Friday, July 21, 2023

Why am I Catholic (2023 edition)

It's been a while since I wrote my original "Why am I Catholic" article and since then I have done a lot of growing and learning about other religions.  This article focuses more on logical reasoning rather than historical while also pulling a little out of the Bible for the Protestant section.  

As an aside, I am currently working on a visual novel game to evangelize to teens, young adults, and those who are interested in anime-like visuals called Wholesome Monster Girl Academia which you can Wishlist or play the demo on Steam. It's about a young man who gets sent to a private Catholic high school and many of its students are monster people.  Throughout the adventure, the main character and the reader come to understand more about the Catholic Christian faith while exploring their own friendship and even (completely chaste and wholesome) romance.

Without further ado, here's the article:


Although I was raised in the Catholic faith, it’s not like I never questioned it.  Very early on, in Middle or High School, I came up with a proof of God’s existence using pure logic based on how I understood how scientific reasoning worked and what non-believers could possible comprehend using a scientific reasoning.  Lo and behold, not only was it how reason worked, it was exactly one of the five very popular “Proofs for God’s existence” that St. Thomas Aquinas himself thought up.

I had never been exposed to St. Thomas Aquinas until much later, but in my mind I reasoned similarly:  “If something cannot come from nothing, as science upholds as true, then there must have been something that created everything else that did not itself need to be created.”  The original proposition by St. Thomas was that since things in motion had to have had a first mover.  We both came to the conclusion that this first creator or first mover had to be what we understand to be God.

There are various other was to come to this conclusion, but this was the one that stuck to me and I had never heard of any contradiction.  However, it doesn’t necessarily prove the Christian God to be the one true God.  But it didn’t really need to for me at that point.  That would come later.  Faith was all that was necessary for me for the rest as I was still a child.


Where it came to me that the Catholic faith had to be the one correct faith was later in college.  Backing up a little bit, I had still received all of the sacraments of initiation:  Baptism, Confession, Eucharist, and Confirmation, but I hadn’t really understood all of them necessarily.  I just “accepted” them, whatever that means.  I didn’t have a really deep understanding of any of it.  Just that Jesus is God, God is the Holy Spirit, and they all love us.  Also, be good to each other.  None of this was really fleshed out for me, even if it may have been spelled out to me by teachers.  I had to discover this for my own with my own love and passion for the subject.

In college, I stopped attending mass and started getting really into what “the world” had to offer me.  Unique friendships, MMORPGs, in person role playing games, and other in person hang-out activities, all of which I don’t regret.  I had a good time with them.  But I didn’t have God in my life, perhaps other than my nightly prayers:  The Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and what I called:  Prayer of Sorrow (Act of Contrition).

Eventually I started falling into a depression.  Despite all the fun I was having and going to classes, I must not have felt fulfilled.  I eventually stopped attending classes and only went to the hanging out activities because they were they only things that made me “feel.”  I don’t remember exactly when I started searching for more answers concerning my faith, but it was probably just before this time, during, or just after I dropped out.


At some time, I started looking at a site called Catholic Answer Forums.  Within, it was simply a forum for Catholics to talk to one another, but one section peaked my interest:  Ask an Apologist.  Within it, many people would ask various questions related to Catholicism and get answers from a trusted apologist who knew what they were talking about.  I guess I didn’t really know what questions to ask, but it was helpful that all these people where asking questions about things I didn’t even know I was interested in knowing the answers to like “What is Sola Scriptura and why don’t Catholics ascribe to it,” or “Why is masturbation wrong,” or “What is the Catholic position on homosexual marriage,” as it was a hot topic of debate in the country at the time.

Eventually, I ran into questions that filled me in on why the Catholic Church is the one true denomination.  Before, I had the mistaken notion that all Christian denominations were basically the same that believed nearly the same things but differed on minor liturgical things and in how were presented.  I would learn all of the important differences between the popular denominations including some that actually made them non-Christian, such as the Mormons and Latter Day Saints.


Finally, I ran into something that clicked as to why the Catholic faith was the one true faith:  Apostolic succession.  In the Bible, it’s an undeniable fact that Jesus form a Church on Earth.  What is disputed by the many denominations is how that Church “appears” to be.  Here is what it says in Sacred Scripture in Matthew 16:18-19:

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Along side this passage, the apologist noted that since St. Peter, there is record of an unbroken line of succession of bishops, nay “head bishops” that lead all the way up to the current Pope.  Sure, there were some disagreements about who was Pope at one time or another, but of the ones that have stood the test of time, most appear to be in partial communion with the Church with every means of salvation still in tact (the sacraments).

Aside from this, the part that says, “and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it,” spoke out to me.  To me, God’s Church, Jesus’ Church on Earth could not be broken by evil, by chaos, by the devil.  To me, the fact that there is one Church on Earth that has the fortitude to claim to be the one true Church instituted by Christ speaks volumes.  To me, every other denomination seems like a fracture.  10,000 denominations and counting does not look like a singular Church.  It looks like a fractured, splintered, house of which is built on sand and not stone.  A Church institute on the pillar that is Jesus and the foundation that is St. Peter is one that would not budge and would not fracture.  It seems to me that the Catholic Church is this Church alone.

