28 November, 2013

Commentary on “Evangelii Gaudium” by Pope Francis

“No to an economy of exclusion
53. Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

“54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and na├»ve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.”

Matthew 26:11 For the poor you have always with you: but me you have not always.

Mark 14:7 For the poor you have always with you: and whensoever you will, you may do them good: but me you have not always.

John 12:8 For the poor you have always with you; but me you have not always.

As those of you who follow my writings know It is very rare for me to write about current events. However, I am making an exception here to not try to clarify what the Pope has said but to instead give an alternative perspective to the problem in society in regards to the poor. I agree with Pope Francis that the poor are often ignored and marginalized in all systems of government and all economic models. A solution to this problem has not been found in the 2000 year history of the Church whether the Church has been in a position of direct influence of government or just a moral conscience of government.But clearly according to the teaching of Jesus we are to be a moral conscience always and teach not only charity towards the poor but demand respect for their plight in society. Surely, as Christians, we are called to be charitable to the poor and to also do what we can to influence all segments of society in the plight of the poor so that they can be given not only the excess of prosperity but also the fruit of prosperity. We must also be aware that the prophetic words of the Bible recorded by these three disciples of our Lord is the reality of how society consists and will consist for all times. So, a call to be charitable by all people whether people of faith or not is appropriate by not only the Church but also by government. No one should suffer hunger or lack of shelter  in our society regardless of the economic system in place. It has been my experience that regardless of the economic system the poor are with us and that more charity is needed towards the poor among us.

In the United States, "Trickle down economics” is a Democrat invention as it was first tried by John Kennedy, a Catholic, and it created a great economic expansion in the US. It was not tried again until it was tried by Reagan to thwart a near economic collapse caused by the Keynesian policies of the Democrat predecessors. This time it created the greatest and longest economic expansion in world history which lasted through the Clinton administration and was only ended by a return to the failed Keynesian policies of the past.

It is a fact that when people of faith prosper that more is given to the poor. Charity increases to the poor that will always be among us. Governmental economic systems historically regardless of ideology do little to help the plight of the poor but instead it is the heart of the individual that is moved to reach out to the poor among us with charity. The Church has a place to be the leader and example of charity and the teaching of our Lord and Savior tells us that we are to be there for our fellow men. May we as a Church be an example to the world and to governments in giving to the need of those who are among the poor.  Government has no neighbors but we as individuals do and  through our charity we corporeally can make a difference to the poor for there is no conscience in government equal to the conscience of the individual moved by God’s divine grace in our individual and corporeal lives. To depend on government to make a difference in the lives of the poor actually betrays the call of Christ to be charitable and loving to those who for whatever reason do not prosper in any society. There is no system of government that does or can eliminate the poor among us but we can do better with our love and charity to our fellow men.

Pope Francis is neither an economist nor a financial expert. He is a man of God and equipped to speak out against ignoring the plight of the poor. The poor will always be among us and that is not the result of any economic policy. All that the Church can do or the faithful individually is to be charitable to those who have not been as fortunate as some. For the Pope to speak out against greed and for charity is not a political statement but one of morality. Wealth is not immoral but greed and envy is immoral.

Romans 12:6-8

6 And having different gifts, according to the grace that is given us, either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith;
7 Or ministry, in ministering; or he that teacheth, in doctrine;
8 He that exhorteth, in exhorting; he that giveth, with simplicity; he that ruleth, with carefulness; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

I think that most Catholics  would agree wholeheartedly with Pope Francis’ call for charity and for evangelism as they are both sides to the same coin.

Proverbs 28:27

27 He that giveth to the poor, shall not want: he that despiseth his entreaty, shall suffer indigence.

Both lay and clergy do what we can to further the efforts of evangelism. There does need to be more involvement in the laity in evangelism as the clergy is already burdened with being shepherds for their flocks. The laity must become more involved in catechistical training and efforts to reach out to non-Catholics with the true Gospel message from the bark of the Church from which all men are saved from sin through the grace of the Sacraments of our Lord.

He seems very concerned about the poor of which all Christians should share that same concern. However, social engineering is not the mission of the Church and the Church can become sidetracked by such secular issues that the Church has little if any ability to change. The very efforts of the Church in the secular environment may inhibit the poor more in their struggles than helping them. What the Church can do is be an example of mercy and of generosity in continuing and increasing our charitable activities for the needy and the poor in the world. It is better to focus on what we can do rather than trying to influence the world to do better.

Proverbs 14:21

21 He that despiseth his neighbour, sinneth: but he that sheweth mercy to the poor, shall be blessed. He that believeth in the Lord, loveth mercy.

The spirit of the world is not the Spirit that inspires us as Christians and we follow a different leader. The world will never conform to the mission of the Church but the poor of the world will benefit from a increased effort of our charity. I think that the real message of Pope Francis here is that we should renew and emphasize our evangelism efforts as the way to make the world better for all people.

1 John 3:17

17 He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shall shut up his bowels from him: how doth the charity of God abide in him?

To know Christ is to know love which is woefully lacking in the world and only the Church can fill this need for love in Christ. We can make a difference by being an example to the world and that "shining city on a hill that cannot be hid".

