Saturday, September 30, 2006

Calling Catholics to be Bible Christians -- OUCH!

By Paul Dion, STL

The other day I got an appeal letter in the mail. It came from a very prestigious Roman Catholic religious organization in the Midwest and it had the name of a universally reputed Ph.D in theology on it as the solicitor.

I thought that I would share my response to him with you. You may or may not agree. You are free to disagree and to comment back to me concerning this topic. I will respond to your comments. I am keeping his name confidential. I'm sure that you don't mind.

Here is my letter:

I just got the four page solicitation letter that was sent out to people over your signature, "Calling Catholics to be "Bible Christians". I am sending you a letter rather than a donation because I think that your choice of theme for your drive is unfortunate, and in fact borders on the theologically incorrect.

Catholics are not "Bible Christians" for a very solid reason. We believe that it is more correct to be "Church Christians" rather than "Bible Christians". We are convinced that it is an insult to God's method of communication to His creatures when humans restrict His method of communication to the written word. As far as we Catholics are concerned, this violates the very nature of humans who didn't capture the idea and the spoken word into visible symbols until very late in their existence.

Catholics reject "Sola Scriptura Christianity" because it is too narrow and tends to divide the community rather than unify it.

Catholics know their Bible. Catholics know that the lessons that they hear every Sunday at Mass come from the Bible. Catholics have some difficulty realizing that the lesson from the first reading and the lesson from the third reading are a Typical Match.

There are a lot of reasons for this. I don't suppose that I have to spill too much ink enumerating them for you, but one of the blind spots that Catholics have is that they think that the sacramental "paper chase" is more important than the understanding of developing a personal relationship with God. The other difficulty that we have in the Catholic Church is that the front line ministers prefer to take the easy road of applying Canon Law principles to pastoral situations rather than creating spiritually uplifting opportunities for the flock. Bible Christianity is not going to cure either one of those two cultural obstacles.

Catholics know their Bible. They know the contents. They know the stories. They don't know the verses. I am also willing to lay money on the line (yeah, we Catholics gamble too) that Catholics have a deeper appreciation for the stories of the Hebrew Bible than many Bible christians do. They don't know where to find them in the physical environment of the book, but they know where to situate them in the history of salvation. All Catholics know about Adam and Eve; Able and Cain, Abraham; Joseph and his brothers; Moses and Aaron; Noah, the Tower of Babel; Abraham and Isaac; and so on and so forth.

If you come forward to the Christian Bible, you will see that Catholics know the stories from there too. But our religion is a religion of community, not a religion of the personal conviction that faith in these verses of the Bible is my salvation. We don't believe that we have to cherry pick Bible verses to rest assured of our salvation. We believe that if we follow the law of love and the mandate of Matthew 25 and a few others, without knowing exactly where they are in the Bible, that we will get the green flag from St. Peter.

The stories contain the Truth. The stories contain the Tradition, who cares about the verses. Who cares where the zealous cry of, "Send me, I'll go!" comes from? Who cares where the question, "But you, who do you say that I am?" comes from? Who cares where the mandate, "Go, sell all that you have and distribute the proceeds to the poor, then follow me" comes from? As long as you know the story and as long as you practice the virtue, does it really matter whether you got it from the Bible or from the Tradition of the Church?

Are Bible Christians going to believe in the Assumption of Mary, Body and Soul to Heaven more than Church Christians? Are Bible Christians going to believe in the dogma of infallibility more than Church Christians? Are Bible Christians going to believe that Jesus Christ instituted the Sacraments more deeply than Church Christians will?

What are all these Bible Christians going to do when they find out that they know more specific verses to prove their case than the pastor does? Or are you planning to train the pastors first?

Go ahead, ask any pastor to give you the divisions of Genesis. I dare you to get any pastor to tell you how many authors are attributed to Isaiah? How many pastors know that Judith is considered to be apocryphal in some traditions? How many pastors know the approximate date of the arrival of the Hebrews into the Jordan River Valley? How many pastors know in how many locations the words, "In the Beginning" appear? How many pastors know the theology of John, 1? But they all know the STORY.

I therefore implore you, in this fraternal admonition, to rethink the wording of your appeal.

