Thursday, November 05, 2015

St. Edmund Campion, Martyr





In 1566, Queen Elizabeth I visited the University of Oxford.  The visit lasted six days and, although she  had to listen to innumerable speeches in Latin, Greek and English, they were somewhat lightened by a few plays and presentation of degrees.  

Edmund Campion, Student
On the third day, Edmund Campion, then 26 years old, spoke on the relationship of the tides and the moon – an unusual subject for a divinity student. There were strict limits to the debate topics; they were not to touch on the subject of the Queen's religion.  Oxford,  particularly Campion's college of St. John, was known to be pro-Catholic.  In any case, Campion had taken the Oath of Supremacy which meant he regarded the Queen, and not the Pope, as the head of the English Church.  When the Queen left Oxford, Campion had earned the patronage of the Earl of Leicester and some even looked on him as a possible future Archbishop of Canterbury.
After receiving deacon's orders in the Anglican Church, Campion suffered a 'remorse of conscience' and returned to Catholic doctrine.  He left England for Ireland in 1569 and was to be involved in the establishment of the University of Dublin.  There he wrote his 'History of Ireland', now considered an English-slanted version of Irish history.


 Campion's Spiritual Search
His Catholic sympathies deepened and in 1571, Campion left Ireland secretly for Douai, then in the Spanish Netherlands, now in France, he was re-admitted to the Catholic Church and received the Eucharist for the first time in twelve years.  He was granted the Bachelor of Divinity by the University of Douai in 1573 and travelled to Rome where he entered the Jesuit novitiate.  The course of his life had drastically changed.

Edmund Campion, Jesuit and Priest
The Jesuit Mission to England began in 1580 for the purpose of providing English Catholics with the sacraments and Mass.  It was illegal to attend Mass in England and everyone who did not attend the Anglican service was fined a shilling.  For those clerics and officials who refused to say an oath of submission to the Queen's spiritual supremacy, the first penalty was the loss of material goods but after the third refusal  the penalty was death.  It was also considered high treason to reconcile anyone to the Roman Church.  The enforcement of these and other rules were inconsistent and depended on informers, but clearly England was not a safe place for a Jesuit priest!
The object of the mission was for the preservation of the Faith of the Catholics in England and the Jesuits were strictly warned not to proselytize among the heretic Protestants. They were also forbidden by their Superiors to become involved in politics or the state.  English Catholics were encouraged to obey the Queen in civil matters but not spiritual. 
The Jesuits entered England in disguise and stayed in the houses of prominent Catholic families.   Most of the houses had secret cupboards where Mass vestments, missals and Communion vessels were kept but these 'priest holes' were often large enough to hide the priest himself if there was a raid by professional priest-hunters.
At Mass at the Yate's house in Lyford, one of the priest hunters, Mr. George Eliot, had been present.  After Mass he left the home and went for the magistrate at which time the three priests , including Campion, were hidden in the secret chamber.  When Eliot returned with the authorities there was a thorough search and the Jesuits were found and charged.  

Edmund Campion, Martyr
Campion was put in the Tower and later tortured.  In the presence of the Queen he was offered a bishopric if he renounced his Catholic faith but he adamantly refused.  Edmund Campion was charged on October 31 of having conspired to raise sedition in England and dethrone the Queen.  He was condemned to death as a traitor and hanged on December 1, 1581.
His last words were, "In condemning us, you condemn all your own ancestors, all our ancient bishops and kings, all that was once the glory of England – the island of saints, and the most devoted child of the See of Peter."


Monday, September 07, 2015

Book Review: How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas E. Woods Jr., Ph.D.


Woods, Thomas E. Jr. Ph.D.  How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.  Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc.  2005.   280 pp

