Archive for the ‘St. Peter’ Category

The Heights of Holiness

April 12, 2016
Tall G.K. Chesterton shakes a girl's hand

Servant of God G.K. Chesterton

How tall have the famous Catholic men and women of past and present been? Precise figures can be hard to find, but here is a sampling:

6’ 4” — Servant of God G.K. Chesterton

6’ 0” — Venerable Pope Pius XII

5’ 10” — Our Lord Jesus Christ (based upon the Shroud of Turin) , Pope St. John Paul II

5’ 9” — Pope Francis

5’ 8½” — Servant of God Bishop Fulton Sheen  (or 5’ 7” according to his niece )

5’ 8” — Blessed Pope Paul VI

5’ 7” — St. Peter the Apostle (based on the bones found beneath St. Peter’s Basilica’s high altar) , Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

5’ 6” — Pope St. John XXIII

5’ 5” — Servant of God Pope John Paul I

5’ 4” — St. Therese of Lisieux

5’ 2½”— St. John Neumann

5’ 2” — St. Joan of Arc , St. Junipero Serra

5’ 1½”— St. Ignatius Loyola

5’ 0” — Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta


Pope St. Gregory the Great’s Reflections on John 21

April 10, 2016

From the Catena Aurea or Golden Chain, St. Thomas Aquinas’ collection of Church Father quotes.

  • It may be asked, why Peter, who was a fisherman before his conversion, returned to fishing, when it is said, “No man putting his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” The craft which was exercised without sin before conversion, was no sin after it. Wherefore after his conversion Peter returned to fishing; but Matthew sat not down again for the receipts of custom. For there are some businesses which cannot or it can hardly be carried on without sin; and these cannot be returned to after conversion.
  • The [disciples’] fishing was made to be very unlucky, in order to raise their astonishment at the miracle after: “And that night they caught nothing.”
  • It may be asked, why after His resurrection He stood on the shore to receive the disciples, whereas before He walked on the sea? The sea signifies the world, which is tossed about with various causes of tumults, and the waves of this corruptible life; the shore by its solidity figures the rest eternal. The disciples then, inasmuch as they were still upon the waves of this mortal life, were laboring on the sea; but the Redeemer having by His resurrection thrown off the corruption of the flesh, stood upon the shore.
  • To Peter was the holy Church committed; to him is it specially said, “Feed my sheep.” That then which is afterwards declared by word, is now signified by act. He it is who draws the fishes to the firm shore, because he it was who pointed out the stability of the eternal country to the faithful. This he did by word of mouth, by epistles; this he does daily by signs and miracles.
  • By holding this last feast with seven disciples, [Jesus] declares that they only who are full of the seven-fold grace of the Holy Spirit, shall be with Him in the eternal feast. Time also is reckoned by periods of seven days, and perfection is often designated by the number seven. They therefore feast upon the presence of the Truth in that last banquet, who now strive for perfection.

Jesus Asks, “Do You Love Me?”

April 9, 2016

Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter by Pietro Perugino (detail)In St. Peter along the shore of Galilee, Jesus is asking this question of us: “Do you love me?” We each have a choice to make in how we respond.

You can answer like Simon Peter in the high priest’s courtyard, with blasphemous denials and lingering regret. Or you can answer like St. Peter the Rock, who said, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you,” and then lived a life which proved that love.  How are you going to answer?

I do not know the particulars of Christ’s will and plan for you, but I know it consists at least in this: to pray every day, to attend Mass every week, and to strive to do His will for the rest of your days.

Jesus as an Undercover Boss

April 7, 2016

During the seven week span from Easter to Pentecost, the apostles were firsthand witnesses to Christ’s resurrection, but they lacked their mission. In those days, Jesus was not always visibly with them and the Holy Spirit was not prompting them to preach the Good News. And so, the apostles had extra spare time on their hands. But even if you’re a person who has seen Jesus Christ risen from the dead you still need to eat. Therefore, Peter says, “I am going fishing,” and six others decide to go along with him. Fishing the Sea of Galilee was Peter’s line of work before Jesus called him to become a ‘fisher of men.’

