Monday, December 2, 2013

This is the Catholic Mass

A breathtaking three minutes. 

Watch and read along with the words of the saints. I never really understood any of this growing up, and now that I know, I've never once in 19 years willfully missed Mass. How could I?

When we assist at (i.e., attend) the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are at the foot of the Cross, at Calvary. Two thousand years melt away. Time and space are meaningless. We are there. 

Praise God. He loves us that much!

Anton Raphael Mengs


  1. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

  2. To about a billion people it is just the greatest thing in the world. The other six billion see it as a symbolic ritual by one of many religions. Of the billion, only a small fraction even bother to attend more than once or twice a year. You must really think you have the inside track to salvation. Six billion plus haven't got a clue. Right.

  3. You must really think you have the inside track to salvation

    Why such vicious provocation, Bill? Where did Leila claim anything remotely to what you state? Mass is said for everyone, and we pray for everyone, including non-believers. Christ was crucified to save all. He only does not force Himself on those who knowingly and explicitly reject Him. Mass is a sacrifice for the world. Not just those attending.

  4. Amen, Sebastian.

    Bill, when Jesus was dying on the Cross for the world, only a handful of people in the world knew anything about Him at all. Does that mean He could not have been doing what He was doing?

    Let's look to the material world for a minute and see if you would say the same thing. Do six billion people on earth know that Jonas Salk created the polio vaccine? No. Most could not tell you the man existed. Does that negate the saving nature of the polio vaccine? No.

    And Jesus Himself asked if there would be any faith on earth when He returned, and talked of His "little flock". So, I am not getting your point.

    Your logic often escapes me.

  5. Today's Gospel.
    Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
    “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
    for although you have hidden these things
    from the wise and the learned
    you have revealed them to the childlike.
    Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
    All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
    No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
    and who the Father is except the Son
    and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

    Turning to the disciples in private he said,
    “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
    For I say to you,
    many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
    but did not see it,
    and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

  6. Is that St. Peter's at the 2:06 mark? Stunning.

    I am forever amazed at there being:

    Spiritual conquering power in looking upon a beaten and crucified God-man.
    Spiritual conquering power in a tiny host consecrated and elevated.
    Spiritual conquering power in attending a worship service around an altar of a God we cannot "see".
    Spiritual conquering power in believing in the one declared a meek and mild "lamb" of God.

    Oh, the irony, the beauty, the grace and the power and the majesty. Oh, the rewards and the eternal joy for those who will believe.

    Perfect video to go along with my Advent study -- edifying, and causing spontaneous fits of thanks and praise for being called to that supper of which I am completely unworthy to attend on my own merits. Thanks for posting.

  7. Yes, Sebastian! Nail on the head :)

  8. Adding to what Sebastian said, Our Lord is "meek and humble of heart". He conceals Himself in the mass, and He refrains from blowing our minds--and probably killing us in the process--by showing us what's really going on upon the altar. But to some of the saints, He has revealed Himself in a less-mitigated form--nearly killing them in the process--so that they could alert us, warn us, enjoin us! BTW, the altar pictured at the end of the video, where it says This Is the Catholic Mass, is my beautiful parish, St. John Cantius in Chicago. Makes Chicago worth living in! LOL!

  9. Jamie, so well said! We could not withstand the sight of Him and live without supernatural aid! And wow, there is something good coming out of Chicago? Ha ha! What a gorgeous parish!

  10. Leila, I know you were joking and referring to BO et al, but hey, Fr. Barron hails from Chicago! I was going to write how I envy Jamie for sharing the city with this great priest. And Mundelein seminary of which he is rector is from the Archdiocese of Illinois, led by the great Francis Cardinal George!

  11. Leila,

    I find it hard to believe that, while every person who has ever lived has been born with certain instincts necessary for survival, only a select fraction of them know what is required to get into heaven. More specifically, only Catholics are aware that the creator of the universe is present in consecrated bread and wine and the rest of the world is oblivious to this fact. Think about it. Does it really make any sense to you? Is that really what all of this is all about?

  12. Ha ha, point taken, point taken, Sebastian! There is light there!!

  13. Bill, every human being on the planet gets enough grace (actual and/or sanctifying) to find his way to Heaven. God does not leave anyone without that help. I've posted on that before:

    You seem concerned in so many of your comments about what other people do and don't know. But you should focus on what you know. What have you been told, what have you been taught? You are responsible, and culpable, for what you know. If you know the truth, you will be held accountable for that. Don't worry about the others and their response to grace.

  14. Oh my, Archdiocese of Chicago, not Illinois! This is what happens when you let the sin of envy (to Jamie) slip in, haha!

  15. Leila,

    I know what I am expected to believe. I hear the Nicene Creed every week. It is a list of impossibilities. It is interesting the way people have been convinced of the importance that has been placed on what a person believes. Who cares what I believe? If you look at how the Gospel of Mark was subsequently embellished by the other evangelists who used it as their source, you can see how it became more and more important. For example, the writer of Matthew took Marks story of Jesus telling his disciples to shake the dust off their sandals when leaving a town where their announcement of the kingdom was not accepted and added Jesus saying that it will worse for that town than it was for Sodom and Gamorah. That is obviously an embellishment designed to scare people into believing. That's what the Church has done for two millennia. It has scared people into believing. I refuse to allow myself to be intimidated into believing things that are impossible. That's not the scientific method.

  16. Bill, if you use the scientific method to confirm and accept the One who created science and transcends the natural world, then you are definitely missing the point here, and are likely to miss God altogether.

    Was Jesus trying to scare people, or just speaking the Truth? Is it "scaring" my child into staying on the sidewalk when I tell him he will get hit by a car if he runs out into the middle of it? Or is it a warning of a Truth, given in love?

