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I Thirst For You

December 19, 2014
This is a beautiful passage of Jesus speaking to each one of us. I first heard it recited by Fr. John Riccardo but I’m not exactly sure who wrote it.  Either it was directly written in current form by Mother Theresa or it is based off her spiritual teachings.
I would strongly advise you to get into a quiet place, eliminate all distractions, quiet your mind, close your eyes, and listen to the audio of Father Riccardo reciting this.  I’ve also included the words if you want to read it. It’s quite long so just give yourself time to listen to it meditatively. Really absorb what he’s saying and hear the words that he speaks. This is a very beautiful written work.

I Thirst For You.mp3


“It is true. I stand at the door of your heart, day and night. Even when you are not listening, even when you doubt it could be Me, I am there. I await even the smallest sign of your response, even the least whispered invitation that will allow Me to enter and I want you to know that whenever you invite Me, I do come – always, without fail. Silent and unseen I come, but with infinite power and love, and bringing the many gifts of My Spirit. I come with My mercy, with My desire to forgive and heal you, and with a love for you beyond your comprehension – a love every bit as great as the love I have received from the Father (“As much as the Father has loved me, I have loved you…” (Jn. 15:10) I come – longing to console you and give you strength, to lift you up and bind all your wounds. I bring you My light, to dispel your darkness and all your doubts. I come with My power, that I might carry you and all your burdens; with My grace, to touch your heart and transform your life; and My peace I give to still your soul.

I know you through and through. I know everything about you. The very hairs of your head I have numbered. Nothing in your life is unimportant to Me. I have followed you through the years, and I have always loved you – even in your wanderings. I know every one of your problems. I know your needs and your worries – and yes, I know all your sins, but I tell you again that I love you. Not for what you have or haven’t done. I love you for you, for the beauty and dignity My Father gave you by creating you in His own image. It is a dignity you have often forgotten, a beauty you have tarnished by sin. But I love you as you are, and I have shed My Blood to win you back. If you only ask Me with faith, My grace will touch all that needs changing in your life, and I will give you the strength to free yourself from sin and all its destructive power.

I know what is in your heart. I know your loneliness and all your hurts. The rejections, the judgments, the humiliations. I carried it all before you and I carried it all for you so you might share My strength and victory. I know especially your need for love, how you are thirsting to be loved and cherished, but how often have you thirsted in vain by seeking that love selfishly, striving to fill the emptiness inside you with passing pleasures, with the even greater emptiness of sin. Do you thirst for love? (“Come to Me all you who thirst…” Jn. 7: 37). I will satisfy you and fill you. Do you thirst to be cherished? I cherish you more than you can imagine – to the point of dying on a cross for you.

I Thirst for You. Yes, that is the only way to even begin to describe My love for you. I THIRST FOR YOU. I thirst to love you and to be loved by you – that is how precious you are to Me. I THIRST FOR YOU. Come to Me and I will fill your heart and heal your wounds. I will make you a new creation and give you peace.  Even in all your trials I THIRST FOR YOU. You must never doubt My mercy, My acceptance of you, My desire to forgive, My longing to bless you and live My life in you. I THIRST FOR YOU. If you feel unimportant in the eyes of the world that matters not at all. For Me there is no one any more important in the entire world than you. I THIRST FOR YOU. Open to Me, come to Me, thirst for Me, give me your life – and I will prove to you how important you are to My Heart.

Don’t you realize that My Father already has a perfect plan to transform your life, beginning from this moment? Trust in Me. Ask Me every day to enter and take charge of your life. – and I will. I promise you before My Father in heaven that I will work miracles in your life. Why would I do this? Because I THIRST FOR YOU. All I ask of you is that you entrust yourself to Me completely. I will do all the rest.

Even now I behold the place My Father has prepared for you in My Kingdom. Remember that you are a pilgrim in this life, on a journey home. Sin can never satisfy you, or bring the peace you seek. All that you have sought outside of Me has only left you more empty, so do not cling to the things of this life. Above all, do not run from Me when you fall. Come to Me without delay. When you give Me your sins, you gave Me the joy of being your Savior. There is nothing I cannot forgive and heal; so come now, and unburden your soul.

No matter how far you may wander, no matter how often you forget Me, no matter how many crosses you may bear in this life; there is one thing I want you to always remember, one thing that will never change. I THIRST FOR YOU – just as you are. You don’t need to change to believe in My love, for it will be your belief in My love that will change you. You forget Me, and yet I am seeking you every moment of the day – standing at the door of your heart and knocking. Do you find this hard to believe? Then look at the cross, look at My Heart that was pierced for you. Have you not understood My cross? Then listen again to the words I spoke there – for they tell you clearly why I endured all this for you: “I THIRST…”(Jn 19: 28). Yes, I thirst for you – as the rest of the psalm – verse I was praying says of Me: “I looked for love, and I found none…” (Ps. 69: 20). All your life I have been looking for your love – I have never stopped seeking to love you and be loved by you. You have tried many other things in your search for happiness; why not try opening your heart to Me, right now, more than you ever have before.

Whenever you do open the door of your heart, whenever you come close enough, you will hear Me say to you again and again, not in mere human words but in spirit. “No matter what you have done, I love you for your own sake. Come to Me with your misery and your sins, with your troubles and needs, and with all your longing to be loved. I stand at the door of your heart and knock. Open to Me, for I THIRST FOR YOU.”

“Jesus is God, therefore His love, His Thirst, is infinite.
He, the creator of the universe, asked for the love of His creatures.
He thirst for our love. These words: ‘I Thirst’ – Do they echo in our souls?”
– Mother Teresa

Overcoming Our Humanity to Become Saints

September 5, 2014

An excerpt of a meditation on the example of the humanity of Paul and how his humanity can show us how to be saints.

“What kind of man did God choose in Paul?

One day riding his horse on the way to Damascus, with only one thing in mind, ‘crush these Christians,’ a bolt of light comes along.  God says, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me’ (Acts 9:4).  It was such a powerful moment he fell off his horse, and he goes into Damascus blind.  It takes Ananias to come and cure him of his blindness and baptize him.

Now we have this concept of Paul at that moment: rising up, getting back on his horse, going to Jerusalem, and beginning to preach.

Well, he didn’t.