Jesus Appears on the Shore in John 21In today’s Gospel, Peter goes back to his old job. And then, unexpectedly, Jesus shows up at Peter’s workplace. Like an “undercover boss” on TV, Jesus comes in disguise. Jesus’ glorified and resurrected body allows him to conceal or change his appearance. At first, amid the routine of their work, the disciples fail to recognize him. But after catching their huge catch of (153!) fish, they realize “it is the Lord” and begin acting differently. How would you respond if the Lord appeared at your workplace as a customer, co-worker, or boss?

Sometimes we Christians slip into mentally separating our life at church from our life in the world; for example, working in the world without thinking of our faith. But we must remember to honor and serve Jesus Christ always and everywhere. You have probably heard of the importance of ‘seeing Christ in others.’ Seeing Christ in others means treating them like you would treat Jesus Christ himself. Now, of course, a Christian should not worship anything or anyone other than God, but Jesus wants you to love other people through the love you have for him.

As Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, when he comes in his glory with all the holy angels with him, Jesus will sit upon the throne of his glory and all the nations shall be gathered before him. And Jesus, the king and judge, shall declare to them, “Amen, I say unto you, inasmuch as you did it to one of these least of brethren of mine, you did for me.” Therefore, recognize Jesus encountering you, unexpectedly and disguised, at the place where you work—in your customers, your coworkers, and your bosses—and love them with your love for Christ.

Popes Are Not Perfect — Wednesday, 27th Week of Ordinary Time—Year II

October 8, 2014

Readings: Galatians 2:1-2,7-14; Luke 11:1-4

[W]hen Cephas came to Antioch, I [Paul] opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas [Peter] in front of all, “If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, …forgive us our sins….”

Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter by Pietro Perugino (detail)The Church on earth is both human and divine — it is holy, yet made up of and led by sinners. When the apostles asked Jesus how they should pray he told those men who were to become the Church’s first leaders to always ask that God the Father would forgive their sins.

Some bulk at the doctrine of papal infallibility asking, “How can a pope, a sinful man, be infallible?” (One could likewise ask how sinful men could write the Sacred Scriptures.) A pope is infallible when he proclaims a doctrine by a definitive act as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful regarding faith or morals, but nothing guarantees that he and the Church’s other leaders will never make sincere yet unwise decisions, or that they will never commit serious sins. Infallibility is not the same as impeccability. Imagine the Church as car on the interstate. The Holy Spirit provides guard rails to prevent us from crashing, but we do not always drive as straightly and speedily as we could.

In today’s reading from Galatians, St. Paul recalls the time he gave some fraternal correction to the first pope. St. Peter had not been teaching error regarding the Gentiles and the Mosaic Law, but his personal example (withdrawing from their company so as not to offend the circumcised) was sending a mixed and wrong signal. Even St. Peter could make a mess of things sometimes. Popes, bishops, and priests need the help of our prayers. Like St. Augustine observed: for you, they are leaders; but with you, they are Christians. They are disciples of Jesus Christ who, like yourself, must strive and follow after Him daily.

“Get Behind Me” — 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year A

August 31, 2014

Gospel: Matthew 16:21-27

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.  Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”  He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.  You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

In Hebrew, “satan” means “adversary.” Peter is not the devil, but in opposing the Father’s true will for the Messiah, Peter is acting as an adversary and an obstacle to Jesus. Earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, during the temptation in the desert, Jesus told the devil, “Get away, Satan!” Later, in describing the Last Judgment, Jesus tells the unrighteous goats on his left, “Depart from me, you accursed…” Yet to St. Peter, Jesus says, ‘You are my friend, so get behind me… Stay close to me, and follow my lead.”

Peter & Judas — Wednesday, 14th Week of Ordinary Time—Year II

July 11, 2014

Judas Iscariot and the chief priests and elders at the temple, their money on the floor.Readings: Hosea 10, Matthew 10:1-7

The names of the Twelve Apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter,  … and Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus.

What was the difference between Peter and Judas? Both were full-fledged apostles (although the Gospels always list the twelve apostles with Peter first and Judas last, much like how the Lord’s Prayer begins with “our Father” and ends with “the Evil One/evil.”) Was the difference that Peter believed Jesus was a good man and Judas did not? No, for Judas said after betraying Jesus, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” Was the difference that Judas was a sinner and Peter was not? No, for at one of their first encounters, Peter “fell at the knees of Jesus and said, ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.'” In the Passion, Judas betrayed Jesus and while Peter denied him three times beside the charcoal fire in the high priest’s courtyard. The vital difference between Peter and Judas was in their ultimate responses to their sins.

