Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Saint Jerome by El Greco

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of Saint Jerome. From THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS: "Saint Jerome was born at Stridon in Dalmatia around the year 340. He studied the classical authors at Rome, and was baptized there. He embraced a life of asceticism and went to the East where he was ordained a priest. Returning to Rome, he became a secretary to Pope Damasus. At Rome he began to translate the Holy Scriptures into latin and to promote the monastic life. Eventually he settled in Bethlehem where he served the needs of the Church. He wrote many works, especially commentaries on the Holy Scriptures. He died at Bethlehem in 420.

PRAYER: Father, you gave Saint Jerome delight in his study of Holy Scripture. May your people find in Your Word the food of salvation and the fountain of life. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

Today, September 29th, the Church celebrates the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels. These are the three angels who were sent by God to man over the course of the ages and whose names appear in Sacred Scripture. Michael, whose name means "Who is like God," appears in the Book of Revelation as the leader of the armies of Heaven against Satan. Gabriel, whose name means "God has shown Himself mighty," appears in the Book of Daniel and in the Gospel of Luke gives the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist and appears to Our Lady to announce the Incarnation. Raphael means "God has healed." He appears in the Book of Tobit where he helps Tobit bind a demon, helps Tobit find a wife, and heals Tobit from his blindness.

PRAYER: God, with great wisdom You direct the ministry of Angels and men. Grant that those who always minister to You in heaven may defend us during our life on earth. Amen.

Arms of Mercy

My life is a great mess and tangle of half-conscious subterfuges to evade grace and duty. I have done all things badly. I have thrown away great opportunities. My infedelity to Christ, instead of making me sick with despair, drives me to throw myself all the more blindly into the arms of His mercy.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Follow Me

This is a video about the religious vocation of one my favorite priests and spiritual guides, Father Benedict Groeschel.

Ango-Catholicism: A Study in Religious Ambiguity

Our Lady of Walsingham

Yours Truly, the Anglo-Catholic, assisting Father Charles Bennett at St. Thomas Episcopal Church a number of years ago.

Lately, as my light escapist reading, I have been reading Anglo-Catholicism: A Study in Religious Ambiguity by W.S.F. Pickering which was published in 1989.

As one who as a member of the Episcopal Church delighted in being a self-described "Anglo-Catholic," I find this subject to be incredibly fascinating. For some unexplained reason it is just downright fun to be a member of a Protestant Church and pretend to be Catholic by putting on fancy vestments, doing a lot of bowing and genuflecting, throwing a lot of incense into the air, and generally putting on a big liturgical show.

Now let me tell you, the Anglicans/Episcopalians know how to put on a good show. In some respects, they may be more High Church than the Vatican. The only problem is that it is all form and no substance. They have all the outward forms of the true Catholic faith, but there are very few Orthodox Christians left in its ranks that hold the substance.

I finally decided that all the things which I liked best about the Episcopal Church were all the things that were Catholic and the things I liked the least were the things that were the most Protestant. I had already decided to "swim the Tiber" before the melt down of my Episcopal parish. A large number of the membership left and formed a new "Anglican" Church. However, the new "Anglican" Church is definitely part of the Evangelical, or "Low Church" tradition within Anglicanism, if it is really "Anglican" at all. With all due respect, if I had to put myself within the jurisdiction of a foreign bishop, I would rather choose the Bishop of Rome than the Anglican Archbishop of Uganda.

When I became a real Catholic I no longer had to hide that I prayed the rosary, and prayed to Our Lady and the Saints. (Nothing makes Protestants more nervous than devotion to Our Lady and the Saints.)

Here's a good quote from Pickering that kind of sums it all up:

The problem par excellence for Anglo-Catholics is their claim to be Catholic within an institution which for several centuries has generally been reckoned to stand in the Protestant camp, certainly not in the Roman Catholic camp. Some Protestants in the past, and still some today, have gone so far as to see in the Church of Rome the Antichrist. How can one be an Anglo-Catholic in a church in which only a proportion of the members openly claim they are Catholic and the rest say they are Protestant, or at least non-Catholic? Here is the ambiguity of using the self-designation Anglo-Catholic, or more simply, Catholic.

Keep in mind the fact that Pickering is an Anglican writer. In another place he says this:

In practice the Catholic church, if it is to be found anywhere, is the Roman Catholic Church, for on grounds of geographical universality, there can be no other contender. Roman Catholic theologians assert categorically that there is no Catholicism outside their Church. When Anglo-Catholics claim to be Catholic they are hardly adopting a universalist position but one which is essentially sectarian.

Bottom line: Anglo-Catholics are Protestants who are pretending to be Catholic.

