Category Archives: Ecclesiology

The Bible is a Catholic Book – Word of God

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” -Jn 1:1 The Word of God, Jesus, as God, has no beginning. Time does. God doesn’t, being uncreated, but rather the source of all creation. So, the Word of God, logos, existed before the Bible.  The 46 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament were determined as canonical by the Councils of Hippo (393 AD) and Carthage (397, 419 AD).

According to St Irenaeus of Lyon (c 130-202) a student of St John the Apostle’s disciple St Polycarp (c pre-69-156), John the Apostle wrote these words specifically to refute the teachings of Cerinthus,[1] who both resided and taught at Ephesus, the city John settled in following his return from exile on Patmos.[2] Cerinthus believed that the world was created by a power far removed from and ignorant of the Father, and that the Christ descended upon the man Jesus at his baptism, and that strict adherence to the Mosaic Law was absolutely necessary for salvation. Therefore, Irenaeus writes,

“The disciple of the Lord therefore desiring to put an end to all such doctrines, and to establish the rule of truth in the Church, that there is one Almighty God, Who made all things by His Word, both visible and invisible; showing at the same time, that by the Word, through Whom God made the creation, He also bestowed salvation on the men included in the creation; thus commenced His teaching in the Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made. What was made was life in Him, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.””[3]

To the rabbis who spoke of the Torah (Law) as preexistent, as God’s instrument in creation, and as the source of light and life, John replied that these claims apply rather to the Logos.

Ignatius of Antioch

The first extant Christian reference to the Logos found in writings outside of the Johannine corpus belongs to John’s disciple Ignatius (c 35-108), Bishop of Antioch, who in his epistle to the Magnesians, writes, “there is one God, Who has manifested Himself by Jesus Christ His Son, Who is His eternal Word, not proceeding forth from silence,”[4] (i.e., there was not a time when He did not exist). In similar fashion, he speaks to the Ephesians of the Son as “both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first passible and then impassible”.[5]

Justin Martyr

Following John 1, the early Christian apologist Justin Martyr (c 150) identifies Jesus as the Logos.[6][7] Like Philo, Justin also identified the Logos with the Angel of the LORD, and he also identified the Logos with the many other Theophanies of the Old Testament, and used this as a way of arguing for Christianity to Jews:

“I shall give you another testimony, my friends, from the Scriptures, that God begot before all creatures a Beginning, [who was] a certain rational power [proceeding] from Himself, Who is called by the Holy Spirit, now the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an Angel, then God, and then Lord and Logos;”[8]

In his Dialogue with Trypho, Justin relates how Christians maintain that the Logos,

“…is indivisible and inseparable from the Father, just as they say that the light of the sun on earth is indivisible and inseparable from the sun in the heavens; as when it sinks, the light sinks along with it; so the Father, when He chooses, say they, causes His power to spring forth, and when He chooses, He makes it return to Himself . . . And that this power which the prophetic word calls God . . . is not numbered [as different] in name only like the light of the sun but is indeed something numerically distinct, I have discussed briefly in what has gone before; when I asserted that this power was begotten from the Father, by His power and will, but not by abscission, as if the essence of the Father were divided; as all other things partitioned and divided are not the same after as before they were divided: and, for the sake of example, I took the case of fires kindled from a fire, which we see to be distinct from it, and yet that from which many can be kindled is by no means made less, but remains the same.”[9]

In his First Apology, Justin used the Stoic concept of the Logos to his advantage as a way of arguing for Christianity to non-Jews. Since a Greek audience would accept this concept, his argument could concentrate on identifying this Logos with Jesus.[6]

Theophilus of Antioch

Theophilus, the Patriarch of Antioch, (died c 180 AD) likewise, in his Apology to Autolycus, identifies the Logos as the Son of God, Who was at one time internal within the Father, but was begotten by the Father before creation:

“And first, they taught us with one consent that God made all things out of nothing; for nothing was coeval with God: but He being His own place, and wanting nothing, and existing before the ages, willed to make man by whom He might be known; for him, therefore, He prepared the world. For he that is created is also needy; but He that is uncreated stands in need of nothing. God, then, having His own Word internal within His own bowels, begot Him, emitting Him along with His own wisdom before all things. He had this Word as a helper in the things that were created by Him, and by Him He made all things . . . Not as the poets and writers of myths talk of the sons of gods begotten from intercourse [with women], but as truth expounds, the Word, that always exists, residing within the heart of God. For before anything came into being He had Him as a counsellor, being His own mind and thought. But when God wished to make all that He determined on, He begot this Word, uttered, the first-born of all creation, not Himself being emptied of the Word [Reason], but having begotten Reason, and always conversing with His Reason.”[10]

He sees in the text of Psalm 33:6 the operation of the Trinity, following the early practice as identifying the Holy Spirit as the Wisdom (Sophia) of God,[11] when he writes that “God by His own Word and Wisdom made all things; for by His Word were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the Spirit of His mouth”[12] So he expresses in his second letter to Autolycus, “In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity, of God, and His Word, and His wisdom.”[13]

Athenagoras of Athens

By the third quarter of the second century, persecution had been waged against Christianity in many forms. Because of their denial of the Roman gods, and their refusal to participate in sacrifices of the Imperial cult, Christians were suffering persecution as “atheists.”[14] Therefore the early Christian apologist Athenagoras (c 133 – c 190 AD), in his Embassy or Plea to the Emperors Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus on behalf of Christianity (c 176), makes defense by an expression of the Christian faith against this claim. As a part of this defense, he articulates the doctrine of the Logos, expressing the paradox of the Logos being both “the Son of God” as well as “God the Son,” and of the Logos being both the Son of the Father as well as being one with the Father,[15] saying,