    How did you raise your kids… did you just shrug and chuckle when they went near the boiling pot of water? If you did, I would question your love for them. Do you see?

  17. Bill-

    First, I gotta ask....why is your go-to response contempt? Every blog post you comment on you tend to come out the door with disdain and contempt for Catholics and our beliefs. You can ask your questions and express your struggles without being deliberately insulting. I think I know why your first response is contempt but I am curious if you have considered why you are responding this way. You don't have to explain yourself to me or anyone else but I think it is worth thinking about.

    "I refuse to allow myself to be intimidated into believing things that are impossible."

    You can only be intimidated if you believe in hell. But wouldn't "hell" be one of those impossible things? So your fear of something impossible is going to intimidate you into believing other impossible things? that's not very scientific either.

  18. Leila,

    Because I respect you so much and can see how well your worldview is working for you, it bothers me that I can't convince you that there is no downside to not believing something that is impossible without some kind of proof. Every being on this planet should feel totally free to disbelieve anything that is naturally impossible in the absence of proof. When I listen to people reciting the Nicene Creed I can't help but wonder if they really understand what they are saying and whether having people constantly recite such a prayer is just a technique to brainwash them into believing it.

    My question to you is why do you consistingly imply that I face some sort of punishment for not believing? I can see warning your kids not to run into the street or touch a pot on the stove. But how does that relate to warning me about not believing. It troubles me.

  19. Kat, good points. And another thing I have noticed with Bill (and mentioned before). He says something, we take on his point and respond directly to it, and he comes back on a completely new theme/topic. Difficult to dialogue that way.

  20. Bill, our last comments posted at the same time.

    Okay, Bill, when you come to a stop light and it's green, what makes you go through the light with enough confidence that the others around you are not going to come barreling through the red willy-nilly? Do you have to interview all the drivers first, each time you come to an intersection? How do you know that when you flip a switch the light will "magically" come on? Do you have to do a scientific study before you believe it? Do your children? Why do you believe the Revolutionary War happened? Do you need repeatable scientific evidence to prove that? What is your threshold for belief in anything? Do you have a lab in your home?

    The warning about unbelief comes from the man you know as Jesus, and whom we know as God. You say you want mercy from Jesus. Mercy from what?

  21. Bill, you may (or may not) appreciate this:

  22. You can ask your questions and express your struggles without being deliberately insulting.


    I'm sorry. I don't mean to be insulting. Also, I don't mean to be nonresponsive to points that are made or questions asked. I'll work on it.

  23. it bothers me that I can't convince you that there is no downside to not believing something that is impossible without some kind of proof. Every being on this planet should feel totally free to disbelieve anything that is naturally impossible in the absence of proof.

    And it bothers me that I can't make an intellectual dent whenever we comb this topic a billion times over.

    There is not absence of proof. There's absence of believing the proof.
    You cannot run a lab test on Christ, nor can you run one on George Washington. But you accept fully the documents supporting George Washington's history and all that he accomplished, and on the exact same grounds, you refuse to believe the documents supporting Christ, his life, his death, his resurrection.

    You cannot run a lab test. The best you can do is look to the documentation. It's there. You are free to ignore it. But you aren't going to convince any of us from a "scientific method" approach that the gospels are false, because you've never employed one - because there isn't one.

    And, again, if you take nothing else away - please take this: You cannot make a negative declaration about God from evidence within the universe. At best, you can choose to refuse the gospels of your own will, but you cannot claim they are false or fictitious.

  24. Leila,

    I have stopped saying "Jesus, I trust in you" and trusting him to forgive me if my unbelief offends him. I can see now that I was using that as a way of covering my backside. But that isn't necessary anymore. I can clearly see that telling people that they will be punished or lose out somehow is for the sole purpose of making them believe. It serves no other purpose. Only a psychopath would be angered by people not believing in him without providing enough evidence. If there is a God, or if Jesus is God, he is not a psychopath. Can't you see that?

  25. Fear is not a driving variable for why people believe. Relationship is.

  26. Amen, Nubby, it comes down to a loving relationship with Jesus. Also, Bill, think of it not so much as a "punishment", but as a natural consequence. Just as a burned hand is a natural consequence of putting your hand on the hot stove, eternal separation from Christ is the natural consequence of you choosing to not believe in Jesus as God. God is a gentleman, never forcing Himself on us, and allows us to decide whether we want to be with Him forever in Heaven or not. So yeah, you have to believe in God to go to Heaven, not that difficult, Bill. It's in your power, your decisions.

    How else could it possibly work? We do whatever we please on Earth and then automatically go to Heaven without ever having to take responsibility for our lives or our actions?

  27. "Only a psychopath would be angered by people not believing in him without providing enough evidence."

    The Church utterly rejects your premises. 1) God is not "angered" at people not believing in Him (loving Him), though surely He is saddened. He hung on the Cross, rejected by His creatures… was He angry? That's not what I got! As Margo says, he is a gentleman and will not force our hands. And, 2) there is plenty of evidence and grace provided for all to know Him.

    Again, you are giving your opinions and nothing more. There has to be more to your argument than "I think…"

  28. Bill, I believe this was covered before, but maybe not.

    Jesus said, "Who loves me keeps my commands."

    Not, "Who is afraid of being smacked upside the head by me keeps my commands."

    It's love, Bill. The closer we get to Jesus (who also wants to be close to you), the more we are motivated by love. Not fear.

    Would you say that the following statement sums up your beliefs about people who read the Bubble?

    **The Catholics who read the Bubble, and Leila herself, believe in God because they are afraid of being sent to hell if they don't. They believe because they've been scared into it.**

    That is how I read all of your comments, and you seem to take a great deal of pride in that opinion.