"Philip Jenkins, a distinguished professor of history and religious studies at Pennsylvania State University, has called anti-Catholicism the one remaining acceptable prejudice in America.  His assessment is difficult to dispute. ... My own students, to the extent that they know anything at all about the Church, are typically familiar only with alleged Church "corruption," of which they heard ceaseless tales of varying credibility from their high school teachers.  The story of Catholicism, as far as they know, is one of ignorance, repression, and stagnation."  So Thomas E. Woods, himself a historian, economist, professor and noted author, begins his book on ‘How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization'. (page 1)
In contrast to these biases, Woods proceeds to demonstrate that in the areas of science, economics, education, art, philosophy, law and charity it is the Catholic Church that has been their most important source in the Western world. 
Scientific Achievements
In the area of Science, Woods makes the claim that those who worship creation itself cannot investigate it in a scientific way.  This idea was put forth by Stanley Jaki, a Catholic priest who has doctorates in physics and theology, in his book, The Saviour of Science (2000).  For example, someone who worships a tree cannot look into what elements make up the tree, what causes it to grow etc.   The Jewish Scriptures, on the other hand, show creation to be rational and orderly and a reflection of God's wisdom, goodness and beauty. God has ordered all things by measure, number and weight (Wisdom 11:21).   Creation, not treated as something ‘divine' itself, can then be investigated. Jaki does not deny that other cultures made contributions to science but says that "sustained scientific inquiry" (quoted by Woods, p. 77) and the scientific method emerged from Catholic thought. 
Woods dismantles the ‘Galileo case' as it has been misrepresented to the public demonstrating that science, itself, was not what the Church found problematic.  In fact, Jesuits were involved in the study of astronomy at that time and still are.  The misrepresentations are widespread: one of my former students in Grade 5 had learned somewhere that Galileo was tortured to death by the Catholic Church.  He was surprised to hear from me that Galileo had only been put under house arrest, had all his needs cared for and died a natural death at the age of 77.
Triumphs in Education
Woods shows how Education is another area in which the Catholic Church has made a significant contribution.  The great universities of Europe began as Cathedral schools or gatherings of Masters and students under the patrimony of the Church.  It was during the Middle Ages that the universities of Bologna, Paris and Oxford were instituted and the papacy played an important role in their establishment. For example, Pope Innocent IV granted the privilege of awarding degrees to Oxford in 1254. 
Charity and Hospitals
Woods also shows how charitable acts, although not unknown in early Greek and Roman cultures, were unique in Christianity.  He shows this by quotations from writers such as the Stoic philosophers, Seneca and others.  Even though the Stoics taught that man should do good to his fellow-man without expecting anything in return, they also taught that they were to remain indifferent to everything and everyone. 
A problem in some of the teaching of some world religions is that illness and other misfortunes are the results of the individual's sin (in this life or in a previous one) and any help given to the individual interferes with his future reincarnations. If this is true, people reasoned, it is better not to give charity. 
Others religions believe that individuals have no free-will and God is the only cause of everything.  He does not act with ‘reason' and no matter what happens, it is ‘God's will'.  Even that which we would ordinarily call ‘evil' is caused by God.  With this kind of ‘unreasonable' God, science and education do not advance but stagnate. Although Islam at first made some contributions in Mathematics and Medicine, the philosophy of 'whatever happens is the will of Allah' has more recently stifled research and scientific  progress in Islamic countries.
In Alexandria, in the third century, pagans were said to ‘thrust aside anyone who began to be sick, and kept aloof even from dearest friends', whereas Christians ‘visited the sick without thought of their own peril ... drawing upon themselves their neighbours' diseases' (page 175).  He demonstrates how hospitals were established in the major cities by the fourth century.  Fabiola, a Christian matron, established the first large, public hospital in Rome and St. Basil the Great established a hospital in Caesarea.  Also mentioned are the military Orders, established during the Crusades, such as the Knights of St. John.
International Law
It has become popular in recent years to show Christopher Columbus, and the Spanish who came with him, as invaders of  peaceful places who forced the native people to accept Christianity all the while mistreating them.  Although these stories may be exaggerated, Woods points out that reports of the mistreatment of peoples in the New World caused a ‘crisis of conscience' amongst Spanish theologians and philosophers at that time.  This, he says, is unusual in history and wonders if Attila the Hun had any moral qualms about his conquests.  Or did the human sacrifices of the Aztecs themselves cause any ‘philosophical reflection' on their part?  Woods says that the outcries of such Spaniards as Dominican friar, Antonio de Montesinos, and Father Francisco de Vitoria were the beginnings of international law.  In fact, Father de Vitoria is called the ‘father of international law' because of his contribtions but how many of us have ever heard of him?  Another Spaniard, a bishop, Bartolome de Las Casas, suggested that the natives "... be attracted gently, in accordance with Christ's doctrine" and said that Aristotle's views on slavery as being natural to some should be rejected because "... we have in our favour Christ's mandate: love your neighbour as yourself."  (quoted on page 143).
Legal Tradition of the Western World
Regarding Law, Woods shows that Rome introduced systemized law in their Empire and the so-called ‘barbarians' had laws of their own that dealt with ownership, dowries, rights and crime.  The laws of these ‘barbarians' sometimes based guilt and innocence on superstition, such as the ‘floating or sinking test' to prove the guilt of a crime.  It was Canon or Church Law that many of our best and fairest laws today have as their basis.  For example, the Church stated that marriage could take place only with the consent of both parties.  This is significant since people in earlier centuries did not consider that women should have a voice in important matters, even those that affected them greatly.  Some pre-Christian cultures approved of arranged marriages between infants and the will of the individuals was not considered, only that of their parents.  Many cultures today do not take into consideration the consent of women.  The Church will still annul a marriage if one or both parties of the couple did not give their free consent to the marriage.
Summary    
These are just a few examples of how Woods defends his thesis that the Catholic Church built Western civilization.  He cites numerous examples in economy, law, agriculture and in science (which is often the thought to be at odds with the Church) where Catholic philosophers, monks, priests, and Bishops as well as the laity,  have made important contributions to modern Western society. For those who think that he has not given enough credibility to other cultures (for example, the inventions of the Chinese and the mathematics of the Arabs), remember, that Woods has used ‘Western Civilization' in the title.
The book is easy and interesting to read and is not just a gathering of facts.  Woods tell the stories of the people who shaped our modern society, many of whom most of us have never heard.  He manages to do this with honesty, truth and good writing.  I have to admit it is my favourite non-fiction book and I recommend it with enthusiasm.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Rose Prince: A Future Saint from a Residential School




In 1951 four gravediggers were re-locating several graves near the Residential School at Lejac, BC (900 km north of Vancouver) as they were too close to a barn. When one of the caskets accidentally broke open the men were astonished to see that the body of the young woman inside was uncorrupted even though it had been buried two years ago. They opened the other caskets and these bodies had decomposed normally. The uncorrupted body was that of Rose Prince.
The gravediggers, including Jack Lacerte, who later became one of the first Native RCMP officers in Canada, reported the incident to the Sisters of the Child Jesus at the school. They came to look at Rose’s body and one of the Sisters, Sister Eleanor, reported, “She was so lovely looking and was smiling”. Sister Eleanor is the only nun who saw Rose’s body and who was still living in 1998 when the documentary, Uncorrupted, was made.

Rose Prince - Beginnings
Rose Prince was born in Fort St. James, BC, Canada in 1915 of the Dakelh First Nation also known as the Carrier Nation. Her father, Jean-Marie Prince, the son of a Chief, was a devout Catholic who helped the priest with translation, prayers and singing. He was known as ‘Church Chief’. People remember Rose’s mother, Agathe, as a very beautiful and kind woman.
Agathe had been brought up by the Sisters of the Child Jesus and she and Jean-Marie met while they were students at the Residential School. They were married and returned to Fort St. James eventually having nine children. Rose was the third child and she first attended the little school at Stuart Lake. In 1922 she went to the newly re-built residential school at Lejac which was run by the Sisters of the Child Jesus. The Lejac Residential School was named after Father Jean-Marie Lejac, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate missionary who co-founded the mission at Fort St. James in 1873.

After Graduation
Her mother died of influenza when Rose was seventeen and her father re-married. After graduation, Rose asked to stay on at the residential school. One source says that her step-mother did not accept her so she didn’t feel comfortable at home, another says that she liked the peace at the school and wanted to be of use there. She used her gifts as a seamstress, cook and substitute teacher. Rose was very artistic and created beautiful embroidered Church linens and hand-made cards with her paintings of flowers which she gave to the Sisters and other friends.
As a child. Rose had been injured which resulted in a back deformity making it difficult for her to walk and kneel. It may have also caused her considerable pain but her contemporaries say she never complained. Her friends describe her as gentle and humble and she was said to have a keen sense of humour. Other children would often come to her for advice. During school years she was known as an excellent student and would help the younger children with their homework and encourage them to read books. She loved the prayers and hymns in the Carrier language which had been written by Father Adrian Maurice and when she wasn’t working could often be found in the chapel. But her life was ‘ordinary’ and others did not see her as very much different than themselves.