“Who, then, would not be astonished to hear men called atheists who speak of God the Father, and of God the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and who declare both their power in union and their distinction in order? . . . the Son of God is the Word [Logos] of the Father, in idea and in operation; for after the pattern of Him and by Him were all things made, the Father and the Son being one. And, the Son being in the Father and the Father in the Son, in oneness and power of spirit, the understanding [Nous] and reason [Logos] of the Father is the Son of God. But if, in your surpassing intelligence, it occurs to you to inquire what is meant by the Son, I will state briefly that He is the first product of the Father, not as having been brought into existence (for from the beginning, God, who is the eternal mind [Nous], had the Word in Himself, being from eternity rational [Logikos]; but inasmuch as He came forth to be the idea and energizing power of all material things, which lay like a nature without attributes, and an inactive earth, the grosser particles being mixed up with the lighter…)”[16]

Athenagoras further appeals to the joint rule of the Roman Emperor with his son Commodus, as an illustration of the Father and the Word, his Son, to whom he maintains all things are subjected, saying,

“For as all things are subservient to you, father and son, who have received the kingdom from above (for “the king’s soul is in the hand of God,” says the prophetic Spirit), so to the one God and the Word proceeding from Him, the Son, apprehended by us as inseparable from Him, all things are in like manner subjected.”[17]

In this defense he uses terminology common with the philosophies of his day (Nous, Logos, Logikos, Sophia) as a means of making the Christian doctrine relatable to the philosophies of his day.

Irenaeus of Lyon

Irenaeus (c 130-202), a student of the Apostle John’s disciple, Polycarp, identifies the Logos as Jesus, by whom all things were made,[18] and who before his incarnation appeared to men in the Theophany, conversing with the ante-Mosaic Patriarchs,[19] with Moses at the burning bush,[20] with Abraham at Mamre,[21] et al.,[22] manifesting to them the unseen things of the Father.[23] After these things, the Logos became man and suffered the death of the cross.[24] In his Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, Irenaeus defines the second point of the faith, after the Father, as this:

The Word of God, Son of God, Christ Jesus our Lord, who was manifested to the prophets according to the form of their prophesying and according to the method of the dispensation of the Father: through whom all things were made; who also at the end of the times, to complete and gather up all things, was made man among men, visible and tangible, in order to abolish death and show forth life and produce a community of union between God and man.[25]

Irenaeus writes that Logos is and always has been the Son, is uncreated, eternally-coexistent [26] and one with the Father,[27][28][18][29] to whom the Father spoke at creation saying, “Let us make man.”[30] As such, he distinguishes between creature and Creator, so that,

He indeed who made all things can alone, together with His Word, properly be termed God and Lord: but the things which have been made cannot have this term applied to them, neither should they justly assume that appellation which belongs to the Creator [31]

Again, in his fourth book against heresies, after identifying Christ as the Word, who spoke to Moses at the burning bush, he writes, “Christ Himself, therefore, together with the Father, is the God of the living, who spoke to Moses, and who was manifested to the fathers.” [32]


On April 1, 2005, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (who became Pope Benedict XVI just over two weeks later) referred to the Christian religion as the religion of the Logos:

“Christianity must always remember that it is the religion of the “Logos.” It is faith in the “Creator Spiritus,” (Creator Spirit), from which proceeds everything that exists. Today, this should be precisely its philosophical strength, in so far as the problem is whether the world comes from the irrational, and reason is not, therefore, other than a “sub-product,” on occasion even harmful of its development or whether the world comes from reason, and is, as a consequence, its criterion and goal. The Christian faith inclines toward this second thesis, thus having, from the purely philosophical point of view, really good cards to play, despite the fact that many today consider only the first thesis as the only modern and rational one par excellence. However, a reason that springs from the irrational, and that is, in the final analysis, itself irrational, does not constitute a solution for our problems. Only creative reason, which in the crucified God is manifested as love, can really show us the way. In the so necessary dialogue between secularists and Catholics, we Christians must be very careful to remain faithful to this fundamental line: to live a faith that comes from the “Logos,” from creative reason, and that, because of this, is also open to all that is truly rational.”[33]

Catholics can use Logos to refer to the moral law written in human hearts. This comes from Jeremiah 31:33 (prophecy of new covenant): “I will write my law on their hearts.” St. Justin wrote that those who have not accepted Christ but follow the moral law of their hearts (Logos) follow God, because it is God who has written the moral law in each person’s heart. Though man may not explicitly recognize God, he has the spirit of Christ if he follows Jesus’ moral laws, written in his heart.  (Actions, do speak louder than words.)

-by Jimmy Akin, a former Presbyterian, Jimmy is a convert to the Faith and has an extensive background in the Bible, theology, the Church Fathers, philosophy, canon law, and liturgy.

“How the world began is a question people everywhere ask. It’s a human universal.

Pagan cultures thought the world was made by their gods and goddesses. Some myths claimed that the gods reproduced sexually to make the elements of the world. Others held that there was a fierce battle among the gods, and the world was formed from the corpses of the losers. Mankind was then created as a slave race to relieve the gods of drudgery.

The book of Genesis set the record straight: The world was not produced by a multitude of finite gods. It was the creation of a single, great God—one supreme and supremely good Being Who is behind everything.