    Anyhow, as I see we've made little progress with Bill after all this time, I wanted to comment on how beautiful the video is, Leila. It fills my heart with gratitude for being a Catholic. Yes, it is true, the majority of the people on this Earth don't ever receive Jesus, and it breaks my heart to know that that's true. I suppose that is partly our own fault. We could pray more, we could sacrifice more, we could attend more Masses ourselves, with the intention of asking God to bring more and more people into the Truth of the faith. We can ask God to turn the hearts of Catholics who don't care about the Church. But we also know that no matter who gets into heaven, the one and only reason they will get in is because Jesus Christ paid the price that opened the doors of heaven. Not one single person could have gotten in otherwise.

    One comment that I heard from Fulton Sheen helped a lot in my understanding of the fact that we are taking part in an Eternal Sacrifice. He said it's like a radio signal - it's always there, whether we are listening in or not, but when we are at Mass it's like being tuned into the radio station. He said it better, but it makes sense to me!

  29. Bill-

    We are never going to get anywhere if you can't acknowledge that scientific proof isn't the end all and be all. If I watch a kid take $10 dollars out of my coat, runs off and toss the money into the wind never to be seen again. Did it happen? I can't prove it except by my witness.

    I can't think up a experiment which will prove if the kid stole the money. In a court of law it will come down to credibility as all "he said/she said" conflicts do.

    But does it change what ACTUALLY happened? Does it change what I KNOW to be true even if I can't prove it by scientific standards? The whole world can call me a liar but does that make me a liar?

    Science is a wonderful thing. But it is limited to observable and repeatable occurrences. It has limitations.

  30. Beautifully said, Sharon!

    I'm going to try to bring your comments to mind the next time I am sad about the empty pews on Sunday.

    It was a beautiful video, Leila!

  31. I might have taken it a little too far bringing up the scientific method. That is not the appropriate mechanism for deriving the truth in matters such as this. I shouldn't keep playing devil's advocate and just admit that I have lost all interest in Catholicism. There is just too much to believe. I guess I am just looking for someone to convince me that I am wrong but then I just brush off everyone's advice. I have it in my head that there is no supernatural anything. I am a materialist and I am good with that. I have zero concern about the possibility that I am wrong. Sorry if I am frustrating you all. It's just where I'm at.

  32. Oh Bill! Reading your comments always makes me sad! You so wilfuly misunderstand our Church!

    It's *never* a case of fearing punishment from God. Other people have explained it so well on here, but here's a little anecdote for you :)

    I saw some supposedly 'hard guy' once with a tattoo on his back that said "I am only afraid of the things I'll do to myself." I scoffed and thought that he was an absolute idiot trying to be all philosophical with a freaking back tattoo. And then I thought about it. And actually, I do agree! Only *I* can put myself out of God's love, by an act of will. Only I can refuse to believe in Him and His love, only I can refuse to accept the grace He offers and to shun the sacraments. It is always up to *you*. Hell isn't some firey pit that God chucks you in because your list of good deeds isn't long enough. It's a place you *willingly go* because *you* say no to Him!

    Nor does God require our love to continue being God. If He did, He wouldn't be God haha! He made us out of love, and he patiently waits for us to find him, and when we do, how can we not love him?

    Thats what always strikes me when people ask, why do you love God? They want me to say 'because he provides for me...because he's my friend..because he understands me...' but those are never enough. Yes, God does all of those things, but if I only loved him because of what he could do for me, it would be the most selfish and empty kind of love. I love God because he IS love, and faced with such love, how can I not reciprocate?

    Anyway, my two cents. Leila, the video is BEAUTIFUL! :)

  33. I watched it twice and was moved to tears both times. If only everyone knew that the Mass opens a door to the timelessness of Heaven while we are still here on earth.
    To skeptical Catholics I say this: ask the Holy Spirit to help you offer a single Mass sincerely with a particular intention. Make sure you make some sacrifice on your part, say get up really early and read the readings for that day first and go to the earliest Mass. Then stand back and see what the Holy Spirit will do. But it must be sincere and prayed about first. I can't begin to explain to you the "spiritual physics" of the graces received through Mass offered in such a way. It's because we go there to give (praise, thanks, commitment) and mysteriously we receive (peace beyond understanding).

  34. Bill- Maybe you are getting a bit burnt-out on the intellectual side of things. Why not try to focus on the good the Church does? It sounds like you have a very active parish. Get involved with the good works and with the Christmas celebrations. Focus on helping the children, the parish and the community. When you start thinking "this is too much to believe" just offer that up and let it go. Don't dwell on it. Focus on action.

    I can hardly believe you would disagree with the Church's teachings on loving our neighbor. This time of year there is so much cheerfulness and goodwill. If you focus on your family and your parish you may find your intellectual doubts work themselves out if you give them a little space.

  35. I can hardly believe you would disagree with the Church's teachings on loving our neighbor.

    Of course I believe in that and I believe that those words about loving one's neighbor as one's self were truly spoken by Jesus. I believe that Jesus said most of what is repeated in the Gospels.

    I stopped attending my Catholic men's group when I stopped believing. They had a Christmas party last night and I went. To those I spoke with in one on one conversations, I told them I was now an atheist and we had good conversations. One said that I was the nicest atheist he ever met.

    I did not present my strongest case. Why would I want to and bring them down? My wife tells me to fake it till I make it, but I prefer to be honest and let the chips fall where they may.

  36. Beautiful video! The Mass for me has lots of reasons to believe it, but there is a large part that cannot be explained, but only experienced. All I can say is, once you have come to know Him in the breaking of the bread, there is no going back. I wish the whole world could experience it!

