Holidays/Feast Days

Questions I Answered on Catholic Answers Live of Friday, January 23, 2016.

Click here to listen on-line; for podcast or more listening options click here.

1.  Opened with a discussion of St. Paul life before conversion, his life and radical ministry and the facts and issues surrounding his martyrdom.

2.  In 1 Corinthians St. Paul mentions Jesus’ words, “This is my Body, this is my Blood” from which we get the words of consecration. Where did the rest of the words we hear at Mass come from?

3.  St. Paul was not a Catholic. He was a Christian. The Catholic Church was something created by men.

4.  In 2 Corinthians 12 St. Paul said that he knew a man who was caught up to the third heaven. What does that mean? How many heavens are there?

5.  Why do you have to peg St. Paul into a particular denomination? Why not just say he is a Christian?

6.  Was St. Paul an agent of the Roman Empire when he assisted in Stephen’s martyrdom?

7.  I am what Paul was, a follower of the Nazarene. St. Paul was not and I am not a Christian, just a follower of Jesus. What do you think of that?

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Epiphany? So What?

by Steve Ray on January 6, 2016

 What is Epiphany anyway? And why should I care?

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The Feast of the Epiphany – the Magi, the Baptism of Jesus and the Miracle of Cana all combined – is really quite fascinating. It was actually a celebration in the Church long before Christmas was celebrated and eventually overshadowed Epiphany.

John Paul II gave 52 Homilies that mention the word Epiphany, or are centered on the Epiphany. The word epiphany means a sudden insight, a revelation. In Christian terms it refers to the manifestation of Jesus’ divinity to the world. The Baptism of Our Lord was such an epiphany as the voice of God revealed the true nature of his Son. In Cana the disciples saw his glory and believed, and the Wise Men understood who he was so that even the Gentiles saw the glory of God.

 

Today is January 6, the Feast of Epiphany and WE ARE AT THE SITE OF JESUS’ BAPTISM (see video later today) – which was more important in the early Church for the Epiphany than the Magi’s arrival.

For Steve‘s article “Did the Wise Men Meet the Shepherds” click here. To read about the Epiphany in the Catholic Encyclopedia, click here

For brochures of upcoming pilgrimages and cruises, click here. For more info, call Suzanne at 800-727-1999, extension 121.

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Catechism on Epiphany: “The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Saviour of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates 1) the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with 2) his baptism in the Jordan and 3) the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. In the magi, representatives of the neighbouring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation. “

“The magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations. Their coming means that (us) pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Saviour of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament. The Epiphany shows that “the full number of the nations” now takes its “place in the family of the patriarchs”, and acquires Israelitica dignitas–(is made “worthy of the heritage of Israel”).”  CCC 528

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Nice article from LifeTeen:

About twelve years ago a teen named Billy asked me this question, “Why do you Catholics believe that Mary ascended into heaven, when it’s not even in the Bible?”

He said “you Catholics” because he went to a local Bible Church but had been coming to a Life Teen Summer Bible Study with some of his Catholic friends.

“Well, first . . . ” I replied, “Mary did not ascend into heaven; the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven. Jesus ascended by His own power. Mary was taken up into heaven by God.” That little difference is a big difference, so I wanted to be sure he understood it.

Billy then replied, “Okay, fine . . . but it’s still not in the Bible. The Church made it up.”

This is where the conversation got really interesting.

DID MARY DIE?
Maybe Mary didn’t die. Maybe she’s living in Brazil . . . next door to Elvis. Some people point to the fact that only Elijah and Enoch are mentioned as being carried off to heaven in Scripture, and since Mary is not, then “it must not be true.”

Have you ever noticed that although the Acts of the Apostles is an incredibly detailed accurate account of Sts. Peter and Paul, we do not read of their deaths on the pages of Scripture? Everything we know of their deaths comes from early oral tradition. In fact, the Bible doesn’t say what happened to most of the disciples. The Bible is silent in this area. Many Evangelicals accept the witness of Church history that Saint Peter was crucified upside-down in Rome, that Paul was beheaded, etc. — even though Scripture does not record these events.

We know, from oral tradition, that Mary was taken into the care of St. John (the writer of the fourth gospel and the Book of Revelation) and went to live with him in Ephesus (where he was a Bishop). We know that she was sought out for her counsel and wisdom and that she was exalted and honored throughout the community. Early Church Tradition upholds these facts as true, as do historic and non-canonical writings.

What is different, though, is that we know where the bones of Sts. Peter and Paul and other disciples like Mary Magdalene are because the early Christians took care of them. There is no record of where the bones of Mary are. It seems a little odd that if there had been a body no one would have given her a proper burial or that her tomb would not have become a landmark, does it not?

HOW DO WE KNOW MARY IS IN HEAVEN?
Well, if the woman who God specifically chose to bring His Son into the world and raise Him is not in heaven . . . none of us have a shot.

Seriously, though, is there Scriptural backing for this teaching about the Assumption? Absolutely!

While it does not explicitly state, “Mary assumed into heaven” in the Bible, stop and take a look at the verses from Revelation, written by John, of visions that were seen:

“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod… Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed . . .” – Revelation 11:19, 12:1-6, 10

This revelation is referring to Mary in heaven. Mary is often referred to as the new “Ark of the Covenant.”

Indiana Jones went searching for the Ark of the Old Covenant which contained the Ten Commandments (Law), a pot of manna (heavenly bread) and the staff of Aaron (symbol of Priesthood). You can read about the Ark – but not Indiana Jones – in Hebrews 9:4. The Ark was kept free from all defect and corruption, made from the finest most pure materials to God’s exact specifications.

As the Ark of the New Covenant, Mary carried Christ who is the Law, the Bread of Life, and the Royal High Priest. Her Immaculate Conception and her state as ever-Virgin kept her free from defect and sin, preserving her throughout her life, until her death where she was immediately assumed to preserve her from any bodily corruption on earth. Notice, too, in this passage from Revelation that we see the Ark (which is missing on earth) in heaven immediately preceding our vision of this woman crowned in stars and holding a baby.

Don’t forget – to whom did God give this vision (Revelation)? He imparted it to St. John, the one who was entrusted with caring for Our Mother, Mary (John 19:25-27) for the remainder of her days on earth prior to her assumption.

In 1950, Pope Pius XII defined the doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the universal Church. The teaching was not new – only now formally clarified. He affirmed that at the end of her time on earth, Mary experienced immediately the resurrection of the body that is promised to all faithful followers of Jesus.

Basically, since Mary was preserved from original sin by the unique gift of Christ’s grace, she was able to experience the immediate perfect union with her Son in heaven, never knowing, tasting or suffering from bodily corruption or decay (due to death) in any way.

Remember, as Christians we believe in the Resurrection of the Body. As the Papal encyclical Lumen Gentium (68) asserts, Mary’s assumption and heavenly presence preceded and foreshadows our own future glory (1 Corinthians 15). You might want to check out how the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it, too (CCC 966).

One of the things that sets us apart as Catholics from other Christian denominations is that we have a rich understanding of Mary and a tradition of giving her the honor she deserves. She can teach us a lot through her example of virtue and her special role within the Church. Pray with Mary and she will lead you into a far deeper relationship with Her Son than you could ever achieve by your own direction.

I’m reminded of that conversation with the teen every year around this Feast Day, only I no longer call that teen, Billy, my friend . . . now I also call him, Father Bill. He went looking for Mary and found her . . . in the Catholic Church.

Hail Mary!

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Womb 2 Tomb; Bethlehem 2 Jerusalem; Biking on Christmas thru the Holy Land

December 26, 2015

I am back in Israel now! Greetings from the Land! I posted this blog a year ago — but I am posting it again so you can see Bethlehem from a unique perspective, from my bike. I think you will enjoy this fun and educational adventure riding through Bethlehem and Jerusalem today. We are in [...]

