Thursday, January 9, 2014

"Amen, Amen, I say to you"

When I left the Catholic Church at the ripe age of 15, I didn't fully realize what I was leaving. I didn't know that the communion I received at my new non-Catholic Church was so fundamentally different from the communion I had been receiving at my Catholic Church. I'm not sure why I didn't realize this. I had been through my First Communion, but maybe it had just been going through the motions and doing what I was told to do. I didn't know when I left the Catholic Church I was leaving the body and blood of Jesus.

I didn't know.

I am willing to bet at least 95% of Catholics who leave the Catholic Church for a non-Catholic church have no idea that they are actually leaving the body and blood of Jesus.

This is one of the best teachings about what we believe about the Eucharist. The Eucharist has changed my life. I must share it! It would be unloving of me to keep this secret to myself.

"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." ~ John 6:53


Thursday, October 31, 2013

unity! pleeeeeeeeease, unity!

Martin Luther has always been a fascination to me. His heart for God caused a revolution. I used to admire him with the utmost respect. But once I saw the fruit of the first division - which is division upon division upon division upon division upon division...and now we have 30,000 denominations, or divisions, I realized that the fruit of the Reformation doesn't necessarily tie to the will of God as seen in the Gospel.

About 8 years ago I met an on-fire Catholic named Sharon. I was married with one child at the time and working with her. I had never met a Catholic who was so excited about her faith or who knew so much of the "why" regarding the Catholic faith, and I had never met a Catholic who was able to explain things to me like she did. She marked me. One statement she said in particular really stayed with me,

"Imagine what Christians could do against Satan if we were in unity."

I couldn't argue with her. I had never thought about unity in the body of Christ before. I had never even noticed the passage in John 17 when Jesus prays in the garden before his death. He prays for unity of believers (Christians) and the unity of the apostles. 

That's when I began to question what Martin Luther did. 

Martin Luther didn't intend to start a new church when he posted his 95 theses on October 31, 1517. The Catholic Church had some very corrupt practices going on. The Church needed to be reformed. When Martin Luther stood up and demanded reform, the Church leaders made sure he wouldn't be successful by excommunicating him and later condemning him as an outlaw. I believe Martin Luther wanted to change the Church, not start his own thing. He later went off course when he started changing the Bible and becoming his own pope.
The Catholic Church wasn't an innocent victim in the Reformation. The abuses in the Church were the root of the problem. But others who also disagreed with the abuses that were going in the Catholic Church instead helped to reform it from within. Great men and women of God  - Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Ávila, John of the Cross, and Francis de Sales - risked their lives to make the Church what God wanted her to be. This is known as the Counter-Reformation. I had never heard of the Counter-Reformation before. I assumed the abuses that Martin Luther stood up against were still commonplace in the Catholic Church today.

But they're not!

I'm not saying that the leaders of Catholic Church is always perfect. They're human, they can't be perfect. But no other church is as in line with the will of God in the area of unity as well as numerous other areas as the Catholic Church. Jesus gave us the Church and promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. 2,000 years later, this promise still stands true.

Jesus prayed for us all to be one - you could say it was his dying wish/prayer. He prayed this so that "the world will know that you sent me and have loved them..." Time after time the world recognizes the relevancy of the Catholic Church. It has been reported recently that the NSA may have been spying on the Vatican. When the anti-christ comes, who do you think will be his first target? The Church who is the most relevant and strongest against him. Join us in our fight against evil.

If you love Jesus and hate the devil, please consider learning more about what the Church teaches and join us. I promise you that you will find that the Catholic Church is not what you thought it was.

Imagine what Christians could do against Satan if we were in unity.

Friday, October 18, 2013

the time zoë almost spilled the blood of Jesus

Did I tell you about the time Zoë almost spilled the precious blood of Jesus? She was about 6 or 7 months old, and I took her up for communion with me - just like every other time. Only she had become really grabby, and I forgot all about this new phase of hers. I held her on my left hip while holding the chalice in my right hand. As I was handing the chalice back to the server, she grabbed the rim of the cup and pulled it towards her. I could see the precious blood within centimeters of splashing out. I was so thankful nothing was spilled!

Oh my goodness! Our Lord Jesus shed his blood for us, and my sweet baby almost knocked it to the ground! What if she had spilled it?! Would they wipe it up with a towel? BUT IT'S JESUS' BLOOD! You can't just wipe it up with a towel, can you? Surely it wouldn't be the first time someone had spilled the Blood of Jesus in the last 2,000 years!