On top of this, it’s a comfort to me that we have the Church’s magesterium to rule on what is the correct interpretation of a particular passage in Scripture or for answers not directly contained in Scripture.  Most Protestant denominations follow a Sola Scriptura doctrine that states that the Bible is the only and final authority on matters of the faith for Christians.  The problem to me with this is that there are 10,000+ different interpretations of these writings.  To me again it would seem that there would need to be one authoritative body to interpret this, not the individuals.  Having 10,000 opinions is chaos and chaos is the domain of Satan.  Having one authoritative answer is unifying even if it’s rejects 10,000 opinions.  

Sola Scriptura also leads to the question, who determines the canon of Scripture in the first place?  The answer to me was obvious.  The Catholic Church was the final authority on this and it determined the 73 books we have in the Catholic Bible.  It wasn’t until the Council of Trent in the 1500s that there was even a question of the authenticity of them and thus in response to the reformation, stated so invoking an infallible proclamation.

Everything considered, history is on the Church’s side.  Early historical census documents show that there was a Jesus.  Early testimony call to Jesus being real.  Early martyrs call to the conviction of the truth of the 10 of the remaining 11 living apostles who if they were making it up, really went the extra mile to show to others with their painful and excruciating deaths that what Jesus taught was worth dying for.  The writings of the early Church fathers describe a Christianity that closely if not exactly resembles the Catholicism of today.  All of these things combined continue to fortify Catholic Christianity as the one truth Christian religion to me.


Since the only questions that have been answered thus far are: 1) Is God real and 3) Which Christian denomination is correct? What is missing is 2) Why is Christianity correct out of all of the other religions?

There are two ways that we can come to this conclusion:  Process of elimination or Prove that one is correct regardless of the existence of the rest.  I will start with the first, because that’s the order I discovered the answers myself, even though I admit, I never did disprove them all one by one, I came to some conclusions through my readings on various subjects.  Most of the conclusions I came to came from reading that various works of G. K. Chesterton, but I will do my best (and fail) to summarize as much as I can and include quotes where he says things better (and he always does).


The first religion I reasoned away was Buddhism.  Buddhism at its surface appears to be a very peace loving, happy go lucky religion in which you love others and love everything and come to an inner peace over it.  As you get deeper, it appears to be all about the self.  Self-awareness, self-denial, self-isolation, and selfishness if you want to get into it.  There is no altruism about being centered on the self and the ultimate goal of this religion is to deny the self all the pleasures, pains, sensations, and even connections to whatever is outside.  And thus, it is not about reaching outward to help others, even though the Buddha appeared to have done it himself, but reaching so far inward that you become nothingness.  This is the Nirvana that they speak of.  It does not purport to solve anything except to eliminate the self.  And thus, even if it were “right,” it would not be “good” since it lacks love since the perfect form of love is to give one’s self to another with no self-interest.  And thus I reject it.


The next I would run into would be the multiple pagan religions of old which are essentially dead even if a good many people nowadays would seek to revive them in some rebellious way against the tide of Christianity.  For this, I’ll start with a quote from G. K. Chesterton and then lead to the logical analysis:

"The substance of all such paganism may be summarized thus. It is an attempt to reach the divine reality through the imagination alone; in its own field reason does not restrain it at all. It is vital to the view of all history that reason is something separate from religion even in the most rational of these civilizations. It is only as an afterthought, when such cults are decadent or on the defensive, that a few Neo-Platonists or a few Brahmans are found trying to rationalize them, and even then only by trying to allegorise them. But in reality the rivers of mythology and philosophy run parallel and do not mingle till they meet in the sea of Christendom." – G. K. Chesterton, “The Everlasting Man”

Chesterton argues that paganism and philosophy did not intermingle as much as we modernists read into them.  Sure, there were the fairy-tale stories of the Greek gods and such, but many of these did not have so much as a moral lesson to be learned from them so much as they were meant to show that the gods were just as fallible as man.  And even if such fallible beings were real, would they be worth worshiping?

Similarly, many of these tales of gods changed and were integrated into other polytheistic systems throughout the ages, typically by the conquest of one weaker tribe by another larger tribe.  What they would do is integrate the god or gods of the weaker tribe into their pantheon as lesser gods or combine them into one.  There was no consistency between one age and the next.  They were essentially mere stories to explain the “god of the gaps” or give some small meaning as to why the seasons change or why the sun rises in the East.  

Christianity seeks to do none of these things.  In fact, it has birthed the modern conception of science through the creation of the scientific method, modern universities, all as a separate entity in order to find truths that God has left for us through natural law.  But this is just an aside.

It was just as likely that God revealed Himself to the first humans and humans over time abandoned Him to created their own new fairy-tales to explain things, but still knowing in the heart that there was “something” that had created; something that “caused.”  