I am not the brightest shining light in the theological or scriptural firmament but I do know one thing, the language that you used to beg for my money sure succeeded in getting me to reach for my mouse rather than my wallet.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Where have all the padres gone?

My question is, “Where have all the Faithful Priest-Makers gone?” Nevertheless, I am willing to take a shot at the question, “Where have all the Priests Gone?” I am also willing to take a shot at the question, “What are we going to do about it?

If we pull the plant out of the ground and examine the roots instead of the flower itself, we will find some telling answers. Some of the answers begin at home.

It is my humble opinion that we really do not have a shortage of priests.

The expression “shortage of priests” presents a mathematical judgment that does not square with the prophetic theology of the “faithful remnant.” This theology comes to us primarily from the writings of the prophet Ezekiel. It is the assurance of God that His faithful people, though they suffer great loss and deprivation will not ever be totally wiped out. God will always provide for the welfare of His people.

This promise remains an assurance to us that we will be supported and led by ordained clergy for as long as we need it. This is also an admonition that every time we run to our computers and start figuring out the future statistical regressions of where the ordained priest population is headed, we are insulting God. It’s like going to Las Vegas rather than seeking a job. It’s like teaching our boys to play soccer rather than taking them to religious education after first communion.

Just in case some of you believe in statistics, allow me to indulge you. The number of above average talent high school athletes who succeed in having a full, average length career in a given professional sport is less than one third of one percent (.0032). The career of a professional athlete averages about five years. Some sports are less dangerous than others.

Some sports use college campuses for their development camps. So, some of your talented children will want to go to USC, Georgetown or Notre Dame. To convince you that their school will take care of your child and of you, someone will come to you from one of those schools (or all of them) for “the talk.” The reality is that only about .0002 of high school students get scholarships based on athletic talent. I know at least three athletes with scholarships who did not graduate because they got hurt before graduation. Two in football, one in basketball.

You want me to tell you the statistics for boys who start preparing for the priesthood? Sure, why not. I’ll also tell you some of the benefits that you will reap from their preparation.

First things first. You are the recruiter. You have to have enough common sense and a deep enough relationship with God to talk sweet about the priests. If you don’t have something good to say, stand in front of the stove and make a clanging sound while you stir the soup. When your husband comes home, tell him that you and the boy are going to attend the perpetual novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe. You’ll be home in less than one hour.

If I am the one leading the novena prayers that night, your boy might say, “Where’s Father Shatterdipikous?”

That’s when you say, “He must be out at the hospital giving confession and communion to a sick little boy about your age. Let’s pray for him and the little boy.”

Along comes Sunday and your boy says, “Can I have communion?”

You say, “Not yet.”

“Well,” he says, “I want to receive Jesus.”

Now after hearing that, you know for sure that you have to change your life. You have to teach your son Jesus-love. To do that, you have to develop it inside of yourself. Yes, you have to be a “house-priest” working together as a team as you all go for the “gold” of the priesthood.

If you do things right over the next fifteen or twenty years, you will have helped God train a holy priest for the Church. Along the way your son will be a nice boy. He will be too busy with God to mess with drugs, tobacco, alcohol, sex and gangs. He will be nice to you and to his father; he will care for his grandparents, he will teach catechism to younger children and a bunch of other nice things that will make you so happy that you will be close to committing the sin of pride.

Your sweetheart of a guy will get a good education at a very good price. He will graduate with honors and he will not have to spend nearly one year before finding his first job. True you will have to keep him around the house for 20+ years, but after that you’ll never have to worry about him again. The Bishop will take care of him. The people of your parish will love you for giving your son to God.

Can you think of a better gift?

You will be famous because just like the professional athletes he will say from the pulpit, “I had the best parents in the world. I thank them for what they have done for me and for God. I love you, Mom.”

Your son will pray for you every single day. He will be remembering you when He says, “This is my Body, This is My Blood”. He will be thinking that his parents and Jesus are ONE and they are right there on the altar with him.

If you do a good job hand in hand with Jesus, you know that the percentage of success that your son will have a happy, holy, complete lifetime career is not less than 10%.

The reason I’m telling you this is because I know that it works. I also see that there is not enough of this going on in our Catholic homes. I see so many people focusing their children on careers that will “bring in the money” in the hope that the parents will be able to share in their children’s success. I also see so many angry parents because the plan didn’t work out.

