations: 

“Then Jesus approached and said to them, ‘All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.’” - Matthew 28:18-20 

We begin our journeys at Baptism, we are led by grace, we partake in the sacraments - which unite us with Christ - so that we may continue to perfect ourselves and grow in holiness as God desires. 

Folks, we are blessed with the gift of the Catholic Church, which is the conduit which brings us first to Christ, and in our Christian living we grow in holiness, prepare ourselves for the journey on the way to paradise, unification with God in Heaven. Christ built the Church on St. Peter, the Rock. God gave authority to man to carry out His work on earth: 

“’And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’" - Matthew 16:18-19 

To conclude...
We have this: 

“The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus. Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the ‘blessed hope’ of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the ‘holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.’” - Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2016 

This journey to paradise, our salvation, all began with creation and it climaxes with living life daily, in every thought, word, and action, with Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. 

“Then he said to all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’” - Luke 9:23 

No one ever said the journey would be easy, but we place our confidence and hope in the Lord that we may inherit eternal life. We are all partakers in this salvation history. 


Thursday, February 13, 2014

FMI 24th Annual Congress Presentation: Salvation History 2/3

Noah and the Great Flood
We’re all familiar with this story: God calls Noah to build the Ark because God’s not happy, basically, and He wants to establish a new covenant with man.

God washes the world from its sinfulness with a flood, with water, and Noah, his family, and pairs of animals - male and female - of every kind (Genesis 6:12-19). So in essence, sin was washed away with water, and those who were cradled in the Ark, floating upon the water were saved. Now doesn’t that sound familiar?

St. Peter comments on Noah and the Ark this way and makes a very interesting analogy:

“For Christ also suffered or sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water.

This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.” - 1 Peter 3:18-22

Some churches will tell you that baptism isn’t necessary for salvation. How unbiblical. St. Peter there makes it pretty clear in his letter, “This prefigured baptism, WHICH SAVES YOU NOW”. Furthermore, as Noah and his family are on the Ark for forty days and forty nights (Genesis 7:17) - which I might add is the same amount of time Christ spent in the wilderness fasting, praying, being tested, and preparing for his public ministry - before they attempt to find new land, and what do they send out? First it’s a poor, old raven that flies back and forth until the waters dried off (Genesis 8:7). Selfish raven! Noah then sends out the dove - that represents the Holy Spirit - is then sent out but at first does not find any dry land for the Ark to alight. The dove is then sent out after seven more days, it returns with an olive leaf.

Noah waits seven more days before sending off the dove again but this time it does not return; it was finally time for Noah and his family, and the manner of animals they had brought with them to alight from the Ark. Now again, I know you’re familiar with this story but the significance of this story in terms of our salvation is this: Our covenant with God begins with baptism; as the Holy Spirit moved over the waters during creation and breathed life into the world, so too did the dove, the Holy Spirit, move over the waters of the flood to establish new life for all on the Ark.

We are filled with the Holy Spirit - the Spirit dwells within us - Original Sin, the sin of Adam and Eve, is put into remission and we are filled with sanctifying grace. We must allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit - the dove - so that the covenant promise made by God can be fulfilled in the name of Jesus Christ. In other words, our free will must work in cooperation with grace so that we may draw nearer to God and one day be fully united with him in paradise, just as Noah on the Ark allowed the dove - the Holy Spirit - to lead them to a place where they could begin their covenant relationship with God, so too we must submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as the Church does and has from the beginning.

Moses and the Exodus
Okay, on Moses and the liberation of the Hebrews from Pharaoh… We have Moses, a prefigurement of Christ, born a Hebrew, raised in Pharaoh’s palace, exiled to the wilderness, encounters God and is led by God to lead his people out of bondage. As we know, Pharaoh was stubborn, and as a result the tenth plague, the death of every first born, was imminent. For the people of God to be protected from the tenth plague, God gave Moses these instructions: 

“The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, ‘This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the year. Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it. 

The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. ‘You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight. They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. It shall not be eaten raw or boiled, but roasted whole, with its head and shanks and inner organs. None of it must be kept beyond the next morning; whatever is left over in the morning shall be burned up. 

‘This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight. It is the Passover of the LORD. For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every first - born of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt-I, the LORD! But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you.’” - Exodus 12:1-13 

Now tell me if this doesn’t sound familiar: the people of God were to eat from a sacrificed unblemished lamb, everything had to be consumed, and the blood of the lamb was used to mark the door posts and lintel (the horizontal beam), so that when death passed over the lands of Egypt, those covered by the blood of the lamb would be spared from death. Not seeing the connection yet? Let’s explore it… 

It’s no coincidence that today’s Gospel reading [Sunday, January 19 2014] is taken from the Gospel of John. All I’m going to do is read the first verse from today’s reading: 

“The next day he [St. John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’” - John 1:29 

Jesus Christ is the prefigured unblemished first born lamb on the Book of Exodus, and he came, as we continue to read on the Gospel of John, to save the world from its sins: 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” - John 3:16-17 

That is the covenant promise of the New Testament; the old law has not been abolished but fulfilled in Jesus Christ and it is through Him that we come to God: 

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” - John 14:6 

Let’s put a bow on Moses and the Exodus: Moses eventually leads he people to freedom, and as we know they pass through the Red Sea. Well, gee, this is sounding familiar again: God’s people passing through water. It’s another prefigurement to Baptism! And as we know, the people of God pass through the Red Sea - it is miraculously parted by the power of God through Moses - the people of God are in a sense baptised, escape death and they then begin their journey to the promised land.

