Thursday, May 25, 2006

Scott Hahn

I would like to start by apologizing. One, the last entry on the divinity of Jesus was woefully inadequate. Such a subject deserves more than what I gave it. Two, this series is taking longer than I thought it would. And three, I won't be finishing it...

... because I would like to encourage you to check out the work of Dr. Scott Hahn and his online course The Lamb's Supper: The Bible and The Mass. Scott Hahn is a Bible scholar, a professor, and someone who has the knack for communicating deep truths in an understandable way. In other words, he writes circles around me. Scott has already covered the ground that I've been attempting to walk, and it's probably better to hear from someone who knows what he's talking about.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Divinity of Jesus


Jesus is God. This is the main doctrine of Christianity as far as I'm concerned, one of the hills I would die for. It is a topic that I can't possibly do justice to. It deserves a lifetime of meditation, not a short blog entry.
I normally don't like proof-texting. I don't like Bible battles where the winner is the one who can overwhelm his opponent with more Bible verses lobbed like hand grenades at the enemy. However, when pressed on the issue there are some verses I like to quote that at least give the person I'm talking to something to think about.

Exodus 3:13-14- Then Moses said to God, "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?" And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’"

God identifies Himself in this passage as the One who is. The Eternal One. This obviously doesn't mention Jesus directly but is important to know when it comes to the next passage.

John 8:57-59- Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

It is so obvious here that Jesus is referring to His divinity that I shake my head in disbelief when people try to deny it. Any Jewish person worth his salt would have known that I AM is the name which God used in conversation with Moses. The Pharisees obviously knew; why else would they wanted to have stoned Jesus? If Jesus were merely saying that He was one with God in purpose, why would the Pharisees have gotten so angry?

Philippians 2:5-11- Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus is in the form of God and did not consider it robbery to be equal with God. God is all-powerful and all-knowing- how could God have an equal unless that person was God?

At this point the person who doesn't want to believe that Jesus is God will continue to argue, and I give up on them. Contrary to popular opinion, I don't like to debate people. There are times when you know it is pointless, so why even try? I am at the point in my life where I don't want to climb over people's spiritual carcasses to declare myself victorious. I want to spend the rest of my days trying to live this thing. So I will stop here.

This series of reflections on the Mass has already turned into hardcore apologetics, and I didn't really want to go down that road. I just wanted to give people something to meditate on as they thought about the importance of the Mass. Next time I will be skipping past the Creed, the main points of which I've already covered, and dive into the Eucharistic Prayers.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Bible and the Mass IV: Penitential Rite/ Gloria

There will be points in the liturgy where I will reach something that I’ve already discussed. If the topic is praying for others and I’ve covered that previously, I won’t repeat myself. I’ll leave it up to you to go back and read, although hopefully you’ve been reading from the beginning.


May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

John 3:16- “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
John 3:36- “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
John 6:47-51- “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
Romans 6:22- “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.”

Shorter versions:
(Priest leads, people respond)
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord, we have sinned against you.
Lord, show us your mercy and love.
And grant us your salvation.

Psalm 51:1-4- “Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.

GLORIA (all pray together)
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.

Luke 2:14- “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father.

Revelation 19:6- “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!”
1Timothy 1:17- “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
1 Timothy 6:13-16- “I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.”
Revelation 17:14- “These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

We worship You…

John 4:23-24- “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Revelation 15:4- “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? or You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested.”

We give You thanks…

Ephesians 5:18-20- “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:56-57- “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We praise You for Your glory.

Revelation 7:11-12- “All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.’”
Mark 8:38- “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
Luke 9:29-32- “As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him.”

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father….

2 John 1:3- “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”
2 Peter 1:17-18- “For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.”

Lord God, Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us.

John 1:29- “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”
John 1:35-36- “Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’”
1 Peter 1:18-19- “…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.

Romans 8:34- “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
Colossians 3:1-4- “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
Hebrews 1:1-3- “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high….”