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Questions about Christmas I Answered Wednesday on Catholic Answers Live

December 24, 2015

Fun, fun, fun! I love doing the Catholic Answers Live call-in show. Wednesday the topic was Bethlehem and the Nativity. We started out with my description of what it was like for Mary and Joseph to arrive in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.  You can listen on-line HERE; for other listening options like podcast, click HERE. [...]

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“Year of Mercy” Logo Explained

December 15, 2015

I have to admit I was first repelled by the “modern-looking” logo for the Year of Mercy. But now that I read this and took the time to understand, I am quite intrigued. This comes from the Gaylord Michigan diocesan website. Their bishop Raica is a friend and a stalwart man of God and a [...]

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Welcoming New People at Mass this Christmas – They May Be an Answer to Someone’s Prayers

December 15, 2015

We get busy on during the Christmas Season. We don’t have a lot of respect for people who go to church only on Christmas and Easter. We may be irritated that seats are taken and the church is noisy.  But, you are praying for your family and friends to come back to church and MAYBE [...]

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Did the Wise Men Meet the Shepherds?

December 8, 2015

With upon us, I thought I would post my article this Christmas season with bits of interesting information and details about Christmas, the Gospels and Epiphany. Join us in Bethlehem for Christmas this year from December 26-January 4 or any of six times in 2015. Visit www.SteveGoes.com. Did the Wise Men Meet the Shepherds?  A [...]

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What Christmas Carol is This?

December 7, 2015

ABCDEFGHIJKMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ It is a clever riddle, but see if you can figure it out. Don’t read the comments below unless you give up.

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Ben Stein — Full-blooded Jew — Comments on Christmas

December 7, 2015

Some of you may have already read this since Ben Stein gave this commentary on CBS in 2005, but it is worth repeating since Christmas is approaching — and because it is good stuff. I wanted to make sure it was accurate so I checked it out on Snopes and found it was accurate, though [...]

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Mary and the Other Body of Christ; How Many People were in the Upper Room and Why?

November 21, 2015

The room was pretty full. It was warm but a gentle breeze was blowing—that would change. There was fear in the room. The Roman army was a thing to be feared, they had just crucified Jesus and it was a dangerous thing to associates of an executed criminal. They were also anxious about the promise. [...]

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Joachim & Anna: The Birth and Presentation of Our Lady, from a 2nd Century Document

September 8, 2015

Join us this year on our Holy Land pilgrimages or St. Paul Mediterranean Cruise or next year on a pilgrimage to Fatima in Portugal, Avila in Spain and Lourdes in France or to see the Italy, Rome and the Holy Shroud of Turin. Visit http://www.footprintsofgodpilgrimages.com/upcoming-pilgrimages ************************* “The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (as it [...]

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Pope Going to Fatima – Beat him there and miss the crowds!

April 27, 2015

We just took a great group of pilgrims to Fatima, Avila and Lourdes. We have another trip going in July to visit Fatima, Santiago de Compostela and Lourdes. Join us and miss all the crowds!  Pope Francis Plans to Visit Fatima in 2017 Trip to Coincide with 100th Anniversary of Marian Apparitions, By Junno Arocho Esteves [...]

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Feast Day for a Deserter? Yup! Read the Story of St. Mark

April 23, 2015

His voice boomed over the crowds in Rome as it had done all around the Roman Empire. The large fisherman was aging but his voice was still filled with intensity and conviction. The thronging crowds listened with curiosity. Rome was the hub of the civilized world and Peter preached the message of a Jewish rabbi named [...]

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How Long Was Jesus in the Tomb? Another Contradiction?

April 4, 2015

“For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:38-40) Skeptics claim to have discovered an error in the New Testament —claiming Jesus was not in the tomb [...]

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When Was Jesus Crucified? How Long on the Cross? Do the Gospels Contradict Each Other?

April 3, 2015

Do the Gospels Conflict? How Long was Jesus on the Cross? The question intrigued me sufficiently enough that I spent the best part of a day working on it. On the surface there seems to be a contradiction in the Gospels, mentioning different times for the crucifixion.  Maybe the Apostles forgot to check their watches! Mark says [...]

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