Forgive me Holy Father

God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

03 November, 2013

Discussion with one named Bobijo about bearing false witness against others

(This conversation originated by my being lovingly critical of Bobijo bearing false witness against Catholic teaching and practice in another forum. My responses are in bold)

“Fr Joseph .. I'm sorry I offended you but as Jesus did I must tell the truth.. I left the Catholic Church when I was seventeen , so old enough to know what went on... Is it not true that Mary is venerated and prayed To, also saints and they are statues which people bow to and pray to??”

I have absolutely no problem with you or anyone else telling the truth but I have a serious problem with those that persist in telling absolute lies about Christ’s own Church and its teaching and practice. Correct, it is not true that the blessed mother is prayed to in a worship sense. For your information “pray” simply means “ask”. “Veneration” means “honor” which we do to the blessed mother for being the mother of God and the fact that she was given to us from the cross by her Son to minister to His faithful. She is truly our mother and we are her sons and daughters. We are thankful and blessed for her ministry for us. We evoke her prayers for us as the Bible instructs us that the prayers of the righteous are of great benefit to us.None could be more righteous that the blessed mother of God. She is the ideal prayer partner and the most effective intercessor that one can have. Asking someone to pray for us is not worship. At the wedding in Cana did Jesus refuse her requests. No, Jesus listens to His mother then and now. We are thankful to have her as a intercessor. We can have only one mediator which is Christ but we can all be intercessors for each other, in love for one another. The most loving of all intercessors for us is Christ’s own mother and ours. Of course all saints can be intercessors as well as we in Christ’s Church are all one Church whether it is the Church militant with the hope of Glory, the Church suffering awaiting Glory or those in the Church Triumphant who have received the glorious beatific vision that the Gospel promises to those in Christ. We all live out Christ’s greatest Commandment and show our love for one another by selflessly praying for one another. How is it that you are laboring to find fault in those who are in Christ and pray for one another? Are you seriously trying to say that when one bows and prays to God that they are instead really praying and bowing to the objects in their near proximity? Such thinking must be the epitome of prejudice and I am very sorry to state ignorance. Are you trying to make the point that if I awake in the morning and bow to pray to God beside my bed that I am really praying to my mattress? If there is a crucifix or other religious art nearby do you really think that the one praying is not praying to God but to the crucifix that actually reminded that person of Christ and His atoning work on the cross? Forgive me but if you really think such things I must state  that you appear to be completely delusional. Let me state the truth simply for you...no Catholic worships anyone or anything but the one God in the Trinity. Your confusion is that it is you that can not tell the difference between idols and religious art. Catholic Christians have no such problem.

Are you serious when you make the claim that Catholics pray to statues? You say that you were 17 when you left Christ’s Church yet you believe that Catholics pray to statues? Do you really think that Catholics are so ignorant to think that a statue is an idol and a god? Do you really think that Catholics do not and can not tell the difference between an idol that is worshipped and prayed to as a God and religious art? If you had actually been a Catholic as you claim how is it that you do not know that the Church forbids the worship of anyone or anything but God in the Trinity of which Jesus is the second person of the one God? No Catholic would ever pray to a statue or practice any form of idolatry as every devout Catholic knows that to do so is an automatic excommunication from the Church. How could you have missed this strict teaching of the Church?

“Lighting candles and asking for favors?”

So you also have a problem with the lighting of candles.I am a former Protestant and I am still amazed at the ridiculous prejudiced criticism of some ignorant Protestants. There is an imagery of lighting candles that is created by the Bible when it says that our prayers are presented before the throne of God. Our prayers rise up like incense for God. Is it wrong to emulate this biblical imagery. Can you not see that this is inspiring for the one praying to know that their prayers are received by God. Why do you wish to deny others this inspiration or to denigrate such a devout practice? Do you also think that they are wrong in asking God for favors in prayer? Why are you so against prayers or is your criticism just against Catholic Christians praying to God in hopes that those prayers are received by our Father in heaven?

“Praying the rosary... God tells us NOT to say repetitive prayers like the heathen do.... “

Really? If you really were familiar with Scriptures then you would know that your eisegesis of the teaching of Jesus in the Bible is false because it is directly contradictory to His words and His actions. Jesus taught by both methods. He could not have been speaking of praying repetitively because if He was then He violated His own Commandment when He prayed repetitively in the Garden before His arrest. For your information Jesus never broke any of His own Commandments which would be the case if what you claim is true. So it must not be true. As a result what did He mean.... obviously He was speaking of praying “vainly’ and not repetitively. He was emphasizing that a soul filled with humility when praying is worthy of receiving God’s grace and one praying with a vain heart has little hope of His prayers being effectual before God. The later is what the heathen’s did.   

“There is only one mediator between god the Father and Ourselves and he is Jesus.”

That is correct, such is the teaching of Jesus, His Church and the Bible.

“Our lord and savior who, you should worship Only together with Father and Holy Spirit not Mary,Joseph , or any other saint.”

That is correct and that is the teaching of Jesus His Church and the Bible.