Judas fled and fell into utter despair. Like those in our first reading who “cry out to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ and to the hills, ‘Fall upon us,’ Judas welcomed dark oblivion. After the resurrection, when Peter was fishing in his boat, Jesus appeared on the shore. Though Peter was lightly clad, he did not run and hide like Adam and Eve in shame, but swam to Jesus enthusiastically. At that second charcoal fire, Peter professed three times that he loved Jesus.

Let us follow Peter’s example rather than that of Judas and encounter Jesus in the confessional. For those who love Christ, hope in Christ, seek Christ, and run to Christ, will find his mercy.

One Bible, Many Interpretations

April 29, 2014

Mormons teach that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three Gods, and that we too can become Gods in our own right someday.

You may reply to them, for instance, with James 2:19, “You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble,” but Mormons will have some explanation for that New Testament passage which fits their theology.

Oneness Pentecostals teach that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three persons but three manifestations of one divine person, God.

You may ask them who Jesus is praying to in Matthew 26:39 when he says in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will,” yet Oneness Pentecostals will offer some answer for why Jesus is not praying to another person.

Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus is not God, not divine, but God’s first and greatest creature and that the Holy Spirit is not a person but the active force of God the Father in the world.

You may answer with the beginning and end of the Gospel of John: with John’s prologue where we see “the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh,” and the gospel’s climax, John 20:28, “Thomas answered and said to [Jesus,] ‘My Lord and my God!'” However, Jehovah’s Witnesses will surely have some reply for these verses.

A diagram of the ancient, orthodox, Christian conception of the Holy Trinity

A diagram of the ancient, orthodox, Christian conception of the Most Holy Trinity: One God, Three Divine Persons

In my personal experience, advocates of Mormon polytheism, Oneness Pentecostal modalism, or Jehovah’s Witnesses Arianism-esque theology have all been sincere, friendly, rational, and not unintelligent people. They were all well-versed in the Bible, regarded it as God’s infallible Word, and used it to support their beliefs. They all proudly claimed the name of “Christian.” However, the undeniable fact that their theologies contradict each other proves that these admirable personal traits are not enough to guarantee a true understanding of the Christian Faith. The problem is that there seems to be more than one possible internally-coherent interpretation of the Bible. Just as texts out of context can suggest several defensible, though incorrect, meanings; interpreting biblical texts outside the context of Christ’s one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church leads to many errors.

Last week, two very nice Jehovah’s Witnesses visited me at my rectory and we spoke for a couple of hours. I believe we were debating whether one of Jesus’ “I Am” statements in John’s Gospel was a profession of his divinity when one of my guests remarked, “We can’t really be certain what he meant.” I replied to the effect, “You’re right!–If your opinion and my opinion are all we have to go on, if there’s no visible authority on earth with power from Jesus Christ to infallibly answer biblical questions, then we can never be certain our interpretations are true–since many sincere, reasonable, and even scholarly Christians firmly disagree. Without a clear, external teaching authority within the Church, we would be left as sheep without a shepherd and inevitably scatter.” Most Christians revere the Holy Scriptures as God’s infallible Word, and this is right and good, but for some reason many of them reject the Catholic Church through which the Scriptures come.

Recall that Jesus wrote nothing in the Gospels (except perhaps something in the dust near the woman caught in adultery) but Jesus did establish a Church. Through this Church the New Testament was written, collected, canonized, and revered. However, this process was certainly not completed in the first century AD. In the early Church there was much debate over which New Testament writings were inspired and should be included in the canon. The Shepherd of Hermas? The Book of Revelation? The Didache? The Letter to the Hebrews? The Epistle of Clement? Some early Church Fathers included works such as these in their lists of Bible books, while others left them out. It was the Catholic Church that ultimately canonized the New Testament books which all Christians acknowledge today.

One teaching shared by Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses is the belief that a Great Apostasy occurred in the early Church. The New Testament contains verses which warn about false teachers arising who will mislead many. A great deception, those religions say, happened soon after the death of the apostles and explains why the majority of self-professed Christians in history have held core doctrines widely different from their own. I would agree that false teachers and heresies arise in every age, but was there a Great Apostasy soon after the apostles that devastated Christ’s Church and caused his central teachings (like the true nature of God) to be discarded and forgotten?

Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter by Pietro Perugino (detail)

Jesus entrusting the keys of his Kingdom to St. Peter (Matthew 16:19)

All Christians will agree that Jesus was a wise man. Jesus was a wise man indeed, who built his house on rock. Jesus declared to Simon, “‘I say to you, you are Peter [that is, you are “Rock” in Greek] and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.'” (Matthew 16:18) If Jesus was a wise man who built his house on rock we can be assured that even though “the rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house–it did not collapse; [his Church] had been set solidly on rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25)

After building his Church on Peter for some forty years, did Jesus let it go into shambles and fail to repair it for about eighteen centuries, until Joseph Smith or The Watchtower came along? If so, Jesus really dropped the ball. If the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses are right, then God managed to get all of the New Testament books infallibly written, correctly canonized, and faithfully preserved throughout millennia, but could not maintain the truth about himself in his Church on earth in the hearts and minds of believers much beyond the death of the apostles. More likely, our Lord Jesus Christ succeeded in preserving his teachings and the visible hierarchical authority he gave to his Church, from St. Peter (the first pope) and the apostles to Pope Francis and the bishops in communion with him today. A clear and necessary line of teaching authority runs though the centuries, through the laying of hands and apostolic succession.

You may encounter people who will present you with internally-consistent but very different interpretations of Scripture. Do not let your hearts be troubled. There are good reasons for everything we believe as Catholics. They may “know” the Bible, but we are blessed to know God’s Church from which the Bible comes. If you love Jesus Christ, love his Catholic Church. As even St. Joan of Arc, who personally experienced the complexities of the Church as a divine and human institution, said, “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they are just one thing and we shouldn’t complicate the matter.” If you love Jesus’ Church you will love him well. Jesus Christ is risen and his Catholic Church, though ancient, has never died. Christ’s Church, the Bride he protects and for whom he laid down his life, is very much alive.

Important Church Documents Revealed

August 20, 2013

● Encyclicals by the First Catholic Pope:

Blessed be the God” (ευλογητος ο θεος – Eulogetos o Theos)
As Everything to Us” (ως παντα ημιν – Hos Panta Amin)

● An Online Archive of Little-Known Documents from the 21st Ecumenical Council.

Eliakim the Prime Minister Prefigures Peter

April 28, 2013

Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, was master of the palace, the prime minister in the Davidic kingdom. (Isa 22:15,20)
Simon Peter, son of Jonah, is always first in lists of Jesus’ Apostles—while Judas is listed last. (Matt 16:17, Matt 10:2, Mark 3:16. Luke 6:14, Acts 1:13)

Eliakim’s predecessor, Shebna, had hewn a tomb in a great rock which he hoped would be a lasting a resting place. (Isa 22:16)
Simon Peter is declared to be the “rock” (“Petros”) upon which Jesus will build his Church. (Matt 16:18)

Eliakim was clothed with a robe and girded with a sash. (Isa 22:21)
Peter stretches out his hands to be dressed by another. (John 21:18)

Eliakim was “a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.” (Isa 22:21)
Peter is the pope (“papa” or “Holy Father”) to the Church on earth.

Eliakim was given authority, “the key of the House of David.” (Isa 22:22)
Peter is given “the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 16:19)

The Lord said of Eliakim, “What he opens, no one will shut, what he shuts, no one will open.” (Isa 22:22)
Jesus says to Peter, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt 16:19)

Seeing Jesus At Your Job — 3rd Sunday of Easter—Year C

April 15, 2013

In the seven weeks between Easter and Pentecost, the apostles were filled with faith in the risen Christ, but they lacked something to do. In those days, the visible Christ was not constantly with them and the Holy Spirit had not yet prompted them to preach the good news about Jesus. The apostles had not yet been entrusted with any task, so they had nothing to do.  Even if you are someone who has witnessed Jesus Christ risen from the dead, you still need to eat. Therefore Peter says, “I am going fishing,” and six others join him. Fishing the Sea of Galilee was Peter’s business and livelihood before Jesus called him.

In today’s Gospel, Peter goes back to his old job. Then, unexpectedly, Jesus comes to Peter’s place of work. Jesus comes disguised (as his resurrected body allows) and at first the disciples do not recognize him. But, when they realize it is Jesus, they begin acting differently. How would you treat the Lord if he came to where you work?

