01 April, 2013

Catholic needing help against critics

(John) “Here's the thing, I love languages deeply coming from a multicultural background myself, particularly I love Spanish and Arabic. To practice my speaking skills I have friends from countries where such languages are spoken. Consequently, by learning Arabic, Islam is not far behind. The Muslims believe that their Prophet (Muhammad) was visited by the Arc Angel Gabriel with the word of God and told Muhammad to read, Muhammad being illiterate said he couldn't. My friend directed me to this quote (Isaiah 29:12 Douay-Rheims) And the book shall be given to one that knoweth no letters, and it shall be said to him: Read: and he shall answer: I know no letters. I do not understand who Isaiah is talking about, please could you help me.”

(Cristoiglesia) Isaiah is not prophesying a prophet of God at all in these verses. What is being prophesied is future punishment for Israel. In verses 10-11 it is prophesied that the prophets will have their eyes sealed and those of vision will be asleep to the truth. God will no longer communicate to them divine teaching. These men will no longer desire that which is revealed by God but will be sealed by their own lack of desire to hear the voice of God. Verses 12-13 speaks of someone who’s heart is far from God. I would think that Muslims would be insulted by the fact that this passage which if applied to Muhammad reveals that such a person is not of God. The prophet clearly is prophesying a disobedient Israel. It speaks of a time when understanding will be removed from those who disobey as a punishment. To put it simply contextually it is impossible to be prophetic teaching of the prophet about Muhammad but instead it is about the punishment of an apostate Israel.

Isaiah 29:1-13 DRB

1 Woe to Ariel, to Ariel the city which David took: year is added to year: the solemnities are at an end.

2 And I will make a trench about Ariel, and it shall be in sorrow and mourning, and it shall be to me as Ariel.

3 And I will make a circle round about thee, and will cast up a rampart against thee, and raise up bulwarks to besiege thee.

4 Thou shalt be brought down, thou shalt speak out of the earth, and thy speech shall be heard out of the ground: and thy voice shall be from the earth like that of the python, and out of the ground thy speech shall mutter.

5 And the multitude of them that fan thee, shall be like small dust: and as ashes passing away, the multitude of them that have prevailed against thee.

6 And it shall be at an instant suddenly. A visitation shall come from the Lord of hosts in thunder, and with earthquake, and with a great noise of whirlwind and tempest, and with the flame of devouring fire.

7 And the multitude of all nations that have fought against Ariel, shall be as the dream of a vision by night, and all that have fought, and besieged and prevailed against it.

8 And as he that is hungry dreameth, and eateth, but when he is awake, his soul is empty: and as he that is thirsty dreameth, and drinketh, and after he is awake, is yet faint with thirst, and his soul is empty: so shall be the multitude of all the Gentiles, that have fought against mount Sion.

9 Be astonished, and wander, waver, and stagger: be drunk, and not with wine: stagger, and not with drunkenness.

10 For the Lord hath mingled for you the spirit of a deep sleep, he will shut up your eyes, he will cover your prophets and princes, that see visions.

11 And the vision of all shall be unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which when they shall deliver to one that is learned, they shall say: Read this: and he shall answer: I cannot, for it is sealed.

12 And the book shall be given to one that knoweth no letters, and it shall be said to him: Read: and he shall answer: I know no letters.

13 And the Lord said: Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips glorify me, but their heart is far from me, and they have feared me with the commandment and doctrines of men:  

(John) My second question is about Protestantism. Recently I have become close to Mary and the Rosary, I try to pray it daily (but I'm not perfect). I love the devotion as it brings me happiness and clarity yet many protestants in my philosophy class tell me that not only the Virgin Mary was a sinful woman, my Rosary is an act against God (as they see my prayer to Mary as worship) and no more than a vain repetition. I try to keep my beliefs to myself but it seems as though they seek a reaction. Please can you help me with this matter also.

(Cristoiglesia) Of course, I can help you by explaining to you their errors based not on intellect or scholarship but derived by nothing more than an innate prejudice. It is good that you focus yourself on Christ and His redemptive work on the cross by praying the Rosary which focuses us on Christ’s passion and suffering so that we will develop a deeper relationship with Him through our spirit receiving His Spirit as a result of our understanding and in a deepening devotion as a result of the realities of His suffering revealed by our contemplative prayer.

I am sorry that you have to suffer the attacks on the blessed mother of God but Jesus warned us that the world would hate us as it hated Him. As a result the blessed mother is often a focus of this hatred as she was the epitome of human perfection having been saved from sin at her conception by her Son in preparation for being the God bearer. She was indeed free from sin just as the angel at the annunciation professed.

 Now let's look at the issue of blessed mother's sinless nature. Consider that when the angel addresses the blessed mother at the annunciation, the greeting is almost a name change:

"Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women" (Luke 1:28, KJV).

Mary (Miriam in Hebrew) means "beloved." In biblical times a person's name reflected what they were. Name changes have great theological significance in the Bible and this is almost as if her name is being changed from "beloved" to "thou that art highly favored." Since this is before Jesus has been conceived, to what is the angel referring? No doubt to her singular devotion to God, forsaking all earthly distractions and desecrations, and the fact that she had been conceived without sin in preparation for this event.

Being conceived without sin does not mean that the blessed mother had no need of a redeemer. In fact, like every descendant of Adam, the blessed mother had vital need of a redeemer. The blessed mother's freedom from original sin was an unmerited gift of God in that she was redeemed by Christ at the moment of her conception. It is at the moment of conception that God creates the soul and hers was created in a state of sanctifying grace. If you had the opportunity to create your mother, wouldn't you make her perfect in every way? This is why there are the doctrines of the perpetual virginity and Immaculate Conception of Mary.

Jesus refers to the blessed mother's sinless nature when He addresses her as "woman" in John 2:4 and 19:26. Today, one looks at Him addressing her in this manner and thinks this is disrespectful or that He is admonishing her. In fact, the blessed mother was not the first sinless woman, Adam's wife was also created sinless. When she was first created, Adam named her "woman" (Genesis 2:23). It was after the fall, when she was no longer sinless, that her name was changed to "Eve" (Genesis 3:20). By referring to the blessed mother as "woman," Jesus is recognizing her sinless nature. Like I said earlier, name changes in Holy Scripture are important.

It is sad that your colleagues have such a prejudice against the mother of God that they call our asking her to pray for us as worship directed to her instead of God. In the context of our actions in praying the Rosary the word “pray” can most accurately be defined as “ask”. Obviously they have a lack of knowledge about the Rosary prayer in particular and the purpose of intercessory prayer in general. Intercessory prayer is when we ask another to pray for us in the sense of being our prayer partner. Most of the critics like your colleagues would have no difficulty asking another to pray for them or to honor a request from another to “pray” for them. Only prejudice keeps them from conceiving that prayer to one of the Church Triumphant is , in fact, taught in Scripture which tells us that the prayers of the righteous are of great benefit. We can be certain that the intercessor prayer of the blessed mother to her Son can be beneficial as we have the example of the blessed mother making a request at the wedding of Cana and Christ granting her prayer to Him. Indeed, water became wine as a result of her intercession.

It is disingenuous for anyone to state that the practice of praying for each other has no biblical foundation, we are instructed in Scripture to have a prayer life for others as it is part of God’s commandment to love one another.

(2Co 5:8 DRB) But we are confident and have a good will to be absent rather from the body and to be present with the Lord.

The Catholic Church does not teach that it is absolutely necessary for one to ask for the intercession of saints for salvation. The Church does teach that prayer to God is necessary for salvation for all believers. For a Catholic it would be wrong to ignore the liturgical worship offered to God at feast days for the saints and the prayers asking for their intercession.

The Communion of Saints is a dogma of the ancient Church and is recorded in the apostles Creed. It simply states that the faithful because of their relationship with Christ are alive even after the death of their flesh and worship with us. To us the Church is made up of the Church militant who represents all those believers living out their hope in the flesh.

(Phi 2:12 DRB) Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only but much more now in my absence) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.

(Phi 2:13 DRB) For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will.

It consists of the Church Suffering who are those who are temporarily in need of further purgation from sin so that they may enjoy the presence of God.

(2Ma 12:46 DRB) It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.

Lastly, the Communion of the Saints consists of those who have won the race:

(Phi 3:14 DRB) I press towards the mark, to the prize of the supernal vocation of God in Christ Jesus.

Their immortal souls are in heaven in God’s presence:

(Rev 5:8 DRB) And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

The universal stream connecting all of God’s creation is His love, which we take on in our baptism into our journey towards sanctification. This is not an emotional but a desire placed in us by the Spirit of God that endures as a desire for those other than ourselves and this love extends even to our enemies. This is truly a love that comes only from God and is a foreign concept and nonsense to those who have not received God’s salvific grace. This desire within our souls does not end with the death of our flesh but continues into eternity where the saints through their intercession in prayer encourage us in our race and assist us to endure unto our union with God.

I think that some people of faith, who do not understand the Communion of Saints, somehow believe that asking saints to pray for us is detracting from our love or our trust in God. In truth it is impossible, if we truly love as God commands and has given us the grace to understand, not to pray to those whom we love and in turn we expect them to return that same love to us by praying for us and presenting our prayers to God.

Accusing you of praying vainly when you pray the Rosary prayer without knowing your heart is a personal attack against you. How can they know your heart as they suppose. Please inform them that your prayers are in no way done vainly as is prohibited in Scriptures. By the example of Jesus praying before His crucifixion we know that repetitive prayers are acceptable. Furthermore make it clear to them that asking another person to pray for you or to be your prayer partner, which is what we do when we ask the blessed mother to pray for us, is encouraged in Scriptures rather than discouraged.

(John)I am going to run out of space soon so I will stick with these questions for now. God Bless

(Cristoiglesia) God bless you also. May our Lord be with you.

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

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