Apologetics

Branching off a little

true vine 5

We all remember the hymn; ‘This is my body’, sung at mass mostly for the offertory or communion hymn. The verse that often sticks out in my mind is “Filled with my Spirit, how you will grow. You are my branches, I am the tree If you are faithful, others will know, you are alive in me”. And I also got thinking where is this in the bible? So I went and looked it up and found it in John chapter 15.

In the previous chapter the disciples are asking Jesus about the way to the Father. Jesus responds and comforts them in reminding them their mission and the promise of the decent of the Holy Spirit. So in the next chapter, Jesus tells the twelve the relationship between Himself and God the Father. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” (John 15:1). With the promise of the Holy Spirit’s decent unto the apostles and the references to God the Father we can see the early doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

In the next few lines Jesus then explains the doctrines of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. Yes Purgatory. “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” (John 15:2-3) God will cut down those who do not bear fruit. I remind myself of how powerfully Pulp fiction made of the quote from Ezekiel 25:17 “I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I take vengeance on them.” That needs not much explanation that God will take those who have not produced any fruit to Hell. But in the next part Jesus explains purgatory. For every branch that doesn’t bear fruit, He prunes. In other translations it means that He cleans. Where else can God do this? In confession with a truly repentant soul but if that is not the case then the only other place can be Purgatory. We are not worthy to stand in the presence of God but due to Christ’s death and resurrection we are made worthy and it is up to us to merit our righteousness by our true repentance. Finally Jesus states how we get into heaven. It is because He has talked to us and we accepted His word. We are saved through faith … By Grace. “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4) We must be with Jesus who sends us His grace and love so that we may be a witness to Him throughout the world.

It clearly states in this passage about Catholic doctrines on Purgatory and saved by Faith through Grace but it doesn’t stop there. Tradition is mentioned in this Bible chapter; “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:10-11). It does clearly state that we must keep Jesus’s commandments. But the protestant would say, but all we have to follow is the ones in the Bible. But John points out later in his Gospel “But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25). There is so much more to following Jesus just by what He taught in the Bible. The apostles we Primary witnesses to the Truth and have passed on the commands and teachings of Jesus throughout the ages to this present day. People say that the Church is outdated and we need to change. All we have to remember is this, Jesus taught us the ways to salvation and creating a relationship with God. We are just stewards on eternal mission of God’s saving plan. Pope Benedict put it perfectly in his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too”. Even though this is in terms of Liturgy it remains the same with traditions and with the teachings of Jesus.

The Dreaded Epistle

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On the 17th Sunday of ordinary time, we listened to a very famous passage in romans. This passage was Romans 8:28-30. Most lectionaries use the Revised Standard Version but I use the New RSV for my individual lectio. The passage is this.

28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.30 and those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

This passage is key in the protestant reformation for the doctrine of Sola Fide. This is along with Romans 3:28, where Martin Luther added his own words to the German translation. This was changed from the God inspired passage so that it read that we are saved through Faith alone and not works of the law.

The one thing about the doctrine is that it sounds nice. Once saved, always saved! But of course it is not true. For salvation is a gift freely given to us, his children. If we are good when we were kids we were given treats and gifts so it will encourage good behaviour. And if we were bad then we would have them privileges taken away. That is the same with our salvation. The reason we have this is because of the inheritance we get through birth and that is God’s gift of Free Will. This free will is what causes us to sin and stumble. This makes God turn away from us. Through full repentance are made right standing with God again. This is called being in a state of Grace. For this is what God wants, ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ (Matthew 5:48)

So to have faith is awesome, but it is only the start. You must allow Jesus into your heart and life. That is not all you have to do. Jesus does great things and we’ve got to allow him to transform our lives with the advocate, the Holy Spirit. He does this through prayer and the sacraments. Each sacrament is God’s design to conform humanity to Himself. Baptism we are adopted into His eternal family. Confession cleanses us from sin and shows God our repentance. Communion creates the only physical connection between God and man in the Eucharist. Holy Orders and Matrimony consecrates lives to God’s will in the vocation He has prescribed for us. In Extreme Unction we are prepared for eternal life. Confirmation is a sacrament that Protestants would mostly agree with and that is where we confirm Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. From that day on the Holy Spirit remains with us and does God’s work through us.

