Archives for February 2013

Mary prejudice

It has been 3.5 years now, but I remember a conversation that I had with my friend (a convert and eventual sponsor) Rigsby. It had became very clear to me that my Protestant denomination was straying further and further from the truth. For a short period I considered myself adrift and was therefore in full research mode.

The Catholic Church was not initially at the top of my list. Or in second place. Or third. There were just too many issues (I thought). One-by-one the Protestant communities that I was interested in were found to be wanting, having their own issues with the truth.

I believe now that the Holy Spirit basically boxed me in and forced me to fairly look at the Catholic Church. I was really surprised by what I found. Before I went further, I needed to address…   “the Mary issue”.

I might have asked Rigsby about Marian doctrines, exactly what they were, why they were believed, their historical basis, their scriptural basis, or even their logical and rational basis – all of which would have shed light. I didn’t because I assumed they were wrong and that I could not believe them as Catholics do. This seemed like a big hurdle. My question was instead “do Catholics have to believe that stuff?” Oy vey!

My problem was good, old-fashioned prejudice against the Catholic understanding of Mary. My Protestant denomination was closer to Catholic beliefs than many, but a real gap in understanding and belief was still there. Before going any further, I list here the 4 Marian dogmas:

  • Mother of God: while Jesus’ divinity is eternal, His human incarnation was not and Mary was the mother of that; this title was settled at the Council of Ephesus in AD 431
  • Perpetual Virginity: ever virgin, before and after Jesus’ birth (and no, there is no properly understood scriptural evidence to the contrary – quite the opposite actually); explicitly recognized at the Council of the Lateran in AD 649
  • Immaculate Conception: refers to Mary’s birth, not Jesus’ – she was born without the taint of original sin; why would God provide any less for the mother of His Son?; would the King of kings be born of a sinful womb?
  • Assumption: like Enoch and Elijah, Mary was assumed into heaven at the end of her life on Earth; would Jesus do less for His mother than these prophets?; BTW – this is assumption, not ascension

Additionally and expanding on the above:

  • Mary’s impeccability (sinlessness): Mary was born and preserved sinless; this is related to the dogma of her immaculate conception
  • mediatrix: via her role in salvation history and closeness to Our Lord; this does not make her divine in any way; see also advocatrix, co-redemptrix, mediatrix and advocate of all graces
  • Queen of Heaven and Earth: not dogma (yet), but how else would Christ honor and elevate His mother?; she is the queen to His kingship
  • veneration: because of all the above!; rest assured that we do NOT worship her – she is the most worthy Saint, but not divine / not God in any way

My purpose here is not to provide apologetics to defend each of these items (many very thorough ones are available), but rather to list “issues” that may be separating you from the fullness of the Church Our Lord founded. My suggestion is this: put them aside for now. This is similar to taking a test and coming to a halt on a difficult question. Do not get hung-up, move on and come back later. You may find this hard to believe now, but someday you will find it difficult to understand why all Christians do not understand Mary as Catholics do. They are missing so much (note on that point: the Protestant “reformers” retained much of these beliefs, but over time their divergent creations have fallen further and further away.)

As you study with an open mind and heart other Catholic claims, you will find their truth. Expect to be surprised! Eventually your “master list” of issues will dwindle, but by then you will accept the Church is who she says she is and trust her. If unresolved issues such as this remain, you will see them at most as difficulties in understanding – not claims that you deny. At that point, you are ready to become Catholic. Actually, at that point you are already in communion with the Catholic Church, albeit informally. You accept most teaching and lean on the authority and infallibility of the Church (given by Christ) for any remaining difficult part. You will be not all that different than the Apostles as described in John:

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

“Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Indeed! I will close with the following video for your consideration. It is far from the complete story, but makes many important (in hindsight obvious) connections for scriptural blockheads like me. It is one of my favorites and still touches me every time I watch it:

(If you do not see a video above, click here.)