For You alone are the Holy One…

Luke 1:35- “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’”
1 John 2:20-21- “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.”

…You alone are the Lord…

Revelation 15:3-4- They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying:
“Great and marvelous are Your works,
Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways,
O King of the saints!
Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy.
For all nations shall come and worship before You,
For Your judgments have been manifested.”

Romans 5:1-2- “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
Revelation 19:6- “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!”

…You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Not just “Son of the Most High,” but the Most High God. The Bible testifies that Jesus is God. John 8:57-59-
Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You
seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

The Jewish leaders would not have been enraged enough to stone Jesus if He was only claiming to be one in purpose with God. By using the name of God, I AM, he was saying that He is, in fact, God.

The subject of Jesus' divinity deserves more than a cursory treatment, so I will be covering this a bit more in part V.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Bible and The Mass, Part III: Mary, full of grace

Catholics from a very young age are taught the following prayer:

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

The first half of this prayer is direct from Scripture. Luke 1:28 records that when the angel came to Mary to announce that she was chosen to bear the Messiah, his words were “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (New King James Version) “Highly favored one” seems to bear only a slight relation to “full of grace”, but let’s unpack it a little. According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary, the word for “favored” is charitoo, which means "to grace, that is, indue with special honor:—make accepted, be highly favored." The root word is charis which is translated as “grace” 130 times in the King James Version (the one on which the Strong’s books are based). And the Greek word for “rejoice” in this verse is chairo, used in salutations as “hail.” So “Hail Mary, full of grace” isn’t an unacceptable translation of the passage. The next part can be found later on in Luke Chapter One:
Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Straight from Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary. The name Jesus doesn’t appear, as it does in the Hail Mary prayer, but we know that Mary was chosen to give birth to Jesus, so that part of the prayer shouldn’t be under dispute. What is under dispute, however, is the next line of the prayer: “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners.” Conveniently, the scriptural basis for this line comes in the very next sentence in Elizabeth’s greeting: “But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

I’ve had this discussion with people before, so let me tell you how it goes. The non-Catholic person who is specifically anti-Catholic recoils at this line. “How can God have a mother?” he or she will ask. “Mary was the mother of Jesus’ human nature, not the divine nature.” And to that I would respond that Mary did not give birth to a nature, she gave birth to a person, a Person who was both divine and human. Jesus is God; Mary gave birth to Jesus; therefore it is not wrong to refer to Mary as the Mother of God. Elizabeth was just one of many.

“And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God."

Overshadow- Greek word episkiazo, meaning “to throw a shadow upon, to envelop in a shadow, to overshadow.” This particular word is used four other times in the New Testament to describe an extraordinary occurrence:

Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:34- During the Transfiguration on the mountaintop- “While (Peter) was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’”

Acts 5:14-15- Peter healing multitudes of people- “And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.”

Mary was not just bearing another child. The Litany of Mary refers to her as “The Ark of the Covenant”, and that isn’t inappropriate, because for nine months she had God Himself dwelling within her. In the Old Testament, if you touched the Ark of the Covenant and you had sin in your life, you died. They tied a rope around the priest when he went into the Holy of Holies once a year, because if he was in sin, he would die and they would have to drag him out. So it makes perfect sense to believe that Mary was preserved from sin by a special act of grace.

I’ve spent so much time on one line from one prayer of the Mass because I feel it’s important to lay a proper foundation for some things. For someone who isn’t Catholic, it isn’t enough just to say “The Church said it, I believe it and that settles it.” A Catholic can’t just mumble something about Sola Scriptura and not prooftexting and continue to wear a smug look on his/her face. Catholic beliefs most certainly do have a Scriptural basis; the non-Catholic person may disagree with the conclusions of the Church, but they should at least see that the Catholic Church didn’t just make it up as they went along.