The one thing that the Catholic Church teaches that other protestant churches don’t is that once baptised you are immediately adopted into God’s family. So we are all children of God. This is very different in some churches of other denominations and can be held by very immature Christians. I’ve heard some protestant preachers be very anti-Catholic. One time I was at a praise and worship meeting being held by the Christian Union of Aberystwyth. The guy was speaking on who is our neighbour. He then went on to say that we should not associate ourselves with Catholics, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, because they preach the wrong gospel. I knew he was on about gospel values and doctrine, but still I was a bit astounded by his remark. So afterwards I went up to him and explained that I am Catholic and I was made quite uneasy by his talk. He didn’t apologise, so I then asked him if he could show me in his bible what it says in John 1:1. You know in the beginning was the word… and I then showed him mine and they read exactly the same. I then said look at any verse in the bible and it is almost similar because of wording. He understood what I meant because of different translations. I then went and asked him what he thought the message of John 1:1 was. He explained and I replied with exactly the same answer to his astonishment. I then explained to him that if you go and ask everyone in this room what they think one passage means there will be loads of different explanations, whereas if you come to the Catholic Church, anywhere in the world, you will get the same response all the time. It is not only given by what the current pope says but what Jesus taught the first pope when he established the Church.

Back to the epistle, to explain the passage one must learn what some of the words mean. Specially Justified and Glorified. Justified or justification is explained as ‘the most excellent work of God’s love. It is the merciful and freely given act of God which takes away our sins and makes us just and holy in our whole being.’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church Compendium 422). To be justified was once explained to me like this. When we sin, God turns his back on us. Jesus, out of his divine mercy, says to the Father to look at His hands and feet and side. I’ve paid the debt for his sin, even though he has no means to pay back. Through this plea, God forgives our sins and we become justified. ‘Justification is the beginning of the free response of man that is faith in Christ and of cooperation with the grace of the Holy Spirit.’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church Compendium 422). Glorified means that you are numbered among the communion of Saints. For there is much rejoicing about each one of us when we turn to God in repentance. Jesus tells this numerous times in Luke’s Gospel. (Luke 15:7, 10, 32) An example of glorification can be found in Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9. This is the transfiguration. This was originally called the feast of the glorification of Jesus. Here it shows Jesus change into his triumphant glorious self and also shows God’s glory. In the gospel Moses and Elijah appear next to Jesus, representing the law and prophets. This shows us that through Jesus comes the fullness of the laws of God and fulfils all prophecy. That is what Jesus does in us when we are glorified; Jesus helps us fulfil prophecy of God’s predestined plan for us and also helps us keep the works of God’s law.

The main message of this epistle is that we are all called to holiness. To quote St. Catherine of Sienna, ‘If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze.’ If we allow Jesus into our lives to glorify us, for us to follow in Jesus’ example. For us to ask God for his graces so that we can all merit the gift of salvation. This is not done on our own but on what God wills us to do.

 

How I met our Mother

Wolketsweiler_Lourdes-GrotteI have always been a christian. I have been raised with christian values and learned the teachings of Jesus when I went to church on Sunday with my family. The only thing to made me feel more of a christian was that I was praying to Our Lady. It was only until I came to university that I realized that the other Christian churches don’t pray for her intercession. So for 18 years of my life I did not understand that I was special in comparison to my protestant friends. The specialty is because I have a heavenly mother who loves me and looks after me.

My home parish is called Our Lady of the Angels in Cwmbran and that was the name of my primary school as well. It was there that I first started learning about Mary and how important she is to us. She was the other teacher at school in how to follow the example of Jesus. Every school girl wants to play her in the nativity and as they grow older they want to imitate her in praying and behaviour, saying yes to God’s will.