In the end however, the pagans split apart their gods so far that they withered out like a droplet of water exposed to fire spreads apart into a fine mist until nothing is left.  Christianity however has been put to the fire many times throughout the ages and each time comes back stronger having been exposed to the fire.  Just look at the martyrs for an example.  The burning of witches my Christians, however unjustified, did not increase the faith of the remaining witches.  The burning of Christians by pagans, also unjustified, only lit the rest of their hearts on fire all the more!


To be added expanded upon later.  Until then:  Essentially, there are contradictions within and outside of the Quran which do not have good reasoning.  Every apologist I have seen that tackled Islam had no trouble pointing these contradictions out.  On the other side, every Islamic apologist I have seen attack Christianity for being “corrupted” or contradictory have disproved their own religion by easy replies once you know the answer.  For instance, the common claim that Jesus never once stated His divinity or called Himself God.  This is absurd because He does it multiple times, more prominently when He says “I AM” to the Pharisees in the temple who immediate understood the context by calling Him a blasphemer (for calling Himself God).


Admittedly I haven’t studied much on this particular division.  Only recently have I started hearing objections to Catholic theology from Orthodox apologists and they honestly sound similar to Protestant claims which leads me to believe I’m still in the right place.  For instance, the most recent claim I heard was that Catholicism added “papal infallibility” as a doctrine after the split.  They said that the pope is not infallible and that Jesus was speaking to all of His apostles at the time He gave the keys to His kingdom to His Church, not just to Peter.  The answer these claims come two-fold:  1) Catholics don’t believe that the pope is infallible either, EXCEPT when he proclaims something as so explicitly and it doesn’t contradict another truth (dogma).  2) One only needs to look back at history to find that even the Eastern churches were loyal to the Roman heads before the split.


There are many promises that have been made from God the Father to the Israelites and to the Church founded my Christ on Earth that have been unbroken throughout the ages.  This last part will basically be a list of things that show God’s consistency as well as the consistency of his Church on Earth.  They show that if there is a God on Earth or even multiple “gods,” the Christian God is the one who has been faithful in all things to who he promises to and therefore any faith in Him is not a blind faith, but a faith bolstered throughout the ages.  I’ve also added a few miscellaneous things that I didn’t elaborate on that lead me further to believe.

* God’s promise to Abraham – fulfilled

* God’s promise to Moses – fulfilled

* God’s promises to the Israelites – fulfilled

* The Old Covenant – fulfilled

* The New Covenant in Christ Jesus – fulfilled through the Passion and Resurrection

* Jesus’ Church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic – Fulfilled in the Catholic Church

* The Church is consistent, never contradicting, and never changing in its doctrine and dogma despite the many ages that defies the order.  It does not adapt its opinions to the ages for the ages, though it may adapt some disciplines for the ages.  Any corruption is a result of men falling, not God or His Church.

* The Church stands on objective morals and facts and never contradicts natural law.

* The Church is flexible enough to explain things in new ways that lead to better understanding truth.

* The Church is universal and invites ALL to come and shelter within despite also acknowledging that we are all fallen creatures.  It is the panacea for our fallen nature.

* It is both intellectually challenging and accessible regardless of intelligence.  You do not need to know everything to benefit from the truth within it, but the more you know and find out, the more sense it all makes.

* The Church is a visible authority on Earth that hosts the invisible members of the Church worldwide.

* The Church has very well defined ways of knowing whether you’re “saved” or in a state of grace or not AND what to do about if if you’re not.  The Sacraments are the visible and active means of Jesus’ salvation.

* The Church has an answer for EVERY moral question you could have in a logical and objectively consistent manner.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Why am I Catholic?


"There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church — which is, of course, quite a different thing." (Foreword to Radio Replies Vol. 1, (1938) page ix; Arch-Bishop Fulton J. Sheen).

Many people might be confused as to why I choose to worship in the Catholic faith as opposed to many others.  After all, the Catholic Church is just a religion with a big set of rules made by a bunch of angry, contrite old men, right?  Let's explore what we Catholics believe to be our origin:

The Institution of the Papacy (popes, bishops, priests) and Authority:

"18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:18-19 NAB)

These verses are hotly debated between Catholics and Protestant Christians, and understandably so.  The Catholic position is that Jesus is giving a man Jesus' authority on Earth to "bind and loose" teachings and Traditions so that all people may be guided by one authoritative Church and that the masses of people will not be confused at where to look when seeking spiritual guidance.  The Protestant interpretation of this passage that the Greek word used for Peter (Petros) means rock or boulder and that "petra" translates as stone or pebble, and thus it could not mean that Peter was to be the rock on which the Church was to be built, because the Church could not be held upon a pebble or small stone.

Explaining the Translation: 

In order to correct this misunderstanding, one must look at not only the Greek, but also the Aramaic which is the common tongue that was used at the time, and also the original language that was used in writing the Gospel of Matthew (the other Gospels were originally in Greek because not everyone in the region spoke Aramaic).  The Gospel of Matthew was later translated into Greek, so it would also be more accessible.  

