The Eucharist is literal: John 6:22-71

The following video has some great Biblical exegesis as to why the Eucharist is literal, not figurative. Among other things, it compares the “bread of life discourse” in John 6, to other Bible passages where Jesus was speaking figuratively, people thought he was speaking literally or they did not understand him, and he corrected them (“We brought no bread,” “I am the door,” “Destroy this temple and I will raise it in three days.”). No correction happened in John 6 when the people indicated that he was speaking literally, but correction happend at those other times.

Plus, in every other passage regarding the Eucharist (ie, Last Supper, Paul’s admonition at 1 Cor 11), there is no indication that that the Eucharist was figurative. 1 Cor 11 is especially interesting to me. Since St. Paul was correcting the Corinthians anyway for the way they were treating the Lord’s Supper, it would have been a good time to explain or at least indicate somehow that it was not literal. But he didn’t do that.

I don’t know who this guy his, but I’ve watched a number of his videos. The name of his YouTube channel is “How To Be Christian.” He argues each topic thoroughly, and completely from the Bible. Check him out and see if you agree.

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The Unjust Steward is the pope? Luke 16

The Parable of the Unjust Steward appears in Luke 16. It is also referred to as the Parable of the Shrewd Manager. It is part of the mass readings for yesterday. This parable always confused me, but recently I think I might have made some sense of it in light of Catholic teaching. I have not seen this explanation elsewhere. Let me give a shot and see what you think.

Summary: the master hears a bad report about the steward squandering the master’s property. So he demands an accounting and fires the steward. But the steward needs a place to go after he’s fired. So he contacts some of the debtors and reduces their debt. The master commends him for this. Presumably, the debtors then welcome the steward into their homes.

Here’s what I think:

  • The master is God.
  • The steward is the pope.
  • The debtors are souls in Purgatory.
  • The steward reducing the debt represents indulgences that are possible due to the pope’s possession of the keys to the kingdom and the treasury of merit (reward).

When I say, “the pope,” I am referring to the office of the Pope and not any one particular pope.

Catholics believe in two kinds of punishment for sin because there are two kinds of sin. There is mortal sin which leads to eternal punishment if it remains unrepented, and there is venial sin which leads to temporal punishment. Eternal punishment is hell. Temporal punishment happens here on Earth and also in Purgatory.

Because of the keys of the kingdom given to the pope by Jesus, and also the treasury of merit (reward), the pope through the Church can reduce (or even eliminate) the temporal punishment of sin. He can do this even though he himself might be doing bad things or have bad character.

Then, the holy souls in Purgatory will be grateful for receiving a reduction in the amount of temporal punishment they receive that came from the pope’s possession of the keys to the kingdom and the treasury of merit (reward). God is obviously happy with the debt being reduced, since he wants people with him. Once they are out of purgatory, they will pray for the pope, since he will be in Purgatory for being an unjust steward. Once he is out of Purgatory, they will receive him into their dwellings (John 14:3).

Having said that, I’m struggling what appears immediately following the parable. For example, immediately after the parable Jesus says:

..for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. And I say to you: Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity; that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.

I’m not sure how that part fits into what I’ve said.

Here is a similar explanation, but it places Jesus himself as the unjust steward. I think it makes more sense to put the Pope as the steward. What do you think?

Here is a video of two Catholic apologists addressing the question of the bad popes. Both are very well known in Catholic circles, and I’ve met them both. The man on the left in the red shirt is Patrick Coffin, and the man on the right is Tim Staples. They don’t address Luke 16; I linked the video as a way of showing that, possibly, bad popes = unjust stewards.

See also:

What’s the difference between these?

Just a quick little thought-exercise. What’s the difference between these three groups:

  • orthodox Catholic
  • Orthodox catholic
  • orthodox catholic

Which am I? Which are you?

 

Eli the priest and the steward of Gondor

In order to help structure my thinking about how authority works in the Catholic Church, I think of Eli the priest in the Old Testament, and the steward of Gondor in the Lord of the Rings film (I haven’t read the books).

