There's been a lot of talk and anguish recently about the fact that a pagan business is not showing CHRISTmas images on its coffee cups.
Really. I'm not making this up.
I just wanted to stop the madness for a minute and ask - Why?
As in... Why is anyone surprised at this? Isn't it a good thing that pagans do not disguise themselves as Christians? I mean, how would we find them otherwise?
If you have spent any time walking through this world - and, at this point, I've spent a LOT - you'll begin to notice a couple things. One is that some people, as they get older, seem to get more loving, more kind, more joyful and more peaceful. They don't seem to be bothered by all the 'stuff' that gets you going more times than not. They seem unconcerned that life has not been 'all they've ever wanted'. This life is not the one they have banked on. Although they've received power for living, and joy throughout - this life is not the 'main deal' for them. They've got an even better one elsewhere.
Slowly you begin to realize that they 'have something'. And you want it.
Because the vast majority of people are nothing like this. Most people tend to get more fearful as they age. They spend more and more time trying to deny the reality of that fact. 'Anti-aging' is the catch word and the byword for those in this group. As the years tick away, fear comes alongside regret, then bitterness, disappointment and often anger. They feel that 'life' has let them down somehow. Regardless of who they were, how important they were, what they had and what they controlled - at some point, what's left? Nothing, but getting older and grayer; less needed and less considered. And then... extinction. Not a very uplifting tale is it?
These two very disparate groups are the way they are because they are residents (or rather children) of two different 'Kingdoms'. There's a kingdom of the children of God - those who don't need to worry about before, now, later or forever. They know where they came from, and where they're going. Most importantly, they have an intimate relationship with their Father - the Creator who assumed human flesh to pay a price they couldn't, and after ransoming them from horror and death - went back home to fluff up the pillows in their rooms at the mansion. They know that their Father has their back. Always has, always will. And since He's kind of a big deal - being the Creator of the universe and all - well, that tends to leave one with a whole lot of peace, and a lot less worry.
And then there's the other Kingdom. This is the pagan kingdom, which is made up of pagans. The definition of a pagan is "an irreligious or hedonistic person". Irreligious means "not religious; not practicing a religion and feeling no religious impulses or emotions", and a hedonist is "a person whose life is devoted to the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification". Kind of sounds like the definition of an average American these days, eh? Or at least everyone within the pages of 'People' magazine, and all those who desperately try to emulate them.
Pagans often start out looking good, but as time goes on they begin to get this nagging feeling that something is just not right. That's because they have a different Father than Christians. Their father is known as 'The Father of Lies'. That's probably because, well, he lies.
This Father is the Enemy of the Christian Father, the Creator God. In fact, this is the enemy that has been lying to humans since he first tricked Adam and Eve, the first children of the Creator. Having lured them to his side; he's been at it ever since. His biggest lie is that no such 'Kingdoms' exist. There's just this life - and it's here for the taking!
And since the Enemy is so good at lying, his Kingdom always looks wonderful from the outside. There are no restraints, and that is a good thing right? We can say what we want, do what we want, dress like we want, copulate whenever we want (like the animals), and basically put ourselves first in everything we do.
Sounds great, doesn't it?!!!
But the downside occurs once you get into that Kingdom. For if everyone is loving themselves - then who is there to love you? If it is 'every man for himself' - then doesn't that kind of make every man ... your enemy? And when we hand over our bodies to sin, then sin begins to reign in them. And sin, by the way, never leaves goodness in its wake. We have disease, we have broken hearts, we have broken children, we have broken homes, we have ... broken everything ... but all dressed up with a lot of tinsel trying to look good.
Yep, that Pagan Kingdom sure looks fun and exciting from the outside - but inside it pretty much resembles, oh say, Hell?
And that's why I can't understand anyone wanting Pagans to go around acting like they are Christians. I mean, it's important for people to understand what side they are on. Only then can they examine the Father they are following, and decide whether to stick around - or make a run for it.
And that's when real Christians do what they do best - they help escaping pagans reach safety. In fact, they share a lot of similarities with the WW2 French Resistance, who also had to watch their countrymen slowly fall victim to lies - in their case, the lies of Hitler, who, by the way, was a very close disciple of the original Father of Lies. Same playbook. Ask the Germans who enthusiastically ELECTED Hitler to office based on his wonderful promises! His Nazi government also looked great from the outside. It was just the inside part that came back to bite ya.