As for this particular passage what would be said would be, "You are Kephas (Peter) and upon this kephas (rock) I will build my church..."  In Aramaic there is no difference in the words used for rock and stone.  In the original Aramaic, Jesus was using a play on words.  

When it was translated to Greek there are the two similar words Petros (rock or stone) and petra (larger rock, like a giant rock structure, but not man-made), but there was the problem of masculine and feminine words.  During that time it would have been unacceptable to give Peter a feminine name (petra), and thus the confusion in interpretation.  

I doubt you will see many taking this line of thinking, but if you wanted to take the size translation literally, you could just as well say that Peter (Petros) would be the foundation of the larger Church despite being like a small stone in comparison to the whole Church itself.  Something only God could do:  Build an Earthly Church on the weak foundation of a single man.

Succession of the Chair of Peter, the Unbroken line of Popes:

As a Catholic, I believe that from St. Peter there have been an unbroken line of Popes leading the Church under the grace of the Holy Spirit, otherwise like Gamaliel said to the Sanhedrin:

"38 So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. 39 But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God." They were persuaded by him." (Acts 5:38-39 NAB)

And also in Matthew 16:18 where Jesus said "...the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it."  So far this promise by Jesus has remained true as historical record show:

Catholic Source, all the popes in order (

Secular Source, all the popes in order (

I did not list a protestant source because although some denominations interpret Matt 16:18-19 to mean Jesus giving Peter authority, they believe in a break somewhere which contradicts the passage given anyways.

Authority of the Popes and the Church:

Some may be confused about something Catholics call Papal Infallibility.  On the surface it may sound like we're saying that the Pope cannot be wrong under any circumstances whatsoever.  This in fact is incorrect.  Popes can sin, popes can be wrong, and popes certainly are nowhere near to being Jesus.  But Jesus did give Popes the authority that can only be given to them by God the Father or Jesus.  I may do another article explaining all the things Jesus gave ordained ministers the power to do and where it is found in scripture at a later point in time.

Papal Infallibility can only be invoked when the pope makes an official declaration guided by the Holy Spirit as head of the Church on a matter of faith and morals.

This means that if the pope said that all grass is the color purple, nobody has to believe it, but if the pope says, while declaring it officially, that something is right or wrong and it is not in contradiction to revealed truth that it is inerrantly true.  Besides this fact, such proclamations are pretty rare since there is usually no need to invoke papal infallibility often.

Sinners in the Church and Leading the Church:

Although the Church itself is populated by sinners the whole collection of moral truth, doctrinal and dogmatic declarations, is perfect.  The people who inhabit the Church are not perfect.  The Church has had many problems in the past, inquisitions and abuse scandals to name a few.  All these things are horrendous in the eyes of God and man and have been and are currently being dealt with today.  

Concerning the abuse scandals, the Church has been taking leaps and bounds to clean itself and prevent these incidents from occurring again through many such programs as "Protecting God's Children".  While it may be an impossible task to weed out every guilty member, one molestation is one too many; that all people can agree on.  We are however, not the only denomination or organization having this problem; this is not just a Catholic problem, this is a Christian and a worldly problem.  All guilty parties should be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

The important thing to remember is even though all denominations have sinners and are lead by sinners, the Holy Spirit of God is its true leader who guides the faithful in truth.  An example of this in the Bible in the New Testament in relation to the Old Covenant:

"3 Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice." (Matthew 23:3 NAB).

Though not an ideal situation, Jesus shows us an example of where God can appoint someone to teach on morals, but the human teacher acts wrongly.  Ideally the teachers will be acting perfectly according to God's will, but Jesus warns us that this will not always be the case.  Jesus reassures us that the verified teachings given to us will not be in error if they do not contradict his words or scripture, but to be on guard when sinners scandalize His Church.

Personal Interpretation and Authoritative Interpretation:
Personal Interpretation of the Bible and of Jesus' word is condemned in the Bible itself.  Logically there must a visible body for us to follow so we are not lost amongst the many variations and contradictions among those who interpret things in their own mind.

"20 Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God." (2 Peter 1:20-21 NAB)
Many other denominations have also changed doctrine due to personal interpretation or while changing with the world., something which cannot happen as God's truth does not change.  An example of this is contraception.  Before the 1930s, ALL Christian denominations condemned contraceptives.  Afterwards, many changed this doctrine for themselves.

Conversely to this, a "discipline" which is sometimes confused with doctrine (or even called that mistakenly), can change.  Discipline is how something is taught or practiced, doctrine is what is taught.  For example, priestly celibacy is a discipline and was in fact changed in the past and could change some time in the future.


As a Catholic, what is my purpose of making these tracts and articles?  I want people to understand my views, the Catholic view, and to see that there may be some truth in what I say in light of revealed truth by God.  I do not wish to alienate people or call out beliefs or judge people.  Out of love, I wish people to know the truth revealed to us by God and His son, Jesus.  If you disagree with what I propose in this or any other article I post, so be it, but at least you know the position that the Church teaches and can judge my actions according to the truth she teaches.  I would rather someone hate me for telling the truth than to love me while I told them lies.