Perhaps you’ve heard of the importance of ‘seeing Jesus in other people.’ ‘Seeing Jesus in others’ means treating them as you would treat Jesus Christ himself. Of course, a Christian should not worship anyone or anything but God, but Jesus wants us to love other people by using our love for him. The Gospel of Matthew says, when Jesus comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he shall sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations. And Jesus, the king, will say to them, “Amen, I say unto you, inasmuch as you did it to one of these least of brethren of mine, you did for me.”

Sometimes we mentally separate our work from our faith, but remember that we are to serve and honor Jesus always and everywhere. Jesus comes to you at the place where you work, unexpectedly and disguised, in your customers, your peers, and your bosses. See Jesus in other people and love them using your love for him.

En las siete semanas entre Pascua y Pentecostés, los apóstoles estaban llenos de fe en Cristo resucitado, pero les faltaba algo que hacer. En aquellos días, el Cristo no era visible constantemente con ellos y el Espíritu Santo no había impulsado aún a predicar las buenas nuevas acerca de Jesús. Los apóstoles no había sido confiado con cualquier tarea, no tenían nada que hacer. Incluso si usted es alguien que ha visto a Jesús resucitado de entre los muertos, usted todavía necesita comer. Por lo tanto, Pedro dice: “Voy a pescar”, y seis otros seguirlo. Pesca en el Mar de Galilea era el negocio de Pedro y su subsistencia antes de que Jesús lo llamara.

En el evangelio de hoy, Pedro vuelve a su antiguo trabajo. Entonces, inesperadamente, Jesús viene al lugar de trabajo de Pedro. Jesús viene disfrazado (como su cuerpo resucitado permite) y al principio los discípulos no lo reconocen. Pero, cuando se dan cuenta que lo es Jesús, ellos empiezan a comportarse de manera diferente. ¿Cómo trataría usted al Señor si él llegó a su lugar de trabajo?

Tal vez usted ha oído hablar de la importancia de “ver a Jesús en los demás”. “Ver a Jesús en los demás” significa tratarlos como haría tratar el mismo Jesucristo. Por supuesto, un cristiano no debe adorar a nadie ni a nada sino a Dios, pero Jesús quiere que amemos a los demás mediante el uso de nuestro amor por él. El Evangelio de Mateo dice que cuando Jesús venga en su gloria, y todos los santos ángeles con él, entonces se sentará sobre el trono de su gloria y serán reunidas delante de él todas las gentes. Entonces Jesús el Rey nos dirá: “De cierto os digo que en cuanto lo hicisteis á uno de estos mis hermanos pequeñitos, á mí lo hicisteis”.

Estamos mentalmente separar nuestro trabajo de nuestra fe a veces, pero recuerde que estamos para servir y honrar a Jesús siempre y en todas partes. Jesús viene a usted en el lugar donde usted trabaja, de forma inesperada y disfrazada, en sus clientes, sus compañeros y sus jefes. Ver a Jesús en los demás y amarlos con su amor por él.

Our Thrice Holy God — 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year C

March 3, 2013

The ancient Hebrews did not have a word that means “very.” To describe something or someone as “very beautiful” they would use the word twice, “It is beautiful, beautiful.” And to describe something or someone as “the most beautiful” they repeated the word three times: “She is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.” This is the reason Isaiah hears the angels saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.” The Lord is the most holy, sacred, pure, and perfect.

It can feel overwhelming to be in the presence of the holy Lord. Isaiah exclaimed, “Woe is me, I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips.” Peter says, “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinner!” This Wednesday we begin another season of Lent, because we are sinners and God is holy. Yet, the Lord purifies Isaiah with the ember from the altar. And Jesus reassures Peter, “Do not fear.” St. Paul says: “I am unworthy to be called an apostle. However, by the grace of God I am what I am”.

God is not very concerned about where we have been. God is more concerned about where we are going. Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Jesus says to you, “Be not afraid.” No matter where you’ve been, no matter what you’ve done, God can do great things with Jesus Christ in you.