Both examples make it easy for me to see the difference between two important concepts:

  • the man
  • the office held by the man

The man might be corrupt and do bad things, but the people under him still need to respect the office he holds.

In the Old Testament, Eli’s office was established by God. Samuel always showed respect for the office, even though Eli turned a blind eye to his sons’ evil behavior. Wouldn’t it have been strange for Samuel to say to himself, “Eli is being horrible. I think the Lord is telling me to go build my own temple.” That’s unthinkable, isn’t it?

In the LOTR film, the steward of Gondor was a placeholder for the king. Since the king represents Christ, I take the steward to represent the pope, and all the bishops by extension. Citizens of Gondor had a duty to respect the steward by virtue of the office he held. His own personal character was not important. Imagine a citizen of Gondor saying, “This steward is doing many things I disagree with, and the king is obviously not returning to this place. I’m moving to a different city, one where I am sure the king will eventually return to.” Does that makes sense, knowing what we know of that story? I don’t think it does.

 

Embracing Mary’s prophecy

 

I have a hard time when people misrepresent Mary. She is my spiritual mother and it hurts when people denigrate her. For example, I recently came across a post claiming that the Catholic Church teaches that Mary is a Goddess. This is an outrageous claim, ignorant, foolish, defamatory.

The objections presented in the post were the usual objections that you will see. They have been made and answered more times than I would care to count. But I want to highlight a foundational error that this author made, one made by so many others. You will notice that these people do not mention an important detail about the founder of Protestantism, Martin Luther. All of the things they rail against about Mary, Luther accepted: Mary’s perpetual virginity, her immaculate conception, her bodily assumption into heaven, giving her exalted titles, and being the spiritual mother of all Christians. I don’t know why they omit this detail, if it is due to ignorance or just being willing to give him a “pass.” I suspect for many of them, it is the former rather than the latter.

I feel very confident to say that the Holy Spirit invites all Christians to participate in Mary’s prophecy in Luke 1:48b:

For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed…

I was two decades away from becoming Catholic when Sister Act came out, but when I heard this song for the first time during that film, I fell in love with it. It brought me a lot of joy.

 

Nobody really wants to use contraception

OK so I have this theory about contraception: nobody really wants to use it. It is a concession people make, and is not anybody’s first choice. Condoms don’t feel good and, along with other barrier methods, interfere with spontaneity. Artificial hormones are poisonous to the human body and the environment, and uterine implants (IUDs) are dangerous. Sterilization is too permanent for anybody who thinks they might change their minds later. And none of these are 100% effective.

Plus there is an entire realm we can explore surrounding the psychological and social implications of pathologizing female fertility, and how contraception debases all human life. There is so much wrong with contraception, and nobody really longs to use it as part of their sexual activity. It is a concession. (Prescription hormonal use for other medical reasons is legitimate; it is not primarily contraception.)

By speaking against this concession and promoting marriage as the proper context for sexual activity, the Catholic Church upholds the fullness of the “one flesh” teaching found in verses such as:

In one important respect, by prohibiting contraceptive use the Church is affirming what is already in people’s hearts. We don’t actually want to use it, and that’s OK. We’re not wrong for not wanting to use it. We are not wrong for viewing it as a concession, a compromise, second best. So the Church understands us better than we understand ourselves. Doesn’t this sound like Somebody Else we all know and love? Being the good mother that she is, she has received this teaching from Christ and she passes it along to us. It seems to me that this teaching is part of the ordinary and universal Magisterium, and so is dogmatic and infallible. This means, among other things, that nobody has the right to coerce anybody else into using contraception under any circumstances, that it is wrong to apply pressure to somebody to use it, and nobody should feel guilty for not wanting to use it (remembering, of course, that marriage is the only context for sexual activity).

This is more evidence that God wrote his law into our hearts.