He went into the desert for three years to pray (Gal 1:17).  It’s about ten years before he begins a missionary journey to preach the word of God.  Just imagine, it took time even after he was knocked off his horse; it took time for this egotistical intellectual to become a humble servant of the servants of God.  In our lives we have the impression that after I have said, “Jesus my Lord,” I’ve got it made.  I just walk off and shine my halo every morning before breakfast – off I go being the most patient, kind, loving person this world has ever known.  Boy, are we kidding ourselves?  You know the world is full of potential saints.  We’re all potential saints.  If we just understood that we’re potential saints and will be until we die, we’d never say (as some do), ‘I’ve made it.’

Until you reach heaven you haven’t made anything.

Do you really want to love God or do you want people to think you love God?  

Somewhere, somehow, somebody is under the impression that you are NOT God’s give to humanity… this is life.  Instead of thinking about how much you’re suffering and how much so-and-so is bugging you, why don’t you start to think: this is life.  How am I going to become a saint with all of this?  Because these things are never going to leave you, and you will battle your faults until you die.  You can go to Timbuktu or Bangladesh and you’d still be there with yourself.  You are your biggest problem.

In the Scripture you’ll find hope to transform your life.  Don’t despair and don’t think holiness is not for you or that God doesn’t love you.  Though you fall a million times a day, our Father will reach down and lift you up and teach you humility… That’s what holiness is.  It’s about falling and rising with God.  

If you reject God, it is you who reject Him.  He never rejects you.

God’s hand is the last one to let go.

That’s the message of Paul and that’s the message of Christ.

[Paul] is supposed to be this towering figure, this great holy man, like that statue in Rome.

St Paul Statue


Well what about II Corinthians 12:7?… He might have had epilepsy.  Can you imagine Saint Paul an epileptic?  He might have had dysentery.  ‘Oh, no saint would have dysentery!’ some will say.  The saints had dysentery and that had a lot of other things.

This is life!

They lived it with God, and so must we.”

Excerpt from Mother Angelica’s Private and Pithy Lessons from the Scriptures Introduced and Edited by Raymond Arroyo.
Mother Angelica Literary Properties © 2008 by Mother Mary Angelica, P.C.P.A and Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, Inc.  All other text copyright © 2008 by Raymond Arroyo.
Photo Copyright © 1995-2002 Branislav L. Slantchev. All rights reserved.
No copyright infringement intended and all material posted is in no way placed here for financial gain.  All rights, trademarks and copyrights are the property of their respective owners

How a Catholic Gets to Heaven

June 20, 2014

The fourth in our series of questions deals with Catholics getting into Heaven and what they actually believe they have to do in order to get there.

Q: How do Catholics believe they get into Heaven?

A: By the Grace of the Holy Spirit which moves on our hearts thus leading us to commit to follow Christ and all He commanded us to do and to “hold fast to the end” (Hebrews 3:14, CCC 154, 155).  By believing that Jesus Christ is the Divine Son of God, that he was born of a Virgin, suffered death for our sakes by Crucifixion, and was raised bodily from the dead to eternal life.  Through Him alone can we be saved.¹ (1 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 9:15, Acts 4:12).

Okay, but what about Mary, and praying to Saints, the Rosary, lighting candles, believing in Confession, doing what the Pope says and all that other “extra” stuff?  Don’t Catholics believe all that other stuff is necessary too in order to be saved?  Most importantly, don’t Catholics believe that they have to do “works” in order to be saved?  Isn’t it really a “works based Salvation?”

If all Christ ever told people to do in order to obtain Salvation was to ask Him “into our hearts as our personal Lord and Savior” and from that moment into eternity we were considered “saved” then Catholicism would truly be “Christianity plus”.

The question really becomes, “what must I do in order to be saved?” Our answer can be given utilizing what Scripture tells us to do:

“That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9 cf – Acts 16:31).

But that is not the only thing Scriptures tell us to do in order to obtain Salvation.

Along with that Scripture also says, “Whoever believes and is Baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16).   Peter writes in his letter, “Baptism… now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience.” (1 Peter 3:21) [“The waters of baptism do that for you, not by washing away dirt from your skin but by presenting you through Jesus’ resurrection before God with a clear conscience.” MSG]

Once people confess Jesus as Lord the first thing we’re called to is Baptism which cleanses us from sin, gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, and thus presents us as Holy before the Lord. (Titus 3:5, Ephesians 5:26, Hebrews 10:22)

Explicitly we’re told several times that in order to remain steadfast in this life we are also called to do the works of the Lord. We are told “by their fruit you shall know them” and that if anyone does not actually produce good fruit they shall be cut off and thrown into the fire.  (Matthew 3:10; 7:19, Luke 3:9)  Also we’re told, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV)  We’re told explicitly in Romans 2:6 that God rewards us for our good works, that by them we are justified and righteous like Abraham and Rahab (James 2:21.23.25) and also that we cannot abide in the doctrine of “faith alone” without works (James 2:14-17) because it has no merit.  Good works then have merit since they sanctify a soul drawing them closer to God.  Through these “works” we live out our Christian faith or maintain in our Christian faith and we do this in a number of different ways which are mentioned in the Bible.  This includes turning away from vices and living in a virtuous way consistent with the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles.  (Galatians 5:16-24, Ephesians 4:17-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)  It includes participating in the things Christ commanded us to participate in like Baptism (referenced above), the Eucharist (John 6:51,53-56; Matt. 26:26-28; Mark. 14:22,24; Luke 22;19,20; 1 Cor. 10:16), Reconciliation (John 20:21-23; Matt. 18:18; James 5:15,16), Confirmation (Acts 8:14-16, 19:4-6; Hebrews 6:2), and Anointing the Sick (Mark 6:13; James 5:14).  [Holy Orders (Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 3:1-13, 4:14, 5:17; 1 Peter 5:1; Titus 1:5) and Marriage (Matt. 5:32; Mark 10:6-9; ; Hebrews 13:4) are also considered Sacraments in the Catholic Church but are rather signs of being sealed into a chosen vocation in life and not mandatory for Christians who do not chose them.]

Not only are we told to remain steadfast in this lifestyle but that by falling into sin we can be cut off from God.  (John 15:1-6, Matthew 10:22 & 24:13, Mark 13:13, 1 John 5:16,17, 2 Peter 2:20,21)


For many Protestants good “deeds” follow naturally from the initial belief in Christ and that if one is truly in Christ as a Christian one will naturally be lead to Christian actions and successfully avoid sinful actions because a true Christian would not be overcome by any sin in a way that would undermine his Salvation.  Although, the good actions performed as a Christian have no merit at all in this regard and performing them is simple more a function of following the “new nature”.  They are merely a byproduct of being a believer.  All the good things one does after being a believer is a natural effect of Salvation.  For many Protestant denominations, Salvation has become a process of reduction to the most simplified bottom line.  Anything considered ‘non-essential’ is not required and interpretation lends a lot of varied degrees about what requirements are necessary in order to obtain Salvation.