I have a different view. God, Mom and I were not successful in getting our boys to the seminary (yet), but their purgatory is that we are leaving them with one sizable mortgage each.

Now I leave it up to you to decide, who is going to cry at my funeral? The family with a priest for a prize (you) or a pair of guys with half-paid mortgages?

(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )

Friday, September 22, 2006



Dear Editor:

You know what? I hate to say this, but Father Cantalamessa's sermon about "Who do you say that I am?" is the same old stuff that you hear in the Catholic Church all the time. It all comes from the left, logical lobe and frankly, is beginning to annoy me.

I never thought that I would catch myself saying that, but it is true. When I saw this on the front page of the magazine to which I am related, I was plugged in and rattled.

We Catholics never hear a true testimony of personal faith from the pulpit. This part of the Gospel should have been the trigger for personal witness to the relationship between the spiritual leader of the flock and Jesus. Instead what we got, and not just from Father Cantalamessa, but from the rest of the clergy, was a bunch of direction from what appears to be the intellectual leader of the Sunday School Assembly. I am not so sure that any of these preachers know Jesus.

I am quite convinced that they can talk about Jesus all day. After all, that's what they studied in school for all those years of seminary.

But it's getting more and more evident to me that none of them ever shook His hand, looked Him in the eye, and said what Peter said, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God" and I am very glad to know you.

The pulpit leaders of the Catholic Church rarely reach into their own hearts to throw spiritual love out over the congregation. Catholics themselves imitate this and never talk about their personal relationship with Jesus. We know that if we do, we will be ridiculed by our hearers and more than likely be accused of boasting about our intimate relationship with "the Lord."

Why are we ashamed of being emotional about our relationship with Jesus? We hold hands with our children. We hold hands with our wives. We are not even shy about wrapping our arms around one another and even slipping a hand into our loved one's back pocket in public. I want to know what is so shameful about patting Jesus on the back(side!) in public?

I think that after I finish with this diatribe, I'm going to polish off my rusty Italian and give a piece of the right side of my brain to Father Cantalamessa. When I get done with him, he won't cry at my funeral.

As they say in Italy, "Finalmente, non c'è più!"

(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Benedict XVI will not apologize. He spoke the truth about Islam in Germany about one week ago. He knows it. The Muslim religious leaders know it. The Christian Theologians and Historians know it too.

The Pope will not apologize for speaking the truth. I don't blame him and neither should you.

Those of you who are reading this on the Internet should also spend some time on Google and/or other search sites and educate yourselves about this controversy.

I am sure that what you will find in your search will convince you that crying at my funeral would be a waste of time. Trust me, believe Benedict XVI on this.

(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )

Monday, September 18, 2006

Jesus asks us: Who do you say I am?

Mk 8:27-35

Jesus and his disciples set out
for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
Along the way he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that I am?”
They said in reply,
“John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others one of the prophets.”
And he asked them,
“But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said to him in reply,
“You are the Christ.”
Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

Listen to what the prophet Isaiah said about 500 years before Peter:

Is 50:5-9a

The Lord GOD opens my ear that I may hear;
and I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
my face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He is near who upholds my right;
if anyone wishes to oppose me,
let us appear together.
Who disputes my right?
Let that man confront me.
See, the Lord GOD is my help;
who will prove me wrong?

It has been a long time since I have even asked myself that question. I am so comfortable with whom Jesus is to me, that I don’t have to ask any more. I lived with Him from a young age and never really let go. For years my Jesus has been the same Lord of whom Isaiah speaks. Speak the truth openly. Say what you are going to do. Do what you say, on time and as close to perfect as possible.
I didn’t have to read Isaiah before I knew. I did not have to know Paul’s 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, verses 22-28 where he names Jesus the new Adam. Paul said there that in Adam all men die, but in Christ, all men live.
Like St. Paul, I guess that all I can do is speak truthfully about my relationship with Jesus from the time that I could speak and understand. I knew then and I know now that Jesus, the Christ is my life. Like Isaiah, I know Jesus because I love Him. I love Jesus because He is tough, He is truth, He is right. Like Paul, I have given Jesus some mighty hard times. It wasn’t because I didn’t know Him. It was because I didn’t know myself. I know that if it weren’t for my acceptance of Jesus in love, I too would be dead, either physically or spiritually.