Sacred Heart of Jesus: Have Mercy on Us!

Our Lady of Walsingham: Pray for Us!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Return to Rome

I just finished reading RETURN TO ROME: CONFESSIONS OF AN EVANGELICAL CATHOLIC by Baylor University Professor and former President of the Evangelical Theological Society, Professor Francis J. Beckwith.

Beckwith's book is very good and I would recommend it to everyone who is interested in conservative Evangelical Christians converting to Catholicism. Or, in Beckwith's case, re-verting to Catholicism. Beckwith describes how he was brought up in the Catholic Church but because of the slippery, loosey-goosey theology and catechism which was going on in the late 60's and 70's, he slipped away and joined an evanglical protestant group.

After describing why he left Catholicism in the first place, Beckwith then describes why he came back. The last chapter is devoted to refuting the position of the Evangelical Theological Society which pretty much threw Beckwith out and declared that no Roman Catholic can claim to be an Evangelical Christian. Evangelical meaning one who has a high view of sacred scripture and accepts the Bible as the Word of God. Beckwith forcefully refutes this contention, showing that without the Catholic Church there would be no Bible to begin with.

Beckwith has a couple of good quotes which are worth repeating:

"However, my conservatism, ironically, developed out of my liberalism. I was taught by my parents that one of the roles of government was to protect the "little guy" and to make sure that those not well off should be given a chance to succeed and make a decent living. But in my early twenties I began to notice that self-described liberals had no interest in protecting the littlest guy of all, the unborn, and that they often advanced policies that inhibited economic growth, and thus harmed those who most needed the wealth produced by free markets, the poor and underprivileged. So, for me, true liberalism is conservative, for it strives to protect and nurture, indeed conserve, those people, institutions, and practices that advance the common good and thus provide a framework for human flourishing."

I found this quote from Carl R. Trueman, Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary fascinating:

"Every year I tell my Reformation history class that Roman Catholicism is, at least in the West, the default position. Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity than any Protestant denomination, let alone the strange hybrid that is evanglicalism; in the light of these facts, therefore, we need good, solid reasons for not being Catholic . . ." Trueman then goes on to state why he has good reasons to continue to protest the Church of Rome and always will. They are just not good reasons. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Shelba's Story

My wife Shelba posted this on her Caring Bridge site:

Last February, I went to see my gynecologist. I did not feed bad at all, but I was having abnormalities. All of the usual tests came back normal except for cysts. In April, I started to feel some pain, but still thought the problem was cysts.

The first week in May, Mark, my husband, and I went to Destin for a week and enjoyed all of my favorite things, eating and shopping, and ususally in that order. However, the more I walked, the worse I felt. When I came back, I had a follow up ultrasound that still showed just cysts. The next step was an MRI. The MRI showed a potential malignancy on my right ovary. The results of the blood test for cancer were in the "elevated" range but not definately cancer.

In June, I found a very good gynecological oncologist in Tallahassee and scheduled my surgery for July 17th. The surgery was supposed to be the two and a half hour robotic removal of the ovary. Going into the fourth hour, Mark, my secretary Tammy, and my friend and client, Cookie, realized that my doctor had to do a lot more work than expected. Once the surgery started, the doctor had to ditch the robot and start debulking the cancer which had spread to my bladder and colon. When I woke up, I looked awful. Mark, the former prosecutor, told me he had seen autopsy pictures with more life than I had after my surgery. Luckily, I think that's funny. The day after surgery, I started to bounce back from being on an IV all night.

According to my doctor, the survivability rate from ovarian cancer that has spread is 50%. Currently, I am undergoing chemotherapy treatment to get rid of any stray cancer cells. Part of chemotherapy is figuring out how to deal with the side effects. I need your thoughts and prayers, and feel that they are already working. I was also uplifted by all the visits, flowers, food, phone calls, and cards from all of our friends.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Tears of God

I have not posted anything on this blog for over a month now because on July 17th, my dear wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The theodicy problem, or the existence of evil, has always been one of the major obstacles to belief in a good God. The alternative, that we are just the products of random chance on a rock in a vast sea of nothingness, is too horrible to contemplate.

Our conversion to the fullness of the Catholic faith has, so far, helped us in this crisis. It seems to me that the theology of redemptive suffering, so prevalent in Catholicism, is almost entirely absent in evangelical protestantism. We remain confident that we now participate in Christ's redemptive suffering. As Saint Paul said "(I) now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is lacking in the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for the sake of his body, which is the Church." Colossians 1:24.

I would also like to thank all of our family and friends, and especially the members of our local parish, for all their prayers and support in our time of need. God Bless You All.