  37. "I believe that those words about loving one's neighbor as one's self were truly spoken by Jesus. I believe that Jesus said most of what is repeated in the Gospels."

    Again, on what basis do you believe that he spoke some things and not others?

  38. Bill, I don't believe you'd be here if you had no wish to taste the divine, and I know Our Lord has no wish to quench a smoldering wick. I hope you remain open! The assent of faith and the obedience to commandments elude you--you are not alone. He wants you to know Him personally--perhaps through reading the Gospels--and then assent and obedience will come from Love, not fear.

  39. Leila,

    There sayings credited to Jesus that, whether he actually said them in so many words or not, are consistent with his overall message. There is little doubt from Bible scholars whom I trust that he had a revolutionary message. He taught unconditional love, humility the power of belief. He did present himself as being one with the Father and probably did say things like "before Abraham was, I am". But, unlike you, I recognize the possibility of his being somewhat delusional about his divinity and the existence of the supernatural. I know that doesn't sit well with you, but that is because you don't put enough effort into looking for natural explanations before accepting supernatural ones.

  40. "There sayings credited to Jesus [by whom?] that, whether he actually said them in so many words or not, are consistent with his overall message [how do you know what his overall message was?]. There is little doubt from Bible scholars whom I trust [who are these scholars and why do you trust them?] that he had a revolutionary message [which was?]. He taught unconditional love, humility the power of belief [that is very vague, not enough to get someone crucified; and "power of belief" in what, exactly?]."


  41. "There sayings credited to Jesus [by whom?]

    By the writers of the four gospels.

    how do you know what his overall message was?].

    He preached the kingdom, which would not come about by physically overthrowing the Romans but by loving God and one another.

    Bible scholars whom I trust [who are these scholars and why do you trust them?]

    I trust most Bible scholars who have the appropriate credentials.

    he had a revolutionary message [which was?].

    Love. Trust in God as your Heavenly Father.

    He taught unconditional love, humility the power of belief [that is very vague, not enough to get someone crucified; and "power of belief" in what, exactly?].

    He probably got crucified for claiming to be the Messiah, which the Romans weren't going to tolerate. The power of believing is the power to move mountains (metaphorically). Faith is powerful. He was right about that.

  42. I trust most Bible scholars who have the appropriate credentials.

    What are appropriate credentials?

    Love. Trust in God as your Heavenly Father.

    What do you think Jesus meant by love? What does it mean to trust in God as our Heavenly Father?

  43. What are appropriate credentials?

    Example: a degree in Theology from an accredited college.

    What do you think Jesus meant by love?

    The love that you practice as the devout Catholic that you are.

    What does it mean to trust in God as our Heavenly Father?

    The trust that you practice.

  44. "By the writers of the four gospels."

    You have said numerous times that the gospels are not accurate, cannot be trusted as being true history. What gives?

    "He preached the kingdom, which would not come about by physically overthrowing the Romans but by loving God and one another."

    Whose kingdom, and where? What happens if someone does not love God?

    "Love. Trust in God as your Heavenly Father."

    And… that He was God, that He was here to die for our sins, that we must repent and believe in Him?

    "The power of believing is the power to move mountains (metaphorically)."

    Believing in what?

    And I second Margo: What are the appropriate credentials? Who has the authority to interpret Scripture?

  45. "Example: a degree in Theology from an accredited college."

    So… not the saints, the Doctors of the Church, the popes, the Magisterium throughout the ages, but a secular person in the 21st Century has the "right credentials"? How do you figure? What gives them the authority, and what particular scholars are you talking about? The Jesus Seminar folks? Because there are as many different opinions on the Bible and its meaning as there are Bible "scholars" in universities and seminaries. Whom do you believe and why? Who has the authority?

  46. So… not the saints, the Doctors of the Church, the popes, the Magisterium throughout the ages, but a secular person in the 21st Century has the "right credentials"?

    A scholar from Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, Yale, BC, Notre Dame, etc. would be more qualified than say Pope Francis or Saint Therese of Liseaux, don't you think? I know that you think that the latter are guided by the Holy Spirit but I will go with a masters or doctorate from a reputable school.

    1. My husband has his MA in Theolgy from Aquinas Institute of Theology, does that work? And for the record most priests receive an M.Div. Oh and where do you think these scholars learned how to read and study the Bible, The Church predates ALL of them.

  47. More qualified in what way?

    It's sort of like if a coroner examines my great-aunt Alice, as a dead body. Yes, he could say he has information about the dead corpse that lays before him. But can we really say that the coroner "knows" great-aunt Alice? Who would you go to for expertise on knowing who she was and what she was all about?

    It's not a perfect analogy, but I hope you get the point. The Bible belongs to the Church. Jesus is known intimately through the Church and by the saints. Academics can study the "body" (a dead book that they disbelieve) but that doesn't tell us anything about the soul or the heart of it….or the Person behind it.

    And you didn't answer: Which scholar or theologian do you believe? St. Jerome? St. Augustine? Pope Benedict? An believing evangelical/Protestant scholar? A Catholic heterodox scholar? A Catholic orthodox scholar?

    I can assure you there is a great divergence in scholarly opinion. Which academic holds the "truth" about the Bible, and how do you know? Where does his authority come from?

    And what does "reputable" school mean? (Especially these days... have you seen what the Ivys are teaching?)

    Your responses beg so many questions.

  48. So a reputable school trumps the Holy Spirit??

    Break it down, for me, Bill. In what ways does a reputable school provide a greater authority? What are the schools teaching that give them a better authority?

    How about Archbishop Fulton Sheen? He had a super-doctorate degree from Louvain. So, would you trust his authority? Is he qualified? Would you be interested in reading one of his books?

  49. Let's take the scholarship of the Jesus Seminar people. They set out to expose which words of Jesus were actually words he spoke, and which were fabrications. What was their criteria? Well, it distilled down to nothing more complicated than this: If Jesus spoke of something supernatural or miraculous, then (according to the scholars) was not authentic. How convenient.

    Of course, the bias there is that the "scholars" didn't believe in the supernatural themselves, so they went to dissect the "corpse" (so to speak) with that presupposition.

    How is that helpful or scholarly? How is that authoritative?

  50. (1/2)
    As usual, I'm late to the party.
    Anywho... I was reading through the comments and one struck something with me, Bill.
    You said: That's what the Church has done for two millennia. It has scared people into believing. I refuse to allow myself to be intimidated into believing things that are impossible.
    Now I could go into the cliche of, "With God, all things are possible." But somehow, I don't think you would be so easily swayed.

    However, what really bothered me about this statement and, in reality, pretty much all of you comments thus far -is that you imply that I believe in God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God born of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit, (the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting - Amen!) because I fear a hell-fire torturous afterlife, that, in your mind, is actually made up by the Church in order to scare us all into doing what they(?) tell us to do.

    I grew up in an atheist/agnostic household. The kind of household that modern day atheists(anti-theists) and agnostics think every child should grow up in. Science was reveled as the end-all, be-all of human achievements. Religion was simply faith-based systems used by people to arrive at truths science hadn't come up with the answers to yet. I knew, offhandedly of course, about Christians and Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus, as well as that there were many various religions in Africa, among Native American peoples, Aboriginal peoples of Australia, and various sects of other Oriental religions (for lack of a better descriptor). Nothing was "pushed" on me. In fact, nothing was really ever said about any of them except a random answer here or there to a random question I might have while listening to the news. There were no specifics and certainly no discussion of "brimstone and damnation."

    I was completely absent of a religion, despite attending a Catholic High school, which I did solely because it was the best high school in the state at the time and I needed to get out of the public high school I was attending the end of my freshman year.
    In fact it was attending that Catholic high school that made me well aware that one need not be Catholic or even religious to be what the world considers "a good person". Most of my classmates and darn near all of my teachers assumed I was Catholic (They told me as such when they discovered I wasn't Catholic at the baccalaureate Mass we had when I didn't receive communion. The mass was required, it was where they handed out the honors ribbons for graduation. (Yes I graduated with honors.)) They all thought I was Catholic because I was that quintessential do-gooder, helped everyone, never had a bad thing to say about anyone or anything, never complained, always seemed happy, go-lucky, if not quirky and a little weird (Okay a lot weird, let's be real.)

    The point is no one ever spoke to me about hell, or damnation, eternal torture or whatever. They either didn't care because they don't believe (my parents) or they must've already thought I knew because they though I was already Catholic to begin with (everyone else).

  51. (2/2)
    So no, Bill, I am certainly not Catholic because the Church, made me fear hell. I became Catholic, I am Catholic, for one reason only. The Holy Spirit came to me, and spoke with me, invited me into a relationship with Jesus Christ, a relationship that I'm still, nearly 15 years later, working on (it's a work in a progress).

    I do fear hell now, not because the Church says to fear Hell. Not because the Church says that if I don't believe I land in hell. I fear Hell now, because I love Jesus Christ, and the thought that my own sinful self, MY sinful choices, could separate me from that relationship is terrifying. That every time I fail to rely on God and Christ and think that I know more/better than The Holy Trinity, I (Me, Myself, and...) separate myself from Them.

    For whatever reason, Bill you have either not experienced a personal encounter with God, or you have and you don't realize that's what it is/was, or you have and you know that's what it is, but you're trying to find any reason not to listen to it anyway for any number of reasons. My recommendations would be 3-fold:

    1: Watch this -

    2: Read anything and everything you can by G.K. Chesterton. You seem like an intelligent guy, so feel free to jump in with Orthodoxy.

    3. Read everything you can by the Early Church Fathers all the way up to and through St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica

    The only thing I ask, and I'm not saying you really are doing this but it certainly seems as though you are: Let go of the idea that you, Bill, in 2013, are more intelligent than any and all of the Saints and theologians who have come before you and let them teach you.
    There is a reason why Pride is at the top of the list of the 7 deadly sins.

  52. Bethany, thank you! That was not only fascinating, but edifying! I hope Bill takes you up on the suggestions.

  53. Thank you, that video you posted is beautiful! I really like Fr. Barron's video. I came across it a couple of weeks ago and I've cited it several times since then. Holy Spirit at work. Veni Sancte Spiritus!

  54. Bethany, I have been looking for a Fr. Barron video that addressed this issue precisely and now you have given it to me! Yay!

  55. And Fr. Barron's ending, ha ha! Wow! "And I'm accused of magical thinking??"

    Also, the part about it being an error of categories, amen.

  56. Let me restate this:

    There is little doubt from Bible scholars (whom I trust) that he had a revolutionary message. He taught unconditional love, humility the power of belief.

    Too much concern about who these scholars are. Jesus taught love, humility and the power of belief (e.g., positive thinking). He didn't teach that he was God except to those closest to him, supposedly. His real message to all of us were the Our Father, Sermon on the Mount, etc. He didn't have to be a god to teach us how to live more peacefully with one another. Sorry, I can't answer all your questions right now.

  57. Bill, I'm the simpleton of the group, but I'm confused. You say you're an atheist but you don't seem like a Christian or an atheist to me. How can you say you don't believe in God but that you will trust Him to forgive you for not believing? Not challenging you, just looking for some clarification. It seems contradictory to me.