Because of His infinite, unlimited power, He didn’t need to use anything to make the world, as the pagans thought. He didn’t need to mate with a goddess. He didn’t need to battle other gods and make the world from their corpses. He simply spoke, and the elements of the world sprang into existence: “God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (Gen. 1:3).”

That is the difference between our words and God’s words. When God speaks, it immediately comes to pass. It is. It happens. Everything Jesus said immediately happened. I suppose there is humor in that most august awareness. Aren’t we glad that doesn’t happen for us?

“Because Jesus was there in the beginning—one of the uncreated, divine Persons of the Trinity—He is the original and supreme Word of God. All of God’s other words are shadows of Him.

This is important to remember, because some today use the phrase “word of God” as if it just meant “the Bible.”

Although the Bible is important, the word of God is not confined to or only found in it. First and foremost, Jesus Christ Himself is the Word of God, and there are other expressions of it, only some of which are found in Scripture.”


Interestingly, Catholics refer to the Word of God as both Scripture and tradition (the lived experience of the Church over two thousand years).  The Jewish tradition, six thousand years, has always had a written canonical (Hebrew Scriptures) and a written, but non-canonical, understanding of God’s will, such as above and elsewhere in the Catholic tradition, the writing of saints, Fathers of the Church, Doctors of the Church, etc.  It is VERY important, and sadly non-self-evident, to understand the importance in the Catholic hierarchy of revelation.  The Bible and the written non-canonical part, known as tradition, and too numerous to name, should come with a score 0-10.  They do not.  The Bible and tradition, as the Church defines it, is a ten.  Other things, 9-0.  It is only with the Protestant Reformation that even the suggestion that an oral (which can be

“Wherefore, by divine and Catholic faith all those things are to be believed which are [a] contained in the word of God as found in Scripture and tradition” [Dei Filius 3:8]

And, in Canon Law,

Can. 750 §1. “A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things [a] contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church”


1. Irenaeus. Against Heresies, 3.11
2. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.3.4
3. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.11.1
4. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Magnesians, 8
5. Ignatius of Antioch. Epistle to the Ephesians, 7
6. Erwin R. Goodenough, The Theology of Justin Martyr, 1923 (reprint on demand BiblioBazaar, LLC, pp. 139–175. ISBN 1-113-91427-0)
7. Jules Lebreton, 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Justin Martyr.
8. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 61.
9. Justin Martyr, Dialogue With Trypho, 128, 129
10. Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus, 2.10, 22
11. His contemporary, Irenaeus of Lyon, citing this same passage, writes, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens established, and by his spirit all their power. Since then the Word establishes, that is to say, gives body and grants the reality of being, and the Spirit gives order and form to the diversity of the powers; rightly and fittingly is the Word called the Son, and the Spirit the Wisdom of God.” (Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 5). This is in contrast with later Christian writings, where “Wisdom” came to be more prominently identified as the Son.
12. Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus, 1.7
13. Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus, 2.15
14. Athenagoras, Plea For the Christians, 4
15. See also Plea, 24: “For, as we acknowledge God, and the Logos his Son, and a Holy Spirit, united in power—the Father, the Son, the Spirit, because the Son is the Intelligence [Nous], Word [Logos], Wisdom [Sophia] of the Father, and the Spirit an effluence, as light from a fire.” Adapted from the translation of B.P. Pratten, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2, being corrected according to the original Greek.
16. Athenagoras, Plea for the Christians, 10
17. Athenagoras, Plea for the Christians, 18
18. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.8.3
19. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.11.8, “And the Word of God Himself used to converse with the ante-Mosaic patriarchs, in accordance with His divinity and glory . . . Afterwards, being made man for us, He sent the gift of the celestial Spirit over all the earth, protecting us with His wings”
20. Irenaeus, Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 2
21. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.6.1
22. Irenaeus, Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 43-47
23. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 2.30.9
24. Irenaeus, Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 53
25. Irenaeus, Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 6
26. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 2.30.9. (see also, 2.25.3; 4.6.2) “He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: through His Word, who is His Son, through Him He is revealed and manifested to all to whom He is revealed; for those [only] know Him to whom the Son has revealed Him. But the Son, eternally co-existing with the Father, from of old, yea, from the beginning, always reveals the Father to Angels, Archangels, Powers, Virtues, and all to whom He wills that God should be revealed.”
27. Irenaeus, Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 45-47
28. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.5.2
29. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5.22.1, “But the Word of God is the superior above all, He who is loudly proclaimed in the law: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is one God'”
30. Irenaeus, Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 55
31. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.8.3
32. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.5.2
33. Cardinal Ratzinger on Europe’s crisis of culture, retrieved from

The Catholic Church: Mystical Body of Christ

-please click on the image for greater detail

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains how there are “three states of the Church … at the present time some of His disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating ‘in full light, God Himself triune and one, exactly as He is.’” (CCC 954).

Traditionally these three states have been referred to as the Church Militant, Church Penitent (also known as Church Suffering or Church Expectant) and Church Triumphant. Together, these three make up the Communion of Saints we confess in the Creed.

Church Militant

While the word “militant” may appear to suggest that the Church on earth is to take up arms in a violent way, the phase refers to our task of being “soldiers of Christ” in the spiritual realm. This concerns our need to battle our sinful passions as well as the spiritual presence of evil in the world. As St. Ignatius of Loyola put it, we need to choose which army we belong to; either that of Christ or that of the World.

Church Penitent

After having struggled on earth to follow Christ’s army, those in need of further purification before entering Heavenly bliss make up the Church Penitent. This stage of further purification is more commonly known as Purgatory and is the “washroom of Heaven” (as C.S. Lewis put it), which cleanses any sins or earthly attachments before the soul embraces the joys of Heaven. The members of the Church Penitent rely heavily on the prayers of the Church Militant so that they may proceed to their eternal embrace with Our Lord.

Church Triumphant

The Church Triumphant are those people who have “run the race” and are crowned with glory in Heaven, the saints. Even though we do not inhabit the same physical space anymore, we are intimately united with them in a spiritual way beyond understanding. Their intercession is vital to our own sanctification and they continually cheer us on as we “fight the good fight” in hopes of joining them one day in the future.


History & Tradition

It is important to note Judaism has, throughout its entire history, had a scripture and tradition existence. Only sola scriptura is the real novelty.  Tradition, capital “T”, in the Catholic lexicon, does not mean “we have ALWAYS done it this way!!”  Some Orthodox and some Catholic fascists may mean it that way, but that is not how mainstream Catholicism means it.  Tradition in mainstream Catholicism means “How has the Holy Spirit guided us throughout the sojourn of His Church, His Bride, on this earth, awaiting His return?”

If Protestantism is true,
Christians have zero need to understand even their own history or tradition.

According to sola scriptura and the principle of private judgment, Protestants believe they can discover saving Christian truth themselves, using only their Bible and the Spirit. This understanding is especially prevalent in Evangelicalism—stemming perhaps from the influence of the Radical Reformers, who were not impressed by Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin and instead took the magisterial Reformers’ ideas to their logical end. As a result, most Evangelicals today know little about history and tradition, including the history of their own beliefs.

Distrust of History and Tradition

One of the events that led to the anti-traditional bent of Evangelicals was the revivalism of the First and Second Great Awakenings in the United States 200 years ago.

Even though Evangelicals owe many of their most important beliefs to John Calvin’s influence, through the revival spirit of anti-traditionalism many denied any connection with him and did not even have a basic understanding of who he was. Fast-forward to today, and the situation is much the same.

One Evangelical friend of mine said to me: “I don’t care what Luther or any other Protestant teaches.”

Why don’t he and other Evangelicals care what Luther or Calvin or anyone else says? Because my friend has the Holy Spirit dwelling within him, and he has his Bible, so he believes from those he can individually come to know divine truth.

Because Catholicism is true,
It’s important to learn from the wisdom of those who have gone before us in faith.

One of my Anglican friends wanted to buy a book by St. Augustine, a Father of the Church who is known as the “Doctor of Grace.” He happened to be close to a popular Christian chain bookstore, so he stopped in and looked around. Not finding the book, he approached the person working at the store to ask where he could find it: “Pardon me, where are your books by Augustine?” The employee looked at him blankly and responded, “Augustine who?”

This little story demonstrates an endemic problem with Evangelical Protestants: They have largely forgotten men and women who came before them in the Christian faith, those giants on whose shoulders (and prayers) they now stand. Christianity didn’t end in the year 100 when the Bible was finished being written and resume again 1,500 years later when the first Baptists founded a new ecclesial community. But going into this Christian store, one is hard pressed to find a book written in the time period between the Bible and the twentieth century.

A dose of humility is the remedy. Just as we do not attempt to re-derive all mathematical and scientific formulas anew in every generation, so we should stand on the shoulders of the saintly theological giants who have gone before us. If nothing else, it stands to reason that the men and women closest in time and proximity to the apostles could give us invaluable insights into their teachings. And, indeed, this is what we see when we read their works.

Even secular wisdom informs us that forgetting history condemns us to repeat it. Many of the heresies today are not new—they are unwittingly recycled from centuries past, often by well-meaning Christians who interpret the Bible apart from Tradition and the historical witness of the Church. The Catholic belief that our Lord has guided His Church into all truth through every century gives us the confidence that we can trust our forefathers in the Faith.

The Protestant’s Dilemma

If Protestantism is true, then Christians in each generation figure out all truth for themselves, with nothing but the Bible as their guide. After all, it is quite possible that the Christians who came before us made errors, even on important doctrines, and that God is raising up new voices today to correct those errors. But how can we know which are teaching truth, and which are reviving old heresies?”

Love & the tradition (long term of wisdom of generations) of living the faith,

Love persists

Mt 16:24

It’s hard being Catholic these days.  Not just in the normal ways, either:  bad liturgy, bad music, bad homilies, pray, pay, and obey, “God loves a generous giver”, except from the Church when something is requested, it ONLY flows ONE way!  But, in addition to those, it’s just hard.

I’ve been an activist for victims of clergy sexual abuse since 2007, but somehow, later, it’s harder.  Stages of grief?  Maybe.  Shock first.  Feeling nothing, or less.  Then now.  A funk, really, a funk.  But, love persists, through funks and worse.  Love persists.  It’s how we prove our love to Him, to others.  Being faithful doesn’t mean being devoted when its fun or popular.  That’s easy, of course.

I remember being at the victim impact statement part of the trial of a prominent convicted Jesuit.  A male relative of his was there, but no “confreres”, for all the talk/ink/pixels spilled about that by religious orders; even sinners, even betrayers, even Judas’.   Family, but not “brothers”?  The definition of being faithful occurs especially when it’s not easy.  Love exists in action; not mere sentiment, not wishing, but doing.  Love persists.  It does.  Persist, with me.  And, please, pray for my persistence.

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – Lord, grant that my love for You may not be content with words, but prove itself in generous deeds.


“Love is never idle.” (Teresa of Jesus Interior Castle V, 4). When the true love of God enters the soul it begins in it an interior change so strong and forceful that it spurs it on to seek ever new ways of pleasing the Beloved, and makes it diligent in devising fresh means of proving its fidelity to Him. Love, in fact, is not nourished by sweet sentiments or fantasies, but by works. “This love,” says St. Teresa, “is also like a great fire which has always to be fed lest it should go out. Just so with these souls [in which God Himself kindles the flame of charity]; cost them what it might, they would always want to be bringing wood, so that this fire should not die” (The Book of Her Life 30). The soul that truly loves does not stop to examine whether a task is easy or difficult, agreeable or repugnant, but undertakes everything in order to maintain its love. It even chooses by preference tasks which demand more sacrifice, for it knows that love is never truer than when it urges the sacrifice of self for the One loved. Hence, through love, “there is caused in the soul a habitual suffering because of the Beloved, yet without weariness. For, as St. Augustine says, ‘Love makes all things that are great, grievous, and burdensome to be almost naught.’ The spirit here has so much strength that it has subjected the flesh and takes as little account of it as does the tree of one of its leaves. In no way does the soul here seek its own consolation or pleasure, either in God, or in aught else” (John of the Cross Dark, Night of the Soul II, 19,4).

This explains the attitude of the saints, who not only embraced wholeheartedly the sufferings with which God strewed their paths, but sought them with jealous care, as the miser seeks gold. St. John of the Cross replied to Our Lord, who had asked him what recompense he desired for the great services he had rendered Him: “To suffer and to be despised for Your love.” And St. Teresa of Jesus, seeing her earthly exile prolonged, found in suffering embraced for God the only means of appeasing her heart, a thirst for eternal love; and she entreated: “To die, Lord, or to suffer! I ask nothing else of Thee for myself but this” (The Book of Her Life 40).

In heaven we shall have no further need of suffering to prove our love, because then we shall love in the unfailing clarity of the beatific vision. But here below, where we love in the obscurity of faith, we need to prove to God the reality of our love.


“He who truly loves You, Lord, has only one ambition, that of pleasing You. He dies with desire to be loved by You, and so will give his life to learn how he may please You better. Can such love strong and active love remain hidden? No, my God, that is impossible! There are degrees of love, for love shows itself in proportion to its strength. If it is weak, it shows itself but little. If it is strong, it shows itself a great deal. But love always makes itself known, whether weak or strong, provided it is real love.

“O Lord, grant that my love be not the fruit of my imagination but be proved by works. What can I do for You, who died for us and created us and gave us being, without counting myself fortunate in being able to repay You something of what I owe You?

“May it be Your pleasure, O Lord, that the day may finally come in which I shall be able to pay You at least something of all I owe You. Cost what it may, Lord, permit me not to come into Your presence with empty hands, since the reward must be in accordance with my works. Well do I know, my Lord, of how little I am capable. But I shall be able to do all things provided You do not withdraw from me.

“It is not You that are to blame, my Lord, if those who love You do no great deeds; it is our weak-mindedness and cowardice. It is because we never make firm resolutions but are filled with a thousand fears and scruples arising from human prudence, that You, my God, do not work Your marvels and wonders. Who loves more than You to give, if You have anyone that will receive; or to accept services performed at our own cost? May Your Majesty grant me to have rendered You some service and to care about nothing save returning to You some part of all I have received” (Teresa of Jesus Way of Perfection 40 – Interior Castle III, 1 – The Book of Her Life 21 – Foundations 2).”

Love & faithful persistence in love of Him,

Nov 9 – “Mi Mamá Me Ama!!”, My Mother Loves Me, Holy Mother Church

Today, Nov 9, is the Feast of the Dedication of St John Lateran Church in 325 AD.

As to the Church, where else shall we go, except to the Bride of Christ, one flesh with Christ? Though she is a harlot at times, she is our Mother.” –Servant of God Dorothy Day, a convert from nominal Christianity, to Episcopalianism, to Catholicism, as documented in her book The Long Loneliness.

“The Church is our mother. She is our “Holy Mother Church” that is generated through our baptism, makes us grow up in her community and has that motherly attitude, of meekness and goodness: Our Mother Mary and our Mother Church know how to caress their children and show tenderness. To think of the Church without that motherly feeling is to think of a rigid association, an association without human warmth, an orphan.” -Pope Francis, 9/15/2015, homily at Mass, Casa Santa Marta.

-by Br. Josemaría Guzmán-Domínguez, OP

“I was taught to write cursive as a child back home in Venezuela. The typical method of instruction involved painstaking copying of letters or short sentences several times. I still remember that to learn how to shape the letter ‘m,’ my workbook presented the short alliterative sentence, “mi mamá me ama.”

Mi mamá me ama. “My mother loves me.” What an excellent sentence for a child to repeat, to write many times on his workbook, and to inscribe on the tablets of his heart. It is a sentence expressing a key truth of our lives. “Mi mamá me ama” ought almost to read as a tautology. My mother, our mothers, should, in the right order of the world, incarnate for me and for us the truth of unconditional love. For us children, the gift of our mothers should mean the gift of knowing we are loved.

Mi mamá me ama. “Does she?” asks the teenager. When we begin to notice the flaws in our mothers, especially their faults in their loving us, this question becomes tempting. And when we see the situation of a person who cannot truthfully think, write, or speak that sentence, we witness a tragedy. Since the love of human mothers toward their children does admit of failure, even of grave transgressions, the confidence in love that their love ought to give us is called into question.

Today Catholics celebrate a mother, Holy Mother Church, symbolized by the Cathedral of Saint John Lateran, the Pope’s cathedral. Therefore, it stands as “the mother and head of all the churches in the city and the world.” So today we can remember, “Mi mamá me ama.” Our Mother the Church—one, holy, catholic, and apostolic—loves us. She gave birth to our faith through her preaching and nourishes our hope by her sacraments. She inflames our hearts with charity for God and one another through sharing with us the Spirit who dwells in her. She points us toward happiness and teaches us how to live so as to attain it. She walks with us throughout our lives and leads us to our loving Father.

But does she really love us, this Church who so often appears to us negligent, distant, or even downright abusive? Can we really trust in the motherly love of a Church that like Jerusalem of old so often seems utterly corrupted? Would it not be best to distance ourselves from her, forget her, and assert our independence?

We understand the appeal of such impulses. The Church, as sometimes mothers, may strike us as hurtful and hypocritical. She seems to teach one thing and live another. She is the spotless bride of Christ and yet she seems to act like the whore of Babylon. This difficulty confronts Christians, saints and sinners, of every age. Sinfulness has been so prevalent in her members and her hierarchy that some see in this impurity the true mark of the Church.

However, we know in faith that the Church is our mother and a most loving mother at that. We know that she was formed by God from the pierced Heart of Jesus, the new Adam. She is the new Eve, the mother of all those who live by God’s grace. Such is the profound, mystical, often hidden identity of Holy Mother Church, perfectly symbolized in the person of our Holy Mother Mary.

Yet only eyes full of faith can see true face of the Church. Only a heart purified by charity can cut through the muck of sin with which her members defile the Church to embrace her words of wisdom and acts of love. Let us in these days beg these gifts from God in order to appreciate the Church’s true character and to remember that most fundamental of truths: Mi mamá me ama.”


Spiritual Platitudes

Pope Francis leads the Angelus Sept. 16 from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Favio Frustaci, EPA) See POPE-ANGELUS-FAITH Sept. 17, 2018.

-by Junno Arocho Esteves • Catholic News Service •  September 17, 2018

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — True followers of Jesus profess their faith not through pre-packaged platitudes but rather through concrete actions of love for their neighbors, Pope Francis said.

When He asks the disciples who they think He is, Jesus wasn’t interested in “ready-made responses (or) quoting famous personalities of Sacred Scriptures because a faith that is reduced to formulas is a myopic faith,” the pope said Sept. 16 during his Sunday Angelus address.

After praying the Angelus prayer, the pope welcomed the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square and said he wanted to give them a gift to commemorate the Sept. 14 feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Pope Francis said the gift, a silver crucifix distributed by the papal almoner’s office, wasn’t an “ornamental object” but a “sign of the love of God Who, in Jesus, gave His life for us.”

“I invite you to receive this gift and place it in your homes, in your children’s room or your grandparent’s (room); in any place but it must be seen in your home,” he said. “By looking at Jesus crucified, we are looking at our salvation.”

Before praying the Angelus prayer, the pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading in which Peter professes his faith in Christ, and Jesus explains the price that is paid for following Him.

“Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it,” Jesus said. (-Mt 16:24)

Christ’s words, the pope explained, affirm that His mission and those of His disciples “isn’t carried out on the wide road of success but on the arduous path of the suffering servant: humiliated, rejected and crucified.”

Like Peter who objected to Jesus’ assertion, Christians can also “protest and rebel because this doesn’t meet our expectations,” he said.

Professing one’s faith in Christ, Pope Francis added, doesn’t “stop at words but must be authenticated by concrete choices and gestures, by a life marked by God’s love, a great life, a life with so much love for one’s neighbor.”

“Often in life, for many reasons, we take the wrong path, looking for happiness only in things or in people who we treat like things,” the pope said. “But we can only find happiness when love, that true love, finds us, surprises us and changes us. Love changes everything.”


Here comes everybody!!

-James Joyce, Zurich, Switzerland, 1915

A very dear friend recently sent me a link to a scurrilous video on Youtube, much like Church Militant, and such, of which I am distinctly and decidedly not a fan.  Where is the Inquisition (you say it like it’s a bad thing? 🙂 when you need them!!?   He asked me what I thought.  Here is my response:

“Dear (friend),

Meh. Jn 8:31-58. “I have no need to fear the truth, what need have I to fear lies.” -Thomas Jefferson to George Logan, 20 June 1816. A universal (Catholic) Church is just that, universal. It has everybody. “Here comes everybody.” -James Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake, 1923, speaking of the Church. And, yes, we’ve got everybody. When I participate in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) which is how adults become Catholic, if a candidate says to me, “I’m not happy (not that that is the point, but ok), I can’t find X.” I say, “Hold on a minute. I will be your concierge. I know we’ve got it here somewhere.” And, we do.

Vatican II was an updating of the Church. A two thousand year old institution, the longest continuous in Western (the world’s?) history needs to do this from time to time. The Church’s cycle time is 400 years. The joke in the Vatican goes, “Come see me next Tue, and I’ll get back to you in 300 years.” But, seriously, the Church moves very intentionally slowly, and not quickly, to make sure the Church is clearly comprehending the truth the Holy Spirit is indeed revealing. Mt 16:18. Notice in that Scripture verse it did not say, rather it clearly said, they would try. And, they’ve been trying ever since. I am confident upon careful inspection of the authors of the video clip’s credentials, they would prove most scurrilous and discredited. Faith and Reason. Fides et Ratio.