* * * * *
To be concluded in part three.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

FMI 24th Annual Congress Presentation: Salvation History 1/3

Hi folks.

As promised, here are the notes I wrote for my Salvation History talk I gave at the Flame Ministries International 24th Annual Congress on Sunday, January 19. It went very well; thank you very much for your prayers. :)

I'll be uploading these notes in three parts. Here's part one:

* * * * *

If I was to ask any of you “How are we saved?” I hope the answer you’d give me would be something along the lines of, “Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ” and hopefully you’d say that it’s the Catholic Church that brings man (sic.) first into intimacy with Jesus Christ and into union with God, and it was the Catholic Church that was established by Christ, built on the rock - St. Peter (Matthew 16:18-19) - authority given to man (sic.) to help fuse man to God.

So what I want to do today is to map out Salvation History, from the Book of Genesis to the Gospels, to the Acts of the Apostles to the mission of the Catholic Church today. In reality I need about a week to talk to you about this, but we’ve only got one hour to go through it. You have my assurance though that I will not be skimping on quality.

Folks, I don’t want any of my loved ones, friends, colleagues or absolutely anyone going to Hell. My hope is that Hell is empty, that everyone has repented and died in a state of grace. But, folks, for us it’s different; we cannot afford to be complacent. Yes, we are Catholic and we have been gifted with the FULLNESS of truth and the FULLNESS of faith, but as it says in scripture: 

“Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” - Matthew 7:21 

Our Catholicity does not guarantee our salvation; nor does anyone’s Christianity assure anyone of salvation. Now that opens up another can of worms and at the end of this talk I’ll put up a link to an article I wrote about the lie of the “Once saved, always saved” (or “Eternal Security”) for you to read in your own time. You’ll discover just how unbiblical that teaching is. But now, onto Salvation History… 

Garden of Eden; Adam & Eve
- God makes man (and woman) last because man is the climax of God’s creation; who He chooses to relate with intimately
- God gives man free will because without free will there is no love 
- love is a choice 
- if you take away free will then we’re soulless robots 

--explain in cliff notes the story of the fall-- 

Why did Adam and Eve take from the tree and disobey God? They were DECEIVED by Lucifer, the Devil! They were manipulated to believe that God was holding them back. 

Pride came before the fall… let’s read the passage together and after we read it I just want to point a few things out: 

“Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals that the LORD God had made. The serpent asked the woman, ‘Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?’ The woman answered the serpent: ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, 'You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.' But the serpent said to the woman: ‘You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.’ The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” - Genesis 3:1-6 

So as a result both Adam and Eve are cast out of the Garden of Eden - Paradise, which is analogous to Heaven - and you’ll noticed that before the fall, both Adam and Even walked through the Garden of Eden with God and lived in perfect harmony with Him and the rest of creation. 

Lucifer cast doubt in the minds of Adam and Eve and they began to rationalise their sinful behaviour. They had ONE RULE, ONE RULE to follow. It’s when we begin to question our faith, when we begin to question why the Catholic Church teaches the way it does, we - like and Adam and Eve - begin to think, “Well why can’t I?” 

“Why can’t I have sex outside of marriage?” 

“Why can’t I use contraception?” 

“Why can’t I smoke weed and get high?” 

“Why can’t I get blind drunk?” 

“Why can’t I have a one night stand?” 

“Why can’t I look at pornographic material?” 

“Why? Why? Why?” 

And that’s when we begin to put our desires before God’s plan, before His will. Essentially we’re making ourselves greater than God as Lucifer says to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Folks, we make idols of ourselves when we fail to humble ourselves before the will of the Lord. 

So as a result, Adam and Eve are cast out of the Garden of Eden; they had deliberately and directly sinned against God and what’s even worse is that they were aware of the consequences: 

“The LORD God gave man this order: ‘You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.’" - Genesis 2:16-17 

What’s this “death” God was speaking of? Surely a physical death would have been enough to frighten Adam and Eve out of sinning against God, I mean my son who’s turning six in a few months’ time, he tells me, “Daddy, you shouldn’t play with fire because you can die” and I tell him, “Son, because I love you, I promise you that I will not play with fire”. But the “death” God was speaking of was not a physical death, no, but a spiritual death, becoming separated from God and severing the relationship with Him. St. Paul writes in Romans: 

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 6:23 

The Catholic Church teaches this about Hell and why one might go to Hell: 

“The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.’ The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.” - Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1035 

--Jesus, “Gehenna” = eternal fire-- 
--Eternal separation from God = spiritual death-- 
--Heaven, full union with God = eternal LIFE-- 

“He is not God of the dead but of the living…” - Mark 12:27a 

We read on in the Catechism… 

“God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a wilful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want ‘any to perish, but all to come to repentance’” - Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1037 

Adam and Even turned away wilfully, thus they were no longer in union with God. So Adam and Even kind of muck it up for us but the news gets better…