Sickness and Death
When she was in her thirties, Rose contracted tuberculosis, a disease which was very common in all the population of Western Canada at that time and for which there was no treatment except rest and fresh air. Gradually she grew weaker until she was confined to her bed and unable to work. In August of 1949, she was admitted to the hospital in Vanderhoof, BC. Her brother, Paul, was with her. She asked to see the Sisters and Father Mulvihill who celebrated a Mass for her in the hospital chapel. After she received Holy Communion that evening she died. She was only thirty-four. A few days later she was buried in the cemetery at Lejac.

The Story Becomes Known
The story of Rose’s uncorrupt body did not become widely known after it was discovered in 1951. However, in 1996, articles about the discovery and pilgrimages to the site were published in the Vancouver Sun and the Toronto Star.
A miner of Ukrainian descent, Nick Loza, living in Fraser Lake had injured his back and was unable to work. He suffered excruciating pain because of scar tissue pressing on a nerve. One day his parish priest came with soil from Rose’s grave and he put it on Lozas’ back and prayed for him. One hour later, Loza reports, his back felt better and he slept through the night for the first time since his injury. The next day he had no pain, he returned to work and has been well ever since. Others have also reported healings.
In July 1990, Father Jules Goulet organized a pilgrimage to Rose’s grave in Lejac. That year only 20 people went on the pilgrimage but in 1995 there were 1,200 people and the numbers have grown ever since. The Vatican is aware of the story of Rose Prince but in order for someone to officially be declared a Saint certain conditions must be met. Healings, such as that of Nick Loza, must be thoroughly investigated to rule out other causes of the healing before they can be attributed to the intercession of a saint. It is not known if there is someone collecting information about healings related to intercession by Rose Prince. Further information about the pilgrimage and the history of Lejac Residential School can be found at the following websites: PGDiocese.bc.ca and Lejac.Blogspot.com.
Discussions regarding bodies of saints that have not decomposed can be found on OvercomeProblems.com.

2015 Pilgrimage
The Rose Prince Pilgrimage for 2015 was July 3-5 at Fraser Lake, BC. The pilgrimage began with former students at LeJac Residential School wanting to meet for a reunion. It has grown to include those who are interested in knowing more about Rose Prince. Free campground sites available for tents, campers and
RVs. There is also a choice of local motels. For more information go to the Rose Prince or Prince George website.

Sources
Rose Prince official Website accessed June 29, 2012.
Uncorrupted: The Story of Rose Prince. Documentary by Ken Frith. Shenandoah Films 1998.
CBC News. Trumpener, Betsy. The Grave of First Nation’s Woman, October 16, 2008.
The Diocese of Prince George. Website accessed June 29, 2012.
Lejac Residential School website. Accessed June 30,, 2012.
Overcome Problems. Website accessed June 30, 2012.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

What Does the Catholic Church Really Say About Homosexuality?

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Pope Francis told reporters, speaking in Italian, on the plane returning to Rome from Brazil after World Youth Day in July, 2013.

The Vatican was quick to point out that Francis was not suggesting that priests or anyone else should act on their homosexual tendencies, which the church considers a sin but whether a gay man can become a priest. At one time Bishops did accept gay men for the priesthood but following the sex-scandals in which some priests were convicted of sexually abusing young males it was thought that accepting homosexual men could open the door to more abuse. Since most men in the Catholic priesthood (some priests who have converted from the Anglican Church and, although married, are admitted to the Catholic priesthood) take a vow of celibacy the question of ‘acting on their homosexual tendencies’ is a moot point. A priest, homosexual or heterosexual, is to live a life of celibacy.

What does the Catechism of the Catholic Church say?

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered’. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

There have been many hypotheses of why people are homosexuals: is it genetic, hormonal or neurological or something else? Although some studies have been done, so far, nothing has been shown unequivocally to be the cause or explanation of why people are attracted to the same sex rather than the opposite sex. Because of this the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that homosexuality's "psychological genesis remains largely unexplained" (CCC 2357).

What does St. Paul Say?
In his Letter to the Roman church (chapter 1:18ff) Paul wrote:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has show it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honour him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.
Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
... Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.”

What Do Others Say?

“Marriage comes with the right to have children. How does a same sex couple get children? Not naturally. They use adoption and commercial third party reproduction, including the buying and selling of eggs and sperm, the renting of a surrogate womb, and creating a special class of women called “breeders.”

“The medical process required for egg retrieval is lengthy, and there are serious medical hazards associated with each step in the process,” said Pediatric Nurse Jennifer Lahl in Jephthah’s Daughters: Innocent Casualties in the War for Family “Equality. Women risk their own future fertility, blood clots, and reproductive cancers. Both surrogates and egg donors die. “Multiple embryos are implanted into surrogates in order to increase the chance of live births. Women are treated as commodities, paid vessels, a breeding class,” Lahl concluded. Multiple children do not survive the process. It’s the old game of kill a baby to get a baby.” http://christsfaithfulwitness.blogspot.ca/2015/05/ireland-creates-modern-day-babel-same.html#.VWox8M9Vikp


The Vote in Ireland
“This “culture war” election was conducted under extraordinary conditions that have never been seen anywhere before in the West. As we described in our pre-election article virtually all of the effort to pass “gay marriage” in Ireland came from massive funding from the United States.” https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/what-really-happened-in-irelands-gay-marriage-referendum


Sources

The Holy Bible.  San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1966.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Toronto, London, New York: Doubleday Publishing Group.
                                                                 1997,

http://christsfaithfulwitness.blogspot.ca/2015/05/ireland-creates-modern-day-babel-same.html#.VWox8M9Vikp

https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/what-really-happened-in-irelands-gay-marriage-referendum