Sometimes the Church and its Sacraments are used as weapons. You can tell when this is happening because they are being used to make people feel “other”, inferior, subordinate, unqualified, not worthy, etc., etc. We’ve got everybody: cranks, crackpots, loonies, wackos, nut jobs, freakazoids, you name it, on any side of any multi-dimensional spectrum you choose to hallucinate. We’ve got ’em. I wouldn’t have it any other way. That way, I know we are living up to our name, Universal.

People don’t like change, and get their jollies from conspiracy theory. “If it weren’t for people, we could all be holy!”-Mother Angelica. How true, Mother. How true. “Other people are Hell.” – Jean Paul Sartre.

We even have pervert priests and immoral bishops, priests who steal from their parishes, who do drugs, who murder, who commit suicide, suffer from mental illness, etc. Priests, and nuns, and lay people are sinners, too, regardless of their profession. Do not be too scandalized when people sin. It should be expected, even if highly saddening, disappointing, unwelcome, etc., just like our own. News Flash: The Church is full of sinners!!!! Eating with sinners, prostitutes, and tax collectors. Guess who we’re at Church with? It would seem that’s the idea.”

The problem with Catholics is Catholics.


Oct 15 – Preachers & Mystics

I have been reading a great deal about Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, recently.

-by Br Juan Macias Marquez, OP

“In recalling today’s feast of the glorious and spirited reformer St. Teresa of Avila, I can’t help but recall, as a Dominican myself, the great gifts that the Order of Preachers and the Carmelites together have given to the Church. This is particularly noted in the interaction between the intellectual contributions of the Dominicans and the mystical legacy of the Carmelites.

One of the most dynamic engagements between the two Orders began in Spain’s famed siglo de oro, the Golden Age. During this period, Spain experienced an incredible flourishing in nearly all of the liberal arts and also a revival in philosophical and theological Scholasticism and Catholic mysticism. Catholic Spain had become arguably the stronghold of the Faith after the onset of the Reformation, especially with the unification of the peninsula by los Reyes Católicos, Fernando II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. As a result, an orthodox and vibrant Catholic renewal was fostered. With regards to the intellectual life, the Dominican Francisco de Vitoria helped establish the historic tradition of academic excellence and made expansive developments in law and philosophy at the school of Salamanca. After him would come many learned friar preachers, like Domingo de Soto and Domingo Bañez, seeking to preach not only to Spaniards but to all those they might meet in the New World.

In mysticism, we find the two chief figures, both Carmelites, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. These two legendary reformers were for the most part not directly involved with the schoolmen but neither were they far removed from them. Their culture still retained a dogged commitment to the medieval understanding of the integral nature of the Catholic life; one did not separate intellectual study and the mystical life with as strong a tendency as is common today. For example, St. Teresa herself was a voracious reader, and she was not afraid to make this known, which was bold for a woman in the sixteenth century. In addition, she insisted that her sisters “go from time to time beyond their ordinary confessors and talk about their souls with persons of learning, especially if the confessors, though good men, have no learning; for learning is a great help in giving light upon everything” (The Way of Perfection, Ch. 5). Especially as the reformer of the Carmelite monasteries, she knew that establishing a firm intellectual foundation grounded in the font of the Church’s wisdom would be necessary if her reform was going to perdure. She would pick, for a large portion of her life, a succession of Dominican confessors and advisors trained in the rigorous intellectual tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas. The most famous of those that St. Teresa sought out was the aforementioned Domingo Bañez. He was her confessor for six years and her advisor off and on for many more.

Jumping ahead a few centuries, we stumble upon a daughter of the holy Mother Teresa, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. It was not the case for St. Elizabeth that she sought out a Dominican confessor or director, but it happened that Divine Providence allotted her one. The preaching of Fr. Irénée Vallée, a popular Dominican preacher in France at the time, captivated her, becoming one of the catalysts for her deep growth in the spiritual life. Saint Elizabeth spent a meager twenty-six years on this earth, so the development of her interior life happened rather quickly. Many of her writings attest to the great advances she made in the understanding of divine mysteries as a result of the doctrine she learned from Fr. Valleé. The friar also was edified by the future saint. He readily refers to her as his daughter. So, here too we see a similar edifying relationship between a Dominican spiritual director and a Carmelite nun.

The last mention goes to the great spiritual master of the twentieth century, Fr. Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange. Father Lagrange is arguably most well known for his project of fusing the thought of St. John of the Cross and St. Thomas Aquinas in his spiritual theology. He recognized the obvious foundations of St. John’s mystical theology on Thomistic principles and thought that he could reunite these disciplines, which were becoming more and more disparate in modern times. He wanted to prove that the serious Christian could find spiritual nourishment in rigorous Scholasticism and the mystical tradition. In his project, Fr. Lagrange shows the fecundity of the relationship between the charisms of the two Orders.

In this fallen world, harmonious things often become separated over time. The saints and theologians mentioned above are a refreshing witness to the power of collaboration for the building up and unification of God’s kingdom. Let us, then, call upon St. Teresa of Avila to help us to live more fruitful, unified lives in the mystical body of Christ.”

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks with
Compassion on this world.

Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are His body.

Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks with
Compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.


Jesus gave His authority to His Church

-“Christ Giving the Keys to St Peter”, Pietro Perugino, 1481-1482, fresco, Sistine Chapel, 330 cm × 550 cm (130 in × 220 in), please click on the image for greater detail

What Does Teaching Have to Do with Authority?

We live in an age skeptical of authority. “Think for yourself” is a standard piece of advice, and slogans like “Question authority” appear on bumper stickers, buttons, and T-shirts. Following crises like the Vietnam War, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and other scandals, trust in government officials is at a historic low.

In the twentieth century, an age of radical individualism began, and even if 1960s sayings like “Do your own thing” have passed from the scene, the idea that individuals should make up their own minds about what they should do and believe has remained. The rise of modern science contributed to the anti-authoritarian attitude of our day. Scholars are not supposed to just tell us what to believe. Instead, they should provide evidence supporting the views they endorse.

Between science, individualism, and scandals involving authority figures, moderns are skeptical of authority, and that includes the connection between authority and teaching. People today hold that if a teaching is true, we should be able to produce reasons for it and should not simply accept it on someone’s “authority.”

Jesus Shares Authority with the Church

Although Jesus’ authority as the Son of God is unique to Him, He chose to associate human beings with His mission and gave them a share of authority. Thus when He appoints the Twelve, we read:

‘And He called to Himself His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity.’ (Matt. 10:1).

The authority He shared was not just that to work miracles. The twelve disciples were His students (that’s what “disciple” means), and He prepared them to become teachers and sent them on preaching missions:

“These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand!’”(Matt. 10:5-7).

Later, when sending out an even larger group, He underlined the teaching authority He had given them, stating:

‘He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.’ (Luke 10:16).

Jesus also gave the Twelve the authority to govern His Church. He first gave Peter the authority “to bind and loose” (Matt. 16:19), and later He shared this with the other disciples (Matt. 18:18).

As the Church grew, authority to teach and govern was transmitted to others in the local churches.

Thus Paul writes, “God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers” (1 Cor. 12:28; cf. Eph. 4:11). It is because of its teaching function that the Church serves as “the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).

Similarly, there are those with governing authority in the Church. The letter to the Hebrews exhorts Christians to “obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account” (Heb. 13:17; cf. 1 Thess. 5:12).

Teaching and governing authority are therefore intrinsic to the structure of the Church.”

(While I concur with the author, the need to provide reasoning to the modern person is a blessing to the Church, imho. We must recall crises (“These things must come…”) have always been the impetus for the Church to greater define her teaching and doctrine, improve her catechesis, to call councils, and to initiate reform. Tragic, unpleasant, yes, but necessary. How many humans do you know who change easily? Reform quickly? Admit their shortcomings, mistakes, sins readily? Me neither, especially yours truly. Similarly, in our own lives, tragedy and crises give rise to us growing and deepening our understanding of Scripture, life’s meaning, the importance of gifts and our lives. Wisdom, institutional or individual, and particularly regarding yours truly, with the exception of Solomon, seems not to be granted in a miraculous flash, but hard won. SEE = Significant Emotional Event. Then, we remember, not just in the head, but in the heart and soul, too. Brilliant. Praise Him! Praise Him, Church!!)


1 Cor 12:26 – one suffers, all suffer…

Jesus, You who have accepted me as a member of Your Mystical Body, grant that I may not be in it as a stranger, but that I may work for the good of all my brethren.

“If a thorn,” says St. John Chrysostom, “gets into the sole of the foot, the whole body feels it and is solicitous for it: the back bends, the hands reach down to draw it out, the head is lowered, and the eyes watch very carefully and anxiously.

The cause of all evils lies in the fact that we consider as alien the things that concern our own body [the Mystical Body of Christ]. No one is fulfilling his own duty if he ignores his neighbor’s salvation. If you dare to contend that you have nothing in common with your fellow member; if you think you have nothing in common with your brother, then neither have you Christ for your Head.”

“O Lord, turn Your merciful eyes upon Your people and upon Your Mystical Body, the Holy Church, since You will receive more glory from pardoning many souls than You will by pardoning only me, a wretched creature who has offended You so often. I beseech You, therefore, divine eternal Charity, to avenge Yourself on me and be merciful to Your people; I shall never depart from Your presence until I see that You have shown mercy to them. How could I be happy if I had eternal life and Your people were condemned to death?… Therefore, I wish, and as a favor I implore You, to show mercy to Your people by that same charity which moved You to create man to Your image and likeness so that He might have a share in You and in Your life.

O Lord, I offer You my life now and forever, whenever it shall please You to take it, and I offer it for Your glory, humbly beseeching You, by the merits of Your Passion, to cleanse and purify Your Spouse, the Church, from every defect; delay no longer!… I turn my gaze in another direction and I see the lost souls of countless sinners. My heart is broken at the sight of them, or rather, it is dilated by the force of bitter regret. I am overcome with compassion, and I cannot help weeping for their misery as if I found myself—like them—soiled with the mire of their guilt.

Lord, during Your mortal life, You bore the weight of two crosses by carrying in Your body the heavy burden of our sins. In order that I may be conformed to You, You have burdened me with the weight of two crosses: one crushes my body with infirmities and other distresses, the other transfixes my soul which grieves for the perdition and blindness of so many poor, obstinate sinners.” (St. Catherine of Siena).

Love & compassion, literally “to suffer with”,