Saturday, June 28, 2008

Off Again!

I'm off again, and I never came back here this week. Too much catch-up. You will all be in my prayers... I will return July 6th.

Friday, June 13, 2008

On the Road...

I will probably be away from the blog till the 22nd. I'll be at Suzuki Violin Teacher Training, and don't know if I'll have internet access while there. God-willing, the "Why Am I Catholic?" series will be continued as soon as I return.

Please keep me in your prayers and know that you will be in mine!

Bishop Addresses Dress for Mass

06/11/2008 Manilla, Philippines

A Catholic bishop on Wednesday said that "freedom of expression" should not be used as an excuse for some churchgoers who continue to ignore a "dress code" inside the church.

Davao archbishop Fernando Capalla said it is foolish to invoke personal freedom in the choice of dress for liturgical functions.

..."I am only supporting what the home, the school, and social and civic institutions are supposed to be doing on this matter," he added.

Capalla said that in the celebration of the Eucharist, which the Church considers a solemn occasion, churchgoers are required to be in their decent attire.

Complete article here.

Article found through
"The Voice of the Catholic Lay Faithful"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Why Am I Catholic? Part 2: Purgatory, Mortal Sin and Venial Sin

In their article on "The Roots of Purgatory", Catholic Answers makes an excellent point:

All Christians agree that we won’t be sinning in heaven. Sin and final
glorification are utterly incompatible. Therefore, between the sinfulness of
this life and the glories of heaven, we must be made pure. Between death and
glory there is a purification.
The Catholic understanding of Purgatory is explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), paragraphs 1030-31:

"All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned."

The doctrine of Purgatory is connected to the Catholic teaching of two kinds of sin: mortal and venial. All sin is wrong, evil, weakening, and dehabilitating. But few of us would say that a five-year-old sneaking a cookie is equally wrong with an adult stealing a car. The first would be a venial (or "lesser") sin; the second, mortal (or "deadly"). Anyone who is familiar with Latin or Spanish recognizes "morte" — the word for death — at the root of "mortal". This concept of deadly and non-deadly sin comes right from 1 John 5:16-17:

"If anyone sees his brother commit sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death."

St. John says clearly that there is sin that leads to death, and that there is sin that doesn't. But he makes sure to clarify that all wrongdoing is still sin. Just because the five-year-old's disobedience in sneaking the cookie isn't as major as hotwiring and stealing a car doesn't mean it's not wrong. He is still guilty, but with a lesser guilt than the other. Likewise, the punishment is proportional — probably a few minutes in the time-out chair versus a few years in jail.

Mortal, or deadly, sin does just what the name implies: kills the life of God (grace) in one's soul. Catholics believe that for one to die with the guilt of unrepented deadly sin makes it impossible for them to go to Heaven (this is where Confession comes in...but that will be addressed later in the series!). A soul who dies in this state has forfeited Heaven.

Venial sin, because of its lesser severity, does not kill the life of God in a soul, but weakens and undermines it. We all commit venial sins every day. These venial sins "clutter up" our souls with impurity. One who dies with venial (not mortal) sin on their soul is said to be in a state of grace. They are assured of salvation, but are not yet ready to enter Heaven: Revelation 21:27 states that nothing and no one unclean can enter the presence of God in heaven. All traces of venial sin must be purified from a soul before this can happen. This purification is what takes place in Purgatory.

Some imagine that the Catholic Church has an elaborate doctrine of purgatory worked out, but there are only three essential components of the doctrine: (1) that a purification after death exists, (2) that it involves some kind of pain, and (3) that the purification can be assisted by the prayers and offerings by the living to God.

Many early Church Fathers wrote on this subject, for example, St. Augustine in A.D. 392:

"Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice [Job 1:5], why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them" (Homilies on First Corinthians 41:5)

The doctrine of Purgatory is a rich and beautiful one. Not only that, it is a merciful one. I have only begun to offer an explanation here... let me point you to some excellent reading that goes into this deeper!

- Purgatory from debunks some Purgatory myths and explains why it is not a Catholic "invention" .

- The Roots of Purgatory contains a number of intriguing quotes from the writing of early Church Fathers recognized and appreciated by Catholics and Evangelicals alike.

- Purgatory at makes more connections with scripture and Church Fathers.

- Why Mortal and Venial Sins? is a former evangelical's take on the subject.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Why Am I Catholic? Part 1: The Eucharist

Meshaay asked the following in the comment box recently...

