Liturgy & Priesthood

The_Ressurrection_of_ChristI am doing a show on Catholic Answers Live tonight (Wed., 1/16/19). The topic is OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS. Tune in at 6:00 PM Eastern at www.Catholic.com. You can listen to the podcast later too.

Adam and Eve have liturgical feast days, so do Isaiah, Jeremiah, King David and many others.

The Roman Martyrology (1600) lists saints recognized up to that point including many saints not in the Church’s general calendar. Some that it remembers are Habakkuk (Jan. 15); Isaiah (July 6); Daniel and Elias/Elijah (July 20 and 21); the seven Maccabees and their mother (Aug. 17); Abraham (Oct. 9); and King David (Dec. 29).

We in the West have not discussed it much, but the Eastern Churches remembers them every year.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states,

“The patriarchs, prophets, and certain other Old Testament figures have been and always will be honored as saints in all the Church’s liturgical traditions” (CCC 61).

48340dc324c6ca26bea274dc480c6789Here is an interesting article in the newsletter of the Association of Hebrew Catholics.

It not only explains the “sainthood” of Old Testament heroes, but gives a list of the dates for various prophets, kings, and virtuous men and women before Christ.

For the article and the calendar, click here.

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In answer to the question on air about the redemption of Adam and Eve, I promised a bit of information. The Catechism 489 states, “Throughout the Old Covenant the mission of many holy women prepared for that of Mary. At the very beginning there was Eve; despite her disobedience, she receives the promise of a posterity that will be victorious over the evil one, as well as the promise that she will be the mother of all the living.

Another quote CCC 635 “Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began.… He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him—He who is both their God and the son of Eve.… “I am your God, who for your sake have become your son.… I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.”

Soshestvie-vo-ad(Picture to right: Jesus raises Adam and Eve from their graves. Notice they are wearing halos. Notice a similar picture at the top of the post.)

One Journal I own states it well, though I don’t agree with the article overall:

“In this first dispensation, there is a clear illustration that the only way of salvation is by the grace and personal provision of God. After the judgment section of Chapter 3, the literal translation states that the Lord God himself “made garments of skin for Adam and for his wife, and He caused to clothe them.” The Lord God initiated and was the causative agent (Hiphil stem—“cause to”) of the personal redemption of Adam and Eve by providing a method of restoring the personal relationship with Him. Some conclude that the personal faith of Adam was expressed by naming his wife, Eve (living or life-giver), and believing that (strong textual emphasis) “she, she will be (the) mother of all living.” This act would have verified that he believed in the future promise of God (3:15) and in the prospect of continued life after judgment (3:20). In a similar way, having acknowledged that the Lord was the source of her first born son, Eve confirmed her personal faith in the Lord and His previous promises of children (3:15–16; 4:1).

“Considering that this was a possible theophany of God, the full impact of the statement may be realized. This would be Christ himself who had performed this sovereign act of divine grace for Adam and Eve, another Old Testament verification that Christ was involved providentially in the affairs of mankind from the beginning!”

Conservative Theological Journal Volume 2 2, no. 7 (1998): 455–456.

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Mass with 2 Protestants and 1 Crucifix

by Steve Ray on January 5, 2019

CrucifixionChurch.jpgA while ago we went to Mass with two Protestants.  As we walked in the door — there it was, as big as life — a CRUCIFIX with the Body of Our Lord hanging over the altar.

I knew what the Protestants were thinking — I used to think the same — “CATHOLICS ARE WRONG, JESUS IS NO LONGER ON THE CROSS, HE HAS RISEN FROM THE DEAD AND IS IN HEAVEN.”  Of course they think Catholics are wrong to keep Jesus on the cross as though he had not risen and ascended into heaven.

Are they right?  Well, YES and NO.  Jesus DID rise and ascend into heaven and He IS glorified at the right hand of the Father and we are mystically seated there with him (1 Pet 3:22, Eph 2:6).  BUT the Catholic Church is ALSO correct to show Jesus on the Cross — not only to remind us of His suffering and death and to show what happens during the Mass — but because in a mystical way He IS STILL on the Cross.

God the Father sits on His throne in heaven.  And what does God see from his throne every time he “opens his eyes”?  He sees Jesus on the Cross!  Really?  Yeah, really!

PassoverLambBlood.jpgJesus is our Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7).  In the Old Testament the lambs were slain on Passover to save the Israelites from death.  The lamb was held over the altar, his neck was slashed with a knife and the blood was drained onto the altar.

This is why we have an altar in the Catholic Church! The altar represents the Cross (among other things). An Altar is where a Sacrifice takes place!  Jesus was slain as our Passover Lamb to save us from eternal death and to appease the wrath of God.  That sacrifice is re-presented at the Mass (see my talk Defending the Eucharist!).

Take a look at Revelation 5:5 and ask yourself — what John is telling us?  It reads,

Between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain . . .

LambInHeaven2.jpgWho IS the slain Lamb that is still standing?  Jesus is the Lamb!  Standing on a altar before the throne of God the Father is a Lamb still bearing the wounds of slaugher.  Jesus is that Lamb and he still bears the wounds of His sacrifice. That is what God sees when He “opens his eyes” — Jesus the sacrifice — Jesus on the altar — Jesus on the Cross.

Charles Wesley, the great Methodist minister and hymn writer agrees. In his hymn “Arise, My Soul, Arise” in which he says the very same thing in very poetic terms.

“Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears; The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears, Before the throne my surety stands, My name is written on His hands. He ever lives above, for me to intercede; His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead: His blood atoned for all our race, And sprinkles now the throne of grace.”

But wasn’t Jesus crucified once and for all, never to sacrificed for sins again?  Yes, of course!  In   space and time  Jesus was crucified once and for all in AD 30.

In God’s eyes — in eternity which is not limited by space and time — Jesus was crucified before the foundations of the world (see endnote 1) and in “eternity future” He is still seen by the Father as a slain lamb on the alter in heaven, as the crucified Lord on the Cross. All salvation past, present and future is based on this one historical event.

In the Mass, Jesus is NOT re-crucified, but we partake in a mystical way in the re-presentation of the ONE ETERNAL SACRIFICE which is ever before the eyes of the Father (see Endnote 3).

I used to say “Jesus WAS our sacrifice. He cannot be crucified again on Catholic altars, so Catholics are wrong!”  But the Bible says, Yes, he WAS our sacrifice, but he also IS our Sacrifice. Look at what John says in his first epistle:

“[Jesus] is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (RSV-Catholic Edition).
The Protestant NIV renders this “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

ThomasWounds.jpgThe Greek word for IS (eimi) is in the present tense. Today, right now He IS our propitiation, our sacrifice. After His resurrection with His new spiritual body Jesus still has the wounds of his crucifixion (Jn 20:27). He has a body in heaven and still bears the wounds of the Sacrifice. He is presented before God as slain sacrifice — yet now alive.

So, what does God see when He “opens his eyes”?  He sees Jesus on the Cross!  If this is what God sees in heaven, then it is certainly proper for us to show Jesus on a Cross to remind us what he did for us — and to see what God sees every day and has from eternity.  So Catholic are right after all. Suprise!  Surprise!

Creche.jpgBy the way, once a Baptist said to me, “You are wrong, Jesus is no longer on the cross, He is in heaven.”  It happend to be Christmas and I noticed they had a Manger Scene (creche) on their table.  I said, “Why do you have Jesus in the manger?  He is no longer in the manger — he is in heaven.

“And oh,” I said, “isn’t that a cute statue of Mary!  I thought you Protestants considered statues to be idols?  Why do you have a statue of Mary in your house?”

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Endnote 1: There are two ways to translate this verse, but either way it comes out making the point. The best Protestant translations of Revelation 13:8 read: “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (NIV – New International Version).
“All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (NKJV – New King James Version).

Endnote 2: Pictures: 1) Crucifix; 2) Passover Lamb slain by the modern day Samaritans; 3) Image of Jesus the Passover Lamb sacrificed on an altar before the Throne of God (could not make out the name of the author) 4) Caravaggio’s famous painting “Incredulity of St. Thomas.”; 5) Creche scene.

Endnote 3: Catechism paragraph 1367:  “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: ‘The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.’ ‘And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and offered in an unbloody manner. . . this sacrifice is truly propitiatory’.”

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“Call No Man Your Father”

by Steve Ray on December 29, 2018

“Call No Man Your Father”

By Steve Ray

2008_11_12_ethicssoup_catholicpriests_ph_priestI received several questions recently and will post my answers separately over the next few days. Here is the first question which I received and answered.

1.) In Matthew 23:9 Jesus says: ” And call no man your father upon earth: for one is your Father which is in Heaven.”

I find this point quite confusing especially concerning the Catholic church where the priests are called “father”.

Also I’ve heard people address priest on Catholic radio call-in shows as “good father” and they accept this greeting without protest…..Jesus clearly stated that none is good but God the father. Surely man can only be “good” in a relative sense compared to other men but compared to God the Father, surely man is not good.

First, regarding the word good. I would agree with you that “good” is somewhat relative based on the context and meaning. They called Jesus good, and we all know he is good, yet Jesus said only the Father is good. Is Jesus denying here that he is good? Of course he could not mean that since it would be contrary to the truth. So we have to understand that there must be more to this than what we see on the surface.

Jesus is making a subtle argument with the Pharisees using rabbinic hyperbole and certainly not arguing that he is not good, nor that others can be good. I often say to my son, “You are a good boy!” or to my wife, “You are a good wife!” I do not think either of these comments would be offensive to God, any more than to say to a pastor “You are a good pastor.”

I too wondered many times in my past about calling a priest “father.” Upon further study and reflection I resolved the issue in my mind. There are several ways to approach the issue of calling a priest “father.” Let me begin this way. This passage does not forbid us from calling a man “father”; rather, it says “Call no man your father.” As I see it the command would not forbid me to call a priest father but forbids the calling of someone your father. A seemingly small detail, but actually rather important if we read Scripture carefully.

Now, if Jesus commands me to call no man my father then that would seem to include my earthly dad. Taking the words of Jesus literally here, would it not mean you cannot call your biological father father? Of course it would, even more so than calling a priest father since I am not actually calling the priest my father but a father. However, I do call my biological father my father.  The words related to my biological father would be more in violation of Jesus’ command than to call a priest father. So, I think we see the need to be careful with our interpretation here.

Second, usually verse 9 is taken out of context, neglecting to mention the verses before and after it. Here is the the immediate context, “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.”

I used to refuse to call a priest or pastor father, yet I never hesitated to call my Sunday School teacher teacher. It seems that if we take Jesus extremely literally here we would stop calling any man or women teacher, father, or leader. I don’t think this is the actual point Jesus is trying to make, and if so, we are all being disobedient to his commands both Catholics and Protestants. But even Scripture freely uses these titles for offices and gifts within the Church (e.g., Eph 4:11)

It seems that Jesus is using what it referred to as rabbinic hyperbole, meaning speaking in exaggerated terms to make a point in the opposite direction. For example, Jesus says if your right hand or eye offend you, cut it off and pluck it out! (Mt 5:29-30). Most people recognize that Jesus was not commanding us to amputate or blind ourselves but is emphasizing the seriousness of sin and the eternal consequences of our actions. If we followed this “command” to the extreme limit we would all be eyeless and handless.

He is using hyperbole to demonstrate the foolishness of the Pharisees in their extreme positions in the other direction. It is the way rabbis argued in the first century which is important to understand so as to properly interpret Scripture within its proper context. Historical and cultural context is as important as the textual context.

Now, another point that should be made here. If Jesus is literally forbidding us from calling a man father then it seems that he and other Scriptural writers, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, violated this injunction themselves. In Matthew 1 alone the word father is used 39 times referring to men. Jesus himself calls Abraham father both as a physical and a spiritual father (Lk 16:24, 30; Jn 8:56). Stephen refers to Abaham as our father (Acts 7:2) and Paul speaks of “our father Isaac” (Romans 9:10).

maxresdefaultPaul regularly referred to Timothy as his child: “Therefore I sent to you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ” (1 Cor. 4:17); “To Timothy, my true child in the faith: grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (1 Tim. 1:2); “To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (2 Tim. 1:2).

“This charge I commit to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophetic utterances which pointed to you, that inspired by them you may wage the good warfare” (1 Tim 1:18); “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1); “But Timothy’s worth you know, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel” (Phil. 2:22).

Paul also referred to other of his converts in this way, even referring to himself as a spiritual father: “To Titus, my true child in a common faith: grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior” (Titus 1:4); “I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment” (Philem. 10). None of these men were Paul’s literal, biological sons. Rather, Paul is emphasizing his spiritual fatherhood with them.

Ultimately, God the Father IS the only father since he created us all, yet Paul says that he himself is a spiritual father with spiritual children. Here is what he writes to the Corinthians:

I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For if you were to have countless tutors (teachers) in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church (1 Cor 4:14-17).

Not only does Paul say there are spiritual fathers, but calls himself a spiritual father. Does not this violate the words of Jesus? Paul does not think so, nor does the Holy Spirit who inspired his very words. Beyond that, Paul even tells us to imitate him, to follow his example — which we can suppose would extend to calling our spiritual fathers father.

By referring to these people as their spiritual sons and spiritual children, the writers of the New Testament imply their own roles as spiritual fathers. Since the Bible frequently speaks of this spiritual fatherhood, we Catholics acknowledge it and follow the custom of the apostles by calling pastors/priests “father.” Failure to acknowledge this is a failure to recognize and honor a great gift God has bestowed on the Church: the spiritual fatherhood of the priesthood.

As Catholics we know that we are members of a local church, a parish, and that the parish has been committed to a pastor’s spiritual care, thus we have great respect and affection for pastors/priests and call them “father.” Pastors also follow the apostles’ biblical example by referring to members of their flock as “my son” or “my child” (cf. Gal. 4:19; 1 Tim. 1:18; 2 Tim. 2:1; Philem. 10; 1 Pet. 5:13; 1 John 2:1; 3 John 4).

Understanding Jesus’ words in the full historical, cultural, and literary context, Catholics see no contradiction between the real meaning of Jesus’ words and the use of the word father in relation to our earthy fathers (dads) or those who act as our spiritual fathers and teachers.

I hope that helps a bit. If you’d like to read further I might suggest this website http://www.catholic.com/library/Call_No_Man_Father.asp

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Novena for our Bishops who will be on Retreat from January 2-8, 2019

December 19, 2018

NOVENA FOR OUR BISHOPS December 24, 2018–January 1, 2019 THE U.S. HIERARCHY WILL BE IN RETREAT FROM JANUARY 2-8, 2019, AT MUNDELEIN SEMINARY. LET US ACCOMPANY THEM WITH OUR PRAYERS. I personally will be praying for them to act more like shepherds than politicians, more like fathers than like administrators. They need to be evangelists. […]

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Sex Abuse Scandals: Catholic, Protestant and Secular – You May Be Surprised

December 3, 2018

SEX ABUSE SCANDALS CATHOLIC, PROTESTANT AND SECULAR: Article by Dave Armstrong “Scandalous Sexual Misconduct Committed by Protestant Clergy” and it’s original source. I kept hearing about all these scandals going on in the Catholic Church.  I would hear about scandals from the east coast to the west coast and even in Europe.   The secular press was […]

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Holding Hands at Mass

November 28, 2018

My wife Janet and I always cringe at a new parish when it comes time for the Our Father. We quickly bow our heads and close our eyes; I clutch my hands close to my chest (and she does the same) and we start to pray — hoping some aggressive hand-holder doesn’t reach over and insist […]

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INTERVIEW: Cardinal Müller on Homosexuality Practiced and Covered Up within the Clergy and Hierarchy

November 24, 2018

Pope Francis recently fired him from his position as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (and maybe now we know why!) Here is part of the interview: “In this discussion about the abuse crisis, Müller does not shy away from pointing out that the Church needs to address the problem […]

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A Priest Struggles, “Should I Wear My Collar? People May Think I’m One of THEM!”

September 8, 2018

 STEVE’S NOTE: Because these are such tough times for faithful priests, I make a point of stopping any priest anywhere to THANK THEM FOR BEING A PRIEST! “So it might not be surprising that priests showing up in public, even if they are innocent of such charges, would be taking some heat. One priest, Fr. Michael […]

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Ninja Priest

August 15, 2018

It’s great to have marvelous (ninja) priests. For another, the Papal Ninja, click here.

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Mega-church Mania: One Mom’s Observations (she’s a good writer) and Observations from the Early Church

August 10, 2018

Mr. Ray, My eldest daughter invited me to my grandson’s ‘dedication’ at her new place of worship.  Worship? Sorry. Her new place of…..well, the giant Olympic-sized structure that, after being directed in by police/traffic officers, upon entering, reminded me of a mall.  Oh and by the way, I didn’t witness any worship. My 1st thoughts were…”Wow! […]

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So, Who Says the Mass is a Sacrifice?

April 2, 2018

Who Says the Mass is a Sacrifice? Well, Jimmy Swaggart says it is NOT a sacrifice and wrote: “The Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is, without question, one of the most absurd doctrines ever imposed on a trusting public…  Roman Catholic errors are inevitably human innovations that were inserted into the church during the early centuries. This teaching […]

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Ten Worst Catholic Hymns of all Time

February 2, 2018

I haven’t heard them all, but the ones I recognize — I agree. I’ve told Janet if I hear some of them again I’ll walk out. Ten Worst Catholic Hymns of all Time

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Etiquette at Mass: Reasonable Do’s and Don’ts for Polite and Proper Worship

January 25, 2018

20 Things TO DO And NOT DO at Mass. These are not rules that will get you banished from the Church, but things that are mostly common sense — polite conduct to enhance our worship and that of those around us. 1. Fast before Mass. It is required that one fasts for at least 1 […]

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Descriptive Icon – can you figure it out?

December 27, 2017

On one of our last trips to Bethlehem I saw this icon that really caught my eye. What do you think?

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Cardinal Burke on Confusion in the Church, “Perhaps we have arrived at the end times”

December 3, 2017

by Paolo Gambi posted Thursday, 30 Nov 2017 Cardinal Raymond Burke has been much in the news this past year. In November 2016, he and three other cardinals presented Pope Francis with the famous dubia – five questions regarding Francis’s apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia. Then the American cardinal became embroiled in a power struggle within the Order of […]

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Holding Hands at Mass? Fr. John Riccardo’s 4-Minute Answer

October 17, 2017

I hate holding hands at Mass so this 4-minute video sure resonated with me….

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