The first time I properly felt that Mary was praying for me was when I went to Lourdes with HCPT. I was young and on pilgrimage for the first time. Right at the beginning I felt her protection because I was scared of flying. I was really nervous but the guy who I was flying with was an ex pilot and he talked me through everything. I am lucky he was looking after me, for I felt really safe and it is thanks to Our Lady for putting me in this position. If she didn’t appear to Bernadette at Lourdes then I wouldn’t have gone there. Its all in God’s plan. I am also scared of heights. I hate tall buildings because I feel as if they will fall on me. Silly but its in my mind. Quite often, churches, specially cathedrals, are quite tall and huge. So I am often afraid to go to mass in a certain place. Whilst in Lourdes, we visited the parish church where Bernadette was baptised. It isn’t an extraordinarily large building, but tall enough to make me frightened. I stayed in the lower parts of the church and lit a candle in front of a statue of the madonna. I prayed quite hard that I can get over this fear. Instantly I felt calmer and was able to walk around the church and felt safe. I thank Our Lady for this. I was prayed over because of this fear, and the priest said for me to say the Fatima prayer whenever I feel scared. Taught by Our Lady it goes; O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, specially those most in need of thine mercy. Amen. It is through this prayer that I feel really calm and righteousness.

Learning the rosary has helped me understand how Mary works in our lives. She is always pointing to her Son and wanting us to learn His ways. In the rosary we meditate on the mysteries of the faith and pray that we imitate what the contain and obtain what they promise. The rosary is a very powerful weapon, for it helps us concentrate on what Jesus wants us to be. He wants us to be in prayer always and to try to live a sinless life. Mary is a perfect model for this because of her Immaculate Conception and the way she treasured all she experienced and learned in her immaculate heart. Our Lady told the visionaries of Medugorje, “I give you the weapon against your Goliath. Here are your little stones: Prayer with the heart (Rosary), The Eucharist, The Holy Bible, Fasting and Monthly confession.” Everything she asks is directed to Christ and not her. The main message that She gave was about the love of God. “If you knew how much I love you, you’d cry of Joy!”

The Angelus is a great prayer to recite. It is a great occasion to say it with the Pope every Wednesday in the Vatican. It is a wholly biblical prayer. “The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary; And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.”, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; Be it done to me according to they will.” and “The word was made Flesh; And dwelt among us.” Following each of these statements we say the Marian pray the Hail Mary, which again is biblical, “Hail Mary, Full of grace, the Lord is with you, Blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners now, until the hour of our death. Amen!” Another prayer which we say is the Salve Regina, or Hail Holy Queen. “Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, be our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry poor banished children of Eve, to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray For us O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen!” The reason why we pray to Mary is to ask for her intercession. She is an advocate and is always here to aid us. She was instituted as the mother of the church whilst Jesus was on the Cross and she loves us all because of her sorrow she experienced with her son.

To make this all clear. We Do Not Worship Mary! That is reserved for God alone. We Do Not Pray To Mary Instead of God! we pray to her for her intercession to Jesus who is the only mediator between God the Father and Man.

So how did I meet our heavenly Mother, it was all just a matter of time. I was always destined to meet her and she was always destined to help protect and nurture me. I pray that Mary will pray for everyone who reads the post and that it touches their lives and starts a spring of living water which Jesus provides. I pray that those who do not appreciate the intercession of Our Lady may be made understanding of all the graces they receive from it. I pray for all those who already know of the great power of Mary’s prayers may grow to love her more and never cease to pray and grow in faith.

Our Lady of Lourdes; Pray for us.
Our Lady of Fatima; Pray for us.
Our Lady of Sorrows; Pray for us.
Our Lady, Queen of Peace; Pray for us.
Our Lady, Queen of Heaven; Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Angels; Pray for us.
Our Lady, Mother of the Church; Pray for us.
Our Lady, Our Mother; Pray for us.

