Friday, July 18, 2008
It wasI still rembember walking to the Parish offices for the first time. It was a very strange feeling. When I walked through the door the first thing I came to was a 4ft crucifix on the left hand side of the hallway. The giftshop followed with the curved glass window filled with all types of Catholic items, statues of the Saints who had gone before, the Blessed Mother, Rosaries, books....I simply couldn't belive that I was actually going through with this. In some senses I felt as though I was having an affair, something that had to be hidden and kept from the light. After all, at this time, I was still a Reformed Presbyterian and I didn't NEARLY understand the conflict that would be coming on that front--and that was a good thing. Msgr. Reed and I began with a prayer, he crossed himself in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and I just sat there wondering what was going to come next and what he was really thinking...and why was I here, now. Remember at this time I really didn't understand yet about Sacraments, the Eucharist, or any other of the details of Catholic theology but I was hungry and wanted to know. The first thing we started off with was the Scripture. What was the Catholic view of the Bible? Why did I want to know this? Remember, from my background the Bible was the final authority of our faith. Was it just a "good book", A "guide book", or was it the Word of God? And what about all these extra books? Why does the Catholic Bible have 73 books instead of 66? Who added them?
What I found out is that the Catholic Church does believe that the Bible is the Word of God: Inspired, Infallible and authoritative. More than that though, I found out that the Catholic Faith is like a three legged stool. The Scripture cannot stand and was not designed to stand on its own as a sole foundation of our faith. Christ came to establish the Church, not a book! As is stated in 1Tim 3:15
But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.
Why didn't St Paul state that the Bible was the "pillar and foundation of truth"? Because it was not the way it was designed by our Lord. For the first 4oo years of the Church, there was no defined Bible and there were all sorts of gospels floating around that were being read. It was at that time that the Catholic Church assembled the Bible that we have today-all 73 books. (back to that later). Prior to that time, how did Christians live? How did they develop their theology and their beliefs? It was by the Sacred Tradition that was passed down orally. Listen to what Jesus told his disciples in John 14:24-26:
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. 25 "I have told you this while I am with you. 26 The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you.
As Christians, have we really understood what Christ was saying here? Christ told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come and remind them of everything that He had taught them. Then we read from St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:
2 I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you.
Tradition in this sense is not bad or evil, or legalistic. The Tradition we were speaking of is the action of the Holy Spirit guiding all the Apostles and their successors with the True Faith of His Church. This is what guided the Early Church, not the 73 books of the Bible. And this Truth still guides us today; Truth did not get lost, and He did not lose control over his Church. Christianity was not hijacked by the Catholic Religion and Luther and the Reformers didn't "rescue" the Church. To believe this is to doubt the power and Sovreignty of the Holy Spirit and insinuates than Our Lord had no idea what he was saying.
It was in this meeting that I also found out about the third leg on this stool, the Magisterium, or the Teaching Authority of the Church. This is how God speaks and guides us today. The Holy Spirit continues to guide his Body through the Holy Father to teach and to guide us. Therefore all three supports must be there to balance our Faith: Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Teaching authority of the Church: In this I saw balance. No man can give his own private revelation from God without the ability to back it up and test it. Scripture is not open to private interpretation, 2 Peter 1:20-21
Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, 21 for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.
Finally I found out why Catholic Bibles have those extra books! When the Scriptures were cannonized in 382, there were 73 books in the Bible. (Including 1 & 2 Macabees, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch and certain portions of Esther and Daniel). If you look at the very first Edition of the KJV, 1594 all these books are still included. The reason that they are not in the Protestant Bible is for the simple fact that the Reformers REMOVED them, they were not ADDED by the Catholic Church. Why did they remove them? Who gave them the authority to do so? The answer to the 2nd question is that I don't know. The reason to the first question is as follows: They were written in Greek. When the Jews met at the Council of Jamnia, they accepted their cannon of scripture and they would not accept anything that was written in Greek. Another reason they rejected the books was simply becuase some of the new Jewish Christians were using these books to convert the Jews to the Christian faith. Since the Jews didn't accept the books, the Reformers decided that there must be something to that and followed their lead and pull them out as well. In addition, these books also have references to very Catholic doctrines that they were separating themselves from. (very short explanation) Therefore, from that point forward, the Protestant Bible remains with only 66 books.