Since real Christians usually know and care about people living in the Pagan kingdom; they see the destruction and pain awaiting pagans along their path - and the horrifying moment at the end when the Father they chose comes to claim them - and pagans realize who they have actually been serving all those years.
And so real Christians tend to continually launch quiet rescue attempts. But like the French people in WW2 - some pagans want to be rescued, while others don't. Being rescued is hard work. It takes accepting the fact that you are living in slavery. But many people have grown accustomed to their slavery; and fighting for freedom means telling yourself the Truth. And like Pilate before them - most people find the Truth a hard thing to swallow. It tends to lead to giving up all this 'me' focus; since, if we want to enter the Christian Kingdom, we need to acknowledge the TRUTH that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is God; and we ... are not. And the even tougher TRUTH that God makes the rules; and we... do not. Not even when we, with our incredibly enormous and powerful human pea brain - disagree with the wisdom of the Creator of the planets, stars, galaxies and universe.
Hard to swallow; I know.
And because acknowledging the truth is so difficult when you have momentum in a lie, most people seem to avoid having to make that move from the pagan kingdom to Christ's kingdom until they are face down in the dirt: having lost everything, and given up all hope. Which is kind of where their father, the Pagan king, likes to see them.
Usually when pagans find themselves like this, they get pretty desperate and often try to escape. They seek out one of those people they met before - the ones who seemed so confident and joyful regardless of circumstances - the ones who talk about 'walking with Christ' and 'sharing his power'. But how can escaping pagans find a real Christian, when other pagans are disguising themselves as CHRISTians?
For when Pagans celebrate our Holy (hol-i-day) Days, speak our language, and mimic our lives - then we get what we have in America today - a nation that no longer knows the difference. An escaping pagan sees someone with a CHRISTmas tree set up in their living room or Easter baskets strewn about their home and simply assumes that person is a Christian. Yet that person doesn't seem to reflect the values or laws of Christ; and in fact, they look and act an awful lot like the enemy of the Christian Father - they resemble the lying Pagan Father. And if that pagan seeking escape runs to a 'Pagan disguised as Christian', then they will be told to go home and continue to celebrate all the 'freedoms' they have. They may even been forced to comply, since their desire to know the Truth can make pagans seeking the comfort of Lies - very uncomfortable.
And so instead of complaining about Pagans acting like pagans, I suggest that real Christians begin encouraging them to do just that. Encourage Pagans to STOP claiming to be a Christian when they neither act like Christ, nor follow His Laws. For after all, hanging out with, sharing the beliefs of, and copying Democrats will NOT make you a Republican. Eating donuts, sitting on your butt 24/7 and never moving will NOT make you an olympic athlete. And living in Spain, speaking Spanish and cheering the Spanish President will NOT make you a British citizen. So why is it so hard for us to understand that when you intentionally, deliberately and defiantly sin; when you deny Christ is God; when your actions loudly proclaim that you matter more than anything else - then you identify yourself as a child of that other god, the Pagan one who says such things are just fine - and definitely preferable to the views of that Kingdom he hates - the Christian one.
So let's begin to insist that our identities be true. Stop deceiving those who are seeking real Christian Resistance fighters to come and save them; and stop deceiving yourself. For after all, Pagan is - as Pagan does. And this is a good thing. Now we Christians know which ones need help.
They say that childbirth is hard.
Listen, I’ve ‘done childbirth’ 4 times – and it ain’t nothing compared to this. Let’s face it, when that baby comes out you get to take her (or him) home. You get to know each other. You get to love on her – and you get to keep her in your heart AND arms.
But then, whether 18, 21 or 27 years later, you’re suddenly told that ‘in your heart’ is enough.
You have to let that baby go. Sometimes that ‘letting go’ is figuratively AND literally. Sometimes that baby moves half a continent away to follow his dreams. And sometimes she marries and moves clear across the continent.
Just like that.
Now for most dad’s, this is sad, but not the end of the world. Most have been eagerly anticipating the day when they get their homes AND their wives back. But moms? Not quite.
You see, when that baby walks away – we don’t get our hearts back. They walk away with them.
It takes time to learn to live without a heart nearby.
And it ain’t easy for a mother – for we are almost all heart. We don’t handle things that break them very well; very well at all.
Don't believe me? Well, let me tell you of someone I know. She suffered some injuries and, before we knew it, she was a full-blown prescription drug addict. In fact, she was such an addict that she broke the law in trying to get drugs. One day, she was arrested and taken away to jail.