Another thing I love about being Catholic

Here’s another thing I love about being Catholic: all the heavy lifting has been done for me. I am not responsible for establishing the faith, I am not responsible for interpreting the Bible for myself or anybody else, and I am not responsible for determining what constitutes the Bible. This is because there is a Deposit of Faith that was “once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). It can be summed up thusly by Jesus himself: “My doctrine is not mine, but him who sent me.” (John 7:16).

EWTN has a great summary of this Deposit. I added hyperlinks to the scripture references:

“St. Paul uses the Greek word ‘paratheke,’ ‘deposit,’ meaning something precious entrusted to a depositary for safekeeping. He means by it not an inert object like gold or diamonds or a sum placed in the trust department of a bank, but a living body of doctrine. O Timothy, guard the “paratheke,” the ‘deposit’ (1 Tim. 6:20). This urgent appeal of the Apostle to his Successor is not only thematic for the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ and their Epistles but also for the Gospels. The reason is the fact that this deposit is the doctrine and the teaching program which Jesus entrusted to his Apostles when he taught them, and mandated them to take it out to all nations (see Matt. 28:16-20). He entrusted it therefore also to their Successors, including the men of Holy Orders as a whole until his Second Coming at the end of the world. This concept of a priceless divine deposit entrusted to the teaching Church belongs to the New Testament as one of its principal themes.

“The origin of the deposit, then, is Jesus the Divine Teacher. It originated in his teaching of his Apostles, when he prepared them to carry his program forth to all nations. What is the value of the deposit? Unique and priceless. Jesus himself states it: ‘My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me’ (John 7:16). It is the Word of God, not diffused throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, but gathered into a brief teachable synthesis and summary by Jesus himself. It was a stroke of genius, humanly speaking, that Jesus made his revelation of the Three Divine Persons the pattern of this teachable summary of divine revelation. Jesus was preparing teachers in the age-old oral methods of mankind; printing, printed catechisms and printed textbooks were still fifteen centuries in the future…”

1 Cor 15:3 seems to echo John 7:16: “For I delivered unto you first of all, which I also received: how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures…”

I want to learn about this Faith but I don’t have to figure it out as if to establish it. See the difference? It was already established a long time ago and so we enter into what has already been established. We are children of God, and it is His good pleasure to give us the Kingdom. treasure-box-2

The Church has been like a Christian treasure box for me, with so many wonderful things to discover. I don’t have to dig to get to them; I am not responsible for bringing them forth as if I was in labor. They are there for anybody to discover and enjoy.

It makes perfect sense that God would set it up this way.

A beautiful reflection on Eastern Catholicism

It is long and I did not have time to finish it, so I am posting it here for future reference. There are many photos as well.

Eastern Christianity: Ancient, Venerable and Catholic

 

The Modern State as an Occasion of Sin

You may have seen Facebook meme’s like these:

libertarian-jesus-2

libertarian-jesus

socialist-jesus

These are not arguments, only conclusions. I think it is important to understand the underlying argument being made with those kinds of memes. This is the best treatment I’ve seen, especially since it is thoroughly Catholic:

The Modern State as an Occasion of Sin: a Public Choice Analysis of the Welfare State

My thoughts/summary:

By endorsing the state-sponsored method of poverty alleviation, we are creating two types of temptations discussed in the essay (the welfare administrator’s temptation to make capricious decisions in the allocation of tax dollars, and the payment-receiver’s temptation to use deception and/or opportunistic behavior to participate in the program). We have also created a system that is not directly accountable to the people who fund it. The state serves as a wedge between the donors (taxpayers) and the recipients, effectively keeping them apart from each other. This method of poverty alleviation lacks a direct way to be controlled by donors (taxpayers). It is not rightly viewed as an agency relationship for two reasons: 1) donors are required to fund the program. 2) Lacking competence to discover or create morality, this method creates a moral hazard (or rent-seeking) problem. Because of these issues, this method fosters resentment in the donors (taxpayers). Taxpayers are required to fund this method, but there is no corresponding requirement for recipients to be accountable to the taxpayers for how the money was spent.

Continued tomorrow.

The cult was no help at all

I brought up reverse gaslighting yesterday for a specific reason. It is because of how few adults are talking about their experiences growing up with divorced (or never married) parents.

Based on my own experience, I can say that our culture reverse gaslighted me. The lie that everything was OK was deeply embedded in me, to such an extent that I repeated it for decades. However, I should have seen that the circumstances of my life were strong evidence that everything was not OK inside me. But nobody helped me put the pieces together until a few years ago, when I got to know the gal who became my Catholic mentor. Like pieces of a very complex puzzle, she was able to help me put everything together through a thoroughly Catholic lens. Remember how I mentioned before about the importance of making proper distinctions? She helped me do that.

The cult leader claims to be teaching an esoteric system that helps people have a “right relationship” with themselves, with others and with the world around them (paraphrased from his website), but that is a lie. Everything done there is supposed to be about psychological healing, but there were many issues surrounding my parents divorce and subsequent actions that were never addressed. I buried everything I felt because there was no avenue to express it, no language, no concepts, no affirmation of that reality. As just one example, rarely the cult leader would mention of how I never had a family–he mentioned it enough that I knew that this is what he thought. But he also severely denigrated my mother, publicly and often. He hated her, and I am not entirely clear why but I have an opinion that I may share here at another time. His denigration of her fed into my unresolved anger. He was crafty enough to see my lack of family and understand how vulnerable it made me, but he never helped ME to see it–I was in denial about that loss the entire time. Plus he didn’t affirm my mother or my father. He didn’t help me to honor them as the Bible tells us to do. In fact, he actively encouraged me to shun them, especially my mother. He did not acknowledge the legitimacy of my first family, that triad, that community of three persons who formed one family, the impetus of my being. His “esoteric help” did not help me at all. It was his way of keeping me embedded there as part of his narcissistic supply. The same could be said for my ex-husband, whose parents divorced when he was 16.

The ironic thing is that now I am a Catholic and because of the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church, I finally have a “right relationship” with my ex-husband, but he does not have a “right relationship” with me. In regards to his relationship to me, the cult has not helped him to forgive, to work through his rage, to stop his defamation, or to stop his sexual sin and alcohol usage… and he calls himself a true Christian. I recently learned about the restorationist movement. I did not even know that was a thing, but evidently it’s pretty common for groups to consider themselves as returning to first century Christianity. Well, that certainly describes the cult. But the fruit of the cult is bad, and that is one way to know that it is not based on Christ. He is still as stuck in those emotions and behaviors as he was years ago, if not more so. As it says in Galations 5:19-23:

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

I am not certain I should be saying these things about him. But I am becoming indignant at his stubborn refusal to humble himself, to give me any leeway whatsoever, and his persistent determination to denigrate me to my own children. It is evil, and I am becoming less willing to remain silent about it. He is training my girls to accept that a man should treat a woman that way, and he is training my son to treat women that way.

Lord, please help me understand how to deal with this man according to your will. I must avoid and repent from any desire for revenge, because you alone are the judge. If I could cut him out of my life for good, I would, because he is advocating and practicing evil. But I cannot, since he is the father of my children and a grandfather of my grandchild. I know that he was created in your image and likeness, and in that sense he is good, but I am infuriated that my children still have to be subjected to his evil beliefs and behaviors. Lord, please do something. Please help him repent, help him return to his first love, help him to see how far away he is from your grace, give him the courage to face his fears, bring one of your servants into his life to tell him the truth and help him hear it. Please help me love him as you do. I hate having to use my kids’ dad as an example of evil behavior. It makes me very sad. Amen.

Edit: here is today’s Collect from the Latin mass I attended this evening:

Da, quaesumus, Domine, populo tuo diabolica vitare contagia: et te solum Deum pura mente sectari. Per Dominum.

Translation:

Grant, O Lord, unto Thy people, grace to avoid all contact with the devil, and with pure minds to follow Thee, the only God. Through our Lord.