And this was just the first meeting.........
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I knew where it was and I couldn't wait for the next morning. Early Saturday morning I went to the Parish and pulled on the huge wooden doors with the twisted brass handles. I was nervous and scared...filled with expectation of what was awaiting me inside. I knew that I was going to have a new encounter with our Lord, one that I had not had before. Only one problem. The doors were locked. I could not believe it! I had come all this way and now the doors were locked. This really was supposed to happen differently. On my way back to the car, a very nice lady stopped me and directed me to the side chapel where Mass was being held this morning. SIDE CHAPEL!!!! I walked through another heavy wooden door with another twisted brass handle and I all of the sudden became very scared. I was going to have no place to hide. All of the sudden I was the only Protestant in a room of about 15 Catholics. If you have never been to a Mass before and you are attending for the first time, believe me, you will stick out like a sore thumb, and I did! But I was touched that morning in a way I never had been before. I was not distracted by lights, music, shouting or waving. What I heard was the Scriptures, very straight forward and I heard the Gospel proclaimed not in a way that was one persons interpretation, but a simple Gospel, a Gospel that literally changed my life. Then came the Eucharist. Now at this time, I had little idea of what I was witnessing, but what I saw I new was real. What I saw was the priest elevate the Host and I knew something very special was happening. I knew Jesus was there, but in a way that I had never felt him before....stronger than I had felt him before. Now I understood what people meant by the "Real Presence". Our Lord was there in that Eucharist and I knew it. On the way out, I met a man who probably played the biggest parts in my conversion, Msgr. Michael Reed. He very graciously greeted me and asked me a few questions. After I explained my plight to him and asked him if we could chat sometime, he agreed. Too bad he had no idea what he was getting himself into.........
Monday, July 14, 2008
Lastly on this point, I stated earlier that there was not any Scriptural basis to back up the 66 books of Scripture being the Sole and Final deposit of faith. Now the next question is, if the Scriptures aren't the final authority of our faith, who or what is? The answer to that question is something that blew me out of the water and that answer was found in 1Timothy 3:15:
15 But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.
If the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is not Scriptural, what does history teach us about the authority of Scripture? When we talk about Church history, most of us think about Luther, the Reformation and move forward from there, not remembering and realizing that there WAS a Christian Church before then. What was the Church like 100 years after the Ascension of our Lord? What did they believe? What did they base their faith on? How did they live? The first thing that we have to remember is that the earliest Christians were actually Jews who had accepted Christ as their Messiah and due to this they had been kicked out of the synogogues and had nowhere left to go. They then went to the Christian churches that were meeting at that time on Sundays and were reading these letters that had been circulating from the Apostles of the Church. They had no "Bible", No Old Testament, no New Testament, just the Tanak (Jewish Scriptures) and what was being taught by the Apostles. The Bible that we use wasn't even assembled until the middle of the fourth Century and when it was assembled, who determined what was considered Scripture an what wasn't??? That is right, the Catholic Church. And they stated that all books to be considered Scripture had to meet 4 guidelines: 1)The book had to be written by an Apostle or a disciple of an Apostle 2) it had to be written close to the time of Christ 3) It could not contradict current teaching of the Church and 4) it had to be widely read among the Churches. That, ladies and gentlemen is how we got the New Testament. And by the way, at the time the Canon of Scripture was closed in the 4th Century, it had 73 books and remained that way until the Reformation and Luther. It was at that time that he and some of the other reformers removed the 7 books often referred to as the Apocrypha. My question on this is, who gave him the authority to remove books that had been inserted? I digress......the point is that the Early Church and the Church up to the time of the Reformation had never heard of a doctrine of Sola Scriptura, this is a teaching that has only been taught and accepted since the Reformation. Finally if Sola Scriptura is an "essential" doctrine of our faith, I am guessing that those Christians that lived prior to 397 A.D. either missed out, or were under a different standard...along with all those Christians through the ages and even now in other parts of the world that aren't able to have Scripture...How do they build their faith?