Her mother – literally, and not just figuratively – went into a coma.
It was several weeks before she came out of the coma, several months before she was remotely herself again. She has never really totally recovered.
I’m sorry, but I’ve never heard of anyone going into a coma due to the agony of childbirth.
Because - after childbirth – you still get to keep your heart.
The first time I saw it happen, I found it shocking. The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th time – I found it fascinating. But by now I just find it pathetic.
What is the ‘it’? A new thing in family life - I call it ‘Powerless Parenting’. The thing that is so strange about it – is that it appears to be rising as the newest “boastable” item. Let me demonstrate.
I was in the dentist office last week and there was a mother with a teenage son. As he sat there with a smug look on his face, she loudly complained to the receptionist about how little control she had over him. She proceeded to whine over the fact that he “refused” to allow her access to his computer or to even see what he does on it! The receptionist commiserated, and began bemoaning the fact that she couldn’t control her children either. Sordid details of the disrespectful, obnoxious things their children did were laundered for all to see. And it soon became obvious that they were actually competing as to who the winner was; as in - the parent who was most powerless. Though I call it most “pathetic”.
Prior generations never really considered this something to strive for. Guess they were just not as ‘hip’ or ‘loving’ as we. In fact, my mother would have known exactly how to deal with that smug look on the dentist office teenager’s face. Her solution was not too technical; and involved no outside help at all. It was called “Mother’s palm” delivered quickly and unhesitatingly to “child’s face”. A remedy that caused very little pain, but a great deal of needed humility – to a disrespectful individual.
Amazingly, my little 4'11" mom had no trouble with “power” over her 5 children. In fact, she probably would have used her ‘smug solution’ on those ‘powerless’ mother’s faces too, had she been in the room. For she, like most other sane people, recognize the truth. And it is that children, who believe they have ‘power’ to do whatever they want in life, do not come to good ends. That’s why they have parents in the first place – to teach them that essential life lesson.
Scientists a while back did studies on “self esteem”. You know what demographic group has the HIGHEST self-esteem in America?
No, no and no again………..
Murderers sitting on death row.
Yes, that is the demographic group that has the highest self-esteem rates in America. In fact, their self-esteem is so high; that they do not even think another person’s life is worth getting in the way of their wants.
Surely something to aim for in a child, eh?
But that’s the end result of ‘Powerless Parenting’ – children who believe themselves to be the center of the universe. The downside is that they are being raised alongside millions of other ‘centers of the universe’. And the pesky thing about ‘centers’ is that… there’s only one.
So they are all in for a huge wake up call. And every one of them has been given absolutely zero tools by their parents with which to deal with that phone ringing.
Recently, at an airline safety meeting, it was reported that the number of people from this younger generation who are making it through flight training is less than 20%. It’s a real problem for the industry. But it seems that when young people today are put in a simulator and faced with problems in the cockpit – engine failure, wind sheer, hydraulics leak, and so forth – they get to the point where things get so stressful that …… they…… quit.
Raising their hands, they cry out – “I give up!!” And then with a smile, they immediately follow with: “I’ll just try it again.”
The instructors look at them in amazement, and say –
“You don’t get to give up – YOU ARE THE PILOT!”
And then those instructors immediately follow with, “And you don’t get to TRY IT AGAIN – when you’re dead!”
Most young people are shocked, SHOCKED!, when they are told they have failed. This is just not something they have been raised to hear. In fact, they are plainly insulted and angered at the concept of being told that unacceptable word – “No”.
Sadly; shocked, insulted or just plain confused with what that “No” word means, these young people nonetheless find themselves back out on the street - having discovered that they really weren’t the center of the universe. With more ‘shock’ than ‘awe’, they finally realize that they are not able to do whatever they want - when it matters most of all – in their adult career.
In hindsight, they would have surely benefited greatly from my mother’s ‘palm to face’ method when they were young enough that the “no” word simply meant time in their room; and not time on unemployment. Because if their parents had not been so Powerless – perhaps their adult lives would not be fraught with so much failure.
Did You Know…… how verifiable the Bible really is?
Often as Christians we are faced with questions concerning the ‘veracity’ of the Bible. There are many various objections to being able to ‘trust’ its contents; but here are just a few.
"The Bible has been put into so many different translations, how can we really know the original content?”
Actually the New Testament was written in Greek; and millions still speak Greek today. There are many who read the original, Greek version, of the Bible daily.