Friday, May 01, 2015

Hill of Crosses

In 1831 in Lithuania, simple hill covered with weeds was transformed into a memorial to those who had been killed or deported to Siberia during an anti-Russian uprising. People began to put up crosses and soon hundreds of crosses covered the hill. During subsequent wars and persecution crosses on the hill continued to multiply over the years.
The Soviet Era (1940-1990)
After WWII when the Soviet authorities took power in Lithuania, people’s freedom to worship was severely curtailed. Again people were sent to cold and miserable conditions in the work camps of Siberia for minor disobediences. As crosses appeared on the hill, the new Communist government declared the place ‘forbidden’ and trespassers were punished. At one point authorities destroyed the crosses in order to extinguish the ‘ religious fanaticism’.
In 1956 people started to return home from Siberia. In thanks to God for their return and in memory of the torture they underwent, they again planted crosses on the hill. The site not only symbolized resistance to violence but also their faith in God.
In 1961 the Soviet government bulldozed the area, burned the wooden crosses and buried the stone crosses. The government destroyed the hill four times. Once in frustration at the appearance of new crosses they flooded the area turning the hill into an island. One cross was put up with the inscription ‘Jesus, do not punish the villains for they do not know what they are doing.”

A Place for Pilgrims and Tourists
After the end of Communist rule in Lithuania (1990)the Hill of Crosses continued to grow. Today pilgrims and tourists from all over the world come to see this emotional site. Many visitors leave a cross behind as a prayer for someone. The total number of crosses is estimated at 100,000 but that number increases every day. In 1993 Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass at the site and left a cross.
The Hill of Crosses is both a symbol of heroic resistance to Communist atheism and a symbol of Lithuanian faith in God and freedom.
The Hill of Crosses is located northwest of Vilnius near the city of ƾiauliai. Within walking distance is a large Franciscan Monastery (built in 2000) where Masses are regularly held.
Sources
Wright, Kevin J. Catholic Shrines of Central and Eastern Europe. Liguori, Miss: Liguori Publications. 1999
Varanka, Antanas. Kryziu Kalnas (Hill of Crosses). Vilnius:Leidykla Anvara. 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Easter and Passover: What's the Connection?

Easter and Passover
As we approach both Passover and Easter you may wonder if there is a connection and, if so, what it is.



We know that Jesus was a Jew; his mother, Mary, and step-father, Joseph, were Jewish. His Apostles were all Jewish. They all celebrated the
Feast of the Passover every year as Jews have done (and still do) since it was instituted by Moses (Exodus 12). The Passover is celebrated to remember the deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.
If you have seen movie 'The Ten Commandments', you will remember the plagues that God brought upon the Egyptians in order to let the Hebrews leave Egypt. The final plague was the death of every first-born male. The Hebrews could only escape this last plague by killing an unblemished lamb, sprinkling its blood on the doorways of their houses and then roasting the lamb and eating it together as a family. They were to eat it with unleavened bread (without yeast) as they would not have time to let the bread rise before leaving. Unfortunately, the recent series The Bible, did not show the important meal of the Passover. It does show the sacrifice of the lamb, putting the blood on the lintels of the door but it does not show the people actually eating the Passover meal. We will see why this meal is important to both Jews and Christians.
The last plague was the breaking point for Pharaoh who finally let the Israelites leave Egypt(although he regretted it later and chased after them). This last plague was the death of the firstborn of every household in Egypt except those that had the blood of a sacrificed lamb on its door lintel. Moses told the Hebrews to remember this night and observe the Feast of Passover on the 14th of the month of Nisan as a perpetual ordinance for themselves and their descendants: “This is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the Egyptians, he spared our houses.” (Exodus 12:27)
It is Passover that Jesus and his disciples were celebrating, many years later, just before Judas betrayed Jesus and Jesus was arrested. This is what Leonardo da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper portrays. But does Passover really have anything to do with Easter?
You bet it does!  The Passover was much more linked to the death and resurrection of Jesus than just occurring at the same time of year. On the first Passover, the Hebrew people chose one of their own lambs on the 10th of Nisan and killed it on the 14th of Nisan for the family meal. During the time of the prophet, Jeremiah, because the people went to the city of Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, a sacrificial flock of lambs raised for this purpose were brought into Jerusalem on the 10th of Nisan. People could then purchase a lamb for their family’s celebration of the Passover feast rather than bringing one from their hometown some distance away. The sheep were brought into the city by the Sheep Gate.
It is believed that Jesus entered into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey on the 10th of Nisan. He was greeted by cheering crowds who waved palm branches and cried, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” Luke 19:38. Jesus is believed to have entered by the Golden Gate and came as a King but would be sacrificed like the lamb. This entry is remembered as Palm Sunday celebrated the week before Easter. The Golden Gate was sealed by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman in 1541 possibly to prevent the return of the Messiah.
Jesus celebrated the Passover seder meal with his disciples and we read in Luke 22:14, “Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and said, ‘Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which shall be given for you; do this in memory of me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which shall be shed for you.’” (Luke 22:19-20). This was all done before Judas betrayed Jesus and before Jesus was arrested. The Apostles did not yet know that Jesus would be nailed to a cross to die. Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection were part of God’s plan to bring people out of bondage to sin. It had been foretold as far back as in the Garden of Eden after the first sin. (see Genesis 3:15)
Three years before Jesus was crucified, John the Baptist had seen Jesus walking by and pointed him out, saying, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Years later, St. Peter would write to the churches, “...you were ransomed by your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.” (I Peter 1:18,19)

Why is it called 'Easter'?
Unfortunately, the English language uses the word “Easter” for the celebration when Christians remember Jesus’ death and resurrection. The word, Easter, is thought to originate from Estre, a Teutonic goddess of light and spring and so it was the feast that commemorated the pagan goddess of spring. In German, it is Ostern. The Church in Anglo-Germanic countries often ‘Christianized’ pagan feast days by using the name of the pagan feast or certain symbols of the celebration (such as the Yule tree at Christmas time) for Christian festivals. The symbol would be given a Christian meaning and so change the significance of the symbol. For example, the Christmas tree, an evergreen, came to symbolize ‘everlasting life’ which Jesus promised to his followers. In a similar manner, the eggs and young animals (chicks and rabbits) of Easter came to symbolize ‘new life in Christ’.
Other languages more correctly reflect the Aramaic form of the Hebrew pesach. So we have Greek, Pascha; Latin, Pascha; Italian Pasqua; Spanish, Pascua; French, Pâques; Scottish, Pask; Dutch, Pasen; Danish, Paaske; Swedish , Pask; Swedish , Pask. In the Lower Rhine provinces of Germany the people call the feast Paisken not Ostern.
By the way, the same ‘problem’ arises with the Anglo and Germanic languages using Sunday and Sonntag (referring to the pagan Sun god) whereas the Latinate languages use cognates of Latin, Deis Dominae ‘the day of the Lord’: Italian, Dominica; French, Dimanche; Spanish, Domingo.
Setting the date for remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus was somewhat complicated and was not settled until years later. The Jewish Passover is set following the lunar calendar whereas Rome (and later the Western Church) followed a solar calendar. The Church could have set ‘Easter’ (the time of celebrating Jesus’ death and resurrection) on the same date as the Jews celebrated Passover (the 15th of Nisan) but they desired to celebrate the Resurrection on a Sunday, the Lord’s Day, as it had originally fallen on that day. Because of the difference in the lunar calendar and the solar calendar the date of Easter would not be the same every year. Eventually the Western Church set Easter Sunday as the first Sunday which occurs after the first full moon following the 21st of March. As a result, the earliest possible date for Easter is 22 March and the latest is April 25th. The Orthodox Church sets the date differently. see http://www.zenit.org/article-32165?l=english

References
The Bible. History Television http://www.history.com/shows/the-bible
The Catholic Encyclopedia / New Advent http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05224d.htm
The Jewish Virtual Library http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=99&letter=P

Saturday, March 07, 2015

The Tale of a University, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Anti-Christian Culture

Women who have been sexually assaulted on university campuses are not taken seriously by the university. Dalhousie Dental students post disturbing and sexually explicit comments about female students on Facebook. Rape chants highlight Frosh Week at some Canadian universities.

One would think with headlines like that a university at which students promise to abstain from premarital sex (as well as harassment, gossip, vulgar language, drunkenness, use of illegal drugs, cheating and stealing) would be welcome news. Not only does “‘no’ mean ‘no’” but the question is never even asked! And yet many have given Trinity Western University in Langley, BC a failing grade for that very reason. The ‘community covenant’ that students are asked to sign states that they will voluntarily ‘abstain from sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman’. It’s this part of the covenant ‘between a man and a woman’, that some claim, discriminates against married gay persons who would want to study law there. Obviously it does not discriminate against unmarried gay or lesbian persons because the same rule of abstinence applies to both unmarried heterosexual and homosexual persons.

It should be pointed out that as lawyers, graduates from the proposed law school at TWU would have to uphold the law of Canada which allows for same-sex marriage. TWU acknowledges that Canadian Human Rights Laws and the Charter and Section 15 of the Charter protect against and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and that “the courses that will be offered at the TWU School of Law will ensure that students understand the full scope of these protections in the public and private spheres of Canadian life.” (see the website for Trinity Western University).

In the preamble and section 3.1 of the Civil Marriage Act of Canada there is also protection against discrimination of those whose religious beliefs do not allow for their participation to perform marriages which are not in accordance with those same religious beliefs:

WHEREAS nothing in this Act affects the guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion and, in particular, the freedom of members of religious groups to hold and declare their religious beliefs and the freedom of officials of religious groups to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs;
WHEREAS it is not against the public interest to hold and publicly express diverse views on marriage;

3.1 For greater certainty, no person or organization shall be deprived of any benefit, or be subject to any obligation or sanction, under any law of the Parliament of Canada solely by reason of their exercise, in respect of marriage between persons of the same sex, of the freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the expression of their beliefs in respect of marriage as the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others based on that guaranteed freedom.


The BC Civil Liberties Association, which has often defended gay rights in British Columbia, wrote to the Law Society of BC in support of the TWU
Law School in March, 2013 as follows:

TWU is a private religious university. TWU requires its students, as a
condition of enrolment, to sign a Community Covenant under which
they agree to “voluntarily abstain” from “sexual intimacy that violates
the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” While it is
the implications that this aspect of the Community Covenant have for
LGBTQ students that that have received the most attention in this
current controversy, it is worth noting that that is only one part of a
comprehensive faith-based code of conduct that members of the TWU
community agree to abide by.
Were such conditions imposed on students attending a public faculty of
law they would rightly be seen as unlawful discrimination contrary to s.
8 of the Human Rights Code of BC, as well a breach of students’ rights
to equality under s. 15 of the Charter. But it is crucial to remember that
TWU is not a public university and these conditions are not imposed on
TWU students – they are voluntarily accepted by those students who
choose to attend TWU. .... People who are not members of a particular

religion (and even those who are) may not approve of or be comfortable
with the beliefs of that faith. However, BCCLA’s position – in accordance
with the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Trinity Western University - is that
the repugnance of a certain set of beliefs even to a majority of Canadians
cannot be the basis to deny a public good, such as entry to a profession,
to members of that faith.
In this case, the public good is accreditation for the purpose of
admission to the bar by students graduating from TWU’s proposed law
school. The denial of that public good to graduates of TWU’s law
school would infringe the freedom of religion, of association and of
expression of the members of the TWU community. We are unaware of
any sufficient rationale being offered that would justify that infringement.
Permitting graduates of TWU to enter the legal profession does not send the message
from the state to LGBTQ Canadians that they are less worthy of respect than others nor
does it deny them any rights or freedoms to which they would otherwise be entitled.
All it does is respect the freedom of those who wish to govern their own conduct in
accordance with the religious tenets encompassed within the Community Covenant.

(e-mail from the BC Civil Liberties to The Law Society of British Columbia. March 3, 2014. The entire e-mail can be viewed on
http://www.lawsociety.bc.ca/page.cfm?cid=3891&t=Bencher- meeting-consideration-of-TWU,-April-11,-2014 under Public Submissions).

The Benchers of BC’s Law Society approved TWU’s Law School in the summer of 2014. However a group of lawyers in British Columbia asked for a membership vote on the matter rather than accepting the ruling of their governing body. In the fall of 2014 a majority of members voted against the approval of accepting graduates of TWU Law School as members of the Society. The Benchers of B.C.’s law society then reversed their previous approval of TWU Law School. Since then in December, 2014, BC Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virka also revoked the consent he had previously given for Trinity Western University to offer a law degree program.
TWU President Bob Kuhn said that he was disappointed with the decisions, “As a private Christian
University, Trinity Western has demonstrated its place in Canada’s academic community, delivering some of Canada’s highest ranked professional programs. We believe in diversity and the rights of all Canadians to their beliefs and values.”
It all boils down to this: if you don’t agree with the rules of a school or university then don’t go there. There are other law schools in Canada and in British Columbia. Surely students would be happier studying where they agree with the rules and are with those who share their beliefs. Trinity Western says it is based on Christian principles and the Bible. If this is not your thing, why would you want to study there?

Some groups, yes, even well-known, banks and corporations, that oppose TWU’s Law School, say it is because they support ‘diversity’ in Canada. Apparently to them ‘diversity’ only means the diversity which they approve. Is that true diversity?

Ezra Levant, a journalist with the now defunct Sun News, reported on the vote against TWU's Law School in 2014, Listen to it at www.ezralevant.com/the-real-bigots

To learn more about Trinity Western University in Langley, BC go to their website at www.twu.ca







Thursday, February 26, 2015

Are Coptic 'Christians' Really Christians?



The Italian news agency ANSA reported on February 17, 2015 that Pope Francis offered up a Mass for the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS militants on the weekend. At the end of his address to Scottish Bishops on the Pope gave this comment about the men who were so brutally killed:
“I would now like to turn to my native tongue to express feelings of profound sorrow. Today I read about the execution of those twenty-one or twenty-two Coptic Christians. Their only words were: “Jesus, help me!” They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians. You, my brother, in your words referred to what is happening in the land of Jesus. The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ. As we recall these brothers and sisters who died only because they confessed Christ, I ask that we encourage each another to go forward with this ecumenism which is giving us strength, the ecumenism of blood. The martyrs belong to all Christians”.
From an article on Catholic World Report by Catherine Harmon

Christians of all denominations from many countries tweeted their outrage at the actions of ISIS and their support of those fellow Christians who were suffering.
Then comments by a Southern Baptist (or was it many) surfaced. He (or they) said that it is fine to sympathize with and pray for the families of those killed but the men who were killed could not be considered Christian because the Coptic Church believes (along with Roman Catholics) in salvation by works and not by faith in Christ. I don’t know the origin of this claim but this article about it can be read at Pen and Pulpit. (see http://pulpitandpen.org/2015/02/16/coptic-christians-not-christians-southern-baptist-leaders-need-reminded/) .
Just a minute here - you mean to say that someone who dies rather than denounce his faith in Jesus Christ is not a Christian? Someone who dies with ‘Jesus, help me’ on this lips is not a Christian?
Some lone individual has the audacity to say what a Christian is? Just what is his authority? He, of course, would answer, that Scripture is his sole authority. And so probably would those members from any of the 33,000 denominations of Christianity that exist today- all affirming that the Holy Spirit has led them to the truth in Scripture! How then do we know who is right? What does Scripture give as the criteria for salvation? And what does the Bible say about who and who is not a Christian?
There are many references that do say ‘faith’ is what has saved a person. Most of these passages are those in which Jesus (or one of the Apostles) has healed someone. For example, Jesus says to the woman who touched the hem of his garment ‘Courage, my daughter, your faith has saved you.” (Matthew 9:22) The healing or forgiveness of sins has come about because of the individual’s faith. In most cases, their faith is outwardly expressed by an act (or a work?) such as the woman touching the hem of Jesus’ garment or the crippled man taking up his bed and walking.
Here are some other similar passages:
"They brought a paralyzed man to him, lying on a bed. Jesus saw their faith and said to the paralytic, ‘Courage, my son! Your sins are forgiven.’" Matthew 9,2

In this case, Jesus sees not the faith of the paralyzed man himself but of his friends who have brought him. Can the faith of our friends save us?

"Then Jesus said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace and be free of this illness.’"
Mark 5,34

Many well-known passages about faith are in the letter from St. Paul to the Romans:

"God makes us righteous by means of faith in Jesus Christ, and this is applied to all who believe, without distinction of persons." Romans 3,22
"By believing from the heart, you obtain true righteousness; by confessing the faith with your lips you are saved." Romans 10,10
"By faith we have received true righteousness, and we are at peace with God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord." Romans 5,1

There are even passages which say that it is faith that saves but not our ‘works’:

“...he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5

But there are other passages that seem to give other criteria for salvation (belief in Jesus, calling on the name of the Lord, washing of regeneration, enduring to the end, obedience).
And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:21 (Peter speaking on the Day of Pentecost)
“...he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5
Some would say that ‘the washing of regeneration’ refers to baptism.
Acts 16:31 “’What must I do to be saved?’ And they (Paul and Silas) said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’”
Does this mean that they must believe that Jesus is God? Or just that he has been sent by God? Ot that he was the Messiah for whom the Jews waited.
Matt 10:22 “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake, But he who endures till the end will be saved.”
We must ‘endure till the end’ - it is not automatic.
Hebrews 5:8 “Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered, and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him”.
And there is a dire warning for those who say, ‘Lord, Lord’, perhaps those who are smug about their salvation but are not doing God’s will
Matthew 7:21 “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
There are passages of Scripture that indicate the role of baptism: it goes along with belief and with repentance.
The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned."
Mark 16,16

Peter answered: "Each of you must repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins may be forgiven. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2,38

“And now, why delay? Get up and be baptized and have your sins washed away by calling upon his Name." Acts 22,16

We see that there is a relationship between faith or belief and obedience or works. It is in the letter of James that we especially read about this relationship. We cannot ‘see’ or ‘know’ the faith of someone - we only know it by the outward things he or she does. Jesus could see into the soul of a person to see if he had faith in God or not but we can’t. And so James, said that faith without works is dead. The ‘works’ or ‘deeds’ a person does are proof of his faith.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” James 1: 22
“So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But some will say, “You have faith and I have works’. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith....Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled, which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.” James 2: 17ff
Martin Luther did not want to include the letter of James in the Bible because it did not ‘agree’ with his interpretation of Romans and the emphasis on faith.
But it is not only in James that we read about this relationship. We also see the relationship between obedience or works with faith in the Epistles of John.
“He who says, ‘I know him’ but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps his words, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him; he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” I John 1:4
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God ... By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” I John 5:1


And there are other passages in the New Testament that refer to ‘works’ and ‘good works’ and their role in our salvation.

"Our people must learn to be outstanding in good works and to face urgent needs, instead of remaining idle and useless." Titus 3,14

"Do not neglect good works and common life, for these are sacrifices pleasing to God." Hebrews 13,16

“I know your works, your difficulties and your patient suffering. I know you cannot tolerate evildoers but have tested those who call themselves apostles and have proved them to be liars."
Revelation 2,2

"I know your works: your love, faith, service, patient endurance and your later works, greater than the first." Revelation 2,19

"Wake up and strengthen that which is not already dead. For I have found your works to be imperfect in the sight of my God." Revelation 3,2

"I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot!" Revelation 3,15

"Fine linen, bright and clean, is given her to wear. This linen stands for the good works of the holy ones."
Revelation 19,8


The Italian news agency ANSA reported on February 17, 2015 that Pope Francis offered up a Mass for the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS militants on the weekend. At the end of his address to Scottish Bishops on the Pope gave this comment about the men who were so brutally killed:
“I would now like to turn to my native tongue to express feelings of profound sorrow. Today I read about the execution of those twenty-one or twenty-two Coptic Christians. Their only words were: “Jesus, help me!” They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians. You, my brother, in your words referred to what is happening in the land of Jesus. The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ. As we recall these brothers and sisters who died only because they confessed Christ, I ask that we encourage each another to go forward with this ecumenism which is giving us strength, the ecumenism of blood. The martyrs belong to all Christians”.
From an article on Catholic World Report by Catherine Harmon

Christians of all denominations from many countries tweeted their outrage at the actions of ISIS and their support of those fellow Christians who were suffering.
Then comments by a Southern Baptist (or was it many) surfaced. He (or they) said that it is fine to sympathize with and pray for the families of those killed but the men who were killed could not be considered Christian because the Coptic Church believes (along with Roman Catholics) in salvation by works and not by faith in Christ. I don’t know the origin of this claim but this article about it can be read at Pen and Pulpit. (see http://pulpitandpen.org/2015/02/16/coptic-christians-not-christians-southern-baptist-leaders-need-reminded/) .
Just a minute here - you mean to say that someone who dies rather than denounce his faith in Jesus Christ is not a Christian? Someone who dies with ‘Jesus, help me’ on this lips is not a Christian?
Some lone individual has the audacity to say what a Christian is? Just what is his authority? He, of course, would answer, that Scripture is his sole authority. And so probably would those members from any of the 33,000 denominations of Christianity that exist today- all affirming that the Holy Spirit has led them to the truth in Scripture! How then do we know who is right? What does Scripture give as the criteria for salvation? And what does the Bible say about who and who is not a Christian?
There are many references that do say ‘faith’ is what has saved a person. Most of these passages are those in which Jesus (or one of the Apostles) has healed someone. For example, Jesus says to the woman who touched the hem of his garment ‘Courage, my daughter, your faith has saved you.” (Matthew 9:22) The healing or forgiveness of sins has come about because of the individual’s faith. In most cases, their faith is outwardly expressed by an act (or a work?) such as the woman touching the hem of Jesus’ garment or the crippled man taking up his bed and walking.
Here are some other similar passages:
"They brought a paralyzed man to him, lying on a bed. Jesus saw their faith and said to the paralytic, ‘Courage, my son! Your sins are forgiven.’" Matthew 9,2

In this case, Jesus sees not the faith of the paralyzed man himself but of his friends who have brought him. Can the faith of our friends save us?

"Then Jesus said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace and be free of this illness.’"
Mark 5,34

Many well-known passages about faith are in the letter from St. Paul to the Romans:

"God makes us righteous by means of faith in Jesus Christ, and this is applied to all who believe, without distinction of persons." Romans 3,22
"By believing from the heart, you obtain true righteousness; by confessing the faith with your lips you are saved." Romans 10,10
"By faith we have received true righteousness, and we are at peace with God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord." Romans 5,1

There are even passages which say that it is faith that saves but not our ‘works’:

...he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5

But there are other passages that seem to give other criteria for salvation (belief in Jesus, calling on the name of the Lord, washing of regeneration, enduring to the end, obedience).
"And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:21 (Peter speaking on the Day of Pentecost)
“...he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5
Some would say that ‘the washing of regeneration’ refers to baptism.
Acts 16:31 “’What must I do to be saved?’ And they (Paul and Silas) said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’”
Does this mean that they must believe that Jesus is God? Or just that he has been sent by God? Ot that he was the Messiah for whom the Jews waited.
Matt 10:22 “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake, But he who endures till the end will be saved.
We must ‘endure till the end’ - it is not automatic.
Hebrews 5:8 “Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered, and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him”.
And there is a dire warning for those who say, ‘Lord, Lord’, perhaps those who are smug about their salvation but are not doing God’s will
Matthew 7:21 “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
There are passages of Scripture that indicate the role of baptism: it goes along with belief and with repentance.
"The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned."
Mark 16,16

Peter answered: "Each of you must repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins may be forgiven. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2,38

“And now, why delay? Get up and be baptized and have your sins washed away by calling upon his Name." Acts 22,16

We see that there is a relationship between faith or belief and obedience or works. It is in the letter of James that we especially read about this relationship. We cannot ‘see’ or ‘know’ the faith of someone - we only know it by the outward things he or she does. Jesus could see into the soul of a person to see if he had faith in God or not but we can’t. And so James, said that faith without works is dead. The ‘works’ or ‘deeds’ a person does are proof of his faith.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” James 1: 22
“So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But some will say, “You have faith and I have works’. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith....Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled, which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.” James 2: 17ff
Martin Luther did not want to include the letter of James in the Bible because it did not ‘agree’ with his interpretation of Romans and the emphasis on faith.
But it is not only in James that we read about this relationship. We also see the relationship between obedience or works with faith in the Epistles of John.
“He who says, ‘I know him’ but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps his words, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him; he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” I John 1:4
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God ... By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” I John 5:1


And there are other passages in the New Testament that refer to ‘works’ and ‘good works’ and their role in our salvation.

"Our people must learn to be outstanding in good works and to face urgent needs, instead of remaining idle and useless." Titus 3,14

"Do not neglect good works and common life, for these are sacrifices pleasing to God." Hebrews 13,16

“I know your works, your difficulties and your patient suffering. I know you cannot tolerate evildoers but have tested those who call themselves apostles and have proved them to be liars."
Revelation 2,2

"I know your works: your love, faith, service, patient endurance and your later works, greater than the first." Revelation 2,19

"Wake up and strengthen that which is not already dead. For I have found your works to be imperfect in the sight of my God." Revelation 3,2

"I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot!" Revelation 3,15

"Fine linen, bright and clean, is given her to wear. This linen stands for the good works of the holy ones."
Revelation 19,8


Of course, someone could be very good at doing ‘good works’ and not really know God or even belief that Jesus is truly God. Atheists claim that they also do good works but these good works will not save them it they do not believe that Jesus is God. And those who merely do good works but do not know and obey Jesus will hear Jesus say, “I never knew you.”

“Not every one who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not cast out demons and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you: depart from me, you evildoers.’" Matthew 7:22

Here Jesus is not condemning all works done in his name but only those that were done by those who had no relationship with him or did not know him.

The writer of the article being discussed claims that the Coptic Church and the Roman Catholic Church do not believe that salvation is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

“Is it embracing a meritorious, works-based salvation nearly identical to that of the Roman Catholic church? Is it in aggressively denying salvation by a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ? We ask because that’s what Coptic ‘Christians’ believe. This really isn’t new, and we have to wonder why our leaders don’t know what Coptics believe and if they do, what on Earth makes them think they should be categorized as Christians”. (Pulpit and Pen.org see link above).

Perhaps the writer of the article doesn’t know what the Roman Catholic Church believes about salvation. All he would have to do is pick up the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read what it says.

“Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation. Since ‘without faith it is impossible to please God and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone attain eternal life ‘but he who endures to the end.’” C of the CC 161

“Faith is necessary for salvation. The Lord himself affirms: ‘He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” ( Matthew 16:16) C of the CC 183.

There is a Coptic Orthodox Church and a Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt. The Coptic Catholic Church believes the same as that expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church quoted above. The Coptic Orthodox Church would be similar if not identical.

The 21 men who were killed by ISIS were members of the Coptic Orthodox Church which traces its origin to St, Mark whom they believe went to Egypt to evangelize. We do not know the personal lives of the men. What we do know is that rather than change their faith to Islam they did not deny that Jesus is truly God. Muslims believe that Jesus is only a prophet but is not divine.

In any case, it is not for us to judge for only God knows the condition of their souls. Since they, like the early martyrs, were killed for their faith rather than deny Christ, I think we can safely say that the men were Christians. They died calling out for Jesus to help them and I’m sure he met them at the gate of heaven. Instead of putting our own spin on who is a Christian and who is not perhaps we should pray to God that in the same circumstances we would make the right choice, too.












Thursday, February 12, 2015

What is Ash Wednesay? What is Lent?




Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Christian Lenten season. On Ash Wednesday, Christians go to church to have the priest or minister make the sign of the cross in ashes on their foreheads. In the Catholic tradition, ashes used are made from burning the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday, they are mixed with Holy Water and then blessed. The ashes signify the impermanence of life, reminding us that someday we will all die. In Genesis, God tells Adam and Eve to “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19
Significance of Ashes
Ashes are also a sign of mourning and repentance. People in Old Testament times would show their grief and mourning by tearing their garments and putting ashes on their heads (e.g. a soldier -2 Sam 1:20, Tamar-2 Samuel 13:19, Mordecai - Esther 4:1). The Anglo-Saxon homilist, Ælfric (c.955–c.1010), writes: “We read in the books both in the Old Law and in the New that the men who repented of their sins bestrewed themselves with ashes and clothed their bodies with sackcloth. Now let us do a little at the beginning of our Lent that we strew ashes upon our heads to signify that we ought to repent of our sins during the Lenten fast.”
Significance of Forty Days
The word Lent is from Teutonic and originally meant only ‘the spring season’. In Latin the term used is quadragesima and this is retained in the Romance languages: French carême, Italian quaresima, and Spanish cuaresma. Forty is a significant number in Scripture. God sent rain in the flood of Noah for forty days and nights (Genesis 7:4), Moses spent forty days on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:18), the Hebrew people wandered in the desert for forty years (Numbers 14:33), Jonah gave the city of Nineveh forty days to repent (Jonah 3:4) and Jesus fasted for forty days in the wilderness where he was tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1-2, Luke 4:1-2). In traditional belief, Jesus is said to have been in the tomb for forty hours (Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning). The six weeks of Lent are calculated as follows: Ash Wednesday to Good Friday =46 days -6 Sundays=40 days.
The colour of the vestments during Lent is violet, signifying mourning and penance. In the Roman Catholic Mass, Lutheran Divine Service and Anglican Eucharist, the Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Glory to God) is not sung from Ash Wednesday until the Easter Vigil.
Purpose of Lent
Lent is meant to be the time for preparation of Christians. Through increased prayer, penitence, almsgiving (ie all charitable works) and fasting, the Christian deepens his or her relationship with Jesus. A custom is to ‘give up a vice or habit’ during the time of Lent but this should not be ‘just something one is supposed to do for Lent’ without any real desire to change one’s life permanently. In fact, one does not have to ‘give something up’ but could add something such as going to daily mass, reading Scripture daily or praying the Rosary daily. One could read a devotional book during lent. Pope Emeritus Benedict’s books on the life of Jesus would be good ones to read.
In the Roman Catholic Church it is traditional to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday of Lent. The Greek Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches abstain from all animal products, including fish, eggs, and milk.
Growing Popularity
Lent was universally practised until the Reformation when some Protestant denominations did away with the Lent practices. Lutherans and Anglicans (the Church of England) retained Lent. Now other Protestant churches are beginning to observe Lent once again thus uniting Christians in this meaningful event.
Lent is a time of reflection which culminates in the great joy of the Resurrection during the Easter Vigil (Saturday night before Easter Sunday).