Here’s the link to the audio of a discussion of similarities and differences between Catholicism and Protestantism that I, Jeff Morrow (Catholic) had with my dear friend Paul Anderson, an evangelical Protestant minister.
In the book of Hosea, the prophet Hosea describes an off and on relationship between God and Israel. Israel is compared to an unfaithful harlot and God the faithful spouse who does not give up on the marital covenant, but rather chooses to “allure” his bride, Israel back. Hosea uses the marriage motif to describe God and his people. The love between a husband and wife is a reflection of God’s love for his people as John Paul II emphasizes, “Their bond of love becomes the image and the symbol of the covenant which unites God and his people.”
Jeremiah uses the same motif in chapter three of the book of the same name calling Israel “a harlot with many lovers”. He compares the unfaithfulness of Israel to the unfaithfulness of a wife to her husband, “And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.” The love of God for his people finds its fulfillment in Christ. God ultimately courts his spouse back through offering himself in total, life-giving love. John Paul II says that, “The communion between God and His people find its definitive fulfillment in Jesus Christ, the bridegroom who loves and gives himself as the savior of humanity, uniting it to himself as His body.”
People are making a big deal about the apparent contrast between Pope Francis’ comment back in July of 2013 where he said in reference gay persons: “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, well who am I to judge them?” and the priest who revealed that he has same-sex attraction and has a male partner and was subsequently fired.
Is there really a conflict here? There may be conflicts elsewhere, but certainly not between what just happened and what Pope Francis said.
In July of 2013 Pope Francis was answering a question with reference to a supposed “gay lobby” in the Vatican: “I think that when you encounter a person like this, you must make a distinction between the fact of a person being gay from the fact of being a lobby, because lobbies are not good.” By definition, lobbies are trying to push an agenda. In the case with a gay lobby, an agenda toward changing the Church’s teaching. Pope Francis was saying that as long as such a gay person “seeks the Lord and has good will,” then there’s no problem.
In looking to scripture for the institution of the Sacrament of Matrimony scholars often debate over Ephesians 5: 21-33. Here St. Paul lays out household regulations calling the wife to be subordinate to the husband and for husbands to love their wife as “Christ loved the Church.” Here in Ephesians we see Christ comparing the conjugal love to that between Christ and His Church. The debate revolves around a translation of Ephesians 5:32 when the Greek word mysterion was translated by St. Jerome as sacramentum in the Vulgate. While this has often been sited as a biblical justification for marriage as a Sacrament, Walter Kasper has observed, “Most scholars are agreed now…that the later idea of sacrament should not be presupposed.” This should not be the theological justification alone for marriage. The Council of Trent in defending the sacrament against the objections of reformers states that the Sacrament of Matrimony is in “accordance” with Scripture. Accordance does not mean “identical with”. Apart from the Magisterium of the Church there would be no authoritative, external justification for the Sacrament of Matrimony. It was with the Second Council of Lyons in 1274 that marriage became listed among the seven sacraments. In recent history, the Sacrament of Matrimony has been regarded as a covenant between a man and women not a contract between two consenting parties. Vatican II raised matrimony to an equal vocation with Holy Orders. It reasoned that marriage, too, was an institution directed towards holiness. The man and the women are ordered towards God and each helps the other attain the beatific vision. Self-giving and sacrificial love as modeled by Christ are of importance in the marriage. Recent scholarship discusses this unitive nature of marriage. This unitive purpose was of secondary importance in Church teaching for quite sometime. Procreation was thought to be the primary reason a man and women were to become married.
I’ve published a new electronic article on Kindle dealing with the influence of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, “J.R.R. Tolkien and the Blessed Virgin Mary.” At the moment, Amazon is having a special on this article, as well as my e-book on the historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. Both are FREE for a limited time only. The Tolkien article is FREE through this upcoming Wednesday, October 7th, 2015 (I think), and my e-book on the historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus’ Resurrection: A Jewish Convert Examines the Evidence, is FREE through this upcoming Tuesday, October 6th, 2015 (I think). One of the neat things about the Kindle version of my Tolkien article is that most of the Tolkien sources I examine have links so that if you click on the link and have internet access on your Kindle, it takes you to free online versions of Tolkien’s writings like the Lord of the Rings and some of his lesser known works. After this temporary sale, the Tolkien article will be available for 99 cents, at least for a few months, and the resurrection book will be available for $5.29 (again, at least for a few months).
John Paul II writes in His Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio that, “The future of humanity passes by way of the family.” In reflecting upon these words I have reached the conclusion that if we want to build a better world, then we must have a network of nations committed to the principles and values of God. And, if we want to build a nation committed to the values of God, then we must work on the creation of states focused on His ways of truth and love. In order to create these states, to build a nation, to change a world, we must first have a community willing to serve their Creator and most especially their Savior. To have such a community who will engage with like-minded communities, to form loving states, that build nations committed to God, in order to effectively change our world, we must first and foremost have better families that are centered on Christ. To have such families that properly formed will change a world, it is imperative that we have better marriages that are indwelt with Christ and of which Christ radiates from. The council of Vatican II says as much, “The well-being of the person and the human and Christian society is intimately connected with the healthy state of the community of marriage and the family.” The evangelization of the world that the Church is entrusted with and commanded (Matthew 28) to do, must have the promotion of the “domestic church” as its top priority. To accomplish these goals the couples have to both be focused on Christ. They will get closer and closer to each other as they get closer and closer to Christ. But more than each running their own race towards Christ and marriage being thought of as a trio (husband, wife, Christ), it is rather as St. Augustine says, “One Christ loving Himself.”
Almost 15 years ago, before I was Catholic, I sat across a table and asked my Protestant pastor a question that would forever change my life, “What in God’s eyes defines two people as married?” Dating at the time, I wondered why one had to be married in a church, wear a ring, and say vows? Why couldn’t one be married in private between God and the couple apart from churches, pastors, friends, and witnesses? Where in the Bible did it say marriage needed to be done in such a way? My pastor’s answer astounded me. “It doesn’t.” He simply had no idea of what defined a marriage in the eyes of God. I then asked why we as Protestants do such and then I answered my own question, “It’s tradition.” Tradition! But, we don’t have tradition, we only believe what the Bible says to be true and no where does it talk about rings, vows, churches, white dresses, best men, etc. I filed this away at the time thinking I had found an inconsistency within the Protestant worldview not realizing that I had discovered a Sacrament, the Sacrament of Matrimony.
So, I’ve started a new initiative. I’ve been publishing a few pieces on Kindle from Amazon.com, and I thought I’d share them here on this blog. The first piece, pictured above, is a book about the historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, entitled, Jesus’ Resurrection: A Jewish Convert Examines the Evidence, which is available to purchase from Amazon for your Kindle. In this volume I go through some of the important lines of evidence which helped me in my own conversion.
The next publication which is also available from Amazon on Kindle, I have entitled, “Scott Hahn and Benedict XVI on Scripture and Liturgy.” This is a short essay dealing with the issue of liturgical biblical interpretation, relying primarily upon the work of Scott Hahn and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. It contains a good overview of the role the liturgy has played in biblical interpretation throughout the Church’s history, and why the liturgy is a privileged setting for Scriptural interpretation, and for encountering Scripture in general.
Jesus ate with sinners. That’s always been amazing to me. In some ways it’s the heart of the Gospel:
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:7–8, ESV).
I was struck by St. Augustine’s imitation of Jesus in the last days of his life:
As the then Cardinal Ratzinger tells the story,
“When Augustine felt his death approaching, he ‘excommunicated’ himself and took upon himself ecclesiastical penitence. In his last days, he set himself alongside, in solidarity, with the public sinners who seek forgiveness and grace through the pain of not receiving Communion.”
What a gesture! I wonder if that message would come across today. Think about it: your bishop comes to Mass this Sunday and sits in the pews, toward the back. When it’s time for receiving Holy Communion, he stays in his pew and doesn’t receive! When asked, he says he’s trying to show solidarity with those who are divorced and remarried who come to Mass, but can’t receive Holy Communion.
The only way we can be saved from succumbing to the inflation of words is if we have the courage to face silence and in it learn to listen afresh to the Word. Otherwise we shall be overwhelmed by “mere words” at the very point where we should be encountering the Word, the Logos, the Word of love, crucified and risen, who brings us life and joy.
If you watched Pope Francis celebrate Midday Prayer today you might have thought there was something wrong with your feed. At one point I thought my connection was buffering…
But no, there were actually periods of silence. At a certain point it seemed like the silence went on for one or two minutes!
Why? Where does all this silence come from?
As surprising as it might be to some, sacred silence is “part of the celebration” and is indeed demanded by the nature of the “dialogue between God and his people taking place through the Holy Spirit” (SC 30; GIL 28).