“There are no copies of the original writings; so how do we know what it originally said?”
It is true that there are no original writings that came straight from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John or Paul’s hands, as they have long since crumbled into dust - but that has little relevance when compared to other ancient writings. When we look to the oldest (i.e. ‘extant’) copy we have, we then see how long it was written after the original. The earliest copy we have of Caesar’s ‘Gallic Wars’ is dated 1,000 years after he wrote it. Demosthenes, the great Greek statesman, wrote his words around 354 BC – the earliest copy we have is from 1200 years later. The earliest copy of Plato’s writings is 1300 years after he wrote them. Homer’s Odyssey? The earliest copy we have is 2200 years from the original. And almost all of these writings have maybe 1-5 copies at most.
Let’s compare the Bible.
The earliest copy that exists of the Gospel of John, the Rylands Manuscript, is dated 125 AD. John wrote it in the 90’s. Hence, the extant copy we have is perhaps 30 years from the time he wrote it. We have many extant copies of manuscripts from the 2nd century – within 100 years from the originals, and even greater lengths of manuscripts from the 3rd century and on. And copies? We have 5,750 early Greek copies of the New Testament; and 25,000 more of other translations. In fact, if we no longer had any copies of the New Testament, we can find over 86,000 references to it in the early writings of the Church Fathers, which still exist. We could reproduce the entire New Testament from them alone.
Since there is no dispute ever raised concerning the veracity of Caesar’s Gallic Wars, or Plato’s Dialogues, Homer’s Odyssey or any other ancient writing – then as Sir Frederic Kenyon of the British Museum has noted – any and all objections to the authenticity and textual reliability of the Bible have been removed. For if we were to throw out the Bible as being ‘unreliable’; then we would have to throw out any and all references to ancient history that we have. The Bible stands on a foundation enormously greater than any of them.
And so.... did YOU know how verifiable the Bible really is?
(Information obtained from “Skeptics Answered” by Dr. James Kennedy)
When I was a kid, I remember reading about those cruel, horrible Roman people who threw Christians to the lions simply because they were Christians! It was awful, and I couldn’t imagine a world where such people existed.
But it has occurred to me lately – the Romans had, what they thought to be – good reasons to persecute Christians. After all, Christians were atheists who refused to worship the Roman gods, they insisted on different behavior AND the fact that they wouldn't worship the Roman Gods was the reason all kinds of terrible woes had begun to occur in Rome. The Roman leaders were simply pointing out those facts – and of course, the people believed them. Those hateful Christians were obstinately claiming to worship a God named Jesus Christ and willfully refusing to worship theirs. Of course it only made sense that Rome should be rid of them.
The Roman people, in fact, were no different than oh… say…. Americans today.
Today there is a new god that America worships – it is the god of ‘freedom’, ‘choice’ and ‘sex’. These gods are good ones. They have given women ‘freedom’ to make whatever ‘choices’ they choose – always a good thing, right? They have given people sexual freedom to ‘love’ whomever, and whatever, they wish. And more ‘love’ is always a good thing, right? These are certainly admirable things that EVERYONE should be on board for – right? And if you are not; well then you must be an awful, hateful person.
Much like those Roman Christians long ago.
For you see, American Christians today are still spouting the same old tired lines as their Roman forebears. They claim things like ‘God’s Word is the only truth’ and ‘freedom is only good if restrained by virtue’ and ‘rights are only good if coupled with duties – and the greatest duty is thou shalt not kill.’ In fact, they even label things ‘life’ that Americans have determined, in their wisdom, are no such things. Things like unborn humans, sick and elderly individuals who have been convinced they are better off dead than alive – you know, worthless things like that.
The Romans had no such compunctions in their day either. If a child was unwanted at birth, the Romans simply left them in the cracks in the city walls at night so that the wolves could finish them off. Why would an unwanted child be allowed to live? But those stupid Christians would go at night and check all the cracks to rescue any infants put there. And women! Whereas Roman women had the right to be used by men for their sexual pleasure and amusement anytime they wanted, Christians insisted that women were made for greater things than that! They claimed that women were to be valued simply for being made in the image of God -and that they were deserving of respect, honor and purity. This simply put burdens on women, and impeded their fun!
And even sex! The Romans were very advanced in their day, and sex was simply just a way to amuse them. Most men had free rein to have sex with free women, their slaves and young boys – whoever and whenever they wanted. But then those ridiculous Christians began teaching that sex outside of marriage was wrong. They even claimed that immorality of all kind was harmful to people, and eventually to society. They conjured up foolish warnings of things like the slow collapse of the great Roman Empire if people did not turn back to their God.
And so you see how easy it is. American people, just like Romans before, see nothing wrong with government slamming of Christians. After all, these Christians are trying to prevent women from having ‘Choice’ (to kill their unborn child); and they refuse to pay for contraceptives and abortion inducing drugs because they claim it violates God law. Even though everyone else, like Roman society before them, disagree with them! They even refuse to accept that homosexuality is simply another lifestyle choice. They continue to claim that God’s law is clear, and that they will not violate it!
And that is why bakers and florists and teachers and clerks must be punished today for not accepting the opinions of the majority and those in power. And the more you think about it; the more you realize that what Chicago's Cardinal George claimed a few years ago is true:
“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square”…. and yet the successor of that bishop-martyr “will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”
Did You Know…what some current ‘Heresies’ are?
Last week we looked at the definition of a ‘heresy’ and saw that it is the willful acceptance of incorrect doctrine of the Christian faith. This week we will look at some of them that persist today.
There are 2 ancient heresies that are most currently held by those who broke away from the Catholic Church and formed a new ‘Protesting’ (i.e. Protestant) church 1,500 years after Christ began His Catholic Church. One heresy is the denial of the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, claiming that the Eucharist is only a ‘symbol’ of His Sacrifice. Another is shown in the cry of ‘Solo Scriptura- Scripture Alone’! This heresy claims that one must only look to Scripture for answers, and must ignore the tradition of the Church. In essence, each individual must examine Scripture, and determine his or her own meaning of it. (This is in large measure why there are over 33,000 different versions of the Protestant faith today.) Yet both of these heresies were addressed in the very beginnings of the Faith.
The oldest text from the early church, written somewhere between A.D. 48 and 90 (@15 to 56 years after Christ’s crucifixion) is called the Didache (meaning ‘Teaching’). The word that the Didache uses repeatedly for the Mass is ‘Sacrifice’. The liturgy was seen as participating in the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As noted in the Didache: “It is this sacrifice that was spoken of by the Lord.” It goes on to note that believers must: “On the Lord’s own day, gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks.” The Greek word for ‘give thanks’ is eucharistesate, which can also be written as ‘make Eucharist’. The Didache goes on to give instructions such as: “First confess your sins, so that your sacrifice may be pure.”, and other things that we would recognize as still part of our Mass today.
The Didache was probably written in Antioch, Syria (where the believer’s were first called “Christians”) even before some of the New Testament documents were written, showing the clear unbroken witness of the Eucharist - from the 4 Gospels onward. Yet St. Ignatius of Antioch was already writing to refute those who were claiming that the Eucharist was not the true body and blood of Christ. He spoke of those who: “From the Eucharist and prayer they hold aloof, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ.” St. Justin, in 155 affirmed this by noting: “The food that has been made the Eucharist by the prayer of His word, and which nourishes our flesh and blood by assimilation, is both the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.”
Another point on which the early Church Fathers did not waver was the importance of understanding Scripture within the Tradition and Community of the Church. St. Polycarp wrote that “whoever interprets according to his own perverse inclinations is the firstborn of Satan.” The heretics Arius and Euryches both aroused horror by seeking to interpret Scripture in ways contrary to the Fathers who had gone before them. Nonetheless, St. Jerome summed up the Church Father’s view of the importance of knowing Scripture when he wrote: “A man who is well grounded in the testimonies of Scripture is the bulwark of the Church.” He also noted: “To be ignorant of Scripture is to be ignorant of Christ.”
And so.... did YOU know what ancient heresies other Christian churches now accept today? Next week we’ll look at some other heresies throughout the years.
(Information obtained from “The Fathers of the Church” by Mike Aquilina)
Did You Know……what a ‘Heresy’ is?
Last Week we looked at who the ‘Fathers of the Church’ were, and how they fought to keep their ‘family’ (members of the Church) together. It was not long before those fights took shape in something called ‘Heresies’. A ‘heresy’ is different from ‘apostasy’, which in turn is different from ‘schism’. Whereas heresy is the willful acceptance of incorrect doctrine, apostasy is the flat out renunciation of the Christian faith. Schism occurs when, in an attempt to preserve a particular orthodoxy, one breaks away from union with the Church and Papacy. Heresy got its name from the Greek word for ‘choice’ – hairesis – when that choice goes against the clear teaching of the Church, which, as we’ve seen, has been maintained unchanged since Jesus Christ and His Apostles. “Pick and Choose Catholicism” is nothing new; and yet it has always been condemned – and most vocally so by the early Fathers of the Church.
Heresies ran the whole gamut of ideas. Some were simply justification for immoral behavior, others were promises of magical powers. Since we humans tend to want to ‘know’ everything so as to have it within our control – many heresies were attempts to explain unexplainable mysteries – such as the Trinity or Incarnation. And of course there were always the heresies created by people who saw sin in the church and wanted to remake it in a better ‘image’. They sought a ‘newer, more pure’ church with a better chance at avoiding sin – forgetting that as long as their church was made up of humans – there would be sin!
As you can imagine, in the history of our Church there have been many, many heresies. Some of the first ones are seen in the New Testament itself. The ‘Docetic’ heresy claimed that Jesus only appeared to be human and to suffer and die, but in fact was nothing more than a spirit inside some kind of mechanical human body. It is believed that St. John speaks against this heresy when he exclaimed “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God” (1 John 4:2-3).
St. Paul and St. Jude appear to be fighting against a different heresy known as Gnosticism. This was an elitist hyper-spiritual heresy emphasizing secret revelations. In his letter to his protégé Timothy, St. Paul is believed to be arguing against this heresy when he closes with: “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid profane babbling and the absurdities of so-called knowledge. By professing it, some people have deviated from the faith.” 1 Timothy 6:20-21
To the Fathers of the Church it was essential to fight against these heresies because Doctrine was absolutely necessary for the continuation of the faith. To believe in a Jesus defined by each heresy was to believe in a Jesus who did not actually exist. For if men could redefine Jesus – then ultimately the reality of His teachings and life would do no more than reflect whatever man’s popular opinion of the time was. And if that occurred, then the faith was lost. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8
And so.... did YOU know what a ‘heresy’ was? Next week we’ll look at some that have been accepted by many Christians today.
(Information obtained from “The Fathers of the Church” by Mike Aquilina)
Did You Know…
…who the ‘Church Fathers’ are, and what ‘Apostolic Authority’ is?
The Fathers of the Church are a select group of early Christian teachers who met 4 criteria:
1. Orthodox Doctrine 2. Holiness of Life 3. Church Approval 4. Antiquity
In essence, these were Fathers who “strove to keep their household together, to preserve the family’s patrimony, to teach and discipline their children, and to protect the family from danger.” They considered the church to be a newly born family and they took great care to protect it. This can be seen in the 2nd century when the African lawyer Tertullian confronted skeptics by likening them to poachers on his estate: “Who are you… Marcion, by what right do you chop my wood? By whose permission, Valentinus, are you diverting my streams? By what power, Apelles, are you removing my landmarks? This is my property… I hold sure title-deeds from the original owners themselves, to whom the estate belonged. I am the HEIR OF THE APOSTLES.” (emphasis mine)
Tertullian called himself an ‘heir of the Apostles’ because from the very beginning, the Fathers took great care to show that their teaching was not their own, but rather stretched back to the beginning of the Church. As time went by, it became more and more important for a teacher to demonstrate his continuity with Apostolic Teaching & Authority – with those who had been taught by Christ Himself. St. Irenaeus was the first to show how apostolic succession had been institutionalized in the line of Bishops all the way back to the Lord’s Disciples. By the 3rd century, teachers began to justify their doctrine by showing a ‘catena’ (Latin for ‘chain’) of unbroken teaching stretching all the way back to the founding of Christ’s Church. By the 5th century this practice became a requirement.
Even so, the Fathers were all very different men. Stretching over a period of about 500 years, they were different in ethnicity and temperament. Some were calm, some were hotheads, some were active, some were contemplative. They also had many different jobs. Some were preachers, some lawyers; some were military men, some hermits. They lived in different cultures and spoke different languages; but they all shared the main attributes of Holiness and Orthodoxy. And they all shared the belief of being an inheritor and protector of the revelation of God regarding His work of redemption through Jesus Christ. The entirety of their message was ‘The Good News’: “Christianity came into history as a fact. It was and is the fact of a new life given by God through Christ and in the name of Christ.” Yves Congar, 1968.
Preserving this Good News was important because within months of Christ’s death, there were those who were wishing to change that message – to make it more attractive to their listeners. Even in the New Testament there is evidence that the battle had already begun – but that’s best left for another “Did You Know” episode!
And so.... did YOU know who the ‘Church Fathers’ are, and what ‘Apostolic Authority’ is?
(We will meet some of them in person next week, and you’ll get to see them put their Apostolic Authority to good use!)
(Information obtained from “The Fathers of the Church” by Mike Aquilina)
Note: the above is a series of teachings on the Christian faith that I have put together for our Church's bulletin each week. They examine the history of what we believe, and are based on the historical writings. Susan Fox
Did You Know…
…that we celebrate our Catholic Mass exactly the same way the 1st disciples did?
In the year 155, the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius questioned St. Justin about followers of Christ, and what they were doing when they met in secret. He had heard rumors of 'eating flesh' and 'drinking blood', and so he wondered if Christians were cannibals! St. Justin’s written response to Emperor Antoninus Pius was this (see if it sounds familiar…):
"On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place.
The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits.
When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things.
Then we all rise together and offer prayers for ourselves... and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.
When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss.
Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren.
He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.
When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: "Amen."
When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.
The food that has been made the Eucharist by the prayer of His word, and which nourishes our flesh and blood by assimilation, is both the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh."
And so.... did YOU know that over 2,000 years later - we in the Catholic Faith are still worshipping in Jesus' and the first Disciples exact same way?
Do you want to feel your skin crawl?
If so, make sure you visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. Something that you think has only ever occurred in a horror movie will stare you straight in the eyes.
It’s a collection. A rather odd collection.
For you see, the Nazi were not only murderers and torturers – they were also pretty good businessmen. They had a penchant for collecting things; though they are probably not the things we would collect. They also had a penchant for selling things; though – once again – probably not the things we would sell.
Their collections were made up of human goods: eyeglasses, baby shoes, gloves, - pretty much anything and everything they took from their victims right before killing them. These baby shoes, eyeglasses, etc. now fill up entire rooms at the Holocaust Museum. Which is kind of freaky when you consider that each one of the millions of articles belonged to a person. And that person is dead.
But hey, in the Nazi’s eyes - why waste it?!
Yet their evil went even a step further than 'collections'; for it was human body parts that they sold. Forget random collections, they surmised, THIS could make us some bucks! Human hair makes great wigs. Human skin makes awesome lining... Need we say more?
Who knew the riches this would produce?!! Well, they did. And so before they murdered their millions of victims – they stole their body parts. Big business - evil horrible business – but big business nonetheless.
Which brings me to Planned Parenthood.
I first heard of the fact that abortionists were selling the parts of the unborn children that they were ‘terminating’; (i.e. murdering before their natural date of death) – over 20 years ago in the early 1990s while on a lobbying trip to Washington DC. I saw the advertisements, and the price sheets. Hearts were one price, heads another. Eyes were listed; so were limbs. These were body parts that were sold to researchers - and I had been a biology major in college. I knew that, in order to get perfect specimens, one needed to get them while the creature was still alive. That's why we anesthetized the mice while we cut them up to make 'slides'.
Therefore, if they were able to 'sell tissue' and have it still be viable - it was being taken while these beings - in this case not mice but humans - were still alive.
I was actually so upset when I saw these things, that I got on the next flight out of town. The evil seemed so incredibly oppressive. “You mean,” I stammered, “that politicians KNOW about this?! You mean…. They are doing NOTHING?!!” I no longer had the stomach to stay and talk to a single one of them.
Yet it is kind of amazing that the Big Business of Abortion has managed to keep this particular fact quiet for so long – until today when Life Legal Defense Foundation published the actual video footage showing the complacency of Planned Parenthood in arranging the whole thing – between mouthfuls of salad. For as the PP director shoveled salad into her mouth, she paused to discuss the ‘heart’, ‘lungs’ and ‘lower extremities’ (“I don’t know what they want them for, but good for them! They are pretty easy to get!”) that they are making a killing on – figuratively AND literally!
Kind of takes one back to Nazi days, doesn’t it?
And I have to ask – wasn’t the entire world furious at the German people? When the truth was unveiled, and it turned out the German people kind of knew – and yet did nothing to stop it – weren’t we mad? Didn’t we claim that they had NO EXCUSE!
So…. What is ours?
Ashley and Susan
Two women asking the world to not just hope, but to Hope in Love.