Daily Archives: June 9, 2008

This Week’s Liturgy: 10th Week in Ordinary Time; Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

Vatican II, Cycle A: Matt 9:9-13 Call of Matthew
Vatican II, Cycle B: Mark 3:20-35 How Can Satan Drive Out Satan and Jesus’ True Family
Vatican II, Cycle C: Luke 7:11-17 Jesus raises the son of the widow of Nain
Traditional Latin Mass: Luke 5:1-11 Call of the First Apostles
Byzantine: Matt 8:5-13: Matthew’s Account of the Healing of the Centurion’s Servant

Interestingly, last week, we discussed Luke’s account of the Centurion’s Servant. This week, if you attended a Byzantine Liturgy (a Byzantine church that followed the Western Calendar that is), you would have encountered Matthew’s account.

The reading at most Roman Catholic Churches this week was the Call of Matthew. I like that reading for several reasons. First, it’s kind of like the Woman Caught in Adultery (where, to have caught the woman “in the very act,” the Pharisees were confessing to voyeurism). In this case, Jesus is having dinner at Matthew’s house, and the Pharisees point to Him and complain to His disciples that He dines with tax collectors and sinners.

Now, if you were having dinner at someone’s house, sitting in his dining room, and someone else were making comments about it, within your earshot, what would that person have to be doing?

That’s right! The Pharisees were dining at Matthew’s house, too!

But remember that Satan is the Accuser. Satan knows fully well what he’s guilty of–he just wants to prove that no one else is any better, and that’s what the Pharisees try to do to Jesus.

That brings us to Cycle B. How can Satan drive out Satan? Jesus often speaks conditional statements that, taken at face value, mean one thing, but, when we think about the *conditions*, mean something quite different. For example, when Jesus tells Peter “put away your sword; those who live by the sword die by the sword,” we have to remember Matthew 11: “the kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by storm.” Jesus dies by the sword. Peter is going to die by the sword. The question is not whether one is *supposed* to “live by the sword”, but whether Peter is *willing* to.

Now, let’s look at this passage. Jesus’ relatives come to find him, thinking he’s insane (just because His mother’s tagging along doesn’t mean she agrees with the rest; after all, the Gospel of John consistently lists Jesus’ mother travelling with the disciples). Jesus says the famous words, “Anyone who does the will of the Father is my brother and my sister and my mother.” Of course, we know that His Mother is the Handmaid of the Lord, who does the Father’s will perfectly.

Similarly, “a house divided against itself cannot stand”: we *know* Hell cannot stand. We also know that Hell is divided.

Cycle C’s reading involves raising a young man from the dead, echoing an incident from the life of Elijah that is recalled in that year’s Old Testament reading.

The TLM reading is the Call of Peter, Andrew and Zebedee’s sons, as told by Luke. Funny anecdote: after I read it this evening, Allie asked, “What does it mean ‘catchers of men’?” Mary explained that it meant teaching people about Jesus. “That’s what I thought,” she said. I said, “It doesn’t mean playing tag.” “OK, that’s what I thought was weird,” Allie said.

On a more serious note, this account involves Peter making a profound statement of faith and humility, akin to that of the Centurion: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

So, whichever form of the Roman Rite you attended this week, you heard about Apostles getting called.
And that brings us back to the Centurion in the Byzantine calendar: both a miraculous healing and a profound statement of faith.

So, again, the themes of the week? People giving up everything to follow Jesus; Jesus saying that, if you want to follow Him, it’s gotta be complete (only with the promise that you’ll be His brother); Satan’s doomed; Jesus has power over death.

Discerning a True Apparition from a False One

I’ve had apparitions and apocalyptic prophecies on the mind lately. First, there was last week’s discussion of Medjugorje. Then there’s the ongoing rise of Barack Obama the False Messiah of the New Age. This morning, I was thinking about the whole “Three Days of Darkness” thing, and found this interesting (locked) 43-page thread from Catholic Answers last year.

Skimming through this rather heated discussion made me think about some basic principles we can apply to use reason when hearing about these messages.

First, as last week’s post discussed, we must always remember that the Devil can, and often does, come disguised as an “angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14).

We must also remember that the Catholic Church clearly condemns superstition:

2110 The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion.

2111 Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition. (Catechism of the Catholic Church; emphasis added)

Many of these “seers” make a big deal about certain sacramentals, especially when they talk about the “Three Days of Darkness”. This is clearly contrary to Catholic teaching. Yes, Sacramentals are crucial to the fullness of our lives as Catholics. Yes, they are powerful weapons against the Enemy. However, the most important weapon against the Enemy is purity.

Apparition fanatics tend to rely on poor research and hearsay. For example, in the above discussion, there were many references to “Padre Pio talks about it,” along with many citations of how there is no documentation of Padre Pio saying or writing anything about Three Days of Darkness. Again, we hear, “Many saints and blesseds talk about it.” But, the closer we get to legitimate sources, the more general they are–just people saying that there will be “three days of darkness” or whatever. All the explicit details and “how to prepare” stuff ultimately comes from the *least* credible sources, unapproved apparitions, etc. But it’s all mixed together.