My father made it a point to tell everyone why he had named me Paul. He made it a point to tell me why he had given me the name. Paul is the missionary that my father wanted to be, but had to reduce his expectations when my grandfather died at age 36. My father never stopped being a missionary. After two years in the La Salette seminary, he had already become God’s messenger. My mother’s father never passed time with me without teaching me something about Jesus. All I had to do was to look at my grandfather and my father and I knew Jesus.

My maternal grandfather lost his dominant hand in an industrial accident when he was still young. For over two years he battled depression through one dead-end job after another. The crusty old La Salette Missionary pastor who founded the Immaculate Conception church in the industrial, blue collar Massachusetts City where I was born, would come to the house every Friday night to play Parcheesi. One Friday night he told my grandfather, “Joseph, Monday
you’re starting to work for me. Bring your tool chest.” My grandfather pulled out all the excuses he could to get out of it because he considered himself an invalid, but the tough mountain boy from the craggy Alps just said, “Enough! Be there.” He then left. My grandfather had no choice. His wife and children helped him get his tool chest together for the first time in years. That Monday was the first day of a relationship that would last for more than 50 years. His artistic cabinetry still stands proudly in the parish rectory. Every time I looked at Rev, Father Jules Ginet, MS, I saw Jesus. Every time I think of him, even now, I see Jesus. That Jesus is one tough “hombre.”

I could name a phalanx of good, Christian people, relatives and friends who showed me the living Jesus. In my life, no cream-puffs were allowed. My grandfather Joseph got out of his depression. When he found himself, there were two of us grandchildren who found out how to love him, and we both found Jesus at the same time.

The head of the altar servers who worked for Father Ginet was one tough, French Canadian hockey player type. After Father Ginet, he was my man. My father was no slouch, either. I loved him because I had the privilege of seeing him both, at home and at work. He could teach, train, coach and do anything anybody else in the shop could do, only better. If you didn’t learn, or you didn’t produce, you were history man, because that was the true way it was. I would hear the bible stories that my grandfather and my father would tell me (from memory of course) and they were always about God getting His way. I knew that they were talking about their own Heavenly Father. How could I miss seeing Jesus there?

As I grew up, I turned into what we used to call “a fair country ball player.” I was proud of that. When I went to the seminary, as though I would do anything else having been brought up like I was, I had to make a true career decision. I had to choose between Jesus and baseball. I wish I could sit here and tell you that it was easy. Let me tell you that Ol’ Beelzebub caught me out in a hot corner of the desert and really turned up the heat. The worst of it was that during the baseball season between my first and second year of seminary, our team went all the way and won the regional championship. Now come on, what is this, “Damn Yankees?” I went back to the seminary, but let me tell you, the Boss from the Inferno was still serenading real hard.

The next summer, I think that St. Paul himself and my guardian angel conspired to give me a little lesson in reality. Instead of playing with 16 and 17 year olds, I accepted an offer to play in the unlimited league. I had a good summer, for a guy my age and especially for a guy my size. At 5’4” and 150 pounds, St. Paul was telling me all summer long, “Dion, get the hell off that horse. This is Damascus, can’t you tell?” I didn’t listen, I kept baseball in my heart although I returned to the seminary. That’s the year that I was told to take some time off because there were some doubts in the front office about my ability to carry Jesus’ torch. I went home. My father who drove the 300 miles over 1954 winding roads, was really nice to me. My grandfather was long gone by then. It was March. I went to work rather than enroll in school. Jesus was really good to me too. He was always there. He would always be there stroking my shoulder telling me to relax, calm down. You’re going to ride this out. I think that He also took it into His own hands and called the manager of the unlimited league to tell him that I would not be very good for their purposes. Oh, sure, Jesus, as if you know anything about baseball! The fact of the matter is, it was the best thing that ever happened. It was the first summer since I was seven years old that I did not play baseball. You know what? I didn’t even die from it! That did it. I was out of the seminary for a year and one half and back I was, baseball be damned, right along with Beelzebub and the rest of all those strike-out artists. I am sure that that is the summer when I learned to appreciate Jonah.