I'll pick up the text of the liturgy again, next time.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Bible and the Mass, Part II

“And I ask Blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.”

Did you ever have someone accost you after church and regale you with their tale of woe? They have an uncle with a kidney infection, Aunt Stella has the gout, Gabriella ran off with a Gandhi impersonator, and their breasts have suddenly become too big. In order to get to the Big Boy before the brunch buffet closes you just tell him, “Oh, I’m sorry. Look, I’ll pray for you.” Then you disappear into the sunset, leaving him in the dust, and an hour later the only thing you are praying for is the sweet release from the clutches of gluttony.

My point in the preceding paragraph is not that Gandhi impersonators aren’t worthy of love and devotion, but that we never think twice about asking someone to pray for us. Regardless of whether we believe in the efficacy of prayer or not, as soon as we have a need we are usually asking for prayer.

In this particular portion of the Penitential Rite, after they have confessed that they are sinners in thought and in deed, Catholics are recognizing that they can’t walk the highway of holiness alone. They are asking for the prayers of their Christian brothers and sisters; not only that, they are reaching a step higher and asking the men and women of virtue who have gone before us to intercede for them; not only that, they are asking Mary, the one person on Earth who had a relationship with Jesus unique in all of human history, to pray for them as well. As dark as events on this earth can get we need all the help we can get.

Penalty flags are being thrown all over the field at this point by Christians who believe this is heresy. And I would lay cash money that the first verse on their lips is 1 Timothy 2:5:

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”

Hmm. The impenetrable fortress? The verse that has wooed more than a few unsuspecting Catholics away from the Barque of Peter? I don’t believe that this verse can mean what people are intending it to mean. Let’s take a look.

I looked up the phrase “pray for” in my handy QuickVerse Bible program, New King James Version, and found 24 references. Here are a few:

Matthew 5:44- “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Now why is Jesus even suggesting this? He’s the one mediator, right? Why would he say that we should act as an intercessor for people who hate us? He’s perfectly capable, even more capable than us, of doing such a thing.

Colossians 1:9- “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” Why doesn’t Paul just tell the Colossians that they can go to the Lord themselves? After all, he was the one who wrote the “one mediator” verse in the first place. He’s violating his own counsel now.

Hebrews 13:18- “Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably.” There he goes again. Doesn’t Paul ever read the Word? Hey there, Paul, 1 Timothy says…. Something tells me Paul already knows.

I believe the “one mediatorship” of Christ means something other than intercession. He certainly lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25), but Christ’s role as mediator also refers to His priesthood and His sacrifice. Take a look at Hebrews 8:3-6:

For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

Look at the contrast. The priest is a mediator because he offers the gifts and sacrifices. Every priest needs something to offer; Jesus also needs something to offer. If Christ was a priest on Earth He would have nothing to offer, because the offerings are a shadow of the heavenly things. So… if Christ is a priest, and He can’t be one on Earth, He must be one in heaven, the Mediator of a better covenant.

I won’t quote the entirety of chapters 8 and 9 of Hebrews; the comparison continues to be made between the earthly priests and our heavenly High Priest. Let’s pick it up in chapter 9, verse 11:

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. (Hebrews 9:11-16)

Bingo. (Catholics like to say that.) Christ’s role as mediator is referring to the offering of His Blood as a sacrifice. He is the mediator of a new covenant.

So Christ’s role as mediator doesn’t exclude the possibility of others interceding for us, acting as mediators of sorts, their ability to intercede based totally on Christ’s offering of Himself having already opened the way for us. People on earth can pray for us. The angels and saints in heaven can’t. Or can they? I propose that it is not impossible for them to intercede. Let’s take a look at Revelation 5:8 for a second:

Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (emphasis mine)

The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders were offering bowls of incense which were the prayers of the saints, the word “saints” being used as a reference to all believers at that point in church history. Why wouldn’t the prayers of the saints rise directly to Jesus, so He could offer them to the Father?

Let’s now jump to Revelation 8:

When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. (Revelation 8:1-4, emphasis mine)

So in this picture of heaven we have the four living creatures, the twenty-four elders, and an angel all offering the prayers of the saints upon the altar before the throne. Kind of leads me to believe that God has allowed others, both on earth and in heaven, to participate in the act of intercession. He isn’t jealous that the glory is being taken away from Him.

It is from that groundwork that the doctrine of the intercession of the saints arises. I have no issue with this. That doesn’t mean that Catholics go to the saints to the exclusion of Jesus; not at all. I personally don’t ask the intercession of many saints; St. Jerome the Scripture master, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Maria Goretti are the ones I am particularly fond of. I do pray the Rosary as well. In the plan of salvation Mary had a unique role. A role which I will expound upon next time.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Bible and the Mass, Part I

I’ve had the opportunity, in the course of my spiritual life, to read and/or hear a lot of arguments against Catholic beliefs. I’ve never been afraid of that; I’ve never felt like reading a book or listening to a sermon critical of Catholic belief was dangerous to my faith or would cause me to abandon the Mass for parts unknown. I did leave the Catholic Church for a time, but for reasons totally unrelated to the arguments I’ve heard.

The one statement that has always been the most puzzling to me is that Catholics ignore the Bible. It gathers dust, we are told not to read it, Catholic belief isn’t based on it… you don’t have to write me and give me any more because I’ve heard them all. I covered the Bible in some depth in a series of three posts detailing how the Popes of the past century have strongly encouraged us to read the Bible. Now I would like to take a look at how references to and from the Bible permeate the Mass. My mother recently sent me a copy of a little booklet called “The Mass: A Biblical Prayer” by Father Peter Stravinskas, which gives the text of the liturgy along with the Biblical references that are referenced, and I will draw on this booklet pretty heavily. So let’s get started.


Priest: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
People: Amen.

Matthew 28:19- “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…. “ We baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit (also see Acts 2:38- ““Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”); we also
-Believe in the name of the Son of God:
1 John 5:13- “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
-Have life in His name:
John 20:31- “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
-Give thanks in His name:
Eph. 5:20- “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ….”

The priest can choose from one of the following three:
“The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

“The grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

“The Lord be with you.”
The People’s response is the same each time: “And also with you.”

Greeting someone in the name of the Lord or giving them a parting blessing in His name was quite common.
2 Corinthians 13:14- “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.”

1 Corinthians 16:23- “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

Galatians 6:18- “Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”
(In the Tridentine Mass the greeting and response was Priest: Dominus Vobiscum/ People: Et Cum Spiritu Tuo, which translated means “May the Lord be with you/ and with your spirit”. The Tridentine liturgy is actually more saturated with scriptural allusions than the Paul VI mass is.)

Philippians 4:23- “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
There are plenty more, but these will suffice.

PENITENTIAL RITE (two versions)
From the greeting the Mass continues with the penitential rite. This is in keeping with Matthew 5:23-24, which says “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” The full version can be omitted during certain parts of the church’s liturgical calendar. I will start with the short version.

Priest: Lord have mercy.
People: Lord have mercy.
Priest: Christ have mercy.
People: Christ have mercy.
Priest: Lord have mercy.
People: Lord have mercy.

1 Peter 1:3- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead….”

Jude 1:20-21- ” But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

1 Timothy 1:15-16- “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.”
There shouldn’t be much doubt that we need the Lord’s mercy and that before we do anything we should certainly call upon it. At least I hope there isn’t any doubt. You just never know.

I will take the long version a phrase at a time.
“I confess to Almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault.”
Psalm 32:5- “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

James 5:16- “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

1 John 1:9- “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

“In my thoughts and in my words…”
Matthew 5:21-22- “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”

Matthew 5:27-28- “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Matthew 5:38-41- “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.”

“…in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.”
James 2:14-17- “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

James 4:17- “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

“And I ask Blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.”
OOH, OOH! Pick me, Mr. Kotter! Arnold Horshack thinks he has a smoking gun here, the first portion of the liturgy which is blatantly anti-biblical, which can’t be supported by a shred of Scripture and isn't alluded to anywhere in the Bible. 1 Timothy 2:5 very clearly states, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus….”

You didn’t think I would have come to the table unprepared, do you? I grew up Catholic. I knew this passage was coming. And I am well prepared to defend it…

…next time :)


Once again from the Bohlender family, this time Randy's son Jackson:

Burn the incense,
Welcome the King,
Usher in justice,
shout and sing
for the Ancient of Days is coming to judge us,
the Glorious Father seated on the throne.

Shout praise, O people of Zion,
worship the New King,
for if His judgments and his mercies are one and the same,
what have we to lose but our flesh?

Repent of your sins,
Drink of His cup,
Become one with the Word,
Eat of the Son.
Look to the sky,
Look to the clouds,
Look into His eyes,
And gaze upon your Beloved.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Think on these things

From Greg Burnett:
Thus my confession, too, is that I am dark (in my sin nature) yet lovely to Him. He enjoys me, even in my weakness. Oh the wonders of His love, it changes men! He does not love like mere human beings; His love does not fade and He will not take it away. Repent, friend, of your sin and self-centered life for God cares for you. Let love and forgiveness wash you from the lust and lies and theft that grip you. Do not be defined by your failure to love God perfectly, but stand again with the perspective that you are loved and thus will be a lover of God day to day, step by step.
As it says in Jude 24-25:

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior, Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.

and Randy Bohlender:
For me, what we're doing right now is the frontier. For where God is going, it needs to look like this. Less practical on earth, more practical in heaven. Why on earth would God do some thing as irrational as use a group of people singing and praying in a funky, remodeled grocery store? Unless the cutting edge of His plan all along included them.

(Read the entirety of these entries at the links provided.)

Mother's Day greetings from the White House!

Dear Mrs. (fill in last name here);
Greetings from the White House! It is my pleasure to wish you a Happy Mother's Day!

Here at the White House we will be celebrating in the traditional manner. First, we will enjoy appetizers with a glass of Rum's Feld. You can't always have the drink you want; sometimes you have to drink what's given to you. The meal will be the catch of the day prepared with a special recipe- the DaVinci Cod. A small fishstick with five pounds of breading and other filler. Once you cut through it all you realize that although there is a lot there, you've essentially been deceived. On the side will be a heaping portion of Condaleeza rice. For the vegetarians in the crowd we will serve a new dish on the White House menu- Salad Hussein, a seven-bean assortment aged for several weeks in a hole in the ground. One serving and I guarantee you, your stomach will be filled with weapons of mass destruction!

May this day see your approval ratings higher than mine!

George W. Bush

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Jesus Christ!

Now that I have your attention... I thought I would go to Google Blogsearch, type in the name of Jesus Christ, and see what I would find.

-The very first link staring me in the face is jesuschristlovesporn. Not Jesus Loves Porn Stars, which is a Bible giveaway effort sponsored by XXX Church targeting porn stars and adult movie conventions. This one is an honest to God porn site. No, I'm not posting a link to it.

-The Canterbury Tales provides an interesting article in response to The DaVinci Code.

-Plenty of bloggers assuming that Jesus' middle initial is "H".

-Jeri (whom I am indebted to for the Jack and David Hyles information I posted earlier) discusses fundamentalist errors regarding holiness.

-For prophetic words directly from the Holy Spirit (by way of A Course in Miracles) see The Jesus Promise.

-This right here is why I hate political blogs and bloggers. "If Jesus Christ had returned to Earth and was elected to the Presidency of the USofA, as a Republican, you spineless marxist would have set about impeaching Him...." Umm, when Jesus Christ returns to Earth He isn't running for President, He's already King of Kings. Something tells me He has some housecleaning on His mind.

-While one blogger rants, Brad offers a simple invitation to college students on his campus- "Come and see."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

What is truth, part II- Church life been very, very good to me

From the Lorain Morning Journal, 4/10/2005:

"Thousands of individuals have been brought to their knees by a plague infecting Lorain County for the last six years, a contagion feeding on greed and naivete as it slowly spread from one trusting person to the next....
"At one point, at least three different investment and securities schemes were trolling for victims in Lorain County all at the same time. Two of them were targeting members of the same churches, and on at least one occasion the operators were actually working together....

"No institution has been rocked as hard as the Church of the Open Door in Elyria, ground zero for the Haven Equity investment account of McNaughton into which $23 million has disappeared, according to U.S. and Canadian investigators. McNaughton said in a deposition that about half of the money that flowed into Haven Equity came from the church's members, and now that some of them are suing Open Door to recover their losses the church's leaders are circling the wagons. Those who sued say they have found themselves ostracized and on the outside, while McNaughton is still welcome. He and his family attend services regularly, and they were sitting in the balcony on a recent Sunday morning when the Rev. Jim Mindling, the senior pastor, advised the congregation not to talk about ''the ongoing financial misfortunes'' with outsiders.

"McNaughton said in his deposition that he stepped aside as a youth ministry worker at the church when the SEC stepped in, but he said his job is being held open for him and he is confident he will be returning. He also revealed in the deposition that he wrote checks on the Haven Equity account for an estimated $300,000 in contributions to the church and for interest payments to church leaders for their own investments, including former pastor David Walls, who was given a bonus rate of return."

Well, the-e-e-re's a surprise. Maybe, just maybe, the pastor of the largest church in Lorain County should suggest to this guy that he has some repenting to do. But then they certainly don't want to have to risk having to return that $300,000. And enough with circling the wagons. No wonder people think the church has something to hide.

Let's move on:

"Bonus rates of return for church leaders was an offer that McNaughton didn't restrict to Open Door. The Rev. Greg Ball, associate pastor at Church on the North Coast in Lorain, has testified that he gave McNaughton $317,000 after being guaranteed a 40 percent return for the first six months. North Coast's pastor, the Rev. Louis Kayatin, confirmed recently that he and his wife had invested their entire retirement savings with McNaughton. Like many of the others, Kayatin said he eventually lost everything."

Two thoughts here. First, Greg Ball is the youth minister at CNC. Is youth ministry that lucrative that he had $317,000 burning a hole in his pocket? And I feel sorry for Pastor Kayatin- he has been pastor at CNC for 25 years, and when I attended church there his ministry meant a lot to me. I still listen to his messages via their podcast. But the emphasis on a prosperity gospel will eventually come back to bite you in the a$$. Pastor Kayatin, you are an intelligent man. Why in the world would you fall for something like this?

What is with the emphasis on financial gain within the world of Christendom? I have no issues with preparing for retirement- that is wise stewardship of your finances and a service to your family. But Greg Ball makes no mention of a retirement fund- he was itching to get a 40% return on his investment. I was at a service once where he gavce a short talk before taking up the offering. The shtick was simple- give so you can get a return. He quoted Proverbs 13:22- "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous", and said that he didn't want the chump change of the sinner, he wanted the sinner's wealth, so he would be giving abundantly that night and he hoped we would do the same. Well of course he could give abundantly- he has $317,000 lying around his house. Why wasn't he reading Deuteronomy 8:18? "And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day." Boy, that $317,000 could have established a good chunk of the covenant....

Someone is immediately going to insist that I am jealous. If I had a cut of that money I wouldn't be writing this. There might be something to that. Yeah, I am slightly envious of people who are doing well. But I am also sick to death of the fact that the world looks down upon the church of Jesus Christ and a lot of times it is our own fault.

Unfortunately, part III of this ongoing series will likely appear sooner than later.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Like the corners of my mind

Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time re-written every line?
---Barbra Streisand, "The Way We Were"

Have you ever stopped to wonder why you remember the things you do? Assuming, of course, that you can remember anything at all. I've known people that could remember the birthdays of two dozen people but can't remember what you said two minutes earlier. Others can remember useless details of long-past minor events but can't remember why they went to the grocery store, coming home with chips and Hostess cupcakes instead of milk and dish soap.

Some memories lie deep within the folds of our brain, only to awake from their long winter's nap by the presence 0f some insignificant trigger, the key that has been under the couch cushion for 15 years. And some are as fresh today as they were when they happened, no matter how long ago. I am convinced that we could conceivably remember everything that has ever happened to us with the proper trigger. Why else would you dream of someone you haven't seen in 30 years?

My two earliest memories are of the same time frame, somewhere between 1967 and 1971, in Hayward, California. I was born in Oswego, NY but don't remember a thing; we moved to Hayward soon afterwards. I remember my mom being pregnant. Obviously not with me :) That means I was as young as two or as old as four. I also have a vague recollection of our house and neighborhood. And... I think we owned a red car of some sort.

Some memories owe as much to the telling and re-telling of the event as they do to the actual recall of information. Another of my earliest memories happened at what I believe was my Aunt Evelyn's 20th or 21st birthday party. This story has reached legendary status among my family members as "the Farrell's story." The party took place in California at Farrell's Ice Cream parlor. The story as it has been related to me is that my brother and I, four and three years of age, were absolutely terrified. Trumpets and drums sounded like the denizens of hell to a four year old's ears. (Farrell's puts on a pretty good show.) The highlight of the evening was when they brought a 50-gallon bowl of ice cream to the table.

Oh... it wasn't 50 gallons? It just looked like more ice cream than a little child had ever seen in one bowl before? That's another aspect of memory- perspective. For instance, when I was growing up my grandparents had a cat named Tavvy, short for MacTavish, and for the longest time I would have told you that that cat was five feet long. It was, I swear it. It was as big as I was; at least that's how I remember it. Then one day I had a revelation. Of course it seemed like that cat was as long as I was tall- when I was four years old it probably was that long, and my mind never made the adjustment.

As the years go one the vision gets clearer. I can envision our house in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan- a brown house, the last one on our side of the road. There was an abandoned high school behind our house. The neighborhood kids always fantasized about how we would get in, and for sport we would throw rocks at the highest windows. At one point during our stay the school burned down, which made for an exciting morning. A large crawlspace underneath the remains of the front steps became a cool hiding place.

I believe that I began kindergarten in Hayward, California, and finished it in Michigan. My teacher in Michigan was named Mrs. Curliss, and my remembrance of her can be summed up in one word- mean. First grade- Mrs. Lamoreaux; Second grade- Mrs. Knudsen; Third grade- Mrs. Stern. My best friend was Jeff Monica; we had a set of twins in one of my classes; and Esmeranda Ferris taught us all how to spell our names in Chinese. Music class was about learning popular songs. We sang On Top of The World by The Carpenters, Delta Dawn by Tanya Tucker and Joy To The World by Three Dog Night (with altered lyrics, of course).

But why do I remember some of these things? Obviously the excitement of fire engines and flames was enough to make an impression on a 6-year-old lad, but why does the picture of me hitting a little kid with a plastic shovel remain, thirty-five years later? Why do I remember our phone number (636-3646) but not our address? Why do I remember setting a fire in the field next door but not the resignation of President Nixon? Why do I remember the times my father yelled at me but not the times when he didn't?

Interesting question.

As the age of 40 quickly approaches (5 months away), I find myself suspended between the past and the future; the was, the now and the not yet; the beginning and the end. When I turned twenty- nothing. 30- it bothers a lot of people, but not me. But 40 is a landmark. When my father turned 40 he was the parent of four teenagers. When my grandfather turned 40 he had his doctorate and was the well-respected pastor of a church. When I was young and my parents turned 40- they were old! Now that I am on the verge of turning 40... ehh, 40 isn't that old. When I was 15 the idea of 40-year-olds having sex sickened me. Now? Doesn't bother me in the slightest :)

40 isn't old! I can still jam out some punk rock- can't I? I'm allowed to go to parent-teacher conferences with a Mountain Dew at my side- can't I? I can still take a second glance at the cute 19-year-old waitress, a woman who was born three years after I graduated from high school, a woman who is young enough to be my daughter, a woman who doesn't remember LPs and pop-top soda cans, 8-tracks and Betamax, a woman who knows Freddie Prinze Jr. but not Freddie Prinze...

...umm... can't I?

Holy crap, I'm getting old.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Brick wall

You should probably understand how the majority of the blogging world works. The big ones, the ones that get the most hits, are the ones with daily entries that comment on the world around us. A big news story happens? Let's see what the bloggers have to say! (As if the bloggers actually have something to say.) Bloggers who distrust the mainstream media ( and tell you at every opportunity) then become the mainstream, and will eventually draw the scorn of the next generation. What goes around, comes around.

Also drawing a lot of hits are the religious bloggers. And not just those who blog on spiritual topics, but who do so with an attitude. They can't just tell you why they think what they believe is right; nope, they also feel a mandate to tell you why what you believe is dead wrong. And if someone disagrees and tries to say so via the handy comment link at the end of most posts, they pull out the tired old "this isn't a free speech zone" argument, the last resort of those who have no defense, and boom! Your comment is deleted. Their blog then becomes a love-fest where yes men (and women) can fawn over the writer and tell them how spiritual they are.

The sports blogs I've read have been pretty cool. They give you plenty of opinion, but they also invite a healthy and respectful debate. If you want to jump headlong into the steroids debate, blogs are your place to be.

I've mentioned before that I've become increasingly uncomfortable with the blogging world. I enjoy blogging, I've written some decent pieces, but I don't fit into any of the categories. Daily events? No. I have opinions on the issues, but who really cares what my opinions are? Go read up and form your own opinions. Spirituality? Yes, there is a decent amount of Christian talk here. I was going to say "without the attitude", but a small bit of attitude gives my writing some character, some zing.

So what is my take? What characterizes the essays that I write? Well, this blog started out merely as a way to chronicle my spiritual journey. I've done that. I certainly haven't been exhaustive, because there are other stories that could be told; some will come in time, and some are none of your business.

After I completed the story of my journey (and really I haven't completed it, because I never told the story of why we left Harvest Ridge Assembly of God, and I won't until I can find a way to be kind), I took a sabbatical. Took the whole month of November off. When I came back I was on a roll. Wrote some of my best stuff. I think I was finally writing every day. But alas, pretty soon the bucket was drawing more sand than water from the well, until now when I feel like I've hit a brick wall again.

So if there is anyone out there who reads me daily, or hopes to anyway, don't give up. The sun will shine again. If you want to know my thoughts on the 2008 presidential race you won't see it, but the Eucharist? All in good time. The emerging church? Soon and very soon. College student- do you want to hear my interpretation of Chaucer? Sorry, this isn't that Pardoner's Tale. Pastor Crow, do you want to know what I think of your "spreading and bleeding" sermon illustration? I really don't think you do.

Until then, enjoy these chestnuts from the past:
Cross one more off the list
What Would Jesus Flood?
Arthur Stanley MacNair
Why Is The Flesh-Colored Crayon Always Peach?
Something Old, Something New
My Latin Mass Morning
Who are you/ What have you sacrificed?
The rhino in the manger scene
My best (stolen) idea so far this year
A Father's Story (the one I'm most proud of)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Because I can

The best kids a father could have.