Hey, I've been wondering, what do you believe as a Catholic? What makes you different from a Christian, and why did you choose Catholicism over Christianity? Thanks in advance.

Thanks for the question, Meshaay! I need to clarify right off (as some friends did kindly in the comment box) that as a Catholic, I am also a Christian. It's not one versus the other. In fact, Catholics are the original Christians and the largest Christian church in the world with over 1 billion members (1/6 the world's population). The Catholic Church is the one which Christ founded nearly 2000 years ago. All other Christian denominations (Protestant, Baptist, Lutheran, etc.) are the results of "splits", or individuals/groups breaking off from the Catholic Church over the past 500 years. And though these splits often occurred because an individual or group contested with Catholic doctrine, all Catholics do share with our evangelical Christian brothers and sisters a common faith in God as Creator and Father and in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

As far as our differences go, the main ones include the Eucharist, Purgatory, devotion to the Blessed Mother and the Saints, the Sacraments (especially Confession), the Holy Father and Magisterium, and Sacred Tradition as a means of passing on truth along with Sacred Scripture.

Rather than make this a very lengthy post to explain all of the above, I'll do a series and cover one topic in each. Today is the first and foremost: The Eucharist.

As Catholics, we take Jesus at His word. In John 6:51-53, He says:

"'I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.'

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, 'How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?'

Jesus said to them, 'Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.

'For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.

'This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.'"

Most Protestants hold that Jesus was speaking symbolically in this passage. However, a look at the original Greek shows otherwise. The Greek word for "body" in John 6:54 is sarx, which means physical flesh, and the word for "eats" (trogon) translates as "gnawing" or "chewing." This is certainly not the language of metaphor. (Reference: The Institution of the Mass from Catholic Answers.)

His clarity is further shown by the fact that when many of His disciples left him due to the radicalism of the above (John 6:66), He let them go. He didn't call them back and say "Wait! I was speaking symbolically. The meaning of the parable is...". No — He let them go.

When He said His flesh would give us life, he meant it — literally. Take a look at how many times He uses the words "life" and "living" in the above passage. He even uses "Amen, Amen" to emphasize His words!

Jesus went on to fulfill His promise of John 6 at the Last Supper, when He took bread and wine and turned them into His body and blood. His words "This is My Body" and "This is My Blood" are recorded in three of the Gospel narratives. (Matthew 26:26-27, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20). He commands His Apostles, and us, to "Do this in remembrance of Me" (Luke 22:19).

If I had to name the single most important reason I am Catholic, it is this. The Catholic Church brings me the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of my Lord and God so that I might receive Him physically! If one is receptive, this can be a life-changing experience each and every time it occurs (see Secrets of the Eucharist). I have been blessed to attend Mass and receive Him every day since my First Holy Communion 14 years ago (only missing a few). He is my strength and my sustenance of life, just as He promised in John 6. Not only that, but because He remains fully present in the Eucharist He waits day and night in our churches for His children to come and be with Him. Adoration, or worship of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament (the Eucharist), is, after receiving Him physically, one of the most powerful experiences of grace possible.

For more thorough and excellent explanations on the Eucharist, check out:

- Christ in the Eucharist from
- The Eucharist in Scripture
- The Real Presence from
- The Eucharist Article Index: Q & A and more from

I would like to welcome any non-Catholic readers I may have and encourage you to explore this topic. I hope that this series may be helpful to your understanding of why Catholics believe what we do. Charitable discussion in the comment box is encouraged!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Quality Time

Today I enjoyed an afternoon/evening spent with my goddaughter... drinking in the simple pleasure of each other's company and conversation interspersed with lunch, prayer, adoration of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, a few walks, ice cream, and flowers. :) A lovely and memorable afternoon filled with one of the five love languages: quality time. For someone as continually busy as I am, finding quality time with those I love can be difficult. But still very rewarding...not only for their spirit (hopefully), but for mine!

What is Mercy?

From my spiritual reading of Mother Teresa today:

"Mercy is more than a feeling of pity or compassion; mercy has to be expressed. It needs constant emphasis that mercy is love expressed under the aspect of need. Mercy is love going out to meet the need of the person loved. Mercy is prayer to the Father of all mercies on behalf of all who suffer."

~from Blessed are You: Mother Teresa and the Beatitudes