As it turns out, that wasn’t the toughest place where Jesus and I came eye to eye. I didn’t know it yet but I was getting cozy with Jesus. It was several years after He went behind my back and cut my baseball "career" short. I was the boss, now and I was coasting along when one day I made one of my patented French-Canadian Hockey Player decisions and in a couple hours discovered what Jesus looks like when your staring down the barrel of a .45 Magnum. Surprise of all surprises, I didn’t shiver, my voice did not waiver, I just told the man to stow it (I’m betting that Jesus really was the one), and he did. I was glad to get the help.

Don't ask me why, but from that moment, things got a little cool with me and Jesus. I kept slaving away, doing my work, but the soul was gone. For the first time in my life I slid away from Jesus, not far, but too far for comfort. I started to take things into my own hands, and it took me a long time to discover that I had more thumbs than I really needed. There were a lot of times too when I was sure that I didn’t remember having two left feet. There I was, 37 years old and treating Jesus like a 15 year old treats his father. You know, ignore Him the best you can. Do what you can to make yourself happy. All that good immature stuff that you all remember from having been there yourselves.

Well, you know, Jesus and His Dad and His Creative, Sanctifying Spirit are unbelievable capable beings. They took all my middle aged tomfoolery and brought it back to better than normal so that we are all back on track, and going just about as fast as we ever did…and all together too. They even gave me a wife and two children to make the job easier. Listen, y’all, I’ve done some mighty stupid things. I’ve even done some downright bad things. I couldn’t shake Jesus. He’d hide in the dark corners at night and attack me in the shower. Or I’d be driving along coming back from nasty escapade and there He would be in the passenger seat, looking at me and saying, “You dumb so-and-so, when are you going to learn?” I’d be at Mass on Sunday and the reading would be like a bomb on a stick, “Go and tell everyone who I am.”

Oh, and the worst of all. When He would have enough of me for a little bit, He would sic His Mom on me. Man alive, there is nothing like a crying Mother to make you feel sooo baaaad! He knows that His Mom at La Salette can get anything out of me. And she does.

Even now when I’m relatively good.

So now you know my secret. Jesus is not an individual. Jesus is a team. Dad, Son and Spirit, and finally, Mom. They can really turn things around, even before you know it. And it always comes out better than what is was. Jesus knows all my weaknesses, and especially the big one, His crying Mom. You’d be surprised how often He uses that one. He usually uses that trump ace when He sees me getting wound up over Church politics. He knows how much I hate Church politics. They’re all over too. It drives me nuts…until Jesus sends in the Crying Mom. Frankly, I think that Jesus rather fancies playing the politics game, myself. In fact I shout at Him every so often, “Why do you let this *%@# go on?

So maybe He can’t figure me out. That's probably why He's letting me get so old. I see Him smiling at me though when I pray and say a naughty word at Him. So when I do that, He just goes for the jugular to quiet me down and bring me back to my normal friendship with Him. I think He does it too because He knows that I would never slip a gutter word out in front of Mom.

Jesus has been treating me with kid gloves here in Moreno Valley. He personally called me and His loving servant, my wife Isabel, to come here to work with Him, the La Salette Missionaries and of course the Weeping Mother, as She is more formally known. He knows that He can get away with testing me more stiffly now that I am getting older. I am also sure that He is working on the pastor here at St. Christopher. I think He’s saying, “Paul is not so bad as He used to be in San Mateo, give him a little rope and we’ll see what happens. Don’t worry, I know how to control him.” Now, Father Romy doesn’t know this, but Jesus also has a back-up when it comes to keeping me in line. He sends my father. Yeah, my real father. You know, the missionary who named me Paul. Stop laughing. It’s true. He does.1 My father and I have to laugh sometimes
because some of the stuff is nothing more than petty politics. But that’s what’s nice about having your father in heaven. He comes, and you know that Jesus has given him a little errand to make a point. It's usually is something like, “Paul, don’t forget your name.” Ouch! I wince, he smiles and I say to Jesus, “Thanks. I needed that.” I've been going through that since the earliest 60's.

So you see. I’m telling you that Jesus is tough. He never backs away from the Truth. He is the Truth. I swim in St. John’s gospel often every week because Jesus tells me what John meant here and there. John was a good writer, better than some of the others. But I believe that Jesus likes John’s gospel best. It is in John’s gospel that Jesus tells His disciples and us who He really is. It is here too that He tells us who we should really be.