Los antiguos hebreos no tenían una palabra que significa “muy”. Para describir algo o alguien como “muy hermoso” usarían la palabra dos veces, “Es hermoso, hermoso”. Y para describir algo o alguien como “la más hermosa”, repitieron la palabra tres veces: “Es hermosa, hermosa, hermosa.” Esta es la razón Isaías oye a los ángeles diciendo: “Santo, santo, santo es el Señor”. El Señor es el más santo, puro sagrado y perfecto.

Esto puede ser abrumador para estar en la presencia del Señor santo. Isaías exclamó: “¡Ay de mí, estoy perdido, porque soy un hombre de labios impuros”! Pedro dice: “Apártate de mí, Señor, porque soy un pecador!” Somos pecadores y Dios es santo. Este miércoles comenzar otro tiempo de Cuaresma, porque somos pecadores y Dios es santo. Sin embargo, el Señor purifica Isaías con la brasa del altar. Y Jesús tranquiliza a Pedro: “No temas”. San   Pablo dice: “Soy indigno de llamarme apostól. Sin embargo, por la gracia de Dios, soy lo que soy”.

Dios no está muy preocupado acerca de dónde hemos estado. Dios está más preocupado por dónde vamos. Cada santo tiene un pasado y todo pecador tiene un futuro. Jesús te dice: “No temas.” No importa dónde has estado, no importa lo que has hecho, Dios puede hacer grandes cosas con Jesús Cristo en ti.

3 Myths / 3 Mitos — 9th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year A

March 6, 2011

Many today assume three modern myths: One, that we get into Heaven based on whether our good works out-weigh our sins. Two, that as long as we claim Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior we are assured Heaven. And three, that one Christian church is just as good as another. Let us consider these common myths one by one, and come to understand the truth about Christianity.

If you ask people whether they think they’ll go to Heaven, many say something like this, “I’m a pretty good person. I mean I’ve never robbed any banks or killed anybody. I’ve done good things, so yeah, I think I’ll go to Heaven.” In their minds, such people seem to envision the Last Judgment as a giant scale, with their good deeds on one side and their sins on the other.

The truth is, we cannot earn our own salvation. God is all good and deserving of all our love. When we do good we are just giving Him what He deserves. But when we sin, we disfigure ourselves and our relationship with God in ways that only He can repair. “…All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” But thanks be to God, we “are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus…. What occasion is there then for boasting?” asks St. Paul. “It is ruled out.” We do not save ourselves. We are saved only through Jesus Christ.

Many Christians like to ask, “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior?” Do not hesitate to answer “Yes,” for every time you receive Him worthily in the Eucharist you are accepting Him as your Savior and Lord. Evangelical Christians also like to ask, “Are you saved?” They say this because they think whoever professes faith in Christ is assured of their salvation. However, according to Jesus, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Think of it this way: the demons recognize that Christ is Christ, but that does not save them. They are not saved because they do not love Him, and love is about more than just words. As Jesus told His Apostles, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. … This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” (Jn 14:15, 15:12)

Consider the New Testament words of St. James, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14) As St. Paul observes, “If I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.” Our salvation in Christ requires faith and love in action.

We know that more than a few Catholics have wandered away from the Church. Some have been drawn away, after being told the Catholic Church does not know the Bible. Others have simply left, thinking that one Christian church is just as good as another. Do not be misled by myths.

In truth, Jesus Christ has built only one house, one Church. And, being a wise man, he built the house on a rock, St. Peter, our first Pope. However, men have built other houses. These Christian denominations have many good characteristics from the one Church of Christ: like Scripture, prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, baptism, marriage, and Christian morals. However, in time, the rains fall, the floods come, and the winds blow and buffet their houses and they collapse ruined. Those houses separate from the truth and separate from within into new houses. Therefore, never abandon the beliefs and the sacraments of the Catholic Church. There is one true house of Jesus Christ. Do not be misled by myths.

Muchos hoy aceptan tres mitos modernos: Uno, que entramos en el cielo si nuestras buenas obras son más que de nuestros pecados. Dos, si nos declararía Jesucristo como nuestro Señor personal y Salvador estamos seguros de entrar en el cielo. Y tres, que una iglesia Cristiana es tan buena como la otra. Consideremos estos mitos populares uno por uno y comprender la verdad acerca del cristianismo.

Si se pregunta a las personas si piensan que van a ir al cielo, muchos dicen algo como esto, “Soy una persona buena bastante. Yo nunca he robado al banco ni matado a nadie. He hecho cosas buenas, entonces sí, creo que voy a ir al cielo.” Estas personas imaginan el juicio final para ser una escala gigante, con sus buenas acciones en un lado y sus pecados en el otro.

La verdad es que no podemos ganar nuestra propia salvación personal. Dios es el sumo bien y digno de ser amado sobre todas las cosas. Cuando hacemos bueno sólo damos lo que se merece Dios. Pero cuando pecamos, nos hacemos daño a nosotros mismos sino a nuestra relación con Dios in maneras que solo Dios puede reparar. “Como todos pecaron, todos están privados de la presencia salvadora de Dios; pero todos son justificados gratuitamente por su gracia, en virtud de la redención llevada a cabo por medio de Cristo Jesús… por medio de la fe.” “¿Dónde, pues, quede el orgullo del hombre ante Dios,” pregunta de San Paulo. “Queda eliminado!” Nosotros no ganamos nuestra salvación por nosotros mismos. Somos salvados sólo a través de Jesucristo.

A veces otros cristianos nos preguntan, “Has aceptado a Jesucristo como tu Señor personal y Salvador?” No duden en responder “Sí”, porque cada vez que le reciban dignamente en la Eucaristía  lo aceptan como su Salvador y Señor.  Nuestros amigos cristianos evangélicos también quieren preguntar, “¿Eres salvado?” Dicen porque piensan que la person que profesa la fe en Cristo se asegura su salvación. Sin embargo, según Jesús, “No todo el que me diga ‘Señor, Señor!’, entrará en el Reino de los cielos, sino el que cumpla la voluntad de mi Padre, que está en los cielos.”

Consideren esto: los demonios reconocen que Cristo es Cristo, pero no los salva. No se salva porque ellos no lo aman, y amor es más que decir palabras. Como Jesús les dijo a sus apóstoles, “Si ustedes me aman, obedecerán mis mandamientos. … Mi mandamiento es este: Que se amen unos a otros como yo los he amado a ustedes.”

Consideren las palabras del Nuevo Testamento de San Santiago, “Hermanos míos, ¿de qué le sirve a uno decir que tiene fe, si sus hechos no lo demuestran? ¿Podrá acaso salvarlo esa fe? Supongamos que a un hermano o a una hermana les falta la ropa y la comida necesarias para el día; si uno de ustedes les dice: ‘Que les vaya bien; abríguense y coman todo lo que quieran’, pero no les da lo que su cuerpo necesita, ¿de qué les sirve? Así pasa con la fe: por sí sola, es decir, si no se demuestra con hechos, es una cosa muerta.” Como San Pablo observa, “Si tengo la fe necesaria para mover montañas, pero no tengo amor, no soy nada.” Nuestra salvación en Cristo requiere fe y amor en acción.

Sabemos que más que unos católicos pocos han vagado de la Iglesia Católica. Algunos son atraídos, oyen falsamente que la Iglesia Católica no conoce la Biblia. Otros simplemente dejaron, piensan falsamente que una iglesia cristiana es tan buena como la otra. No se engañen por mitos.

En verdad, Jesucristo ha construido sólo una casa, una iglesia. Y, siendo un hombre sabio, construyó la casa sobre una roca, San Pedro, nuestro primer Papa. Pero, hombres han construido otras casas. Estas denominaciones cristianas tienen muchas características buenas de la única casa de Cristo: como escritura, oración, el credo de los apóstoles, bautismo, matrimonio, las morales cristianas. Pero, en tiempo, viene la lluvia, bajan las crecientes, se desatan los vientos, contra esas casas y las arras an.  Esas casas sparan de las verdad y sparan desde los interiors en las casas nuevas. Por lo tanto, nunca abandonen las creencias y los sacramentos de la Iglesia Católica. Es la única casa de Jesucristo. No se engañen por mitos.

Peter Our Rock — February 22 — Chair of St. Peter

February 22, 2011

If you claim Jesus Christ as your Lord, then listen to His words. To those He sent to preach for Him, Jesus said this, “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me.” (Luke 10:16) Today there are many people preaching many different things about what they think Jesus would have us believe and do. These varying opinions are well-intentioned and shared in good faith, by ministers from pulpits and in conversations between friends, but they cannot all be right. Unless it doesn’t matter what we believe or what we do, then this is a big problem. To whom should we listen? Is there anyone today for whom Jesus’ words are still true, “Whoever listens to you listens to me”?     Does anyone teach with authority, such that ‘whoever rejects their teaching rejects Christ?’ If not, we are lost; but if there is, where do we find this person?