Sola Scriptura---Historical....I don't think so.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
had been going on for centuries. The torch would now be passed. But honestly, I didn't know what that meant. At this point in my search, I was not aware or informed of "Apostolic Succession", all I knew was that there would be a new Pope in the near future. The one thing that stuck with me, and probably always will was something that I saw during the funeral. I believe that it was during the procession to St. Peter's basilica that the body was being carried. During that time the people were singing the Litany of the Saints http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3iu9bwEfl4 and I really had no idea what they were singing/chanting because it was all in Latin....and it haunted me for days. I finally found it on line and this is what I found: http://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/Litanies/saints.htm
It was chilling for me. I really felt like I had just dove into the ocean with no life raft or any boat in sight. But when I read through this litany, I knew one thing that made sense. There was an entire body of believers, just like the writer of Hebrews talks about that we are surrounded by. This body of believers is no longer bound by space or time and we are a part of them and they are a part of us. When we cry, they hurt. When we rejoice, they rejoice with us and they are there with the Father interceeding for us. At this point I was beginning to delve into something that I had heard in the Presbyterian Church (in limited form) as the "Communion of the Saints". Of course over the next few months this belief would be expounded on and challenged, but I knew that they were there, all of them....Praying for us.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
it finally happened. This great man left us. For the first time in my life that I can remember I started paying attention to details of the Catholic Church. All eyes were pointed to Rome, and rightfully so. My head started spinning with everything that was going on. I wanted to know why things were done. What does all this mean? I was starting to wade into the Tiber.....
Monday, April 28, 2008
Unfortunately, I really didn't think before I proceeded further. I had no contacts in the Catholic Church other than my buddy at work and I certainly couldn't tell him that I had questions. That would have been crossing a line that I was not ready to cross yet and and I needed a "neutral" opinion. So where did I go? A former Liberty instructor who was a former Catholic Priest that lived in town. I remember that day like it was yesterday. We met at a local restaurant for breakfast so I could get a good opinion on me moving to the Catholic Church (he didn't know that. I just told him that I needed some questions answered). After that meeting, I was done. I begged forgiveness from our Lord for even considering the Catholic Church. I was made aware that Catholic Church was full of Sacrilege and idolatry. I was scared to death......I knew I could never, ever become Catholic. I was convinced and sold................for then.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
When Laura and I got married in Sept. '91, one of the first things that we did in Jan '92 was to purchase a beautiful little apricot poodle puppy....we named her Sassie. When we moved to Pensacola she was only 3 years old and full of life.
Unfortunately, we had the duty and responsibility this weekend to choose the difficult option of putting her to final rest. This was the second time that we have had to choose that option and I can tell you that it doesn't get any easier.
Pets are an integral part of our lives and they always remind us of our mortality and reminds us of the "circle of life" so to speak. I would do the whole thing over again. Sassie brought so much joy and pleasure to our lives, especially before we had children. Even after we had Abby and the other girls, she was very patient and understanding with them and they will miss her.
Thanks be to our Lord for giving her to us for those years and also giving us the ability to make the appropriate choice at the best time for her.
Monday, April 14, 2008
It all started about 3 weeks ago when my wife was feeding our youngest, Laura Sophia dinner. We have all had those nights when you are tired, you have had a long day and you just want to feed your kids and get them down........QUICKLY!!! So this night, Laura decided to give Laura Sophia her first scrambled egg. This was about 5:30 P.M. and all went well until about 1o:30 PM when we heard her crying. I went in there and brought her in the room with Laura and myself. We noticed very quickly that she was swollen up, clawing at her ears, and also that she was breaking out in hives. This was not good. In the moment that it took us to call the doctor, it seemed like she was gasping for air. It was at that point that we made the rush decision to run with her to the ER. We got there probably around 11:30 and by the time that we left it was close to 2:AM. Luckily, it was nothing that a little Benadryl couldn't handle and we know now that she will not be enjoying dads lovely Colorado omlettes.