I am convinced that if we really want to answer Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?” we have to be able to answer the question, “Who am I?” You know something? That is a life-long project. The better the answer gets, the closer we get to heaven. The closer we get to the Pearly Gates, the closer we get to not having to get up to go to work in the morning. Now, when I get to that final point, if I catch you crying, I’m going to send my newly laid-off guardian angel to wring your ear. In the meantime, I’m going to pray that you all will have the courage and the grace to someday broadcast your answer to the Jesus question,

“Who do you say I am?”

1 Non Catholics reading this are shaking their heads wondering how we Catholics can be so sure that God can use the saints as His messengers to help us poor humans on our way to heaven. Sorry, guys, it’s so natural for us. Do you know where your father is today?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


By Paul Dion, STL

Editor's Note: The following blog post was a response to a comment made on the post "I was born Catholic and I'm going to die Catholic" on this blog. The comment was posted at 4:28 am by "savedbyChrist." To allow our readers to follow this exchange, we are publishing the reader's comments in its entirety. It will be immediately followed by the response of Paul Dion to reader named "savedbyChrist."

Here is the original comment by "savedbyChrist."

What people don't seem to realize is that being saved, having a personal relationship with our Lord and having your name recorded in the Lamb's Book of Life is not dependant on a religous affiliation. People want to be Catholic, Baptist, etc because of some need to profess they are in the "right" group. They fail to realize that the right group are those who are saved. They don't know that there is a difference between religion and faith.

Religion is like a subgroup of faith. Faith is believing in Christ, living as He would have you and professing your faith in Him. Religion is merely a part. It is a group you become a part of to fellowship, enrich your faith, be given biblical teachings and direction and learn how to live and share your faith in Christ.

As with any group, if you want to be a part of it, you have to follow the guidelines.

I was born into aCatholic family, baptized, 1st communion and so forth. I graduated from a Catholic high school. I learned a great deal about the Catholic religion.

Am I going to die Catholic? No, I am going to die a Christian saved by the blood of Jesus Christ.I still have respect for those who are Catholic. I just pray that all, no matter what religous affiliation they have are saved-confessed they are a sinner, be repentant and have accepted Christ in their heart and life.

Following is Paul Dion's response to "savedby Christ."


Dear "savedby Christ,"

Catholics realize that the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are objects of God-given faith. They also realize that salvation (“being saved”) is an object of God-given faith. The religion that comes from that God-given faith is also an object of faith. Catholics also believe that non-catholic humans who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of perfection, following Jesus and living the way He showed us, can and do aspire to being saved.

Following Jesus requires “following the guidelines” that He himself delineated for us all. These guidelines are as much objects of faith as Jesus Himself is. Since these guidelines are contained as part and parcel of the Catholic Religion, it is logical that the religion itself is an object of God-given faith.

It is true that religion is an integral part of our faith. It is not true that religion is “merely” a part of our faith. As an integral part of our faith religion is an object of our faith.

“SavedbyChrist” you say that you do not believe in the Catholic religion, and, by extension, the Catholic Church, but your soul is infused to its depths by the Spirit of God to the extent that everything you believe is impregnated by the God-given gift of Faith under the color of the Catholic religion.

Religion is not just an agglomeration of exterior organizational forces. Religion is an internal personal virtue that makes it easier for us to express our God-given gift of faith. If we had no virtue of religion, we would not be able to live life in the footsteps of Jesus.

Jesus Himself lived His life as an Orthodox Jew. Jesus had religion. If we aspire to eternal salvation through the imitation of Jesus, As He himself has challenged us to do in the Gospels, we too have to have not only personal faith, but its integral part, religion.

The interesting part of Jesus’ life is that He challenged the leaders of His religion. He saw the
weaknesses that they had and He pointed them out to them. Through it all, He never abdicated His religious beliefs because He knew that they were an essential part of His mission on earth.

We follow Jesus’ example in a Faith which includes Religious practice. Jesus gave us an example of life that has made it possible for us to maintain religious practice that reaches back many thousands of years. The Bible that formed Jesus’ faith and religion and that we cherish so much is the product of religious people who expressed their faith in writing under the inspiration of God Himself. The Jewish religion that built the Bible under the direction of God is therefore an object of our faith. It is this religion that serves as the source of our Catholicism.