  • Immaculate Heart of Mary, Pray for us Sinners now until the Hour of our Death! Amen!
  • Apologetic in Analogies

    APOLOGETICS

    We are all story tellers. We all explain theories and ideas in different ways as well. The Bible is a story itself in that it tells the tales of; the people of Israel, the travels of Paul, the acts of the apostles and most importantly the teachings of Jesus and the words of God. But its the way we tell these stories that get a reaction. Its like someone tells you a story about a man who’s wife who is murdered and then loses his only son on his first day at school and tries to find him anyway way he can. He is aided with a psychotic woman and finally find him in the end. Now if I were to tell you that, that was the basic plot to “Finding Nemo”, most people would agree that it wouldn’t be suitable to show kids. There is a famous phrase which I have recently learnt; “A text without a context is a pretext!” People should not think badly or prejudge what it is the text is saying without knowing what context it has for the reader. A classic case of this in the Bible is in James 2: 18-24. Here he is talking about how works affect salvation.The works he is talking about is what the gentiles must do to follow Christ. For the gentiles they were not circumcised and knew very little about Jewish customs. But the way we know what people were back then was by their works and keeping to traditions. This is where the term “an observant Jew” comes from. For when people say that it is Faith Alone that saves, this verse does not say anything otherwise, but it states that through faith you have to perform works.

    One of the misunderstanding about Catholicism is that around Confession. When we sin, it is like getting our clothes dirty. The more we sin, the more dirtier we become. Jesus comes and washes us, makes us clean. It doesn’t finish there, for we are still wet and can catch a cold or worse. The way we dry is by the spiritual tumble dryer, saying our penance. We are clean then and dry. Though we can get dirty, if we only just ask we can be washed and dried for free, again and again and again. He never tires of this we just tire of asking. We can receive this free gift in confession and in the Holy Mass. The priest is in “Persona Christi” which means that he is acting on behalf of Jesus, asking him for intercession and absolution.

    The best psalm to remember in this case is 46. It states that God is our refuge, a place to go when worried or afraid. Do not be afraid when things seem to go wrong, for God is with us. Have faith in God. Nothing shall harm us. If God is with us what can stand against us. numerous times in the bible it shows times of when God is with people and Jesus says he will be with us forever. If you look at train tracks, they are parallel. Think of it that on one track is sorrow, and the other is joy. You look into the horizon and they connect and join together. They don’t actually meet in reality but for what we see they join up. This is what happens as we go through life, we can be on either track. But in the end we can see them both join and become one. This is what Jesus promises in that everything good and sad will all reach its destination. Just remember the poem Footprints.  “And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

    That story shows how we are all give what we need and want. God gives it to us on a platter it is up to us to reach out and grab it.  We all feel lost sometimes but if we turn to God he provides the answers.

    There was a man who felt as though he had no luck in the world. He felt as if everything was against him. For example he is in line to get the last ticket for the cinema, he would miss out. It was all mundane things that he felt didn’t go his way. One day he got really fed up with this, so he thought, “I’m going to go to the end of the earth to talk to God about this.” So off he set on his travels. He was walking through a woods and he came across this really skinny looking wolf. He had not much energy and was tired of not eating anything but vegetation. The man stopped and asked the wolf how he was. The wolf replied, “I am tired of no one coming through the woods, all the animals have left and all I have to eat is leaves and mushrooms.” The man then said to the wolf, “Well I am on my way to speak to God about how much bad luck I am having perhaps I could ask him about your situation.”. The wolf was pleased with this news and let him carry on. Next he came to a little house just outside the woods. in this house was a very beautiful woman who was left the house by her father when he died. But the house is so far away from anywhere she hardly sees anyone. The man stopped at the house for a breather and got talking with the woman and explained his story. She the said, ” I wonder if you could ask God if there was any way I could be less lonely.”. The man agreed and carried on with his quest. He next came across a withered old looking tree. The man stopped for shade and began talking with the tree. The tree was thirsty and could not produce any leaves to survive. It asked the man whether he could ask God why is he in this state. The man again agreed and went on his way. Finally he reached the edge of the world. He saw God on a cloud not so far away. He called upon Him and started to ask him all the things he wanted to know. God said to the man, “look you have all the luck in the world, but you are not grabbing what is right in your face. Next time you are presented with a good thing take it.” Having all the information he needed he started walking back cheerfully thinking to himself about how lucky he is. He firstly came across the tree and he said “Hey Tree I have all the luck in the world I just don’t take my chances.”. The tree said, “that’s great but what about me?” the man explained that there was an old treasure chest right underneath the tree blocking its roots from reaching the nutrients. The chest is full of Gold and jewels. The tree then asked the man to dig up this chest so that it could survive and the man take the gold. But the man said, “No, I’ve got no time for that, I need to go home and find my luck.”. So he left the tree and walked on home. Next he came across the woman. He said, “I have all the luck in the world I just don’t take them even if they are right in front of my nose.” The woman asked for her answer, the man said, “All you need to do is to ask the next man who comes past to marry you. You’ll find your company and live happily.” The woman then said to the man. ” Well then, Will you marry me?”. The man said, “sorry but no. I’ve got to go find my good luck.” He then came across the wolf, who was almost at his end, and said “Hey wolf, I have all the Good luck I need.”. Then the wolf then asked, “What did God say about me?”. The man replied, “He said that the next man you see, you are to eat him. For you don’t get to eat often this will sustain you.” So then without hesitation, the wolf Gobbled up the man.

    Happy are those who have not seen but yet believe. There was a man who had studied for all his adult life. He ha studied psychology, theology and drama. He was trying out an experiment with people. He would carry a small bird in his hand, only showing its beak. He would ask whether they thought the bird was alive or dead. If they said the bird was dead then he’d open his hand and show it was alive. If they said alive then he’ squeeze his hand and kill the bird then reveal it. He had asked everyone he knew. Then finally he asked a priest the question. The priest responded “that is not the question you should be asking, for you have the control here. It can be alive in your heart if you believe it. We must always ask ourselves in our hearts, do we believe that Christ is risen.

    How do catholics celebrate easter

    TriduumImage

    Holy week is just around the corner. We’re almost through our Lenten observances and we are close to what is the greatest celebration of the year. Easter is when we remember joyfully, the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is here that Jesus conquers death and brings us into a new covenant with God. “Let the Church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing; for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting.” (Thine be the Glory, Hymn.)

    The first four days of Holy week
    This week starts as it ends, with Jesus triumphantly entering into Jerusalem. This scene is portrayed in every church; we all stand outside, with palm branches, and hear the gospel before entering back into the church to continue with the liturgy. We do this in memory of what the people did for Jesus in Matthew, chapter 21.
    21 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” 4 This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
    5 “Tell the daughter of Zion,
    Look, your king is coming to you,
    humble, and mounted on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
    6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
    “Hosanna to the Son of David!
    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
    Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
    (N.R.S.V)

    We then enter Holy week singing praise to Christ. But this is not the way that we go throughout the whole of the week. On Palm Sunday, we hear for the first time, the passion of Jesus in the gospel. Monday and Tuesday of this week are generally normal, just having mass on these days and still preparing for the coming feast of Easter. On Wednesday, usually, there is a Chrism mass in the diocesan cathedral to bless the oils of Chrism which the priests will use for the sacraments for the coming year.

    Maundy Thursday

    This is the day when we celebrate the Lords supper, which was the night that the sacrament of the Eucharist was instituted. This mass is different from any mass of the year. Firstly when the bells are rung in the Gloria, they are not rung until Easter vigil. This is the first time the Gloria is sung during the whole season of lent. This is the last time an organ is used too, unless it is to support singing.
    After the homily which the priest or deacon gives, certain members of the laity come forward to have their feet washed. This is to go along with what Jesus did to his Apostles. This can be found in John 13: 1-7. After this the priest returns to his feet, puts back on his chasuble and the mass carries on again.

    For three reasons, the celebration of the Eucharist is important on this evening. Firstly it is the sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ is made present in the host and we are not worthy to let him under the roof of our mouths. Secondly, it is on the night that Jesus instituted this very sacrament that we are celebrating it. Thirdly, because this sacrament cannot happen until the Easter vigil, three days away.
    After communion, the Blessed Sacrament is taken from the Altar in a procession to a separate Altar for reposition. When the priest arrives, we all adore the Blessed Sacrament and sing the Tantem Ergo. People are invited to stay and pray and adore the Blessed Sacrament. This is to go in with what Jesus asked his disciples in the garden of gethsemane, Matthew 26: 36-46. The Altar is stripped and the church is made bare.

    Good Friday

    The first thing to remember is that only the sacraments of the Anointing of the Sick and Penance are celebrated on Good Friday and Holy Saturday (Missale Romanum, “Rubrics for Good Friday” (GF, no.1.). This means that it is not a mass that people got to on Friday but a service. And this service is very different from any other services of word and communion that take place around the world when a priest is not available.

    The service begins with a solemn procession by the priest and assisting severs to the bare sanctuary. On arrival, everyone kneels and the priest then prostrates himself before the sanctuary in prayer. He then gets up and says the opening prayers. We then hear the two readings and followed by the passion of Jesus. After this, there is a brief homily.
    Then the priest goes to collect a wooden cross. He processes it and shows it to the congregation to adore. Stopping three times he says, “The wood of the cross, on which hung the saviour of the world.” To which we all reply, “come let us worship.” The priest then hands the cross over to a server for himself to venerate the cross. He then invites the congregation to do likewise. The cross is the placed by the altar. Whilst this is going on, the Altar is dressed so that the Blessed Sacrament can be placed upon it.

    There is then a small procession by the priest to collect the Blessed Sacrament and brings it back to the Altar. Communion is then shared with the people. If there is any of the Blessed Sacrament left, then it is taken back to where it was previously kept, unless if the Easter vigil in not celebrated in the same church then it can be placed in the tabernacle.
    There is a final blessing given by the priest. There is another procession out by the priest with servers, before they leave, they genuflect to the cross. The rubrics states that everyone must leave in silence.

    Easter Vigil

    This is the most important part of the year. This is the night when Christ rose from the dead and brought us to salvation. We mark this by having a massive mass to which there are four parts. The first part is the service of light.

    We start the mass outside the church after sundown. The church is in Darkness. There is a fire burning and people gather round this fire. The priest then blesses the fire and lights the paschal candle, a really big candle that is decorated to show the year. The reason behind the candle is that it represents Christ as the light of the world. The candle is blessed and processed into the church. The priest then chants “Light of Christ” and the congregation then responds, “Thanks be to God.” This is done three times. The light is then passed around everyone. Then the Easter proclamation is sung. The Exsultet is a great hymn of joy singing praise of Christ conquering death and how this Holy night will be celebrated with happiness and peace.

    Next we go onto the service of the word. This is where we hear seven readings from the Old Testament. The readings are; Genesis 1:1-2:2 the story of creation, Genesis 22: 1-18 where God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Exodus 14: 15-15:1 when the Israelites cross the Red sea, Isiah 54: 5-14 God promises a new covenant, Isiah 55: 1-11 the Lord invites us to turn to Him, Baruch 3:9-15,32-4:4 shows that all wisdom comes from God and Ezekiel 36:16-28 says that the Lord will be honoured.

    Following these readings comes the Gloria, whilst during the singing of this hymn of praise; the bells once again ring out with Joy. This is followed by the epistle reading of Roman 6:3-11, “Don’t you know that all who share in Christ Jesus by being baptized also share in his death?” (N.R.S.V) and this is the followed by the gospel. There is a Homily as well.

    This leads onto the third part of the mass, the service of baptism. This is where people, usually adults, are received into the church and are baptized. The water is blessed and used in the baptism. The congregation is then invited to renew their baptismal vows. The litany of saints is also said or sung, to which the response is “Pray for us”.
    Then the mass will carry on as usual with the final part, the celebration of the Eucharist. This is the first time that the Eucharistic prayer is said after Maundy Thursday. The mass concludes normally with the dismissal, but added at the end is “Go in the peace of Christ, Alleluia, Alleluia. “To which the response is, “thanks be to God, Alleluia, Alleluia. “

    What happens next?

    That is the end of the Triduum, and so we all go out and rejoice in the risen lord. I have a tradition of having a massive Chinese takeaway feast with some of the senior servers in my home parish. In the parish, they have cheese and wine after the mass. But the main thing is to go away happy because Jesus Christ has risen from the dead to save us from death and bring us to new life. The thing to remember as well is that there is mass the next morning. So not too much celebration.

    The mystery of Easter only comes round once a year and so it is a big celebration. It is not Holy days of Obligation, but it is celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.

    Look out for the times for these services in your parish. Invite non-Catholic and non-Christian friends to come along. I’m sure they’ll enjoy this great feast.

    Liam James Williams
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    Scriptural evidence, is it all in there?

    catholic-bible

    I went to a student lead service one Sunday. He was talking about how great God is, why He loves us and how we are made right standing. While he was talking he did quote a lot of scripture. He stated that everything he said was true tonight because it can be found in scripture. And that got me thinking, where does it say that on a certain day 2000 odd years later a guy in a church would say a certain message about Gods love for us, and he would be correct. It just doesn’t. I don’t want to say anything bad against his talk, because it did make a lot of good points. But the matter of the fact is, that he does not have the authority to preach on topics that lead people astray into heretical behavior. I shall go through some points which are not in the bible but are true because of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. The titles will be where is the “Bible”, “Trinity”, “Faith Alone” and “Mary”.

    Is “The Bible” in the bible?

    It isn’t. The bible as a name does not feature in the book at all. It always mentions or refers to it saying “according to the scriptures.” Sola Scriptura is a term coined in the reformation, and it is going along the idea that is stated that everything that is needed to know about salvation is taught in the bible. But this is not the case, for if you look to John 21:25, “But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if everyone on of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” This shows that the bible is a starting point on where to look for salvation. But its through the traditions that Jesus passed down, through the apostles. The term Sola Scriptura is also stating that anyone can interpret what the bible means. Again, it says in scripture, that Jesus gives the apostles, and the church in Peter, “And I tell you, you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven … If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19, 18:17:18). These words of Jesus gave us are undeniable. They give the church authority to define what is in scripture and what it means. All scripture is authored by God, and we hold it with the up-most respect. The reason why Sola Scriptura  is not biblical and heretical is because it goes against what Jesus says. In Jude’s epistle it states “ But these people slander whatever they do not understand, and they are destroyed by those things that, like irrational animals, they know by instinct. Woe to them! For they go the way of Cain, and abandon themselves to Balaam’s error for the sake of gain, and perish in Korah’s rebellion.” (Jude 10-11).  Our Lord has set up the priestly Magisterium of His church, which has the authority to teach, interpret, chose what is cannon and use this authority in the name of Jesus. 

    Where is the “Trinity” in the bible?

    The word Trinity in not found in the bible, but they are mentioned throughout its pages. The doctrine can be seen through the divine son-ship of Jesus. “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:18-19). This tradition has been passed on down, through the teachings of Jesus and can again be found in the epistles, “There are three that testify in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three that testify on earth” (1 John 5:7-8). 

    Where is “Saved by Faith Alone” in the bible?

    This point of the reformation is one which protestants claim that the Catholic Church is heretical, because the Church does not endorse this as part of the doctrine. The Catholic Church teaches that by the grace of God, we have faith and that through this faith we are one in family. But due to the fall of humankind, we continue to sin and put ourselves out of that state of grace. We do not earn our righteousness because of Christ’s death on the cross. And it is through this sacrifice that we no longer have to offer a living sacrifice for our sins. When we sin we must turn to God, who will forgive us, but only if we truly repent. I was talking with a friend the other day about this topic and we were talking about the book of James, “Faith without works is dead.” He stated, “James is about everyday conduct in ordinary life. My faith must be evident in what I do.My works are evident of what I believe and profess. I can’t claim to be a Christ follower but my life (i.e, works) gives evidence of something else. The Pharisees are good examples of people who claim to love God but Jesus condemned them for their works. In Hebrews and elsewhere in scripture, to sin is willingly is a deliberate act against God’s word. The key word is “Willingly”. Look to John 3:16-17. What does this say about faith? To me it says faith alone but my life needs to produce fruit for the Kingdom. Remember the fig tree that Jesus condemned because it had no fruit.” My response to this was, ” But if you look on in John, it says that you must eat the flesh of the son of man, this will give you eternal life. This is the most commonly celebrated sacrament of the Catholic Church and of early Christians until just after the reformation. Everyone has the same faith in Jesus Christ, we all build a personal relationship with our Lord and savior. This grace comes about through human faith, but God gives us the grace to have eternal life and the faith mentioned in the bible. But also in the fig tree, He used it to show the times coming, that when it blossoms you know its winter. The works show faith and it provides.” The only time is says “by Faith alone” is “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24). There may be another reference to this in Roman 3:28, but it was added by Martin Luther when he translated his bible. The one thing I hate seeing is that when you hear certain pastors say, just accept Jesus as your Lord and savior and you’re saved. It doesn’t say this in the bible and it defiantly says the word repent more times than “personal savior”. You may say it with your mouth and not have it in  your heart. In my hometown of Cwmbran, there is a new church called Victory church which had an outpouring of the Holy Spirit last year, and many people came to know Christ and came to the faith. But at the end of the meetings they used to say how many of you want to be saved, most people would have heard this for the first time and loved it instantly and wanted to be saved. I compare this to the parable of the sower, the seeds could have fallen in thorns or on rocky ground. They blossom but don’t last. The way they teach about faith alone is that people come and believe but then go out and sin and don’t repent. The word repent is mentioned 49 times in the bible. I feel this message is more needed than to just have faith.

    Where is “Mary” in the bible?

    There is loads of evidence for biblical Mary, but its just the Catholic dogma’s on her which I will discuss here. The dogma of the immaculate conception is one that is easily defined. It states that due to the grace of God, Mary was preserved from original sin. This is due to her carrying the baby Jesus and giving birth to Him. The ark of the covenant was made pure and seamless, and so was Mary so she could bear the son of God. This is why we call her the Mother of God or Theotokos. We do not say that she is the mother of God the Father and Holy Spirit, but the human mother of God the Son in Jesus. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin? The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.” (Luke 1: 28-35). We ask for her guidance and car like we do our earthly mother. The assumption is also a key dogma, this is due to the fact that God would not let the woman who bore and raised Jesus on earth, would not leave to decay. God assumed Elijah and Enoch into heaven in the Old Testament, then why would He not carry this on in the New. “A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth. Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.” (Revelation 12:1-6) Catholics do not worship Mary, but we ask for her motherly prayers.

    The Church can validly teach this because it combines the traditions with scripture. The traditions have been passed down from Jesus, through the apostles. Whereas the Bible was only finalized 300 years after Jesus died and was only made available to anyone in the 1600’s. How can there be a religion set entirely upon scripture alone can be true. The 5 solas of the reformation has only been around for the same amount of time as the bible. The idea that Catholics don’t read the bible, Pope Leo XIII encourages Catholics to read the bible more personally.