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #90)

This week: Two good resources on the process of choosing the next pope. Interviews with seminarians in Rome. Scott Hahn talks about the 40 days of Lent. After 40 years of Roe, there are survivors. A breakthrough in college evangelism. Three Italian boys sing. In Tel Aviv one motorist broke the law, retroactively.

— 1 —

Marcel found two more good resources on the process of choosing the next pope. The first is this excellent interactive walk-through of the process from Vatican Insider. The second is this video:

— 2 —

The Catholic News Service interviews seminarians from the Pontifical North American College in Rome on Pope Benedict’s resignation and the challenges for his successor.

— 3 —

Scott Hahn talks about the 40 days of Lent:

— 4 —

Picking-up on the 40 day theme, the latest 40 Days for Life has just begun. As you know, we have now been in 40 years of darkness since the US Supreme Court said “no” to life. In a very real sense, everyone under 40 in the US is an abortion survivor in that their mother could have legally killed them in her womb. Here are stories of some who survived in spite of an attempt to abort them:

— 5 —

A breakthrough in college evangelism…

Spotted by Marcel

— 6 —

A couple of Italian kids (16 years old) can sing:

— 7 —

This is interesting. A Tel Aviv motorist has her car towed and a $350 fine for parking in a handicap space. Deserved?


Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!

Resources: Father Leo Clifford Reflections

Father Leo Clifford

Unable to sleep early one morning several years ago, I decided to listen to EWTN. Tucked between programs was a reflection by Father Leo Clifford, OFM. The intro music sounded like it went with a soap opera or maybe something Vincent Price might have used. When Father began to speak, his style of oration felt formal and aristocratic. The whole thing sounded a bit bizarre. On the other hand, I had nothing better to do so I listened.

Putting aside my initial reaction, I found Fr. Clifford’s reflection to be surprisingly (considering my expectations) good. I, along with many others, have become very fond of his brief (under 10 minute) reflections. They make me think, draw connections I had not made before and learn. When I listen to them now, I often play them twice to get the most out of them. They are treasures.

The music and oration that was at first a bit off-putting, now seems appropriate for such excellent, serious topics masterfully understood and presented. Father died one year ago (February 16, 2012) but this portion of his work lives on. EWTN offers both audio CDs and DVD videos on their website. They also offer (for personal use) MP3 audio files for download. For your convenience, they are linked below via an audio player.

  1. Play Charity   (VIDEO )
  2. Play Christianity   (VIDEO )
  3. Play Faith   (VIDEO )
  4. Play Forgiveness   (VIDEO )
  5. Play Holy Communion   (VIDEO )
  6. Play Hope   (VIDEO )
  7. Play Mercy of God   (VIDEO )
  8. Play Our Lady   (VIDEO )
  9. Play Philosophy of Life   (VIDEO )
  10. Play Prayer   (VIDEO )
  11. Play The Holy Spirit   (VIDEO )
  12. Play The Mass
  13. Play A Name Not a Number   (VIDEO )
  14. Play Appealing Words   (VIDEO )
  15. Play Are We Consistent   (VIDEO )
  16. Play Duty   (VIDEO )
  17. Play God's Will   (VIDEO )
  18. Play Gratitude   (VIDEO )
  19. Play Greatness   (VIDEO )
  20. Play How We Handle Our Failures   (VIDEO )
  21. Play Humility   (VIDEO )
  22. Play On Talking to Ourselves   (VIDEO )
  23. Play One Day at a Time   (VIDEO )
  24. Play Our Father
  25. Play Reminders   (VIDEO )
  26. Play Sin of Omission   (VIDEO )
  27. Play Sin   (VIDEO )
  28. Play Suffering   (VIDEO )
  29. Play The Agony and Ecstasy   (VIDEO )
  30. Play The Importance of One Person   (VIDEO )
  31. Play The Lord's Prayer   (VIDEO )
  32. Play The Love of God   (VIDEO )
  33. Play The Mother of God   (VIDEO )
  34. Play Three Things   (VIDEO )
  35. Play Without Christ   (VIDEO )
  36. Play Building Business
  37. Play Discipline   (VIDEO )
  38. Play First Hand Faith   (VIDEO )
  39. Play God's Ways   (VIDEO )
  40. Play Grief of God   (VIDEO )
  41. Play Missed Opportunities   (VIDEO )
  42. Play Purpose of Life   (VIDEO )
  43. Play Respectable Sins   (VIDEO )
  44. Play The Christ Who Needs Us
  45. Play The Greatest Commandment   (VIDEO )
  46. Play This is Your Life   (VIDEO )
  47. Play To Know   (VIDEO )
  48. Play Banquet of God   (VIDEO )
  49. Play Blessed Sacrament   (VIDEO )
  50. Play God's Truth   (VIDEO )
  51. Play Heart of God   (VIDEO )
  52. Play How to Handle Worry   (VIDEO )
  53. Play Our Lingering Sins   (VIDEO )
  54. Play Radiant Living   (VIDEO )
  55. Play Sermon on the Mount   (VIDEO )
  56. Play Solutions   (VIDEO )
  57. Play St. Francis   (VIDEO )
  58. Play Unfinished Symphony   (VIDEO )
  59. Play Who We Are   (VIDEO )

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #89)

This week: A video primer on how a Pope is selected. Father Barron discusses Pope Benedict’s legacy. An overview of Lent from Father Pontifex. If God made a farmer on the 8th day, what did He do on the 9th? Putting the national debt into perspective. Another loyal pet story. Is Google a donkey killer?

— 1 —

How do they choose a Pope? Here are the basics…

Spotted by Marcel

— 2 —

Father Barron discusses the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI:

— 3 —

Father Dusty Burns (a/k/a Pontifex) gives us an overview of the season of Lent:

— 4 —

The best Superbowl ad pondered what God did on the 8th day…   “so God made a farmer“. SooperMexican has been wondering what God did on the 9th day and uncovered this little known fact:

— 5 —

Many people fail to understand the magnitude of the national debt. This video puts it into perspective.

— 6 —

A couple weeks ago I wrote about loyal pets who visit their owners’ graves daily. News now comes of Tommy, a German shepherd, who attended daily Mass with his now deceased owner – and still does. Read the story here.

— 7 —

From the Convert Journal donkey desk: did Google kill this donkey? Their “street view” vehicles roam the planet, including in this case Botswana. In the first picture we see a happy donkey minding his own business. In the second, that same donkey – now deceased.

The pair of pictures and a ton of outrage appeared on social media sites. It turns out that Mr. Donkey is perfectly fine. The pictures were in reverse order. When he was on the ground, he was enjoying a “dust bath.” As the Google vehicle approached, he simply got up and walked away. A Google spokesman noted “Our Street View teams take the safety of people and donkeys very seriously.” We can all rest easier.


Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!

A new pope

Something big has happened and the world has changed – yesterday was different than the day before. Unless you have been cutoff from all civilization for the last 24 hours, you know by now that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has announced his resignation effective February 28.

We knew that his pontificate would not last forever, even if we always prayed it would last just a little bit longer. We expected, as has been the custom from before the Protestant revolution, that one day we would be told that he has died. A resignation was unexpected.

Sometimes people resign offices in disgrace. Sometimes they resign because their interests change. Pope Benedict has resigned in love for the Church. He is humbly stepping aside so that a man of stronger health will lead us in the challenges ahead. Our beloved Father is passing the Chair of Peter to another while he is able to do so in continuity. This may be our new norm.

What happens next? We pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit over the College of Cardinals. Their dean, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, must call a conclave. Whatever else you had planned to pray for this Lent, include them in your prayers. God willing, we may have a new pope by Easter.

A caution: avoid mass media news reports (including those with Catholic “experts”). They understand little of what is happening and if history is any guide, may predict changes to the beliefs of the Church. Those beliefs, God’s truth, have not changed in 2,000 years, can not change and will not change!

Pope Benedict XVI

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