Saturday, January 29, 2011


GAITHERSBURG, MD (Catholic Online) -- Recently I was reading a newspaper article in which a prominent Evangelical Christian stated, “Every Christian’s core beliefs ultimately rest upon the same foundation: the Bible.” Over the last 25 years I’ve had more debates than I can count with Christians of various denominations. These conversations varied as widely as the perspectives of the different people I debated, but nearly every one eventually included the question: “Where is that in the Bible?” Whether the topic is infant baptism, purgatory, justification by faith alone or the Assumption of Mary, Scriptural support is demanded. And for good reason - after all, the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and therefore, if a belief is found in the Bible, then surely it is true.

However, there is a false presupposition lurking behind this question and the statement made by that Evangelical leader, one that is commonly held by Christians today. It is the presupposition that the Bible is the source of Christian doctrine - that the Bible contains all the teachings of the Christian Faith and its purpose is to be a catechism of sorts for our teachings and beliefs. If you read just about any book from your local Family Bookstore (a chain of Protestant Christian bookstores), the language used is soaked with this premise: “The Bible teaches.”, “The Bible says.”, “we see from the Bible that.”. Unfortunately, this foundational tenet of Protestantism is also held by many Catholics.

This presupposition, however, is not only false, it is illogical and contrary to history. Let us take a brief look at salvation history and see how the Christian Faith was passed on to us - what is its source?

  1. After the Fall, God raised up a nation (Israel) to be His people. He sent them prophets, kings and priests to teach them about the ways of God.
  2. At the fullness of time, God sent His Son. This Son, Jesus Christ, preached, did mighty works, and suffered, died and rose again for our salvation.
  3. The followers of Christ, especially the apostles, went about preaching the Gospel to the known world. What is this “Gospel”? It is the revelation of God centered on the person of Jesus Christ - which includes the preparations for his coming as well as his teachings, mighty works and redemptive death and resurrection.
  4. Some of these followers wrote down this Gospel in letters, histories and “gospels.”
  5. The successors to the apostles - the bishops - continued to preach the Gospel handed on to them, guarding and protecting it from error.
The content of our Faith, then - the “Gospel” - was passed on to future generations by two methods: (oral) preaching (Tradition) and writings (Scripture). The college of bishops - the “Magisterium”, or teaching office of the Church - continued to preach that Gospel through time, making sure that it was not deformed or altered. But it is important to know the order in which these things flow: the Gospel is the content of the Faith, and oral preaching and writings are the methods by which they are passed on.
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Sunday, January 23, 2011


Protecting the most vulnerable human beings, babies in the wombs of their mothers, is the duty of every living person. Sadly, not all moms and dads think that way and, along with some doctors, collude to play executioners of their own children, who are no less their flesh and blood

The state of the unborn is not strong.

If you were an unborn baby, and if you were aware of all your “options,” you might think of them in these terms: “I could have a nice life in here for the next nine months. This is what Mommy went through once, a long time ago, and now she’s bringing me into the world. I hope I can have a baby of my own some day.”

Or: “My life could end in any number of ways. If I don’t die naturally, I could be pulled out with a vacuum device. I could be torn apart with surgical instruments. I could be scalded to death with a saline solution. I could be allowed to proceed down the birth canal and have my brains sucked out before I’m allowed to be fully born.”

“If my mother doesn’t know for sure that I’m here, and she’s afraid she might be pregnant, she could take a large dose of birth control pills and make it extremely difficult for me to settle in. Then I’d just starve to death, mostly unnoticed.”

“The doctor did a test on me, and they think there’s something wrong. My parents say they don’t want to put me through ‘suffering’ in life, so they’re going to end it now.”

“I’m a girl. They wanted a boy.”
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Saturday, January 8, 2011


Abortion, the murder of babies in their mothers’ wombs, drove a lifelong Methodist to search for the Truth of God’s teaching and led him home into the Catholic Church 

One Sunday I made a decision I still do not understand: I decided to pray the Rosary every day for a week to see if I would receive any illumination in my struggle. I had never prayed a Rosary and was still uncomfortable with Marian devotion … I prayed the Rosary the next day, and again the next. At the end of that third Rosary, my “week-long” prayer had been answered: I knew that I should become Catholic. After two years of arguments and struggle, it took Mary only three days to show me the path to her son: the Catholic Church.

by Eric Sammons

GAITHERSBURG, MD (Catholic Online) -- Manicured lawns, kids playing in the streets, and dads barbequing in the summer: I grew up in the quintessential suburban American neighborhood. Each family was similar to the next, having the same values and outlook and each relatively the same size. One family on my street, however, broke the mold. Instead of the standard two or three children, this family had seven. I remember asking my mother why that family was so large, and her simple answer was, “Oh, they’re Catholic.” Knowing little of Catholicism and even less of how children were conceived, I figured that these “Catholics” must have a better relationship with the stork than the rest of us.

Though I’d learn soon enough how babies came to be, my ignorance of Catholicism persisted, mingled with some minor, usually stereotypical, details. I knew that Catholics took a different view of alcohol than the folks at my church, and I heard rumors that they had even added a few books to their bibles, but in general I was woefully ignorant of this church -- it may have had over a billion members, but I personally knew very few of them.

My own religious upbringing was garden-variety American Midwest: membership in a conservative Methodist church with Evangelical leanings. In my sophomore year of high school I made a public decision to accept Jesus as my “personal Lord and Savior”, and although this led me to abandon my nascent flirtation with partying, in general I grew in my Christian faith as most do: slowly and with a lot of missteps. But by the time I got to college I recognized the inadequacies of an immoral lifestyle, and a passion for the Bible had given me a deep, if narrow, appreciation for theological topics.

Up the Exposure

In college I became involved in Christian groups like Campus Crusade for Christ which I figured had the same outlook on life and the faith as me. In my naivety I assumed that all “real” Christians had basically the same theology. I took for granted that what I had been taught growing up was the same faith held by the apostles and most Christians through the centuries, including such luminaries as Martin Luther and John Wesley. Instead of fitting comfortably into a homogenous group, however, I got to know a broader range of Christians than I had ever experienced. I met people who professed Christ but who held a wide ranges of beliefs: traditional, progressive, “high church,” “low church” and everything else imaginable.

But my exposure to committed pro-life Christians impacted my life like nothing else. Until this time I had considered opposition to abortion simply another political issue, joining a list that included support for supply-side economics and the need for a missile-defense system (hey, this was the late 80’s). Suddenly I realized that legalized abortion was absolutely antithetical to the Christian Gospel. The full implications of this truth would dawn on me slowly, but I dove headfirst into pro-life activities, determined to do my part to end the scourge of abortion. Political campaigns, prayer vigils, demonstrations and even Operation Rescue events -- nothing was too much for me when it came to working against abortion.

My pro-life activities also exposed me to fellow Christians with intense prayer lives and deep theological knowledge. My Christian upbringing had had a bit of a social club feel: you join a church because that’s what respectable people do to hang out with like-minded individuals. But now I met Christians for whom following Christ wasn’t always comfortable (picture standing on a freezing sidewalk in front of an abortion clinic while people call you a fanatic or worse).

Following Christ meant a radical reconfiguration of their lives. Yes, they were flawed and limited human beings, but they were not Christian to be respectable, they were Christian to be saints. And one thing I began to notice was that the majority of these people -- and all of those with a deep prayer life -- were Catholic.

Thus began my education into the reality of the Catholic Faith.
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Monday, January 3, 2011


The Mother of God -- what a marvelous yet serious responsibility she carried. Indeed, this was an incredible trust given by God. Only His Sanctifying Grace which kept her from the stain of sin could prepare her for this. And, revealing the mystery of human freedom, her “Yes” participated in His loving plan.

by Randy Sly
Associate Editor, Catholic Online

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online, Jan 1, 2011) -- It may be New Year's Day but it is also the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, in the Liturgical year. The New Year always begins by celebrating the beginning of the new covenant which came forth from the womb of the young woman, whose “fiat” changed the very history of all mankind.

In 431 A.D. the Third Ecumenical Council, which was held at Ephesus, declared that the Blessed Virgin Mary was indeed the Theotokos, the Mother of God. While the Church had always believed this, it was officially declared by the Council primarily because of a heresy initiated by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople.

He and his followers, called Nestorians for obvious reasons, taught that Mary was the mother of the humanity of Jesus and not his divinity. They wanted to divide His natures. As with everything about the blessed Mother, her very life as well as her titles, had everything to do with her son, our Savior Jesus Christ.

In declaring her “Theotokos,” the Fathers were declaring once and for all that Christ was truly the union of God and man, fully human and fully divine, which theologians call the “hypostatic union.”

As St. Cyril of Jerusalem declared, “A mother does not give birth to a nature, she gives birth to a person”.

John Henry Cardinal Newman also reminds us that it was through her that the Lord received His human nature. He wrote, “Mary was no mere instrument of God’s dispensation. The Word of God did not merely pass through her as He may pass through us in Holy Communion.

“It was no heavenly body which the Eternal Son assumed. No, he imbibed; he sucked up her blood and her substance into His Divine person. He became man from her and received her lineaments and her features as the appearance and character under which He should manifest Himself to the world.

“He was known, doubtless, by His likeness to her, to be her Son.”

Mary, as the Mother of God, carried our Lord in her womb for nine months. I love the way the Byzantine Catholic Liturgy declares this in the Great Compline of the Annunciation. “God is come among men; he who cannot be contained is contained in a womb. The timeless enters time.”
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