“The Pope is Not the mediator between God and Man... Only Jesus... “
That is correct and that is the teaching of Jesus His Church and the Bible.

“I only repent to Jesus who is my lord and savior , I pray to Him and the father and the Holy Spirit who lives in me and at this moment I have absolutely nothing to repent about save offending you…

Well, I do not know why you think that you are immune from the Commandments in the Decalogue that I reminded you that you had blatantly violated when you accused Catholic Christians of idolatry and other sins. What you did is called bearing false witness in the Bible. What you have done is committed a mortal sin that if it remains unrepented will surely murder your soul to Christ. As a result of your mortal sin you are currently in a state of separation with the familiar relationship that Jesus desires and without repentance you have no hope of salvation. You must recognise your sin and sorrowfully with a contrite heart repent to God. You did not offend me by your ignorance of Catholic teaching and practice but instead you offended God by lying about His Church and His faithful. I do know that the reason you did this is to justify your remaining outside of His will that you be in unity with His Church but you are not fooling Christ but simply satisfying your disobedient soul.

“But truly ( and I don't mean to patronize you or offend you here, seeing you are a priest) you should study the bible and not what an organization tells you because only Gods word is truth.”

I have studied the Bible my entire life. The result of my exhaustive study was for me to convert from the Protestant faith to the Catholic faith and into the fullness of truth within Christ’s own Church. I really cannot find anywhere in the Bible where it says that you are the authority of truth. Instead the Bible says that it is Jesus who is the Word made flesh, His Church, the Catholic Church is the “pillar and foundation of the truth”. The Bible is the product of the Church through God’s inspired leadership providing the Holy Spirit to the Church to lead it to all truth. You have absolutely no teaching authority from any source as you delude yourself into thinking. Only His Church has the teaching authority from Christ. He only created one Church and that is the Catholic Church. God’s Word is not just what is written in the Christian Canon but instead it is as the Bible teaches. It is that Sacred Tradition given to the Church by Word (oral) and by Letter (written) as St. Paul teaches.  The “Sola Scriptura” that you are claiming is contradictory  to Scriptures and is an evil heretical teaching that has cause tens of thousands of divisions in Christ’s Church and has been an impediment to the unity that is desired by Jesus. If I was you I would not embrace that which divides the Body of Christ which is against God’s will. As an example you are now in a state of mortal sin and unrepentant of your sin because out of prejudice you cannot or refuse to recognise your own sin that is clearly a violation of God’s Commandments.
“The Catholic Church although I must say has many sincere hearts must recognize that idolatry is Not what God wants.traditions and rituals is NOT what God wants but true worship with your whole heart.”

Have you really become so self delusional and prejudiced that you believe that you can judge the hearts of men? The Church forbids idolatry in any form. Do you really not know what is idolatry? Do you really not know what is an idol? How can anyone of sound mind believe or even think that religious art is an idol. Would God have commanded religious art if it was the creation of idols? Certainly not, but He did command that Solomon's Temple be adorned with art and that the Ark of the Covenant be similarly adorned with art. When people prayed in Solomon’s Temple or before the Ark of the Covenant do you really believe they were committing idolatry in the presence of this art?  Does the Bible not teach for us to hold fast to the oral and written traditions of His Church? Of course it does and St. Paul makes this explicitly plain that defies contradiction as you create with your eisegesis. I do not know specifically what “rituals” you are opposed of other than praying in the proximity of religious art and accusing people who pray around those things that remind them of God that they are idolaters in your prejudiced and uninformed mind.

“I tell you this in love and sincerity. Jesus is the only Priest.”

Yes, Christ’s own Church teaches that Jesus is our high priest and also the cornerstone of His Church. It further teaches that St. Peter is the first to hold the enduring office of His prime minister fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 22. Continuing the construction vernacular of Christ the Bible says that the 12 disciples are the 12 foundation stones of the Church to be built upon by apostolic succession for an enduring Church. This foundation is indicative of the enduring nature of the Church that Jesus promised would endure for all times which means until He comes again to judge the quick and the dead of the world. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that Jesus is the “only priest”. You can lie with sincerity and love but it remains a lie in spite of your profession of intent.

“Our high priest who we can have a relationship with.”
True, but if you read the Bible He expects, prays and commands this relationship to be within the context of unity in His Church. Jesus prayed the following:

John 17 (KJV)

17 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

“Read the bible... There is no sin God won't forgive except blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.God bless”

Correct, but remaining in your carnal senses and not repenting when you sin is in fact ignoring the Holy Spirit that guides all to Christ’s own Church, the Catholic Church, and to all the fullness of truth that it contains within. Jesus , the Church and the Bible says that bearing false witness is a violation of the Decalogue and without repentance of mortal sin one is choosing to remain outside of God’s will and embracing sin that only repentance can satisfy. God gives to man what He chooses. God sends no one to hell but one chooses hell by their disobedience to Christ and to the Father. But of course you have the free will to do as you desire. By choosing your own will instead of God’s is a choice that I suggest you consider prayerfully by setting your pridefulness aside. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph