To be Roman Catholics we must remain in unison with the bishop of Rome.

Thursday, 2/22/18

St. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage in 250 published a teaching that from the time of St. Peter any church wanting to be accepted as part of the Catholic Church had to be in union with Rome. That contention has not always been universally accepted. There have been rocky times.

Although Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicea had defended the belief that Jesus was the Son of God, his son Constantius, who came to rule in 337 rejected the findings of the Council of Nicea. His younger brother, Constans, kept the western half of the empire in union with Rome.

From 1309 to 1377 the popes, seated from Rome, pulled the Church from Avignon, France/

Then, in 496 the whole nation of the Franks, under king Clovis, were baptized. And, that Frank bishop, Remigius, without reference to Rome, was sn as the leader of the Christian nation.

The First Vatican in 1870 awarded the pope with universal jurisdiction throughout Catholicism, but from the time of St. Peter the jurisdiction of other apostles in their churches has been recognized.

The Bible's story of Jonah was an inspired work of fiction.

Wednesday, 2/21/18

In the year 420 B.C. the Jewish people resolved to please God by breaking off their ties to non-believing peoples. For a while, it worked well for them as they withheld themselves from pagan marriage customs. However, they went so far in avoiding strangers, that they forgot that foreigners were also God's children.

When they had gone too far in avoiding foreigners, God inspired a humorous Jewish story teller to make up the story of Jonah who hated all non-Jewish people.

In this story God ordered Jonah to go through the great city of Nineveh, calling out, "Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed!"  Now, Jonah, who hated the people of Nineveh, was looking forward to that destruction. However, to his extreme disappointment, the people of Nineveh, from the king on down, did penance, and received God's pardon for their many sins.

Our Church gives this story today to let us know that however great our sins have been, if we are sorry, doing penance, God will forgive us.

"My thoughts are not your thoughts" says the Lord.

Tuesday, 2/20/18

The first reading today gives us verses 10 and 11 of Isaiah 55, But, for the full beauty of it we should begin our except with verses 8 and 9.

8. For my thoughts are not your thoughts; nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
9. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways,
    And my thoughts above your thoughts.
10. For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down,
      And do not return there till they have watered the earth,
      making it fertile, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats,
 11. So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth;
       It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will,
      Achieving the end for which I sent it.

You must do what I do, because I am the Lord.

Monday, 2/19/18

In ancient times servants and serfs were required to wear garments similar to what their master wore. Wearing such look-alike garments was known as dressing in livery.

In our first reading today, God ordered Moses to remind the people;e of their obligation to do what he does.

God says we must be holy because he, the Lord, am holy.

You must not swear falsely because I would not. And, I am your Lord.
You should not defied your neighbor, or withheld wages, or curse the deaf, because I would not to much thing, and you must imitate me, because I am the Lord.  

Jesus saved us by his death to sin.

Sunday, 2/18/18

Our Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent each year tells the story of Jesus for forty days going out to the desert to be tempted.

We should see the connection between this story and the incident that took place when Jesus was being tested in the Garden of Olives. You will remember that Jesus then said, "Father, if it is possible, let this trial pass by me; but not as I will, but as Thou will it."

Sweating tears of blood, Jesus forced himself to say, "Not as I will, but as you will."

We all know that Jesus saved us by dying for us, but his death itself was not of great value. There were two thieves who died with him; and their death was only of value to the the soldiers who divided the dead mens' garments.

What was it that made the death of Jesus so valuable? Romans, 6:10 gives us the answer. It there says, "His death was a death to sin."

Jesus conquered sin by never once, from his forty days into desert to his final minutes on the cross, never giving in to the temptation to sin.

The Apostles only administered Baptism on Holy Saturday.

Saturday, 2/17/18

The Apostles had a little handbook they followed in administering the seven Sacraments. We could call that handbook "The Teaching of the Apostles," but it was commonly referred to by the Greek word for "teaching" which was "The Didache."

Now, although writers through the first five centuries often referred to the Didache, every copy of it was lost, leaving us in doubt as to just how the Apostles administered the Sacraments.

Then a century ago a copy of the original Didache turned up in central Africa, and it told us some surprising things about how the Apostles administered Baptism and Confirmation. It said that they were only conferred on Holy Saturday.  

It said that the Apostles saw the Baptism pool as representing the tomb of Jesus. They saw going down into the pool as an expression of our willingness to die to sin with Jesus.

St. Paul referred to this in verses 3to 5 in Chapter Six of his "Letter to the Romans."

"Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father we also might live in newness of life."

The Apostles believed that the baptized, by dying to sin, opened a place in their hearts for the Holy Spirit. The newly baptized, on their way to the Easter Eucharist, were met by the bishop who put the Oil of Chrism on their foreheads. The Chrism represented the Holy Spirt taking over that part of the new Christian's soul that was free from sin.  

The Church's early saints depended on Plato, while later nee depended on Aristotle.

Thursday, 2/15/18

In the First Reading Isaiah told us that God wants us to pursue holiness not by fasting and and undergoing stiff penances; but rather by helping those in need.

The saints in our church's early centuries were famous for their extreme penances. St. Anthony cut himself off from all human contacts, living on scraps people threw his way.  A saint named Simon for twenty years isolated himself on the top of a stone pillar.

Our saints from later centuries, men like Francis of Assisi, would eat a fine meal if it  were put before him. You might not want to go along with this, but the difference between holiness in the early church and later church was somewhat philosophical. It was the difference between Plato and Aristotle.

Plato believe that our souls were created before our bodies, and our bodies are prisons from that our souls must overcome.

The writings of Aristotle were lost for a thousand year. He believed that our bodies and soul are created together at the same instant. For Aristotle holiness came from healthy minds in healthy bodies.

The Lord watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes.

Blessed is the man who follows
not the counsel of the wicked.

Nor walks in the way of sinners,
Nor sits in the company of the insolent,

But delights in the law of the Lord,
And meditates on his law day and night.

He is like a tree planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,

And whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does prospers.

Not so the wicked, not so;
They are like the chaff which the wind drives away.

For the Lord watches the way of the just
But the way  of the wicked perishes.

We must be sincere with God.

Wednesday, q/14/18

In the Gospel Jesus asks us be honest about our praying, our fasting, our helping the poor. He wants us to be sincere, and not doing good things for show.

The word sincere really shows us how we must be. Back when people bought little images of their gods they often were cheated. The Latin word for wax was cherum, so the Latin for "without wax" was sincere.

Sometimes the molders of those images of the Roman gods, after pouring plaster into their molds, would find bubble holes here and there in their statuettes.  When that happened the crooked statuette molders would fill the holes with wax, then paint over them.

A perfect image, without clay, was called sincere. You are sincere when you pray from the heart without just making a show of your piety.