It wasn't long after that, probably a couple of weeks that we were preparing for Laura's surgery. Nothing major, but it was the typical outpatient removal of a Ganglion cyst on her right wrist. We had been planning this for a while so it was no big deal, right........WRONG, and you couldn't be more wronger. Here is how the whole deal went down.
Laura and I have a lovely older home in East Pensacola Heights, close to the bay. By older, I mean that the house was built in 1941. We love it and have tended to it (especially after Ivan...) and made upgrades and changes that help it. Well, as with any home, you can tend to have some....let's say issues from time to time. This issue was for the past couple of weeks we had heard some "movement" inside our walls. Scratching to be specific. I was very concerned due to the fact that me and rodents don't get along that well. So I did what any normal homeowner would do. I searched along every baseboard and wall that I could get to and looked for any sort of entry point....this was fruitless. I put Glueboards in the attic. Nothing. Until the morning of Laura's surgery.
It was about 6AM and then I heard it...scratching. Only this time it didn't sound like it was in the wall any further...it sounded like it was in the house, scratching on the floor, even squeaking. I went to the bathroom....nothing. Hallway.....nothing. Then for some reason I turned around and I saw it stuck between the wood floor and the doorpost...a RAT. Not a mouse, a RAT....bigger than all get out. it's back legs were scratching trying to get out and it's tail was flopping back and forth like a metronome. I had never had to deal with this scenario before and I had no idea what to do. I couldn't pull him out or he would bite the ever loving #$&% out of me. I only had to think quick..which is not easy to do at 6 AM. I could chop him off...nope, too messy. What to do?? Luckily Laura's mom and dad live very close (this is one time when I was able to appreciate that) so I decided to call Laura's Dad. Then as soon as I dialed he got loose. The streak of grey lightning flashed through the hallway into the living room. All I heard from there was Laura telling me to get a holt of myself, I was going to wake the girls up. I can do this, I am a man....he is a mouse. NO...HE IS NOT A MOUSE!!! HE IS A RAT!!!!!! And I am supposed to have my mother-in-law here in just a few hours to keep my daughters whilst he is loose in the house. So, once I got Lauras dad on the phone, he came over and locked himself with me and the rat in the laundry room. Once we had spread the nets to make sure that there were no exit points we started moving shelves. I had a cane in my right hand as I was sure that I was going to wallop that sucker if he came anywhere near me....(yeah, right). It was at that time I heard Laura's dad say: "He's coming your way!" You should have seen me. At that point, time stood still. With a left hand on a cabinet and my right hand on that cane I suddenly suspended myself in mid air calling out to Jesus, Joseph, Mary and anybody else that would listen. As I was looking down that animal was running in circles below my feet. I will admit it, I was screaming like a girl. It was two seconds later that I heard it. That thing ran across one of the glue boards that we had set out. I have never heard anything more blood-curdling noise in my entire life. That thing was squealing like a stuck pig. But he was done. While I was outside gathering my composure, my father-in-law took another board and sort of "sandwiched" him with another board. He was still squealing. I had no idea what to do after that, so I just simply told him to put it in the trash container.....Luckily it was trash day.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Like I said in my last post, it was in 1991 when I met the Love of my life, Laura. We met while we were both in College at Liberty. Our meeting was sort of by chance and not really planned. The details of the meeting will vary on whether you are talking to me or Laura, but....since this is my blog...this will be the way that it happened :-)
Through a series of events, in 1990, neither Laura or I had a date to the Spring banquet at Liberty and through a suggestion of a mutual friend, I got up the nerve to chase her across campus (she knew what was going on) and ask her to the banquet. It was very soon after that we had our first date and I still remember it was amazing. We were both bout as nervous as a couple of long tailed cats in a room full of rocking chairs, but it wound up being an amazing evening of talking and connecting. I remember that we went to the Boardwalk on Pensacola Beach and sat there and talked for hours...about our lives where we grew up (which by the way was about an hour and a half from each other). We were actually at many of the same events while we were growing up, which is really strange to look back upon. The months that followed were amazing I couldn't wait to see her again and spend another block of hours between classes talking on those swings. There was a very deep love developing....very quickly. I wanted to find out everything about her. We were then married in September of 1991 to begin our new life together and start again. Going on seventeen years later we are still going strong. Believe you me, we have had our challenges, but we are here; together and commited to our marriage and our ever growing family.
Oh yeah.....the other woman. It started about five or six years ago I guess. There was this woman that I had an acquaintance with from a couple of years prior. I had found out a little about her and there was this strange attraction, something that I could not explain. I tried as much as possible to try to find out everything about her. It was very strange, so for a while I denied myself the urges that I had and decided that it would be best for myself and my family if I had no contact with her--ever. I knew that if I got involved with her that it could have a devastating effect on my family, so that is what I did............for a while.
What happened next is baffling to me. One day I was at work and I saw her on the television and she was starting to get a lot of attention. Though I had not thought about her for about 2 years or so, my head spun around again, I could tell something was changing about her. Maybe it was her face, but something was changing and I was compelled once again to get in contact with her. At the same time I was so sad. Why did I take so long to do this. I would never know her as I had previously wanted to know her............I knew that it would always be different. Not bad, just different from how I had come to know her. So I very cautiously pulled back out all my previous contact with her. It was a review of sorts, but reading what she had written and what I found out about her grabbed me once again. I had not felt like this since I had fallen in love with Laura-- it seemed that it was happening all over again. I was terribly frightened to contact her directly and in person due to the fact that I knew what tidal wave it would cause in my life, so I decided to contact other people who were very much aware of her and who she was. I just needed to find out if She was the one for me, so for months on end I found those people with their information. The point that sealed our fate together happened on a Saturday morning. That morning, I had to be at work, so I left earlier than normal, probably by an hour. I told Laura that I had to meet a "friend" before I went to work, when in all actuality it was the other woman. We were only to be together for about half an hour or so, that is all I could take. My head was spinning, but I really knew at that point She and I would have to move forward...regardless. The amazing thing is that she knew me, who I was and had been waiting for me and I felt it by the light embrace that I felt that day. I had never done anything like this before in my life. It was like I was walking on a line....a border that I had crossed and I had said that I never would, yet at the same time, I didn't feel the slightest amount of guilt. After that one meeting I was addicted to our affair. How would I keep this a secret from my family: my wife, her parents, my brother , my parents. How would they react. They knew of this woman because she had all of our paths at sometime in our lives and it was inevitable that I would have to tell them, but it was going to have to wait.
The next months would become the point that would change my life. The woman kept calling me. It was if she was connected to the innermost parts of my being. I spent many sleepless nights watching her metamorphasis that was going on because as a matter of fact the change that I had feared did take place. Now I saw her in a new way. I knew that even though I didn't know her as she was before, I would know her in a new way; a strange new way. I remember one time, Laura had gone to visit my sister in Birmingham with the girls. It was just me in the house. It was freedom for me any my new love. That week I was totally engulfed in her, wanting all my waking moments to be surrounded by her.
The most amazing thing is that the more that I got to know her, the more that she kept pointing me not toward herself, the Church, but toward her Son, our Lord Jesus. All my life I had a relationship with our Lord, but that night it was different---deeper than it ever had been in my life. I knew that Jesus was there present with me....The Real Presence as I had never known it. Beyond a shadow of a doubt I knew that this was the Church that our Lord had established. This had been proven to me over and over and over the next few months.
I had come Home.
One year later it became formal. On Easter, 2oo6, I came into full communion with the Catholic Church.
More to come............
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
I was full of vim and vigor and was ready to change the world, as we all were and I loved every bit of it, even my first roommate...btw...anybody heard from Forakis? I spent the next three years there studying, discerning, working, working.......working. I did have awesome opportunites including a trip to Mexico....(beware Liberty guys...I will be posting those pix soon for the entire universe to see.) But most of all I met my wife, Laura. It is hard to believe that we will have been married 17 years in September, how time flies.
20 years ago.........
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
So.....If you see this, leave a comment or a question. Who knows what will appear next....