Catholics believe that and that is why the Catholic religion maintains that the most secure way to salvation is through active practice of a complete faith in God Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Catholic religion. Jesus saved us through His living of an exemplary religious life in relationship with His Father and through the spilling of His Sacred Blood which sprang forth from His Orthodox Jewish body.

It is clear that you are happy that you have learned a lot about the Catholic Religion through your many years of contact with it. It is also clear that you did not accept God’s gift of religious faith along the way.

Intellectual knowledge does not bring faith. Faith comes directly from God as an unconditionally proffered gift and is either accepted or rejected out of human freedom. Fulfilled faith is not simple acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross for our salvation. Faith is a mutually practiced relationship between God and humans. In order to be complete, this relationship is fuelled by God’s gift of faith well received and the human’s response to the gift through a virtuous, generously giving religious life (Matthew, chapter 25). This response is lived within the guidelines of organized religion, usually defined by active affiliation to an organized church.

I quote a prayer in your original comment, “I just pray that all, no matter what religous (sic) affiliation they have are saved-confessed they are a sinner, be repentant and have accepted Christ in their heart and life.”

Your prayer is touching. Catholics believe that those who lead virtuous lives in response to the love of God can aspire to being saved. Catholics do not believe that passive acceptance of Christ as a personal savior alone is sufficient for salvation. Catholics believe that salvation comes only to those of good faith and clean conscience, in whatever religious affiliation, who are dynamic followers of Jesus according to His commissioning (Matthew, Chapter 28, verse 19ss).

By the way, “SavedbyChrist”, like it or not, you will die a Catholic. Your honesty gives you away. You don’t hide behind the culture of baptismal Catholicism. You call a spade a spade. Your participation in this give-and-take shows that you have been swallowed by the whale. God is taking you to your Nineveh. One day you will be thrown up on the shore of God’s mission for you. Stay ready, be aware, keep your lamp well oiled and your wick trimmed, sleep with your shoes next to your bed, keep a valid passport handy.

You have my prayers and my blessings.

Please pray for me too. Make me your personal intercessory prayer project as I have made you
mine. And please, please, if you come to know that God has called me and that I have left this "valley of tears." do not cry at my funeral.

(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )

Sunday, September 3, 2006

The Blessed Virgin Mary's Birthday Celebration

By Paul Dion, STL

When is the last time that you turned your mind to the celebration of the BVM's birthday? You might have to think about that question a little bit. Yet, every year on September 8 the Universal Church celebrates the birthday of Our Blessed Mother.

This year, St. Christopher Parish, under the auspices and the hard work of Father Ronald Guzman, MS and Father Romeo Seleccion, MS, planned a wonderful celebration in honor of Our Mother. Since they are vowed to spread Her message of love and obedience to Her Son, they take joy in the preparation of such events. They requested statues and pictures of Mary from all the parishioners, especially if they were linked to a very special devotion to Mary.

Father Ronald planned and decorated Domas Hall with the more than 60 statues and pictures that he received. Domas Hall became a very holy place, a serene cave, full of the soul of Mary and the Spirit of God. The saints of St. Christopher parish created a holy cave of spiritual healing power.

Click here to view photos of the exhibit.

Yes, we live in a male dominated Church. We live in a Church that reveals God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in a male dominated way.

This weekend the Church showed us that She recognizes and reveres the mystery of this male power being balanced by the powerful spirit of a woman who was as tough as Her Son. She made Him what He turned out to be. If she could do it with Him, I assure you that she can do it with us.

If you took the time to go wish Her a happy birthday in Domas Hall this weekend, you'll know what I mean. In the short period of time that you would have spent there, you would have seen faces of Mary that would have carried you away. You would have walked away a different person. You would have known why you are proud to confess that you are Catholic and that you are so happy to claim Mary as your Mother.

It is a joy to share these thoughts with Christian brothers and sisters. I am glad to be a child of Mary. I know that I am going to die in her arms, all warm and cuddly.

She'll hand me over to Jesus and say something like, "See, I told you he wasn't as bad as you thought sometimes. Thank you for letting me have him first. It happened so fast! He is so happy that you listened to me after all those years. Here, you hold him for a minute. He wants to thank you personally."

See, you don't have to cry at this guy's funeral.

(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )