Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Dialogue on the Doctrine of Transubstantiation and the Real Presence

Recently, I seem to be posting thoughts that must be considered controversial. This is the second time  in a row I've had a discussion with a Protestant after writing an article on the Real Presence. This article, which was originally posted here, but most recently on Catholic365 was the fruit of a discussion I had with someone who didn't subscribe to the Real presence. What followed in the combox from this article, was focusing more on how the Catholic doctrine on transubstantiation couldn't be found in the Bible. A decent dialogue ensued, and I only wish that my opponent had continued to answer my questions. As I'e mentioned before, I've noticed that discussions such as these help me to grow in my faith as I can more easily recall points I've studied before, or find valid answers to questions that I don't have an immediate answer to.

My words will be in blue, and "Tom's" in red. As far as this topic goes, the one thing I wish "Tom" would have taken from this was this line from the original post:
"Still, I've seen some have difficulty understanding how the Real Presence relates to the idea of transubstantiation. One thing to note is that the Eastern Catholic Churches (and Eastern Orthodox) don't use the term "transubstantiation", but do believe in the Real Presence the same way as Latin Catholics do. Transubstantiation is a term which attempts to define how the Eucharistic species becomes the Body, Blood, Soul and, Divinity of our Lord. One seems to think just because the term was coined in the 13th century, the teaching of the Real Presence did not exist before then. It most certainly did, as we can see the evidence from Apostolic times. That's why I think it'd be better if we refer to what transubstantiation points to, that is, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist."
Look for the following discussion to appear in article format over on Catholic365 sometime in the near future:

St. Thomas Aquinas Confounding Averroes- Giovanni di Paolo

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Experiencing the Double Feast of Good Friday and the Annunciation

I post this entry on Easter, and I wish a Happy Easter to all! I have to say this has been one of the most enriching Holy Weeks in my memory. I was able to receive the Eucharist multiple times over the past 8 days, and was able to experience the great traditions of the Church both East and West, as I attended the Extraordinary Form of the Mass on Easter Sunday, and the Divine Liturgy at the local Ruthenian Catholic church for Good Friday and there again for Jerusalem matins on Saturday morning. But Id like to focus on the wonderful things I saw celebrated through the Byzantine Rite on the double feast of Holy and Great Friday (as the Byzantines call it) and the Annunciation.

It was fitting that the church I went to on Friday was named "Annunciation", and the parish went all out, with the pastor making a new icon of Christ entombed on a shroud to be venerated for the faithful, as this double feast will never happen again in our lifetimes. the next time Good Friday and the Annunciation will coincide will be in the year 2157! So this surely was a once in a lifetime experience, and it was sure worth it going out to be a part of it. Many reflections were posted throughout the web, detailing the seeming contradiction between celebrating the conception and death of our Lord, but this paradox really makes sense when you think about it, and it's a powerful reminder of how much Christ loves us; that by divine condescension He became man in a Virgin's womb, and then in the ultimate act of love died for us so as to redeem us. This juxtaposition was seen clearly at Divine Liturgy, and here's how it all went down.
Annunciation of the Theotokos- Serbian Icon

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Chrism Mass

This past Monday, I was lucky enough to attend my diocese's Chrism Mass at the cathedral. I was honored to be invited to such an important Mass, and I'm thankful to my priest who invited everyone on the parish pastoral council to go. Apparently, only about 5 or 6 tickets were given out to each parish in the diocese. The cathedral itself was packed, and I wasn't totally sure what to expect. At the Chrism Mass (which typically takes place on Holy Thursday, but may be moved to a day earlier in Holy Week if necessary), the holy oils and chrism that will be used for the sacraments of Baptism, Anointing of the Sick, and Confirmation are blessed by the bishop, and then are distributed to all the priests to bring back to their parishes to use for the year, starting with the Easter Vigil when the catechumens receive their sacraments.

What really shocked me was how many priests and deacons were around for this great liturgy. Priests from all over the diocese were in attendance, as were deacons and seminarians. I also couldn't get over the amount of young people who were among the ordained priests. It made me hopeful for the future, along with the many young faces I saw among the seminarians. I am truly thankful for these men choosing to do God's will and truly thankful for their priestly vocation. It was truly awe-inspiring to see all the priests surround the altar, well over 150 of them total, and it was transcendent to hear them all chant the Per Ipsum together in a chorus.

Another interesting part was seeing the bishop pour the basalm, that is, the liquid that produces the fragrant aroma we smell in chrism, into the oil, and mix it on the altar before baptizing it. It was just so interesting to see all this happen, something I really didn't know about until my pastor invited me a couple weeks ago. I love how our Catholic faith is so rich, and there are so many different things to behold and learn about. For instance, the next day, I went to the local Byzantine Catholic church for the Liturgy of the Presanctified, and joined everyone in full body prostrations to our Lord at several points through the liturgy. Maybe I'm just a Catholic nerd, but I love this! The traditions and the styles of worship in our Catholic Church are simply amazing. Below are some pictures from the Chrism Mass. You'll see for yourself just how many priests were in attendance!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Expanded Post on Apostles and Early Church Fathers on the Real Presence

I recently posted a discussion I had with a Fundamentalist on the belief in the Real Presence in the first 100 years or so of the Catholic Church. I took the relevant information from our discussion and modified it into an essay that was just recently posted over on Catholic 365. Plenty of Scriptural references from St. Paul and from the Didache are in this article, so check it out and be sure to peruse around the site for other articles on all sorts of relevant, Catholic topics.

Institution of the Eucharist- Fra Angelico

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Morals, Values, and Baseball

With Spring in the air, it's easy for many people to start thinking about activities to do outside. One of those, that pops into my mind at least, is baseball. The regular season is only a couple weeks away, and things just got interesting on the South Side of Chicago. Struggling slugger Adam LaRoche of the Chicago White Sox just announced his retirement this week, and on Friday, released a statement as to why he did so. It wasn't necessarily because his play last season had been horrible; he had already started spring training. But the reason was because he couldn't bring his son into the clubhouse anymore, something he has done in previous seasons with two different teams. So what does this have to do with Catholicism?

Well, first off, LaRoche describes himself as a "non-denominational Christian", however his sense of morality and being a courageous Christian witness should be applauded. Seen in the article I just linked, he's been responsible for several "Faith Nights" with both the Washington Nationals, and the White Sox last season. He's described as often engaging his faith with fellow teammates, which makes me like him much more than I did before.
Faith Hope and Charity- Joseph Winterhalter

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Are Emergency Contraceptive Pills Also Abortifacients?

It seems like abortion is going to be a pretty big issue in this year's upcoming election, thanks in large part to what was happening with the Planned Parenthood sting. Recently, I was talking with someone about emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) such as Plan B and RU 486. The idea was advanced that it would be better for a woman to use ECPs following a rape instead of waiting several weeks to do an abortion that would involve "sucking out" the baby. It would be better, so the theory goes, because a pregnancy doesn't begin until implantation. Of course, it's a scientific fact that life begins at conception. ECPs disrupt the embryo from attaching to the uterine wall. Thus, an abortion occurs. Below, I'll post some exerpts from my discussion. I found a lot of interesting information that I wasn't aware of, and answered the question that had been burning in my mind for some time now: When do certain organizations (like the Food and Drug Administration) declare that a pregnancy begins? The answers may or may not surprise you. Relevant links to the information I cite will also be provided.
The Child Jesus Sleeping on a Cross- Cornelio Schut

Friday, March 11, 2016

Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich on Sanctification During Spiritual Desolation

I finally finished reading Blessed Miriam's Greater Perfection recently, and I was constantly amazed at how engaging, timely and penetrating her writings are. All this from a young twenty-something nun from new Jersey. I don't know why I can't get over that. It must be because we are so close in age right now, and she was able to intelligently pick apart the worst parts of the human condition, and then peel them back to reveal the inherent goodness in each person. The inherent ability we all have to live for God's Will and His alone. The writing in particular I would like to share today may remind some of St. John of the Cross' Dark Night of the Soul. Basically, Blessed Miriam is telling us what we can do when we suffer that loneliness, that spiritual desolation when we think that Christ is far away, and is "asleep. Again, please visit the website of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth to learn more about this great intercessor in heaven and to purchase her writings across several different books. Her writing style and content is very thought provoking, to say the least. Here's a little bit from her spiritual conference on how to find sanctification in our lives even when we think we aren't necessarily feeling God's presence around us:
Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Discussion on Transubstantiation and Church Authority

Recently, I posted an earlier blog post of mine on transubstantiation. I was surprised at how many comments I got back on it, and the number of discussions that resulted from it. One such discussion I engaged in was with a Fundamentalist Protestant who had an issue with the belief in the Real Presence on the grounds that it wasn't apostolic. that is, no Apostle believed the Eucharist to be the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord. I would've loved to have continued the conversation a bit more, but I will post here the brief exchange that we had. Look for an essay to come from this conversation on Catholic 365 sometime in the near future, highlighting the relevant proofs and information I've posted in this exchange. My words will be in blue, and "Tom's" in red.
Christ Among the Doctors-José de Ribera 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

On Particles

Some time ago, a Catholic friend and I were talking about the Eucharist after eating dinner one night. He was telling me about how the Eucharist at a church he had gone to for Mass had used bread that was a bit "crumbly" and wasn't being given to younger children who might drop particles of the Host. Why this church was giving out two different kinds of Eucharistic bread, I do not know. However, we then get into discussing the proper reverence for the Eucharist, and I argued how we must make an effort to find any particle that falls to the ground. My wife made a good point when she said to just receive on the tongue. While I agree, this isn't something every Catholic does.

He argued that if the particle was teeny-tiny, we shouldn't waste a lot of time scouring around for the piece of Eucharistic bread. I countered that we should. He then dropped a very small crumb, not much bigger than a grain of salt on the ground, and asked me to find it. I became a little frustrated, and of course couldn't find it. But I reiterated that if we can see the particle, we should pick it up and consume it, and should at least make an effort to find it if we see the Host fall to the ground.