Catholics believe in an “active participation” in their faith and all that has been asked of them by Christ.  We believe He established a Church with leadership to guide us and instituted Sacraments in order for us to be joined more perfectly with Him.  We believe that God, through no work or action on our part, gives us the initial grace of the Holy Spirit as a free gift to respond to His call to become followers of Christ. (CCC 1966)  Once we are Baptised we are buried with Christ in Baptism, washed clean of our sins, and joined with Him in the Resurrection of a new life. (CCC 1967)  We believe that we must maintain this walk actively in a battle to die to our old ways, to sin, and to temptation, and that there are many ways which we have been given in order to actively receive God’s Graces.  Because of our human nature, we are still capable to freely chose at any time to walk away from God or separate ourselves from Him because of our choice to sin. (CCC 162)  When we have separated ourselves because of deadly sin or what we call mortal sin (1 John 5:16,17) we must reconcile ourselves to God in order to return our souls to a state of Grace suitable for obtaining Salvation in Him.  This is why St. John calls it deadly sin.  Only by actively maintaining in our faith by being obedient to God and fighting the good fight and running the good race all the way to the finish line can we accomplish the goal of winning the eternal crown.  We cooperate with the Holy Spirit in Christ to do God’s Will and we cannot accomplish anything without it.  As Christ Himself says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”  As St. Paul tells us we cannot do religious acts for their own sake in order to obtain righteousness because that’s what the Jews were trying to do by performing the works of the Law.  That is what the book of Romans is all about.   Only through Christ and with His help can we obtain Salvation. (cf CCC 162)

1. This belief is recited by Catholics each Sunday in the Nicene Creed and privately with the Apostle’s Creed.  Many Protestants also recite the Apostle’s Creed and some even profess their own created creed derived or based, in some way, off the Apostolic Creed.

CCC ref. the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Each paragraph is numbered accordingly

154. Believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit. 155. In faith, the human intellect and will cooperate with divine grace. 161. Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation. 162. Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: “Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith.” (1 Timothy 1:18-19) To live, grow and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith; it must be “working through charity,” abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church. (cf. Mk 9:24; Lk 17:5; 22:32; Gal 5:6; Rom 15:13; Jas 2:14-26.)

1966. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life. 1967. Grace… introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ… As an “adopted son” he can henceforth call God “Father,” in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church. 1999. The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism.

Mary and the Brothers and Sisters of Jesus

June 13, 2014

The third question in our series deals with why Catholics believe that Mary didn’t have any other children except Jesus and why she, in fact, remained a virgin.

Q: Why do Catholics think Mary had no other children and remained a virgin?

A: Because it is an ancient Christian teaching.  Early Christians taught that Mary was a virgin her whole life and had no other children besides Jesus.  This is implicit in the Bible – meaning there are passages that point to this doctrine and it is explicit in Christian tradition – meaning there are doctrines that were taught and written about in early Christian writings which show that this is what early Christians believed.  It is, therefore, the total sum of all the many different aspects of Christian faith concerning Mary that form these beliefs.

These ancient Christian beliefs, taught from the beginning, said that Mary, by virtue of the fact that she gave birth to God Incarnate, had to be an extremely holy person.  From the beginning Christians taught and believed that because she was a very holy person, God maintained her in holiness and a part of doing that was to maintain her virginity intact because it was a sign of her holy consecration to God.  (a non-scriptural writing on the childhood of the Virgin Mary stated that she had been consecrated to God as a holy virgin¹.)  From ancient Christianity Mary has been considered the New Testament version of the Ark of the Covenant (the Holy Spirit overshadowed them both and they both contained within them the Word of God) and thus considered Holy and consecrated to God with her virginity.

Early Christians taught that she remained that way throughout her entire life and that she never gave birth to any other children.  They taught that anyone mentioned in the Bible as being a “brother” or “sister” of Christ was either a half-sibling from a previous marriage of Joseph’s (a common early Christian belief) or that they were related kinsmen of Mary and Joseph’s who were not born from either of them.  The idea that she was not a virgin forever and that she had other children was not taught in Christianity for over 1,500 years.  Historically the Reformers believed in her everlasting virginity including John Calvin and John Wesley.  The belief that she was not a virgin forever and that she had other children besides Jesus is a very modern belief of Christian teaching less than a few hundred years old.

So why use the term “brother” when it didn’t mean actual brother?

You can read more about this topic and the “brothers of Jesus” in minute detail in my blog entry discussing the term “brother” and it’s Aramaic and Greek heritage.  Generally speaking, there wasn’t a specific word in Jesus’ original language of Aramaic to define the proper or exact relationship these “brothers” had to Jesus, so when New Testament writers like Luke wrote the story down they didn’t use a specific Greek word for these kinsmen but instead used the more general term in Greek which meant ‘close kin’ so that it encompassed a wider range of relationships.  What this means is that when the term used in the Greek manuscript for a ‘brotherly relationship’, translated into English it was translated as “brothers”. The Greek word itself used the term “brethren” as in either close family – like cousins, brothers by bond (think of ‘Band of Brothers’ or ‘Brothers in Arms’), as tribal relations, or as blood brothers.  So the way it was originally written the Greek word used there was used as a very wide open term to describe the relationship.

Also, if we look at the men specifically mentioned in the Bible as being “brothers” of Christ like James and Joseph (or Joses depending on the manuscript), Simon, and Jude (or Judas, not Iscariot [cf. Mt. 13:55; Mk. 6:3]) we can identify who they were exactly and who their parents were or at least where they came from.

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (John 19:25)

Well who is Mary, the wife of Clopas (or Cleophas)?

  • She is mentioned in Matthew 15:40 as being the mother of James and Josas (or Joseph).
  • In Mark she’s called the mother of James the Less and Joses (Mk 15:40).

James is also described as the son of Alphaeus in the synoptic Gospels’ listing of the Apostles (Mt 10:3, Mk 3:18, Lk 6:15).