So do I believe that everyone else is wrong?  That Catholicism is the only way?  Only if you want to misrepresent me.  In a sense it is partially true.  Please take all that I say in the context that it is given.  The Church teaches that it has the fullness of truth and that all other religions and denomination, while not having the fullness of truth, do have a portion of the truth.  These are just some of the reasons why I believe that the Catholic Church is the church for me and even for the whole world.

Miscellaneous convictions:
  • There are thousands of denominations (some quote 30,000) of Christianity, and only one that claims to have existed for nearly 2,000 years can hold any water when it comes to historical fact and an unbroken tradition.
  • I have find no contradictions in Catholic Theology.  I challenge anyone to find contradictions anywhere, as long as they give me sufficient time to find the official Catholic understanding of the teachings.  Same goes for the Bible.
  • The 7 Sacraments are not found in many other Christian churches.  I would not feel the grace of Jesus in the Eucharist if I were in another church as I have already been baptized and confirmed.  Sacramental Confession is also a big relief after hearing the words of absolution from someone acting in the person of Christ.  

Closing Statements:

These are just a few reason in which I believe in the religion and faith that I do.  Because I choose to associate myself with what I believe to be the institution that Jesus Himself gave us to lead us and teach us the fullness of truth does not mean to distance myself from anyone who professes different views or philosophies.  On the contrary, I hope that one day all faiths can come to agreement and common ground with all revealed truth.  Though an unrealistic view to the world, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and through God I believe all things are possible.

More quotes and Reading:

"17 'Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.20 I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-20 NAB)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

On Divorce and Remarriage (and briefly annulments)

Inseparable Bond of Marriage:
Marriage is a wonderful blessing and sacrament instituted by God so that a man and woman may become one flesh and grow closer to God. Upon making the vows and consummating their union, the couple unites as one “until death do they part.” Nothing at all can separate this special union that God has made holy. There are times when it is acceptable to part, though, such as an abusive relationship or endangerment to the children by either spouse. Even though the cases in which divorce are acceptable is rare, even then, Jesus tells us that it is unlawful, even adulterous to attempt to re-marry (except in cases where the first marriage was unlawful itself, see annulments at the end of the article). Let’s look at these places in the Bible where Jesus and St. Paul talk about divorce and re-marriage.

Mosaic Law and Divorce, Jesus’ Restoration of Sacredness to Marriage:

There are multiple places in the Gospel where Jesus is arguing with the Pharisees on whether or not it is lawful to divorce. (I quote Mark, but see also Matt 19:6-9 and Luke 16:18):

2 The Pharisees approached [Jesus] and asked, "Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?" They were testing him. 3 He said to them in reply, "What did Moses command you?" 4 They replied, "Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her." 5 But Jesus told them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female. 7 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother (and be joined to his wife), 8 and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate." 10 In the house the disciples again questioned him about this. 11 He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." (Mark 10:2-12 NAB)

Jesus is saying here that divorce was originally allowed because of the hardness of the peoples’ hearts. This means that people were so adamant about ignoring God’s natural laws that Moses created a law (something he was allowed to do, authority given to him by God) that allowed divorce. Though nothing from the Old Covenant shall be stricken from the Law, Jesus commands that if you do divorce, attempting to re-marry would be equivalent, in God’s eyes, to adultery.

This is permanency until death is reiterated in many passages. Paul, writing to the Romans states:

2 Thus a married woman is bound by law to her living husband; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law in respect to her husband. 3 Consequently, while her husband is alive she will be called an adulteress if she consorts with another man. But if her husband dies she is free from that law, and she is not an adulteress if she consorts with another man.” (Romans 7:2-3 NAB)

And again to the Corinthians:

10 To the married, however, I give this instruction (not I, but the Lord): a wife should not separate from her husband 11 --and if she does separate she must either remain single or become reconciled to her husband--and a husband should not divorce his wife.” (1 Corinthians 7:10-11 NAB)

A living example:

Jesus approaches a pagan woman in the Samarian town of Sychar and talks with her. During the discussion Jesus reveals a bit of His plan for salvation for the Gentiles, but during this Jesus makes it a point to reveal something about her marriage to prove another point:
16 Jesus said to her, "Go call your husband and come back." 17 The woman answered and said to him, "I do not have a husband." Jesus answered her, "You are right in saying, 'I do not have a husband.' 18 For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true." (John 4:16-18 NAB)

This example here shows what Jesus thinks of re-marriage. In fact that re-marriage is not a marriage at all. This teaching can be hard to hear for some, but Jesus asks us to trust in Him and believe. All He asks of us is for our own eternal good.