On another occasion, Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.” (Matthew 23:1-3) Today teachers usually stand in front of their classes to teach them, but teachers in the ancient world would teach sitting down. Their chairs symbolized their authority, like the “chairman of the board” or the “chair of the English department.”Jesus spoke of the Chair of Moses, the position of the authoritative teaching for old Israel. For His new Church, Jesus establishes a new chair, the chair that we celebrate today, the chair of St. Peter and of his successors the Popes.

St. Peter, like every Pope after him, was only a man. He wasn’t perfect and he was weak in many ways. But Jesus has built His Church upon this rock. When the Pope, as the supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful, proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals, he teaches it infallibly. For the good of the Church, the Pope is empowered by the Holy Spirit to teach the faith of Christ without error. Can popes sin? Yes, infallible does not mean impeccable, as various popes in history have shown, yet even these bad popes prove the faithfulness of God in preserving them from teaching errors. Of them Jesus would have said, “Do as they teach, but do not follow their example.”

Jesus knew that living the fullness of Christianity on earth required that He provide us with an infallible guide. Some Christians have held that the Bible alone is this guide, but the Scriptures do not interpret themselves, nor did the Bible books put themselves in the canon. Even the infallible Scriptures require an infallible Church, and an infallible Church requires an infallible voice.

Mark Twain is believed to have remarked, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” Of course, it was not the father but the child who had changed, when he finally recognizing the wisdom of his father. Some people reject or ignore Catholic teachings as stupid, like those on the sacred dignity of all human life, or the teachings on human sexuality. Some people neglect the sacraments of the Church for years of their lives. Then, after gaining painful experience, they return with a new love and respect for our Holy Father’s wisdom, and the ways of our Mother, the Church. As wonderful as it is whenever people to come back to the Catholic faith, I would much prefer that you would know the greater joy and peace of remaining ever united to the rock of truth found only in our Church.

Uniquely Different — October 28 — Sts. Simon and Jude

November 3, 2010

[Jesus] called his disciples to himself,
and from them he chose Twelve,
whom he also named Apostles:
Simon, whom he named Peter…
Simon who was called a Zealot,
and Judas the son of James,
and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

In the early days of their ministry, whenever Jesus called out for ‘Simon’ or ‘Judas,’ more than one head may have turned. Among Jesus’ apostles there were two Simon’s and two Judas’. There was Simon Peter and Simon the Zealot, and Judas (or Jude) the son of James and Judas Iscariot the betrayer. Though these pairs shared the same names and the same calling to be apostles, they were different in important ways.

Simon Peter was called to be the Rock, the leader of the apostles and of the nascent Church. Simon the Zealot may have shared his zeal, but he was not meant to have the same role as Peter. Each saint’s apostleship was unique to him.

Sometimes Christians who eagerly desire to be saints themselves strive to impersonate their favorite holy heroes. We do well to learn from the lived examples of the saints, for St. Paul did say, “Be imitators of me, as I imitate Christ,” but there can truly be only one St. Paul, one St. Francis, or one St. Therese of Lisieux. Every saint in history has been unique, and every future saint will be, too.

The two Judas’ teach us a lesson, too. Even after years of preaching the Gospel, I can imagine some people felt an initial uncertainty towards Judas the son of James. Intellectually, Christians would know that this apostle could not possibly be Judas the betrayer (because he one took his own life,) yet they might feel wary about this “Judas” in their midst.

Sometimes our feelings toward other people are influenced by who they remind us of. For instance, if you meet someone whose face resembles a person who has hurt you in the past, you may be involuntarily uncomfortable around them. In psychology, this shift of emotions from one person or thing to another is called transference. This is the stuff that prejudice is made of, and the good apostle, Judas, caught some of its unjust, negative effect.

Though the apostles shared names and a common calling, they were unique individuals. The two Simons teach us that each is called to live out their own, unique, holy life. The two Judas’ teach us that we must always receive others in their own personal uniqueness.