Well, as it turns out, there's protocol for this type of thing. So it's probably happened before. Because we've been receiving the blood of Christ for 2,000 years, and babies have been grabbing and pulling at things for even longer.

So here's a quick answer from Catholic Answers to the question, "What is the correct thing to do when the precious blood is spilled during distribution of the Eucharist?" Then read here to answer the related question, "Can you pour out the precious blood?"

And since a person can receive only the host and not the cup and have received the full "body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ", I'll be passing by the chalice the next time I have Zoë on my hip. It'll relieve a little anxiety for me at least.

If this all sounds crazy foreign to you - the way we think of the bread and the wine as being sacred and truly the Body and Blood of Jesus, read John 6. Read all of it. The entire chapter. A lot of people try to explain away John 6 as just being symbolic. You can read commentary explaining why John 6 doesn't mean what John 6 says. I mean, people do mental backwards somersaults to explain it away. The Bible warns us about men who make the Word of God void, "Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." (Mark 7:13 NIV) Before you read John 6 ask God to reveal the truth of His Word to you. He will.

As some more icing on the cake, here is a little 7-minute video to illustrate how AMAZING WONDERFUL the Eucharist is and what we believe the Bible says about the Body and Blood of Jesus:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

40 Days for Life starts tomorrow

A prayer for life. 
Heavenly Father, we have turned our backs on you and your principles in your Word. We have allowed man to usurp Your role as God over life and the number of our days. But we come to you in brokenness and repentance over our sin.   We cry out for Your mercy and ask you to remove the scourge of abortion from our land.   Use us as your vessels, Lord, to bring the light of Your Truth to our nation once again. Because of Christ we pray, Amen. 

Every time I step in front of our local abortion clinic to pray, I can almost feel the spiritual battle taking place. It is very surreal. 

The enemy hates life. He comes only to steal, kill and destroy. And he starts with the innocent in the womb. 

Sign up to join in the spiritual battle. Join others in prayer for life. It does make a difference.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

the apostles of The Apostles

When I say something like, "Catholicism is the oldest Christian faith and the only Christian church who claims to have been started by Jesus himself," it seems to ruffle feathers. The comment that I often hear in response is, "That's such an arrogant statement." 

Well, I guess it would be an arrogant statement if it were merely my opinion.

It's true that the Bible does not say, "Then Jesus started the Catholic Church." But it does say in Matthew 16:16-18 that Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter (which means "Rock") and said he would build his church upon this rock. Pretty plain as day to me that Jesus appointed Peter as the leader of his church, unless you do a mental one-handed backwards somersault to explain this passage to mean something else.

Peter handed down his authority to Linus, who handed down his authority to Cletus, who handed his authority down to Clement...and it happened this way until we get to Francis. 

Peter was our first Pope. They didn't call him "Pope" at the time. "Pope" is a title that was coined later to indicate the head of the bishops. 

But can we know this is true? I mean, it's not in the Bible!

Catholics have a different understanding of what a bishop is compared to the average independent non-denominational local church in America (I say "America" because only in America do we have small churches who do what they want with no authority to submit to. Could be the product of the "me" mentality of America drifting into our churches, I dunno. We can chase that rabbit later...) How can we know whose interpretation of the role of a bishop is correct?

We can look back at what the early church writers had to say about bishops. These writers were the apostles of the apostles. And then the apostles of the apostles of the apostles. In most cases these were the men who either knew the apostles personally or knew someone who knew the apostles (as in the apostles were a sort of a spiritual great-grandfather to them). 

What did they write about bishops in the early church back then?

Ignatius of Antioch
Follow your bishop, every one of you, as obediently as Jesus Christ followed the Father. Obey your clergy too as you would the apostles; give your deacons the same reverence that you would to a command of God. Make sure that no step affecting the Church is ever taken by anyone without the bishop’s sanction. The sole Eucharist you should consider valid is one that is celebrated by the bishop himself, or by some person authorized by him. Where the bishop is to be seen, there let all his people be; just as, wherever Jesus Christ is present, there is the Catholic Church (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]).
In like manner let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and college of the apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a Church. I am confident that you accept this, for I have received the exemplar of your love and have it with me in the person of your bishop. His very demeanor is a great lesson and his meekness is his strength. I believe that even the godless do respect him (Letter to the Trallians 3:1-2 [A. D. 110]). 

The Catholic Church possesses one and the same faith throughout the whole world, as we have already said (Against Heresies 1:10 [A.D. 189]).
Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account we are bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the things pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. For how stands the case? Suppose there should arise a dispute relative to some important question among us. Should we not have recourse to the most ancient churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary [in that case] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the churches? (ibid. 3:4).

Where was Marcion then, that shipmaster of Pontus, the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus then, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago – in the reign of Antoninus for the most part – and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus, until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled (On the Prescription Against Heretics 22,30 [A.D.200])
But if there be any (heresies) which are bold enough to plant themselves in the midst Of the apostolic age, that they may thereby seem to have been handed down by the apostles, because they existed in the time of the apostles, we can say: Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [that first bishop of theirs] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men,--a man, moreover, who continued stedfast with the apostles. For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter. (On the Prescription Against Heretics 22,30 [A.D.200])
The spouse of Christ cannot be defiled; she is uncorrupted and chaste. She knows one home . . . Does anyone believe that this unity which comes from divine strength, which is closely connected with the divine sacraments, can be broken asunder in the Church and be separated by the divisions of colliding wills? He who does not hold this unity, does not hold the law of God, does not hold the faith of the Father and the Son, does not hold life and salvation (On the Unity of the Catholic Church 6 [A.D. 251]).
Peter speaks there, on whom the Church was to be built, teaching and showing in the name of the Church, that although a rebellious and arrogant multitude of those who will not hear or obey may depart, yet the Church does not depart from Christ; and they are the Church who are a people united to the priest, and the flock which adheres to its pastor. Whence you ought to know that the bishop is in the Church, and the Church in the bishop; and if any one be not with the bishop, that he is not in the Church, and that those flatter themselves in vain who creep in, not having peace with God’s priests, and think that they communicate secretly with some; while the Church which is Catholic and one, is not cut nor divided, but is indeed connected and bound together by the cement of priests who cohere with one another (Letters 66 [A.D. 253]).
I love reading this stuff. History is fascinating to me, and I can get lost to the world when I read this stuff. You can read more for yourself at Early Christian Writings. The writings are listed by the approximate date they were written, and there is a rating for each as to the reliability of the dating of each. Some writings are "more sturdy" than others. Some of the important writings in church history are from Polycarp, Tertullian, Irenaeus, Origen, Ignatius of Antioch. The entire collection of writings are at this website, not just bits and pieces and quotes. 

These writings cover a multitude of topics, not just about bishops. And please do not misunderstand me - I do not equate these writings with the Bible. The Bible is the inerrant Word of God. These writings are merely historical information.

Peace and love to you,

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Apparently now we don't have to believe in God to get to Heaven!

Did you hear the one where the Pope wrote a newspaper and said you don't have to believe in God to go to Heaven? 

Pope Francis said nothing new. 

This has been in the Catechism for I don't know how long. Here's the deal - a snippet of a quote from his 2,500-word letter has been grabbed and taken out of context. Why? Why would reporters do this? Maybe because they are looking for the Catholic Church to change.

The media. The media who hates Christianity and everything that it stands for. The media who hates anyone who is pro-life or who stands for traditional marriage. This is who you trust for your Catholic theology? The media grabs on to what they think drives their agenda, and their agenda isn't the teachings of the Catholic Church. 

The Catholic Church stands for truth and won't change according to the whims of the world. And the media and the world HATES this. So they hold on to every snippet of a quote that may point to the fall of the Catholic Church as we know it. Because this would mean the rise of their agendas.

This stuff drives me bonkers. Then again, maybe I'm underestimating Pope Francis and his brilliant plan to use the media.

Leila Miller at the Little Catholic Bubble has a great series called "Little Teachings", and she addresses the question, "Can non-Catholics be saved?" As she emphatically states, 
There is no salvation except through Christ Jesus, and it is simply impossible for anyone to get to Heaven without Him.
And this is not a contradiction to what Pope Francis wrote in his recent letter.

Let's think of this in another way. I'll use an example. Amy reads in the Bible that love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Amy is a brand new Christian, and since she hasn't been in church long or read the Bible very much yet she interprets this verse to mean it's fine to sin all she wants. Jesus' love will cover it. But Amy is wrong. She hasn't read that verse with the context of the entire Bible, so she in mis-interpreting it. 

The same is true of what many non-Catholics are doing with Pope Francis' recent statements. The statements are snatched out and interpreted without an understanding of Catholic theology. The pope is not saying that you can get to heaven without Jesus. I know that's what it sounds like, but that's not what he's saying at all.

But you shouldn't just take my word on the matter. Search it for yourself. Catholicism is the oldest Christian faith, the biggest Christian faith, and the only Christian church who claims to have been started by Jesus himself. Isn't it worth further investigation?

And for God's sake, don't get your Catholic teaching from the unbelieving world or the general media.

Leila's post that talks about the salvation of non-Catholics and non-believers isn't a full teaching on the matter, but it is a really, really, really good way for a quick start to understanding this topic (as are her other little teachings). Please read Leila's teaching (from a year and a half ago), and read what the Pope really said in his letter to fully understand what was said. And here's a good piece from the National Catholic Register that also goes into what Pope Francis wrote. That is - if you really want to understand what Pope Francis was saying in his letter. Or you could just go on being ill-informed and using snippets of quotes from the Pope to use against him and the Catholic Church. Either way, it's your choice.

Jesus gave us the Catholic Church to help guide us while we're here on Earth. He built his Church and promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. Jesus always keeps his word. He's pretty awesome that way.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

losing baby #8

We got some horrible news at my doctor today. The baby who was growing inside of me no longer has a heartbeat. Before we had a chance to tell the whole world about our newest surprise, we lost the baby.

I went to my OB last Tuesday for my first prenatal visit. It's amazing how things change from one pregnancy to the next. With my other babies we had to wait until around 15 or 18 weeks before we got to see our little blessing on screen. Now my doctor does an ultrasound to confirm a pregnancy on the first prenatal visit. So I got to see our little peanut on the ultrasound machine. He or she was measuring 6 weeks. I could see the heartbeat. The heartbeat measured at 128 beats per minute, which is right where it should be at 6 weeks gestation. It's the smallest little heartbeat I ever did see!

This Tuesday I woke up and saw that I was bleeding. I've had two miscarriages before. I knew this was not a good sign. I called my doctor's office and was told to come in Thursday for an ultrasound.

Today I am 7 weeks along. Before the ultrasound technician even looked for a heartbeat, she measured the baby's size. I saw on the screen that it measured at 6 weeks 1 day. Same as last week. My heart sank but I still held on to hope. Within seconds the ultrasound tech looked for the heartbeat but found none. I cried and held on to my husband.

The option of doing a DNC was offered, but I chose to go through the process of miscarrying naturally. My second miscarriage was at 6 weeks, and I somewhat know what to expect. Over the next week or so my body will cast aside the life that once was.

Today I have such a heavy heart. Over the last two days I've had ample opportunity to go through the questions wondering if I did something to cause this. Did I drink too much caffeine? Is this due to my age? Was I not thankful enough for this gift who was growing inside of me, too focused on the part of my self that I would have to give up to love another baby?

There is one thing I know to be true. My God is a good God. He creates life; He doesn't destroy it. The loss we are suffering now is because sin entered the world. The nature of this world was altered to include death when Adam and Eve believed a lie and brought sin into this world. Some mysteries of this life we will not understand until we get to Heaven. This will be one that we will have to wait on to fully understand.

We had already told our kids that we would be welcoming another baby into our family. So tonight we had to tell them that I had a miscarriage. Our oldest son, Todd, took it the hardest. He loves having brothers and a sister so much, and he was obviously looking forward to loving another sibling. He also understands that "we'll see him or her when we get to Heaven" can feel like an awful. long. time.  He even asked us tonight if we can adopt a brother or sister for him. He's trying to fill the space in his heart that was left now that his baby brother or baby sister is gone.

My husband is my dearest friend. I am so thankful that my husband and I are on the same page when it comes to being open to life. We want to be smart about having more children (whatever that means). Maybe we shouldn't have any more. Maybe we should. We know that right now isn't the time to lament over these decisions, but to mourn our loss and count our blessings. We have been so blessed with five gorgeous, perfectly healthy children. And we will have the opportunity to get to know the souls of our other three children when we meet them in Heaven. 

You can be sure that my kids got extra kisses from me tonight!

Kyrie eleison!
Christe eleison!
Kyrie eleison!