It’s like with the Third Secret of Fatima. The Vatican has revealed the Message of Fatima. Many people try to say otherwise, but, in doing so, they are basically saying they don’t trust the Holy Father. Now, if you actually study *Fatima*, you will see that the Blessed Mother did not intend the “secrets” for public consumption. They were meant for the Popes, specifically. There was the *option* of revealing them (I forget how the exact history went), but she left that ultimately up to the Popes and to Sr. Lucia’s religious superiors.

To hear the apparitionists tell it, however, there has been a Vast Vatican Conspiracy to cover up this vital information, a conspiracy that’s still ongoing. Thus, numerous other alleged apparitions (including the approved apparitions at Akita) have claimed to be the “true” revelation of what the Vatican tried to cover up. This, of course, leads to mistrust of the legitimate authority of the Church. I think it’s pretty clear that not all bishops are trustworthy in this day and age, if ever; after all, Judas was a bishop. There may even be some really bad apples in the Vatican Curia.

However, this is about convoluted conspiracy theories designed to prove people’s agendas, without any evidence to support them. This is about undermining the very authority of the Holy Father. They also have crazy conspiracy theories involving Sr. Lucia.

Ironically, it’s also about undermining the legitimate apparitions. Think about it. Fatima’s message was simple: pray the rosary; offer up your sufferings; have a devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The messages were there, obviously, and there were reasons for them: to prove the apparitions to the Popes by the fulfillments of the prophecies; to give an incentive to people to fast and pray; to emphasize the reality of the situation.

However, Medjugorje, and the many lesser cases, all have to do with being the “real message” that has supposedly been suppressed in the case of Fatima. This is kind of like the arguments Protestants make: “the real Christians were suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church for centuries till we appeared.” Well, why did the suppression suddenly stop? When did it appear?

If Fatima is being somehow covered up, why wouldn’t this alleged conspiracy be successful in covering up Akita, or Medjugorje, or other alleged apparitions??

In reality, these are all taking people away from the authentic Fatima message.

But, most of all, a thought came to me today, particularly as someone who used to be all into this stuff: a genuine apparition is about love; a false apparition is about fear.

Medjugorje is all about fear. Its supporters say, “Look at the lines for confession!” Yes, look at the lines of people queued up for confession because they’ve been told they’re going to die in a nuclear holocaust. Fatima said, “Pray for the Conversion of Russia.” Fatima was about praying that sinners be converted. Many of these apparitions seem to be more about “I can’t wait till the Three Days of Darkness, when all the sinners will get killed!”

This Week’s Liturgy: 10th Week in Ordinary Time; Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

Vatican II, Cycle A: Matt 9:9-13 Call of Matthew
Vatican II, Cycle B: Mark 3:20-35 How Can Satan Drive Out Satan and Jesus’ True Family
Vatican II, Cycle C: Luke 7:11-17 Jesus raises the son of the widow of Nain
Traditional Latin Mass: Luke 5:1-11 Call of the First Apostles
Byzantine: Matt 8:5-13: Matthew’s Account of the Healing of the Centurion’s Servant

Interestingly, last week, we discussed Luke’s account of the Centurion’s Servant. This week, if you attended a Byzantine Liturgy (a Byzantine church that followed the Western Calendar that is), you would have encountered Matthew’s account.

The reading at most Roman Catholic Churches this week was the Call of Matthew. I like that reading for several reasons. First, it’s kind of like the Woman Caught in Adultery (where, to have caught the woman “in the very act,” the Pharisees were confessing to voyeurism). In this case, Jesus is having dinner at Matthew’s house, and the Pharisees point to Him and complain to His disciples that He dines with tax collectors and sinners.

Now, if you were having dinner at someone’s house, sitting in his dining room, and someone else were making comments about it, within your earshot, what would that person have to be doing?

That’s right! The Pharisees were dining at Matthew’s house, too!

But remember that Satan is the Accuser. Satan knows fully well what he’s guilty of–he just wants to prove that no one else is any better, and that’s what the Pharisees try to do to Jesus.

That brings us to Cycle B. How can Satan drive out Satan? Jesus often speaks conditional statements that, taken at face value, mean one thing, but, when we think about the *conditions*, mean something quite different. For example, when Jesus tells Peter “put away your sword; those who live by the sword die by the sword,” we have to remember Matthew 11: “the kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by storm.” Jesus dies by the sword. Peter is going to die by the sword. The question is not whether one is *supposed* to “live by the sword”, but whether Peter is *willing* to.

Now, let’s look at this passage. Jesus’ relatives come to find him, thinking he’s insane (just because His mother’s tagging along doesn’t mean she agrees with the rest; after all, the Gospel of John consistently lists Jesus’ mother travelling with the disciples). Jesus says the famous words, “Anyone who does the will of the Father is my brother and my sister and my mother.” Of course, we know that His Mother is the Handmaid of the Lord, who does the Father’s will perfectly.

Similarly, “a house divided against itself cannot stand”: we *know* Hell cannot stand. We also know that Hell is divided.

Cycle C’s reading involves raising a young man from the dead, echoing an incident from the life of Elijah that is recalled in that year’s Old Testament reading.

The TLM reading is the Call of Peter, Andrew and Zebedee’s sons, as told by Luke. Funny anecdote: after I read it this evening, Allie asked, “What does it mean ‘catchers of men’?” Mary explained that it meant teaching people about Jesus. “That’s what I thought,” she said. I said, “It doesn’t mean playing tag.” “OK, that’s what I thought was weird,” Allie said.

On a more serious note, this account involves Peter making a profound statement of faith and humility, akin to that of the Centurion: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

So, whichever form of the Roman Rite you attended this week, you heard about Apostles getting called.
And that brings us back to the Centurion in the Byzantine calendar: both a miraculous healing and a profound statement of faith.

So, again, the themes of the week? People giving up everything to follow Jesus; Jesus saying that, if you want to follow Him, it’s gotta be complete (only with the promise that you’ll be His brother); Satan’s doomed; Jesus has power over death.

Discerning a True Apparition from a False One

I’ve had apparitions and apocalyptic prophecies on the mind lately. First, there was last week’s discussion of Medjugorje. Then there’s the ongoing rise of Barack Obama the False Messiah of the New Age. This morning, I was thinking about the whole “Three Days of Darkness” thing, and found this interesting (locked) 43-page thread from Catholic Answers last year.

Skimming through this rather heated discussion made me think about some basic principles we can apply to use reason when hearing about these messages.

First, as last week’s post discussed, we must always remember that the Devil can, and often does, come disguised as an “angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14).

We must also remember that the Catholic Church clearly condemns superstition:

2110 The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion.

2111 Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition. (Catechism of the Catholic Church; emphasis added)

Many of these “seers” make a big deal about certain sacramentals, especially when they talk about the “Three Days of Darkness”. This is clearly contrary to Catholic teaching. Yes, Sacramentals are crucial to the fullness of our lives as Catholics. Yes, they are powerful weapons against the Enemy. However, the most important weapon against the Enemy is purity.

Apparition fanatics tend to rely on poor research and hearsay. For example, in the above discussion, there were many references to “Padre Pio talks about it,” along with many citations of how there is no documentation of Padre Pio saying or writing anything about Three Days of Darkness. Again, we hear, “Many saints and blesseds talk about it.” But, the closer we get to legitimate sources, the more general they are–just people saying that there will be “three days of darkness” or whatever. All the explicit details and “how to prepare” stuff ultimately comes from the *least* credible sources, unapproved apparitions, etc. But it’s all mixed together.

It’s like with the Third Secret of Fatima. The Vatican has revealed the Message of Fatima. Many people try to say otherwise, but, in doing so, they are basically saying they don’t trust the Holy Father. Now, if you actually study *Fatima*, you will see that the Blessed Mother did not intend the “secrets” for public consumption. They were meant for the Popes, specifically. There was the *option* of revealing them (I forget how the exact history went), but she left that ultimately up to the Popes and to Sr. Lucia’s religious superiors.

To hear the apparitionists tell it, however, there has been a Vast Vatican Conspiracy to cover up this vital information, a conspiracy that’s still ongoing. Thus, numerous other alleged apparitions (including the approved apparitions at Akita) have claimed to be the “true” revelation of what the Vatican tried to cover up. This, of course, leads to mistrust of the legitimate authority of the Church. I think it’s pretty clear that not all bishops are trustworthy in this day and age, if ever; after all, Judas was a bishop. There may even be some really bad apples in the Vatican Curia.

However, this is about convoluted conspiracy theories designed to prove people’s agendas, without any evidence to support them. This is about undermining the very authority of the Holy Father. They also have crazy conspiracy theories involving Sr. Lucia.

Ironically, it’s also about undermining the legitimate apparitions. Think about it. Fatima’s message was simple: pray the rosary; offer up your sufferings; have a devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The messages were there, obviously, and there were reasons for them: to prove the apparitions to the Popes by the fulfillments of the prophecies; to give an incentive to people to fast and pray; to emphasize the reality of the situation.

However, Medjugorje, and the many lesser cases, all have to do with being the “real message” that has supposedly been suppressed in the case of Fatima. This is kind of like the arguments Protestants make: “the real Christians were suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church for centuries till we appeared.” Well, why did the suppression suddenly stop? When did it appear?

If Fatima is being somehow covered up, why wouldn’t this alleged conspiracy be successful in covering up Akita, or Medjugorje, or other alleged apparitions??

In reality, these are all taking people away from the authentic Fatima message.

But, most of all, a thought came to me today, particularly as someone who used to be all into this stuff: a genuine apparition is about love; a false apparition is about fear.

Medjugorje is all about fear. Its supporters say, “Look at the lines for confession!” Yes, look at the lines of people queued up for confession because they’ve been told they’re going to die in a nuclear holocaust. Fatima said, “Pray for the Conversion of Russia.” Fatima was about praying that sinners be converted. Many of these apparitions seem to be more about “I can’t wait till the Three Days of Darkness, when all the sinners will get killed!”