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.  http://www.40daysforlife.com/


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!


Monday, September 2, 2013

on unity

Seeing that unity was the will of Jesus is one of the main reasons that I came home to the Catholic Church

One thing that always bothered me once I got serious about Christianity and started attending a Southern Baptist was the denominations within Christianity. The wonderful people I met in my new church were very helpful in teaching me the importance of the Bible. We had a wonderful youth group, and I learned more about the Bible than I had ever known before. It became part of my life. A part that I couldn't live without.

There was one Holy Bible - the inspired Word of God. Yet there are an estimated 8,000...or 30,000 denominations. I get dizzy at some of the figures I see, but the latest Wikipedia reports 41,000 denominations, so I'll go with 41,000. To be correct - it's actually 41,000 and counting. Churches aren't finished splitting. I could not reconcile how one Holy Word of God could translate into 41,000 denominations. Every single one of those 41,000 use the same Bible, and every single one of them would say they were the most accurate in their interpretation of Scripture. 

Does anyone else think that maybe someone might be wrong here? How on earth could 41,000 people be right using one Bible?! The Bible is THE WORD OF GOD!! And God isn't schizophrenic. There is only one Truth. And 41,000 denominations. It just doesn't add up.

One day I read some passages in John 17. I am sure I had read them before, but for the first time I really saw them for what they were (emphasis mine). 
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." ~John 17:20-23 (NKJ)
This is Jesus' prayer after the last supper, right before He was betrayed by Judas. Luke's account of this time of prayer says that Jesus' sweat was like drops of blood. This was a very difficult time for Him as He prepared for His sacrifice. And he prayed for us. For us to be one. He cared that much about the unity of His believers - Christians. Not only that, but He also prayed in the following passage of John 17 for the Apostles - the leaders of His church - to be one.

Jesus' will is for us to be one. Disunity is against His will. I believe it grieves Him to see the state of disunity within His bride, the church. I don't want to be out of Jesus' will. I don't want to grieve Jesus.

3,000,000 Catholics participate in Mass in Brazil.
What a statement of hope to the world!
I've heard the response that we all somehow share in an invisible unity by being believers in Christ. Yet Protestants can't join worship services for a month before they start arguing about interpretations or who our leader will be. And then they split over disagreements. I think this "invisible unity" is a way to justify the status quo. I wonder what the world thinks about the unity of Christians? As the author of the blog Carpe Veritatem writes, "[divisions] causes people to look at us and say, 'How can Christianity be true, they can't even agree amongst themselves!'"

Human pride has caused the body of Christ to divide. I don't blame one side or the other - the pride and resulting problems started before 1517. Please read on at Carpe Veritatem posts about unity between denominations. There are 7 parts to the topic, and the author describes in more detail the unity that Christ desires and why we have the divisions that we currently have.

This is a huge topic to my heart, and I wonder if there are people "out there" who have given division within the body of Christ any thought? How do you think we can achieve unity within the body of believers?