Matthew’s “except in cases of adultery” clause:

Some Christians point to Matthew 19:9 to justify divorce at least in the case of infidelity—or unfaithfulness (first example given is from the New International Version and the second from King James Version):

I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." (Matthew 19:9 NIV)

And I say to you, Whoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoever marries her which is put away does commit adultery.” (Matthew 19:9 KJV)

These Christians point to the clause, “except for marital unfaithfulness/fornication,” and justify divorce on these grounds. Let’s look at the New American Bible translation though:

“’9 I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.’" (Matthew 19:9 NAB)

It seems that one word here is translated differently than others. Let’s look at the original Greek and find the word used. For space I’ll only show the clause in dispute:

“…mÄ“ epi porneia…” or literally “except for unchastity/unlawfulness”. The word “porneia” is translated in many places as unchastity such as in Matt 15:19, Mark 7:21, and Acts 15:18-19. In 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 it is translated as immorality, particularly incest and unlawfulness. So using it with the understood context of all these words it would seem that it could be translated as any or a combination of the three since all these are implied by the word itself.

So does this mean the only way to divorce is to commit adultery? If so, this would seem to encourage this sin and punish those who were faithful (and want a divorce). What an odd workaround that would be suggested by Jesus. God does not contradict in cases of morality when correctly understood. So no, adultery is not a just cause for re-marriage after divorce.

Logically then it would seem to have the most likely translation of unlawfulness. For this to carry on there must be a way to determine the unlawfulness of a marriage. Only Christ and the leaders He appointed to the Church are given the authority in this matter, and they came up with the process of annulment based on Scripture and Tradition.

What can one do if faced with divorce and you wish to remarry?

The first thing that can be tried is a declaration of nullity, otherwise known as an annulment. What an annulment is not, is a church sanctioned divorce. Annulments and divorces are not synonymous in any way (although the confusion by the secular world is understandable).

An annulment is the process that determines whether or not a lawful marriage happened in the first place due to circumstances before and at the time of the wedding.

So what determines if a marriage was unlawful? Our Church Fathers determined them with Scripture and sacred Tradition using logic. Examples of things that could make a marriage unlawful include (but are not limited to): Previous marriage, incestuous relationship (bride and groom are directly related), informal ceremony (for Catholics only), un-openess to children at the time of marriage, one or both parties entering the marriage against their will, etc…

If any of these things are found, the marriage can be considered annulled, or in easier terms to understand: The marriage never existed in the first place, because something prevented it from being a marriage. In this case, the two are free to marry.

Sometimes no impediment to marriage can be found. If this is the case, the Church has no authority to break apart what God has joined (remember, an annulment means that there wasn’t a marriage in the first place, so there was nothing to break apart). A civil divorce, though it may seem to on the outside, does not actually break the marriage. The government cannot and does not have the power to break apart what God has joined. Only the death of the spouse can finalize a marriage.

If annulment isn’t granted:

Even Jesus can understand the pain that divorce can cause in the divorcees themselves. Not everyone is meant to re-marry; even some are meant to focus totally on Him through other ministries. Just as the infertile couple may be called to adoption or teaching to fulfill a spiritual parenthood, so may the recently divorced be called to a spiritual marriage and devotion to God. Some ways this can be done is a strong prayer life, caring for the poor, working with people in unfortunate circumstances and other acts of service.

Jesus Himself was betrayed by those closest to Him just like some betray their spouse, but through Jesus’ sacrifice, our suffering can have meaning through Him. If you choose to follow God’s will and are still inflicted with sadness, unite your sufferings on Jesus’ cross, following Him with your own cross. God will not give you more than you can handle if you are faithful to Him.

13 No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NAB)


I used the NIV, AKJV, and NAB Bibles for quotations.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

On Suffering and Redemptive Suffering

Why do people suffer?

This question is asked often the context of criticizing the Christian faith such as, “Since God is so loving and merciful, why do innocent people suffer?” Pope Benedict XVI recently gave an answer to one such question this past Good Friday (2011) saying, “I also have the same questions: why is it this way? Why do you have to suffer so much while others live in ease? And we do not have the answers but we know that Jesus suffered as you do, an innocent…” He went on to say that one day we will have the answers but that this time may be far off. So what do we do until then?

This is where redemptive suffering comes into play. Redemptive suffering is suffering that is given meaning where otherwise it might not. It is suffering that is not in vain, but instead something good comes out of it no matter how bad it is. For the greatest example we turn to Jesus’ crucifixion. He was the ultimate innocent who never sinned once in His life, yet he was abandoned, spit upon, tortured, stripped of his clothing in front of a crowd, crucified, and died all for righteous deeds. Yet from that terrible suffering and terrible sin of humanity (Deicide – the killing of God Himself) good came out of it. The “redemptiveness” of this act comes from the washing away of our sins. The proof is in Jesus’ resurrection. 
Though God could have chosen another means of saving us, he used the worst thing that could ever happen and out of it came the best thing that could ever happen. Some may not accept this though, citing that Jesus chose to do this of His own free will. Other things can cause suffering to us as well so how do we reconcile that?

Suffering at the Hands of Others

Evil comes upon others due to the misguided free-willed sins of others. Terrible things such as stealing, abuse, murder, and rape all happen due to the sins of those who chose to inflict them on the victims. The innocents who are subjected to these horrendous actions are often affected deeply causing them to lose hope and dignity. But they need not lose hope, because even though they were unwillingly subjected to these things, God promises us redemption and retribution by His own hand.

Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."” (Romans 12:19 NAB)

In Romans 12:19 we see particularly in the last part that God will repay our enemies with His vengeance. This does not mean that God desires our enemies to fall, nor that God wants them to perish:

“’Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked?’” says the Lord GOD. ‘Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live?’” (Ezekiel 18:23 NAB)

Other times it might not even be a person who causes suffering. 
Suffering at the Hands of Natural Disasters

Recent earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other “acts of God” seem to also be the loss of hope for many, some even attributing these to God as punishment. Truly, would the God of infinite mercy and love send these disasters to hurt His children? What good would that do? God desires the conversion of sinners, not their destruction as seen in the previous quotation.

Then what redemption can come from this suffering? Great amounts of people donate money and items and their time and strength to help people in need. What greater example of God’s love that God’s people (and even people who may not believe in God) acting according to God’s will to help those who are afflicted, displaced, and suffering? We are the hands of God; we are a part of Jesus when we help another whether we believe in Him or not. 
Where is God?

If you have ever asked, where was God when I was afflicted? Where was God when I was suffering? He was on the cross praying for you and dying for you so that your suffering would have meaning and that your pain would not be for nothing. Any suffering that you have to endure here on Earth will be paid back to you in heaven as partially referenced to in the Beatitudes (found in Matthew 5 (NAB)) among other places in the Bible.

Concerning God’s will, disasters, and the effects of sin

It is never God’s will that bad things happen, though why He allows them to happen may elude us sometimes. We do know, however, how it all first started. The moment Adam and Eve first sinned against God (thus bringing sin upon their descendants, us) sin has been with us. As such, sin’s inherited effects are also with us. The effects of sin include every kind of suffering imaginable. So why doesn’t God just take these effects away? Here is a parable Jesus told explaining this situation:

24 He proposed another parable to them. "The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. 26 When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. 27 The slaves of the householder came to him and said, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?' 28 He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' His slaves said to him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 29 He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, ‘First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.’'"

In this parable, the seed is a metaphor for the people of the world, the enemy is the devil, master of sin and temptation. The weeds are sinful thoughts, actions, and depending how you interpret it, sinful people. The man who sowed his seed in this parable is God, not wanting to cut down the crop because there are weeds corrupting the crop. In the end (harvest time) God will tell His harvesters to individually pluck the weeds and burn them getting rid of them. He will then take the good wheat and gather them into His barn (heaven).

In this particular parable Jesus does not address why the weeds aren’t just taken (as God likely can do), but there are some logical thesis’s that make sense of this. To list them would take another article or two, so I may address them at a later date. Until then, they can be found simply enough by doing a search (particularly around Until the harvest though, we have the prospect of having our suffering be redeemed.

How can we participate in redemptive suffering when we are afflicted?

In the same way that Jesus offered His suffering for our sins, we can offer our own minor and major sufferings as a sacrifice that God can use to (for example) for the conversion of sinners, lessen someone’s time or suffering on Earth or in purgatory (whether we know the person or not), or for anything according to God’s will.
So if you are sick, have a headache, experience a loss, suffer from an impediment, are bullied, or suffer in any greater or lesser way, instead of complaining offer it up for God to do something good out of the suffering so that it may not be in vain.

16 The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. 18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. (Romans 8:16-18 NAB)

May this and indeed all Jesus promised give us hope that our sufferings and the sufferings of everyone across the globe will not be in vain, but instead be used by God for the good of us and for the good of all His people.

Miscellaneous verses and Quotes:

33 “…I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." (John 16:33, Jesus, NAB)

More may be added and more can be suggested.

All verses were taken straight from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's website ( and are the New American Bible translation used in the American English mass.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Transubstantiation - The Body and Blood of Jesus

Body of Christ, Blood of Christ

Key points that the Catholic Church believes:

  • At mass, the bread and wine turn into the actual body and blood of Jesus.
  • You should not receive the body and blood if you are not in full “communion” with the church.
  • You should not receive the body and blood if you have sinned “gravely” without confession.
Let’s start with some relevant scripture:
“51 ‘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.’ 52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?’ 53 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. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. ‘“ –John 6:51-56 NAB

The Catholic Church interprets verse 55 to be literal just as the Jews do in verse 52.  At verse 52 the Jews asked, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?”  During Jesus' time (and still now of course) cannibalism is a great stigma, something most cultures frown upon greatly, so it’s understandable why they would seem upset over this, because they understood him to be speaking literally.  If we continue on in this passage we will see that Jesus does not attempt to correct their understanding of His words to be literal.  He in fact he lets them leave and follow him no longer:

“60 Then many of his disciples who were listening said, ‘This saying is hard; who can accept it?’ 61 Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, ‘Does this shock you? 62 What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.’ Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. 65 And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.’ 66 As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. " John 6:60-66 NAB translation

Why would Jesus let them leave Him without explanation if it were just a symbolic representation of His body and blood?  If it does not still happen every day during mass, why would Jesus have said in verse 53, “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.”?  Are we simply just not able to have (eternal) life in us because we weren’t around for the Last Supper?  Jesus surely wouldn’t leave us hanging; This is why he gave us priests so that we may celebrate the Eucharist (another topic I will cover at a later date) and at the Last Supper instituted the Eucharist itself (which by the way means “thanksgiving” from the Latin translation of the original Greek)Finally, lets see how seriously St. Paul takes the Eucharist:

“27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.” 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 NAB

This sounds pretty harsh for something that some may consider just a symbol.  St. Paul takes the Eucharist pretty seriously when talking to the Corinthians.  At that time the Corinthians were doing some not-so-admirable things and Paul was warning them to not offend Christ's body and blood.  I will expound upon this a little later.

Common objections to this defense:

Some people may continue to stand by a figurative interpretation of this passage, but the words used in the original language suggest otherwise.  The word “eats” in the passage above is translated from the Greek word “trogon” which is not a very metaphorical word in the Greek language.  To note a difference “trogon” would mean more literally “chews” or “gnaws” as opposed to a more figuratively “beautiful” word like “consumes” or “takes into him/herself.” Furthermore, back in Jesus’ time, to say “eat my flesh” figuratively would have been similar to the more modern crude phase, “eat me.”  Surely not something Jesus would say.

Why should other faiths refrain from taking communion without this belief in their heart?  And who else should not partake?

Let’s again go to the Bible for our answer:
“27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.” 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 NAB

From this we can infer two things:

Firstly, one must “discern the body” or believe that this is Jesus’ body and blood or one will “drink judgment” upon themselves.  If you don’t believe that the host given to you is the Body of Christ then you should not partake, hence why when you come up you are told, “Body of Christ.”  The proper response to this is, “Amen,” meaning, “I agree,” or, “what you said is true.”  If you come up to receive the Eucharist without belief in the true presence of Jesus, saying, “Amen,” would be a lie.

Secondly, we must be “worthy” or rather, be not “in sin” when eating the body and blood.  This is not referring to those outside of our faith, but to those who have a serious sin on them.  Verse 27 makes it very clear, that if we receive His body and blood unworthily we must “answer for the body and blood of the Lord,” which means to be just as guilty as those who murdered Jesus.  How do we know if we are worthy?  Nobody truly is, but “through [Christ] all things are possible!” (Matt 19:26)  This is why He instituted confession (I will cover this in another post as well).  When Jesus has forgiven us, when we hear Jesus’ words of absolution we know that we are free of our sins.  Only if we sin again grievously (that is, sin mortally, which is:  a serious sin, that we have knowledge that it is serious, and we willing commit even knowing of its seriousness) have we again become unworthy.

Even if this is all true, why does it taste and smell like bread and wine?

What happens at the mass is that common bread and common wine become the body and blood of our Savior, but all the physical attributes still appear to be common bread and wine.  What changes is the actual being of the bread and wine.  You won’t see any physical changes under the microscope.  This is because what changes is everything pertaining to its actual being while retaining the physical properties of food and drink.  Otherwise, how would we consume flesh and blood without regurgitating?

It is through faith that we must believe; as Jesus said in John 6:63, “it is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail.”  That means that the spirit (or spiritually thinking) gives us the truth and that the flesh (humanly thinking) does not.

If Jesus wanted to, could he move a mountain or drain the ocean?  If you are a faithful Christian, you likely answered, “yes.”  Well, if Jesus wanted to, could he turn mere bread and wine, basic food and drink, into His own body and use to for our salvation?  We believe that yes, He can, and He does so at every mass.

What do the earth Church fathers have to say on this topic? (Select quotes from Catholic Answer’s faith tract – The Real Presence)

"Christ was carried in his own hands when, referring to his own body, he said, ‘This is my body’ [Matt. 26:26]. For he carried that body in his hands" (Explanations of the Psalms 33:1:10 [A.D. 405]). – St. Augustine

"We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus" (First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]).  –Justin Martyr

"The bread and the wine of the Eucharist before the holy invocation of the adorable Trinity were simple bread and wine, but the invocation having been made, the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine the blood of Christ" (Catechetical Lectures 19:7 [A.D. 350]).  –Cyril of Jerusalem

Final thoughts:

For a more full context of this whole passage read from John 6:1 to the end of the chapter, this will show in another important thing I did not see need in my explaination of Jesus' repitition that He is the bread of life and the living bread.  

If there is anything in this article that is incorrect please email me at TrueYomic [at] yahoo [dot] com.  If there is anything that you still disagree with or you would like to see discussed please leave a comment on this post.  If any points are brought up that I think are worth amending to this post I will add another section and answer it more fully.  If it is worth another article I may answer it there as well.  Thanks for reading, and God bless!

For further reading, here are some faith tracts from Catholic Answers at

Christ in the Eucharist
Who Can Receive Communion?  
Quotes from the Fathers - Real Presence

Much credit goes to them as a guide and for ideas to form this article.  Bible quote credit goes to the USCCB for the New American Bible translation available for free at: