Monday, March 19, 2018

We must admit that the Catholic Church today is the same organization with unbroken continuity with that organization (Church) started in the 1st century. A reading of the Apostolic Fathers, the hinge figures between the Apostles and the later 1st and  2nd century, makes that clear.

The question is whether at some point the one visible, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church lost its legitimacy, thereby releasing the faithful to leave and start rival churches and communities.

Of course, if Jesus started the Catholic Church, we (and He) would expect it to continue until His 2nd Coming at the end of time. If it fails to the point of illegitimacy then His promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against it was a lie or He was not competent enough to keep His promise.

I think the conclusion should be obvious. Protests against Jesus’ Church are not legitimate, nor are churches set up to rival it.

Is the Church perfect? No, because I joined it and I am a member. I know my own sins.  Even if the Church was perfect before 1994 when we joined, it certainly wasn’t afterwards. There was never a Golden Age (just read St. Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians). The Church is always reforming and always in need of reform because it is full of people like me. It is not only a haven for saints but also a hospital for sinners

Jesus said He would build His Church — not “churches.” Jesus prayed that His followers would be perfected in [visible] unity which is now quite visibly gone (except in the still unified universal Catholic Church). The Catholic Church has never lost its legitimacy and the faithful are not released to start rival communities or to join them. This was Luther’s great sin of schism.

“Throughout history, many splinter groups claimed the name “Church”, but as Cyril of Jerusalem said in 350, ‘And if ever you are visiting in cities, do not inquire simply where the House of the Lord is,—for the others, the sects of the impious, attempt to call their dens the Houses of the Lord,—nor ask merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the name peculiar to this holy Church, the Mother of us all, which is the Spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God’.(Catechetical Lectures 18, 26, in Jurgens, Faith of the Early Fathers, 1:359).” (Crossing the Tiber, pg. 70).

Bottom line: it is NEVER OK to break with the Catholic Church that Jesus founded 2000 years ago.

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joseph10Today is the Feast day of St. Joseph the Worker!

There are some pictures of Joseph I don’t appreciate so much. They present him almost as soft, effeminate like he just came out of a beauty parlor. It appears he never worked in the real world and has not a wrinkle on his clothes or a speck of dirt on his hands and feet.

I understand why artists paint Joseph this way and why churches have statues and images of the flowery, dainty, “European” Joseph with his fair hair. It is because art tries to reveal the inner qualities. This soft art tries to show the righteousness, holiness, kindness and love of a man who cared so deeply for God and his family.

308f4d06baa56b279ed41a7a1b86e31eBut Joseph was anything but a fair-haired, effeminate man with soft skin. Joseph was a manly man. His hands were calloused, his face was brown and creased from the sun, his arms and legs were like iron from walking, lifting and working. Quite the opposite of how he is often portrayed.

We are told that Joseph was a carpenter. The word for carpenter in the Greek of the New Testament is tekton which means one who works with hard materials like wood, stone or metal. 

In short Joseph was a laborer, a redneck, a rock mason. Someone had to quarry the rocks near Nazareth; someone had to chisel them with hammers to shape them for walls, houses, etc. Most historians believe Joseph and Jesus were construction workers helping build the city of Sepphoris.

You see here a few of my favorite pictures of St. Joseph, probably better representing the way he and Jesus really looked. Rough hands, brown face, tussled hair, coarse clothing and dusty feet. Imagine a construction worker, a farmer in the field, a lumberjack or a ditch digger.

tissot-the-anxiety-of-saint-joseph-737x587x72When I first showed this picture of Jesus standing in the wood shavings and dust to a friend with a devotion to St. Joseph he was scandalized. He shouted, “That is NOT St. Joseph!” He had been meditating on the soft, effeminate Joseph, not the rugged working Joseph of the rustic town of Nazareth.

Nazareth was a backwater village with a network of about 25 caves. Very rustic living – no plumbing, no showers, to toilets, no refrigerators, microwaves, washing machines or air conditioners. How would such a life affect you? (In the picture to the right you can see Mary arriving from the well with a jug of water on her head.)

St. Joseph was a manly man and so was Jesus. They give us a good example of masculine men, working hard for their family. They demonstrated the dignity of hard work and the dignity of family life (CCC 533).

St. Joseph the Worker, pray for us!

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