  • Alphaeus and Cleophas is often thought to be the Roman and Hebrew name of the same man.  (Much like Saul was the Jewish name and Paul was his Roman name.)
  • Therefore, we can deduce that Cleophas/Alphaeus is the father of James and Josas/Joseph.
  • We can also deduce that it is highly unlikely that Mary wife of Cleophas is a blood sister of the Virgin Mary since they bear the same name.  More likely they were probably close kinsmen or cousins.  This parallels the use of “brother” in relating James to Jesus.
  • Acts 1:13 says that Jude (Judas) was a brother of James who is identified in this verse as James, the son of Alphaeus.  Jude himself says in his own epistle that he is a brother of James (cf. Jude 1:1).  
  • Simon, called the Zealot, is identified as coming from Cana, not Nazareth as were Joseph, Mary and Christ.  (Mark 3:18)

Therefore, the “brothers” mentioned by name in Scripture as being brothers of Christ are clearly shown to have different lineage than that of Mary and Joseph.

Mary being a virgin and having no other children is a difficult concept for Protestants to believe since they do not often consider or know the early historic traditions of Christianity and thus don’t believe them sturdy enough to base their doctrines upon.  Instead they prefer to rely on what is explicitly or basically clear in Scripture alone as the only reliable platform with which to base doctrinal beliefs.  (Ironically the Bible itself is based on Catholic Tradition.)

Catholics on the other hand do not use the Bible alone as a sole base for their doctrinal beliefs.  They primarily use Scripture but they also believe what was historically always taught in Christianity as a basis for belief.  Commonly called Tradition in the three-fold basis of Catholic Authority.  Catholics pull from the entire picture of what makes up Christianity in order to determine what matters of faith are.  When taken together from all valid sources (Scripture, Tradition, Teaching Authority) all the pieces of the puzzle, from these different places, come together to form a whole and complete picture.

A clear example of the fact that Christianity held the universal opinion that Mary was a virgin forever and had no other children is found in a letter St. Jerome (who translated the Bible, Latin Vulgate) wrote and blew his top at a man called Helvidius for even suggesting in writing and teaching that Mary did have children and was not a virgin forever.  Helvidius’ argument (which is the stance of most Protestant denominations today) wasn’t even preserved in history because it was considered so outrageous and unsound.  St. Jerome’s response to Helvidius has been preserved.  He writes, in part:

“I must call upon the Holy Spirit to express His meaning by my mouth and defend the virginity of Blessed Mary. And I must also entreat God the Father to show that the mother of His Son, who was a mother before she was a bride, continued a virgin after her son was born.”

(Scripture tells us Joseph was told in a dream by an angel not to fear making Mary his wife [Matthew 1:20] but even though he did make her his wife by marrying her, we’re told that he didn’t have sexual intercourse with Mary before the birth of Jesus.  [Matthew 1:25] This verse of Scripture is written to verify that that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus.)

“Excellent! We are to believe then that the same man who gave so much credit to a dream that he did not dare to touch his wife, yet afterwards, when he had learnt from the shepherds that the angel of the Lord had come from heaven and when the heavenly host had joined with [the angel] in the chorus, and when he had seen just Simeon embrace the infant, and when he had seen Anna the prophetess, the Magi, the Star, Herod, the angels; Helvidius would have us believe that Joseph, though well acquainted with such surprising wonders, dared to touch the temple of God, the abode of the Holy Spirit, the mother of his Lord!

“We believe that God was born of the Virgin, because we read it. That Mary was [carnally] married after she brought forth, we do not believe, because we do not read it.”

“There are things which, in your extreme ignorance, you had never read, and therefore you neglected the whole range of Scripture and employed your madness in outraging the Virgin… You have set on fire the temple of the Lord’s body, you have defiled the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit from which you are determined to make a team of four brethren and a heap of sisters come forth… Pray tell me, who, before you appeared, was acquainted with this blasphemy?  Who thought the theory worth two-pence?”² [emphasis’ mine]

This is simply one excerpt which Jerome wrote as a common belief (notice he says “we” throughout) at the time and was one that was held even by the founders of Protestantism.  All of this taken together is why Catholics hold that Mary didn’t have other children and remained a virgin throughout her life.


1. Protoevangelium of James which first appeared in the 2nd century AD. – Although the authorship was disputed by Origen (3rd century AD) he never disputed the validity of its content about Mary.

2. The Perpetual Virginity of Mary, St. Jerome (383 AD)

Why Catholics Have More Books in Their Bibles

May 26, 2014

The second topic in our question and answer series has to do with the additional books in the Catholic Bible and why we have those books to begin with.

Q: Why do Catholics have more books in their Bible?

A:  The short answer is because the Catholic Church – following the historic Christian position – bases it’s Old Testament Scripture off of the Greek Septuagint which includes books that are not in Protestant versions of the Bible.  They are not in Protestant Bibles because Martin Luther did not follow the historic Christian position of using the Greek Septuagint as his basis for the Old Testament, but rather the Jewish Council of Jamnia’s decision in 90 AD on Old Testament Scripture.

So what is the Greek Septuagint and why did the Early Church use it?

The date of the Greek Septuagint is the late 2nd century BC and it is a Greek translation of Hebrew Scriptures.  The translation was done so that Alexandrian Jews, who were no longer fluent in Hebrew, could read the Scriptures in the language they did speak: Koine (or common) Greek.  This was also the translation that was quoted by the New Testament authors, particularly Paul, as well as the Church leaders who came right after the Apostles (Apostolic Fathers) and the other Early Church Fathers.

This is important because the Greek Septuagint contains the books of the Bible that Catholics have and Protestants do not.  Since the Early Church used the Greek Septuagint most of those books came to be included in the Bible.  The books are:

  • Tobit
  • Judith
  • Wisdom (or Wisdom of Solomon)
  • Sirach or Ecclesiasticus (or Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira)
  • Baruch
    • including the Letter of Jeremiah
  • 1 Maccabees
  • 2 Maccabees
  • Additions to Daniel:
    • Prayer of Azariah (or The Song of the Three Holy Children¹)
    • Susanna (Vulgate Daniel 13, Septuagint prologue)
    • Bel and the Dragon (Vulgate Daniel 14, Septuagint epilogue)
  • Additions to Esther

These are the additional books and passages which are included in the Catholic Old Testament since they were determined to be inspired by the Church leaders at the Council of Hippo in 393 AD.  This was the first time the Church pronounced definitively which books were to be considered inspired and which were not.  This decision also included which Christian writings – and there were a lot of them – (including ones that were not Christian but claimed to be) belonged in the New Testament.  This is what is called “The Canon of Scripture” and inspired books are called “Canonical” meaning they are included in the canon – or list – of inspired writings.

Martin Luther did not want to take the historic position of determining which books ought to be in the Bible and determined for himself which books were inspired and which were not.  Therefore, he followed the decision made by the Jewish council of Jamnia to determine what belonged in the Old Testament.  Their decision was based on anti-Greek language and anti-Christian sentiments which is why the parts of Esther and Daniel are not in Protestant Bibles because there was no known Hebrew original manuscript available at the time so those parts were discounted.²

It must also be mentioned that not every Church Father believed the books to be inspired.  Most notably St. Jerome who did not feel they were inspired and should not be included in the Bible, however he did defer to the decision made by the Church which ruled they were inspired and thus he did include them.

Why do so many people feel the Catholic Church “added” the books to the “original” format of the Bible?

First and foremost it is because they are following an anti-Catholic teaching whether they know it or not which states the Church “added” the books to the Bible most people have.  This is historically incorrect.  I believe it is also because Protestantism has a much stronger presence here in the United States and in the multitude of denominations here not one of them includes these books in their Bibles.  Therefore, I believe, that since the majority of the populace in the US is Protestant and, historically speaking, only goes back 500 years, then any variable contrary to the belief of what the majority has ever known is going to be looked at as suspect.  The Protestant Bible version is the norm in the US and the Catholic one is not, therefore it is not the most commonly accepted version of the Bible here.  Although, contrary to belief, the Catholic Church is not the only church to use the Greek Septuagint.  The CatholicsEastern OrthodoxOriental Orthodox, and the Church of the East recognize the books listed above as canonical.

*As a side note, the additional books are called Deuterocanonical by the Catholic Church and by the misnomer “Apocrypha” by Protestants.³


1.  Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah or by their more commonly known Chaldaean names: Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego.

2.  Ironically, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls revealed that these books did exist in Hebrew.  In fact, Martin Luther wanted to remove Revelation, Hebrews, James, and Jude but refrained from doing so only because of a threatened fallout from fellow reformers.

3. The term is used in contrast to the Protocanonical books, which are contained in the Hebrew Bible as it is known today.  The word deuterocanonical comes from Greek which means ‘belonging to the second canon’.  The term has been in use since the 16th Century.  The term apocrypha meaning “hidden” to describe these books came from Luther’s 1534 Bible where he placed them at the end of the book to make a point that they were not canonical.

Why Catholic’s Believe Birth Control is Wrong

May 16, 2014

Q: Why do Catholics believe that birth control is wrong?

A: The first in our series of questions about Catholicism deals with why Catholics believe birth control is wrong.  I’m going to try and make this as simple and straightforward as possible so that it makes sense to everyone who wants to know.

First and foremost, the Catholic Church holds in the highest regard the life of a human being “from the moment of conception to the moment of death.”  That means from the very moment the sperm cell joins the egg cell a new life has been created and must be protected and respected until God in His own time decides that it is that individual’s time to die.

Sex and children in the Catholic Church is only licit within a valid marriage and only within marriage should these things be a concern.  In other words, if you’re not married you shouldn’t be having sex or children, therefore, any preventative or interruptive measures should not be necessary.  The two main reasons for marriage in the Church is to fulfill the bond of love between a couple and to be open to new life within the relationship.  Therefore, no artificial methods or means should be undertaken to prevent this event from being possible because it closes off the possibility for new life.

How does this matter relate to birth control?  Birth control is a means of limiting or controlling, by prevention or through interruption, whether or not another human being lives or not.  Birth control ranges from preventative measures like pills, prophylactics like condoms or diaphragms, all the way to interruptive measures like abortion, the “morning after pill”, and sterilization measures like tubal ligation or vasectomy.

Okay but what about people that aren’t married and need them for strictly medical reasons?  What about married couples where it could be deadly for the woman to bear another child?   What about couples who are married and are open to children but cannot financially care for more than one or two children, who want children at a later time, or their children farther apart?  Really good points.  For unmarried people who, for whatever reason, it is medically advisable for them to be on a form of birth control, can take or use preventative measures (usually in the form of birth control pills because of the hormonal needs of the body.)  As long as the pills are not being used so that the person can engage in immoral sexual acts (meaning outside a legitimate marriage) and the pills are only being used to regulate a condition of the body, then it is okay to take them.  However, it must be noted that most birth control pills contain a high cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs which are unnatural and unhealthy to bodies.  There have been studies to suggest links to different health problems in women including breast cancer and an increased difficulty in conceiving after coming off birth control pills.

For women who cannot have children safely or couples do not – for whatever valid reason – want children during a certain time, the Church advocates Natural Family Planning.  This is not the previous method called “The Rhythm Method”.  Natural Family Planning is, in the broadest sense, a method of avoiding (or achieving) pregnancy that works with the timing of a woman’s fertility rather than suppressing it through the use of drugs or contraceptive devices.  Using this method a woman determines when her fertile period is and abstains from intercourse during that time to avoid pregnancy, or having intercourse then to achieve pregnancy.   Because they take advantage of the individual’s natural rhythms of fertility and infertility and place no positive obstacles to the transmission of life, they do not fall under the Catholic Church’s official ban against artificial contraception.  Of  course, even when couples are using natural methods, they are not to use them simply to avoid conception for selfish motives but for sound reasons like physical or emotional health or economic circumstances.  Utilizing when an individual wife is fertile or infertile has shown to have success rates of upward to 98% – 99%.  (As successful as any preventative or interruptive method.)  The Church would advocate that couples not wishing or able to have children utilize NFP as a way to regulate when they would have children.

So isn’t that the same as artificial contraception?  Not when we’re discussing the effect it has on marriages and the mentality of the couple in the marriage or the physical effect it can have on women who use methods like pills.  Pope Paul VI wrote a document called Humane Vitae and it states that the ends don’t justify the means and you can’t do something bad (like closing off the possibility to new life with birth control) to produce a “good effect” like spacing out or avoiding pregnancy.  For Christians it also makes the statement that one puts higher trust in a product rather than God who knows more than you what you can control and handle and ensuring the natural means of prevention that were given by Him to have children.

This was not always a “Catholic only” stance.  In fact, before 1930, not one single Protestant Christian accepted contraception, sterilization or abortion.  However, in 1930 Anglicans accepted contraception.  Many Protestant Churches after that began to accept contraception as permissible, however there are still some Protestant denominations which reject all forms of unnatural birth control and some who reject even natural birth regulation.  Likewise, the Eastern Orthodox churches also reject contraception.¹

The bottom line is that the Catholic Church and it’s followers who are called to be married are also called to be open to new life and any unnatural prevention of that is considered a serious sin to be avoided.


1. excerpted from EWTN tract on birth control

Questions for Catholics

April 21, 2014

This is the start of a series of entries that deal with questions about Catholicism in as straightforward and as simple a way as possible in a question and answer format I hope will be helpful to all who wish to learn more about the Catholic faith.  Below is a list of questions to serve as a starting point.  From there I’ll address them or any others as best I can in order to bring clarity to Catholicism with as little to complicate the answer as possible.  Hopefully, it will provide an answer to anyone seeking to know.


Missing Typology

April 4, 2014

The wicked said among themselves, thinking not aright: “Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the LORD.  To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us,  because his life is not like that of others, and different are his ways.  He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.  He calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is his Father.
Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him.  For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes.  With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience.  Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.”
These were their thoughts, but they erred; for their wickedness blinded them, and they knew not the hidden counsels of God; neither did they count on a recompense of holiness nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.

Wisdom 2:1A, 12-22

This was the first reading for the Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent 2014.  It was extremely poignant to me for a couple of reasons.  I will admit right off that I am only somewhat familiar with the Old Testament.  Mia culpa but I honestly have a very difficult time reading the Old Testament because I’ve had a hard time staying with much of the subject matter.  I think this has seemed to bother some non-Catholic people I know because, as a Catholic with all those “extra books”, I am expected to have studied and read them all in order to verify their validity.  That being said I will admit that I haven’t read through the Book of Wisdom completely yet.

At any rate it was poignant to me because of its context.  In the strongest language possible they’re talking about the events of Christ’s life and Passion.  This is a stark prophesy of exactly what will happen to Christ and out of minds who hated Him.  I love reading Old Testament passages pointing to Christ and discovering it for the first time, as I did today, gives me a wondrous sense of amazement at so many Holy passages which prophesy His Life, Death, and Resurrection and ultimately give promise to Who He Is and What He came to accomplish for us.

Secondly, it saddens me on some level because it is so magnificent in its testament to Jesus Christ along with so many other wise and Holy words that so many don’t have the opportunity to read because those books are missing from their Bibles.  In its entirety the Scriptures lay out and compliment each other, but when certain texts are missing from the Old Testament, blanks are left in the New.  A stark example of this is in Hebrews 11 where it says in verse 35:

“Women received their dead by resurrection.  Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life” (Heb. 11:35).

Jimmy Akin explains this saying, “There are a couple of examples of women receiving back their dead by resurrection in the Protestant Old Testament. You can find Elijah raising the son of the widow of Zarepheth in 1 Kings 17, and you can find his successor Elisha raising the son of the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4, but one thing you can never find—anywhere in the Protestant Old Testament, from front to back, from Genesis to Malachi—is someone being tortured and refusing to accept release for the sake of a better resurrection. If you want to find that, you have to look in the Catholic Old Testament—in the deuterocanonical books Martin Luther cut out of his Bible.

The story is found in 2 Maccabees 7, where we read that during the Maccabean persecution, “It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and cords, to partake of unlawful swine’s flesh. . . . [B]ut the brothers and their mother encouraged one another to die nobly, saying, ‘The Lord God is watching over us and in truth has compassion on us . . . ‘ After the first brother had died . . . they brought forward the second for their sport. . . . he in turn underwent tortures as the first brother had done. And when he was at his last breath, he said, ‘You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life'” (2 Macc. 7:1, 5-9).

One by one the sons die, proclaiming that they will be vindicated in the resurrection.

“The mother was especially admirable and worthy of honorable memory. Though she saw her seven sons perish within a single day, she bore it with good courage because of her hope in the Lord. She encouraged each of them . . . [saying], ‘the Creator of the world, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws,'” telling the last one, “Do not fear this butcher, but prove worthy of your brothers. Accept death, so that in God’s mercy I may get you back again with your brothers” (2 Macc. 7:20-23, 29). This is but one example of the New Testaments’ references to the deuterocanonicals.”¹

There are several others² but I want to get back to this passage of Wisdom.  I found that having an “insight” into the minds of those who felt themselves religious but didn’t know Jesus as Messiah because they thought they knew all the signs and in turn hating Him and rejecting Him gave me more inspiration to study these books more thoroughly because they do point to the events from the New Testament and help expound on the things that took place in His time here.  In fact, the second reading of the day is from St. John’s Gospel and says in part,

“Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, ‘Is he not the one they are trying to kill?  And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him.  Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ?  But we know where he is from.  When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.’
So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, ‘You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.  I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.’
So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.”

John 7:25-30

The books that were removed from the Bible by Martin Luther are certainly worth reading and I would encourage anyone to go pick up a complete Bible and do just that.  I would encourage people to get a Bible instead of looking for them online or through other Protestant sources because not all Protestant lists are the same and can include titles to letters or books which range from canonical to spurious (those whose subject matter is theologically inconsistent with Apostolic teaching i.e. – Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Judas).

The Books which had been accepted as canonized Scripture in Christianity and which were taken out of the Bible by Luther are:

  • Tobit
  • Judith
  • Additions to Esther (Vulgate Esther 10:4-16:24)
  • Wisdom (or Wisdom of Solomon)
  • Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus or Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira)
  • Baruch, including the Letter of Jeremiah (Additions to Jeremiah in the Septuagint)
  • Additions to Daniel:
    • Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children (Vulgate Daniel 3:24-90)
    • Susanna (Vulgate Daniel 13, Septuagint prologue)
    • Bel and the Dragon (Vulgate Daniel 14, Septuagint epilogue)
  • 1 Maccabees
  • 2 Maccabees

Read them for yourselves if you haven’t.  It will help expound on and “fill in the blanks” to the New Testament ultimately, I think, making your faith life all the richer for having understood in greater depth the elements which preceded, which comprise, and which explain elements of our faith today.

2. Deuterocanonical quotes in the New Testament –

Meaningful Words

March 7, 2014

Everyone in the English speaking world today takes for granted the fact that their language is interspersed with words that have root meanings of ancient origin.  Who wouldn’t?  Honestly, there are very few times that I can recall doing something and wondering what the ancient root of the word is that I’m thinking about.  Sure there’s been times when I’ve wondered where we got a phrase or where that vernacular came from but, like most people, I haven’t devoted a lot of energy to the study of my own language’s root words outside of an obscure mandatory high school course of study which is obsolete in public American classrooms called  Etymology .

However, when it comes to my faith much, much, much more rests on understanding the meanings of words and their implications since, by doing so, we understand the depths of our faith all the more clearly.  Some of the time Latin words feed our understanding of faith since most of our own language has Latin root words, thus our “faith words” utilize the Latin origin.  Sometimes it’s Greek since most of the Bible was read and studied in Greek in the ancient world.  For the Latin terms, however, we have words like sanctus which is the Latin word for ‘holy’ or ‘hallowed’ (past participle of sancīre meaning “to hallow”).  From it we get our word “sanctified”.  This is the beginning of the eternal call of the Seraphim in Heaven (cf. Is. 6:3, Rev. 4:8) and what is thus recited in a Catholic Church prefacing the Eucharistic prayer, “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus…” or “Holy, Holy, Holy…” It is also where we get the word, “saint” which of course means holy person.

Some words have changed meaning in the course of time like the word “apology” which is from the Latin word apologia which in turn is from the Greek word apologiā.  It means “an explanation or an excuse” this gradually came to primarily mean “an expression of regret or contrition for a fault.”  The derivative of this word, “apologetics” retains the definition of the latter, or older definition, “an explanation or excuse” for something.  It is specifically used to refer to a branch of study which is concerned with the explanation of matters of belief.

While this course of study offers interesting insight into one’s words and terminology there is far more to be gained by reviewing the passages of Scripture in the context of their original language in order to more fully understand what is being conveyed to the reader in the passage.  We can turn to that oft disputed passage of Scripture in Matthew 19 where Jesus gives Simon the new name “Rock”¹ and thus confers upon him a great title and responsibility.  We can also look at another passage in the Gospel where a great title and responsibility was handed on to a human being whose unique and singular title is being grossly and sadly misused today: the greeting to Mary in the Gospel of Luke.

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:26-28)
[Other translations say, “Hail, favored one!” or “Hail, highly favored one!” this is a poorer translation of the original Greek words used and will be discussed more fully later on.]

When the angel Gabriel appears to Mary in the first chapter of Luke and he greets her, he’s not simply making a statement.  He’s not saying, “Hello, Mary, boy does God really favor you!  You are so blessed!  Guess why!”  First, considering everything Mary went through, all her heartbreak and sorrow, I think the first thing I’d do when I got to Heaven is to go up to Gabriel and say, “Whatdaya mean ‘God really favors me and I’m so blessed?'”  Without the understanding of cultural and lexological meaning this phrase is being taken at face value and extrapolated from its genuine meaning to this unintended meaning.

This is where the understanding of language comes in and since the original languages the words were written in are not used now (Koine Greek), and since it’s also being translated into our language whose structure and grammatical makeup so differ, the intentions and meanings are lost without the scholastic benefits to impart to the reader.  The less that knowledge abounds all the more gives rise to incomplete understandings which, in turn, give rise to misused and misapplied beliefs.  In utilizing vernacular with today’s understanding of the English word rather than the historical understanding of it in context with the ancient Christological beliefs one applies a meaning to words that never existed or which impart an idea contrary to the commonly understood meanings of the terms used.  So to be “blessed” or  “favored” by God today implies one has obtained an abundance of good events or things which have come into their lives.  Although Mary and many in the Bible who shared a high favor with God often had just the opposite type of life.  Understanding this is not simply a “Catholic thing” trying to ‘make Mary distinct’ rather it is about correcting a claim to something which was never ours to claim to begin with and to which we are not rightly able to properly claim about ourselves.

The statement of the angel Gabriel to Mary, “Hail, highly favored one!” must be understood in it’s proper verbal and grammatical context.    First, as mentioned before, “Hail, favored/highly favored one!” is a poorer translation of the statement.  The more accurate translation is, “Hail, full of grace!”  This matters because of the Greek word that Luke uses for this greeting specifically and directly speaks of being ‘perfectly filled with grace’.  No one makes this bold a claim about themselves since it implies a self-determined very high state of holiness, but this is exactly the point since what Gabriel is really stating about Mary here is not that she’s “greatly favored” with God, but that she’s a very righteous person before God because she’s filled perfectly with grace.

The Koine Greek words that are used by Luke in this passage are, Chaire, kekaritomene.  The first word charie means: “be cheerful, hail, rejoice”.  Kekaritomene is formed from the same root word charitoo whose varient word also appears in Ephesians 1:6.  Protestants will argue that since a varient of charitoo is used elsewhere in the Bible it has no special meaning in Luke’s Gospel.  However, the variant of charitoo used in Ephesians is echaritosen.  The difference being that echaritosen means, “he graced” (or bestowed grace) and signifies a momentary action, an action brought to pass while kekaritomene means “a perfect action which is considered to have been completed before the time of the speaker.”  The Greek perfect tense means “a present state exists which took place at some point in the past and is continuing on in the present.”
“It is permissible, on Greek grammatical and linguistic grounds, to paraphrase kecharitomene as completely, perfectly, enduringly endowed with grace.” (Blass and DeBrunner, Greek Grammar of the New Testament).
Kekaritomene shows a completeness with a permanent result and denotes continuance of a completed action (H. W. Smyth, Greek Grammar [Harvard Univ Press, 1968], p. 108-109, sec 1852:b; ibid).²

In other words, the word in Greek that Luke chooses to use when he writes about Gabriel’s greeting to Mary is both unique and special because what Gabriel is telling Mary when he greets her is, in fact, recognizing in her a state of continued, completely full, perfect grace which has been present in her from a past action and is in effect in this present moment.  Therefore, the fact that the angel greets Mary this way is anything but common and is testified to by Mary’s reaction in the very next verse when it says, “But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.” (Also, because of the fact that Luke states that internally Mary [as evidenced by the passage, “considered in her mind”] was wondering what this meant traditionally has indicated that Mary herself was telling Luke this story, or, at the least, this version of the story was originally conveyed by Mary herself.)

This extremely unusual greeting which even Mary herself was greatly troubled by was given by Heaven to her and her alone because nowhere else in the Bible is the word with the same tense and meaning as kekaritomene used for anyone else.  Unless an individual really believes they have been endowed by Heaven with a completely full state of perfected grace supernaturally given to them in the past and continuing all the way into the present moment, this self-appointed statement, which is taken from this very passage of Scripture, is erroneous and misapplied.

What Mary has been given here is validation of an extraordinarily high honor confirmed by Heaven that she had been, in a perfect way, filled with Grace and that Grace was maintained to the present day. This is not an ordinary honor that was given to all believers and to utilize it in a manner with which is is not intended is a disservice and a dishonor to her unique role in Christianity. One may not believe all the dogmas proclaimed by the Catholic Church but she’s due a great and unique honor and this Scripture verse lends remarkable insight into that truth.
1. Aramaic – Kepha (Cephas) ; Greek – Petros. (The dispute argues from the point of the two forms of the word “‘rock” used in the passage, petros and petras.
2. ref. excerpted from author pfairban

Who Founded Your Church?

January 26, 2014
“I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word,
that they may all be one…
The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them,
that they may be one even as we are one,
I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one…”
The Gospel According to St. John

This week marks the beginning of the annual week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  It seems a remarkably difficult task and the accomplishment of it seems ever more impossible as the years and divisions seem to multiply in the ranks of Christianity.  It seems that new (or reintroduced) theology springs up every day.  In some places there is even a reintroduction of ‘archaic’ sounding titles for the ministers like “bishop”, “apostle”, and “prophet” preceding their names.  In some circles there is a desire to imitate the early or primitive church and in some a reach back even further to celebrate and imitate elements of Judaism as a way of “connecting with our roots”.  Some churches (including those with very well known names) do not even hold to Trinitarian doctrine and claim they are Christian.  Some incorporate New Age ideas and practices.  Some which claim Christian titles eschew traditional ideas about God and insist on calling Him both Father and/or mother or still further, refusing to acknowledge the Trinity by Who They Are but rather categorize only by one task – Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer.

With this ever more fractured construction upon the ideas of Christianity how are we ever to “be one” as Christ prays?  St. Paul tells us, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household [the church], having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone.”  (Eph 2:20)  St. John tells us in Revelation, “And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God… And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. ” (Rev 21:10,14)  We also have the Gospel of St. Matthew which Jesus states to St. Peter, “Thou art Peter [“Rock”, “Kepha” Aramaic, “Cephas”, anglicanized] and on this Rock [Kepha/Cephas] I will build my church. (Matt 16:18) The idea laid out here is that the foundation which has been laid by Jesus Christ establishing His Kingdom here on earth and which, the verse goes on to tell us, “the gates of Hell shall not” either “overpower it”, “conquer it” or “prevail against it” depending on which translation you read.

Which Church was founded by Jesus Christ, has withstood the test of time (since it cannot be overpowered, conquered or prevailed against by the forces Hell), and was laid on the teachings of the apostles with Christ as their cornerstone?  This foundation cannot be laid again.  If the Church was re-founded it cannot be re-founded on the Rock which was Peter upon the Rock which is Christ.  Instead of being re-founded, it is reinvented.  Because of the diversity and disunity within the Protestant faith there comes an idea that the Church has to be an invisible entity since unity within the Protestant faith is found only in core beliefs such as the Trinity and Trinitarian formula Baptism along with the belief in the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Similar though many faith traditions are to each other, there is still division, even on the slightest of points, but which caused enough of a rift to form a separate church and a refusal to remain associated together.  From these branches sprang other branches whose main theology differs no so much from their association with a church but enough to separate within the church.  There are any number of different governing bodies which a Protestant may choose to adhere to yet still remain in their denomination.  Mostly these fall along the lines of a “liberal”‘ and “conservative” posture.  Rather than an invisible entity, Catholicism argues for a visible rather than an invisible organization with a clear head and governing body.  (You can read more about that in my entry “What is the Church?“)

This brings us back to our question, which church was founded by Jesus Christ?  Do you know who founded your church?  Was it founded by Christ or by a man?  How far back does your faith lineage go?  In whom do you put your trust for your immortal soul – the guidance and interpretations of self-proclaimed fallible men – or those who have been told by Christ, “I will not let evil (the characters of which are lies, error, fallibility, and corruption) overcome you”?

Who founded your church

To me, if historical documents and lineage can verify the latter and one choses not to investigate and verify it and stay with the former then does that make a case for willful ignorance?  Especially if the former is chosen for the sake of comfort, personal tastes, or the church’s stance on issues which the believer already adheres to (in other words, you chose the church for these pre-believed ideas which you were not willing to forfeit).

There is only one Church in existence that makes the claim that they are founded by Jesus Christ Himself.  There is only one Church in all of existence that claims they are descended directly from the Apostles themselves.  One Church that claims by the power of the Holy Spirit that they are protected from error and are thus infallible when teaching or proclaiming matters of faith.


I’m excluding certain Baptists claim and any other evangelical or non-denominational church’s claim that they were there from the beginning or “hidden”.  As Thomas Howard or Cardinal Gibbons says (and I’m paraphrasing), “Indeed!  You were so hidden that no trace or proof of your existence can be verified or found nor has any scrap of it ever been!”  I’m excluding those who take “by force” the titles given to predecessors and/or claim apostolic link.  I say “by force” because they cannot provide any clear lineage of succession and in this no valid Holy Orders exist.  As Tertullian said:

“But if there be any [heresies] which are bold enough to plant [their origin] in the midst of the apostolic age, that they may thereby seem to have been handed down by the apostles, because they existed in the time of the apostles, we can say: Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [their first] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men—a man, moreover, who continued steadfast with the apostles. For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter” The Prescription of Heretics, 200 AD.

I’m also excluding those who are staunchly anti-Catholic since they are simply decidedly dead set against any claim of Catholicism and will stubbornly deny, even in the face of bald-faced facts, that such validity exists at all in the Church or her claims and therefore the aforementioned claims speak not of authority but confirm madness.  There’s no point in arguing with such people and no point in wasting time proving the truth.

However, those that do acknowledge at least some form of validity in the Catholic faith have to, I think, examine these claims seriously.  Examine the claims and history of their own faith tradition, especially in light of the entire scope of Christian history which predates their own sect’s foundation.  For if Christian history cannot be trusted, or is suspect to corruption, then what faith can one have that they are truly on the right path at all?  Simply put, mankind armed with only their Bibles and their willpower have not been able to either validate a common truth we could all agree on nor could they arrive at a unity prayed for in Our Saviors last hours.

As the week of Prayers for Christian Unity proceeds, even though the path to that unity seems more fragmented by the passage of time, I pray that understanding and a willingness to follow wherever the truth leads will at least bring us closer to that goal.