  58. Just popping in to ask if those of you who celebrate St. Nick's feast day will also be partaking in any kind of traditions on the eve of St. Nick including Krampus, the horned hairy beast who takes care of the naughty kids?

  59. Miss G, I've never heard of it.

    Bill, you say that Jesus taught us how to live more peacefully with one another. But what do the scholars (or you) make of these words of Jesus in the Gospel (Matthew 10)?

    “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.

    For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother,
    and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.

    Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

  60. I'm pretty sure Krampus was protestant. Our house does celebrate Rudolph's triumph and Yukon Cornelius' capture of the Abominable Snowmonster.

  61. LOL!

    I'd never heard of the Krampus tradition (apparently popular in Alpine European countries) until today:

  62. I learn something new every day! Thanks, Miss G! That is one scary dude.

  63. I don't think I've ever been to a Catholic mass, except a couple of Catholic weddings. Probably a dumb question, but are there different masses, or are they all exactly the same? And who wrote the original mass and when did the first one happen? Thanks.

  64. Johanne, not a dumb question at all. Jesus instituted the first mass at the Last Supper on the Thursday night passover meal before He died. The first mass was a passover meal. The essentials (the prayers, the offering, the thanksgiving, the Eucharist confected, priests presiding) are the same as they always have been, but the rubrics (language, posture, etc.) have changed and grown. The substance is the same. Here is something St. Justin Martyr wrote in the first century of Christianity, which any mass-going Catholic will recognize:

    It's late and I am sure by the time I wake up, others will have added more and better answers!

    1. And, every day around the globe, the readings of the Mass are the same, and the same Eucharist is being confected, so yes, a Catholic is immediately at home (and in the same flow of prayers and readings) as every other Catholic. From the Pope in Rome to a village in Africa, it's the same readings/prayers/feast days/Eucharist.

    2. In other words, when we say Catholic means "universal", it really does! :)

  65. Miss G, funny that you should ask about Krampus. I will indeed attend a Krampus event tonight, though sadly the tradition is being slowly phased out in Austria. It supposedly traumatizes the children. When I grew up in the countryside, some 40 years ago, Krampus was the companion of St. Nicholas who would chastise the children for their misdeeds during the year. Sure we were scared, but also thrilled, a great adrenaline kick! We did not have Halloween (it's slowly being introduced now, obviously as a commercial, non-Christian event), so the effect on the kids may have been the same as scary Halloween masks? For us kids, Krampus represented the devil (indeed the article refers to the alternative expression of "Tuifl" in Tyrol, which is dialect for Teufel or devil in English), the dark side, the one to keep away from, as opposed to the cheerful and good St. Nicholas. Today, Krampus is sadly mostly an occasion for the secularized (in the cities) to make fun of old traditions and get a fake thrill, comparable to the thrill some people seem to get from dressing up as little devils in an erotic context. The pics in the article mix up different occasions, the Perchten for example who chase away the winter ghosts (indeed a pagan tradition, unlike St. Nicholas) run through the villages in early January, not December, and have nothing to do with tomorrow's feast.

    St. Nicholas is still being celebrated here on Dec. 6, while on Christmas Eve (called Holy Night or Holy Evening here) the Christ child used to bring the gifts (and still does in our family). The Christ child (Christkind in German) is also being replaced by Santa Claus (the original St. Nicholas, whose feast is tomorrow) with ongoing secularization. He is a largely commercial figure here in Europe.

  66. Great questions, Johanne.

    As Leila mentioned, the Last Supper was the original Mass, most likely spoken in Aramaic or Hebrew.
    As Christianity spread, the language was, of course, translated.

    In the earliest periods, the word "Mass" wasn't used. Eucharistia (thanksgiving) was the term used before Missa (Mass).

    Tracing the exact answer to, "who wrote the first Mass" isn't at all cut and dry as far as liturgical direction or formula, so we look to Fathers of the Church (men like Justin Martyr and Clement). The formula for public worship evolved, and the Divine truth was always preserved, presented (prayers, responses, rituals, etc.) and celebrated with the breaking of the bread as the climax. There arose two main rites that came out of that original Mass for the West- the Gallican and the Roman rites. If you're interested, I can post some links or suggestions.

    One of the many beautiful realities of the Catholic Church is that no matter which rite you celebrate, you are in a universal celebration at that table of the Lord that reaches across the globe, geographically, and reaches back in time, historically. It further unites all Catholics in the present moment, and has a future spiritual component on the world to come

  67. Thank you Sebastian! I had never heard of Krampus until yesterday. It definitely puts Santa's "naughty and nice" list in perspective.

  68. Sebastian, that is so neat (and sad that it's being secularized)! Thank you for sharing that! I love my European readers piping in with things I didn't know about.

    And Nubby, thank you! I am glad you brought up the rites, because although the rites are different around the world (with the Roman rite being the most predominant), the Eucharist is the same. One Bread, One Body -- we partake of the same Bread of Life (Jesus), and are present at the eternal Sacrifice of the Cross together.

    I love that (save for Good Friday) there is never an hour on earth that the Mass is not celebrated, the Sacrifice not offered.

    I also love to read what St. Paul says about the mass in the Scriptures (1 Cor 10 - 11):

    "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf."

    "For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
    Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself."

    That is the same as today, including the very words of consecration, given by Christ, and the need for examination of conscience and discerning the True Presence before approaching the altar.

    This is a nice short piece about those passages:

  69. When I was coming back into the church, one of the questions I had arose from a challenge by a Protestant friend. He would say" everything Catholics do is based on traditions of men". We agreed finally that tradition was simply the agreed upon form and the closer to Apostolic time the more authentic.
    You see where this is going!
    The last supper and the entire Eucharistic component come from The Lord and the men at that table. The traditions of men started with Paul (Cor 10) and the Apostles. Different liturgies developed in many regions with almost identical form. In other words, they all came from the last supper table. The liturgy of the Word has all Jewish roots which most likely was recited by memory at mass.
    I remember the first time I read the Didache (70ad-90ad approx). These words were stunning to me, " lift up your hearts" " we lift them up to The Lord " " let us give thanks to The Lord our God" "it is right and just"!
    I just about freaked. Said those words my whole life and often thought, and when I was older it seamed so primitive and ritualistic. Well, it is. Those same words have been chanted in secret upper rooms, in catacombs, in holding cells in the coliseum, in open fields, in Cathedrals , in the gulag, in the concentration camp, in the dark with one man in a prison cell and with three million people at world youth day an at my church every morning.
    Same words, so powerful.

  70. Chris, exactly! I have friend who is a Church history scholar. From the age of about 20 to 35, he left the Catholic Church and became an evangelical Protestant and fervent anti-Catholic. After years of study, he came back to the Catholic Church. He is such a good historian, and unbiased in the facts, that he was hired to teach (of all things!) Reformation and Church history at a Protestant college for many years.

    He told me that he could always tell the ex-Catholics in the classroom when he read from the early Fathers. He would read the words of Christians and martyrs from nearly two millennia ago, and the students who suddenly had their jaws slack and their eyes like saucers were the ex-Catholics, recognizing the very words from the mass of their childhoods, the Faith that they left! Never failed. (And there are many ex-Catholic evangelicals out there, so it was "fun" for him each time!)

    What was really neat was the day he got invited to debate a Protestant young scholar (also a friend of mine) at our local mega-church evangelical seminary school. I and about four other Catholic friends got to sit in on it! We were in classroom full of Protestants who were very convinced that the Church was the Whore of Babylon, and they had their (distorted, wrong) anti-Catholic tracts in front of them (they had gotten bad stuff as hand-outs and "ammunition"). It was uncomfortable to know how much crap about the Church they had been served up. But the debate went on, and it was intense but civil, and sure enough… as soon as Chuck started reading from the Fathers about the mass and the Eucharist, several in the class were sitting there, silent, no more questions asked, slack jawed. They had heard and recognized the Faith of their childhood, echoed in the words of the earliest Church Fathers! It was awesome and seeds were planted! I wanted to giggle, but stifled it….

  71. I know that giggle, Leila. It's the same one that rose up in me when a duo of evangelizing men came to my door, spoke for about five minutes, asked if I believed in the thought of an afterlife, and believed in the bible, then asked if they could quote me a scripture passage. I said gleefully, "Sure." So one of them read to me about the second coming of the Lord, I smiled, nodded, said, 'thank you', all the while the giggle stifled, the thought trumpeted in my head, "That book you're quoting from? Yeah, my Church gave you that."
    I love when they stop by...One of these days the Lord is going to take me to task and engage them on Church history - I just know He'd do something like that, haha.

  72. Bethany,

    Thank you for your advice and the link to the Father Barron video. I don't know if you notice this, but when people argue about there being a God with atheists, they use a different God than the one described in Genesis and the rest of the Bible so as to not give the atheists anything to point out as useless nonsense. Just an observation.

  73. Bill,

    Have you ever noticed that when atheists (and fundamental evangelicals) argue about there could not possibly be a God (or about how the earth was formed 6000 years ago) that they seemingly confuse the word inerrant with infallible, and more obviously they seem to forget the concept of literary devices and how one might employ them. The Bible is neither an infallible history book nor a science textbook. It is the inerrant Word of God. Inerrant means without error.

    Given that Jesus spoke often in parables, really just a fancy word for advanced metaphors, then why is it so hard to believe that God would both speak and act in metaphor as well.

    Secondly, God, for the people who are arguing that he exists, are speaking from personal experience, from their personal relationship with God. You and any and all atheists can tell me until you all are blue in the face that God doesn't exist, I KNOW that he does, because I have a relationship with Him. If you and the rest of the atheists in the world need physical/tangible/senses evidence-based proof, that's on you, not me.

    Sorry to be so blunt, I'm a little distracted. We're trying to get the house cleaned up so we can finally get out our Advent decorations. Nothing like being a week behind. *sighs*

  74. Bill, that is patently untrue. Fr. Barron and the others are very much "using" the same God as the God of the Bible, the Christian God.

    Are you claiming that Fr. Barron does not believe in the Christian God, the God of the Bible? What do you think he would say if you told him your theory (that he doesn't believe in the God of the Bible)?

  75. Leila,

    You misunderstand what I am saying. I know that Fr. Barron believes in the Christian God. But the God he presents to atheist is a kind of "Teflon God". It is not the God described in the Bible even though we know that is the God he believes in. As soon as an atheist tries to describe the God that they don't believe in, using the Bible to do it, the apologist will say that they don't believe in that God either. They describe God as a first cause or some other vague attribute. Then the atheist has to try to prove that there is no first cause. They never describe a God requiring sacrifices or having a chosen people or being present in a consecrated wafer because that would give the atheist something to shoot down.

  76. But Bill, that's the point. Atheists want to jump straight to God as some "big guy in the sky" or just the "biggest being in the room", when He's not that. So, we have to go back to the foundations of Who God is. We back up all the way, so that we can talk about the same concept of God. Once that is cleared up (should the atheist accept the premise), then we can show how that God is presented in the Bible, etc.

    But we start with Square One, foundational understanding. We can't skip that, esp. with the folks who do not believe He exists at all and who only speak of Him in erroneous terms and understandings.

  77. Leila,

    What you are saying makes a lot of sense. But after you do establish that there is some kind of being or essence or intelligence that you call God, going from that to saying "you can learn all about him in the Bible and in the Catholic Catechism is a conversation stopper. There is no Segway from that supreme being to Yaweh, Jesus, etc. If I say I believe in God. The next thing I have to say is that he/she/it has been grossly misrepresented by the Jews, Christians and Muslims.

  78. They never describe a God requiring sacrifices or having a chosen people or being present in a consecrated wafer because that would give the atheist something to shoot down.

    I don't understand this statement, because the Saints do this all the time.
    From St. Therese's Little Way, to St. Thomas Aquinas' accidents vs. substance (Summa Theologica).

    I again, implore you, Bill, to read, Read, READ, the Early Church Fathers, the Didache, St. Irenaeus, all the way up to and through Summa Theologica (and don't leave out St. Augustine, though sometimes I think he's pride shows through his writings WAAAAY too much.) And stop reading your "scholars" who really don't know much of anything about the Church. That's like reading Kierkegaard and expecting to understand Calculus. Or reading a chemistry textbook and expecting to understand Shakespeare's Sonnets. It ain't gonna happen.

  79. My wife has achieved the distinguished honor of having the JW's finally shake the dust from their sandles. She would invite them in for 30 minutes at a shot. I always missed out. It's hilarious. Now they walk by our house, look at the clip board and just keep walking. I can imagine the Google maps satellite photo with a big red X over our house. Hahaha.
    I love my Protestant brothers. I really do. I just wish they could look at things with clear eyes and open minds regarding historical facts. Someday, I believe, we will enjoy a great reunion. Both sides should always be reaching out. I'll start in my own house by retracting everything I taught the kids about Krampus being the Protestant St.Nick. Thanks for setting me straight Sebastrian.

  80. Leila,

    You mentioned the book of Matthew in which Jesus said that he didn't come to bring peace but a sword. I think that he meant that there would be a cost in following him. Those who didn't want change would resist it causing rifts in families and friendships and a loss of peace in that sense. But his overall message was still one that brought peace to the world. I have no trouble calling him the Prince of Peace and the most important being that ever lived. My not accepting the supernatural does not diminish my admiration of Jesus the man.

  81. ^ Bill, because you are so well qualified to interpret the Bible, and whatever you think Jesus meant *must* be what he meant. /sarcasm. How are you qualified to interpret the Bible? Where are your multiple degrees in Theology and Aramaic and Hebrew and Greek and ancient culture that qualify you to make that kind of pronouncement on what Scripture *really* means?

    You demand 'qualified' (using very narrow criteria that mean nothing in the grand scheme of the world and it's hugely long history) opinions from the rest of us, and then blithely submit your own opinion as fact. You think your opinion is reasonable , but you have nothing to back it up, just your opinion that because you say it, it is therefore reasonable.

    Jesus was a man who said he was God. This is a pretty fundamental part of what he said, being that it got him killed. If you pick and choose what you believe about what he said, then you aren't really admiring Jesus the man, you're admiring how you want Jesus the man to have been.

  82. Critic,

    What you are doing is making it difficult for non-believes to appreciate all the good that has come from the ministry of Jesus. So we don't consider him to be anything but one of us humans. Isn't that reason enough to celebrate his birth and follow his teachings? You're saying that we can't admire Jesus for who he really was, which is obvious, without worshipping him as God, which is a religious belief of about 1 of every 7 people on the planet. 6 of 7 people do not worship Jesus as a god.

  83. Bill, 30% of the world is Christian, not 'one in seven'. About one in five, one in six are *Catholic* though. Just so you know to get your facts straight :)

    If people think Jesus wasn't God, then they really ought to read some C S Lewis, specifically the beautifully logical part about Jesus being either Lunatic, Liar, or Lord.
    If he lied about being God to become popular (or whatever), then how can you trust anything else he said? If he truly believed he was God but he wasn't, then he was a lunatic and how can you trust what he said? and so on. Lewis says it well.

    'Who do you say I am?' is probably one of the most important questions in the Bible Bill. You should really look up that passage and reflect on the answers given, and who Jesus gave the prize to for the right answer (hint, it wasn't the people who said he was just a prophet!)


  84. Hi Bill,

    I just read that recent article at Strange Notions, and it occurred to me that it was written just for you.

    It's, among other things, about the reasonableness or otherwise, of believing in miracles. A quick and easy read. Enjoy!

  85. Critic,

    People like you and Lewis make the erroneous assumption that the gospels, which were written many years later, accurately record those things that were done and said by Jesus and his disciples. From these less than reliable sources you establish your worldview which includes the belief that Jesus is God.

  86. Bill,

    Do you know anything about ancient memory, and how it was preserved, in a time when most people couldn't read? Do you know anything about the oral tradition? The gospels were written at a time when Jesus was still in living memory, and had they been wrong they would have been corrected. There's a reason there are only four gospels in the bible, although many were written! :)

    And if the gospels were indeed 'inaccurate' as you claim (without any evidence whatsoever to back it up, might I add, we're once again being treated to Bill's Opinion Is Fact Because He Says So) then how can you say that you like Jesus the man?

  87. Critic,

    Jesus the man most definitely changed the course of history. When the Roman Empire was overrun by barbarians, the Church started by Jesus and built up by Paul was there to civilize them. You trust in the accuracy of oral tradition. That's fine.

    When I first stopped believing, I stopped looking at Jesus as being relevant. I now realize that he didn't have to be a god to have the impact that he did on the world. He just had to be promoted as one. I don't look at Jesus as a god because men are real and gods are imaginary.

    But it has been a significant step for me to recognize that even though I don't see Jesus as God, I do see him as the single most important person in human history.


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