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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What's the Catholic response to this Atheist cartoon?

My response as a Catholic is:  that's ree-DANK-u-lous!  Religious truth is not a preference, or an opinion, as one's favorite color is.  It's a truth in the same arena as mathematical truth, or grammatical truth, or philosophical truth.

That is, we as parents provide our children with truth; indeed, it is our OBLIGATION to give them truth!  

I wish I could draw cartoons because this conversation is what I would draw in response:

Child: I love spelling ATHEIST "E-P-H-I-E-S-T!"

Parent:  Sure, sweetheart.  You spell words any way that you believe your heart tells you to spell! How do YOU want to spell it?  Follow your heart in spelling!  And in math!  And in grammar!  I'll speak to those mean old teachers that tell you that "It don't matter" is incorrect grammar, and who give you an F for saying 2 + 2 = 5.  And when that bridge collapses that you try to build as an engineer because you went with what your heart told you to do, rather than with those dogmatic, dictatorial, intolerant, bigoted mathematical and physics laws, well, I'll be there for you, sweetie!

So, yeah, it's true that parents ought not dictate to our children what their preferences are. 
But religious truth, just like mathematical truth, is not quite the same category as whether butter pecan is better than mint chip ice cream.  (My preference:  neither.  Both are icky, IMHO!)

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

Monday, July 9, 2012

Doesn't the Bible specifically mention Jesus' brothers and sisters? So how can the Catholic Church proclaim that Mary was ever-virgin?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
         and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The above question is a common one posed to Catholics, especially in light of today's Gospel, which states:
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,

and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?"--Mark 6
And yet the Catholic Church proclaims that Mary was Perpetual Virgin.  Isn't this another example of the Church thinking it's above the Scriptures and can contradict God's Word?

Brothers and Sisters, you will note that while the Scripture does mention that Jesus had brothers and sisters, the Bible--NOWHERE--ever describes them as "sons of Mary."  We can search the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation and will not find a single reference to anyone being a son of Mary except Jesus. 
Thus, the Scriptures describe "brothers of the Lord", but never "sons of Mary".

Brothers and Sisters, the Scripture do indeed give us hints as to who these "brothers" of Jesus actually were *(see below).

Thirdly, Brothers and Sisters, you will indeed note in numerous places that the inspired writers do indeed call lots of people "brothers and sisters" while it doesn't necessarily mean they actually shared the same womb.  It could mean a multitude of things:  spiritual brothers and sisters (as in the reference I use today to you, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ), cousins (ancient culture often had a concept that all relatives were, essentially, as close to you as your family of origin), step brothers, adopted brothers, half brothers...

Fourthly, the Church's teachings can never contradict Scripture.  Both come from the same source:  Jesus Christ, and thus truth cannot contradict truth.  The deposit of faith comes to us from Christ through the Apostles and their successors (our Bishops), and the Scriptures reflect this faith. 

the Catholic Church is not the only Christian church that proclaims that Mary was ever-virgin.  Lutherans, Episcopalians, and, of course, the Orthodox churches also believe this.)

Finally, many will ask:  who cares if Mary was Perpetually a Virgin?  All that's important is that we know she was a virgin prior to Jesus, so we know that Jesus is the son of God and not the son of another man.  The Catholic answer is:  all doctrines/dogmas/teachings about Mary only serve to enhance and affirm our understanding of Jesus. 

In other words:  All things about Mary point to Jesus and His Divinity.  An impoverished understanding of Mary leads to an impoverished understanding of Our Lord.

*Explanation of who the Brothers of Jesus were:

1. Jesus had a “brother” named James.
2. There is an apostle named James, identified as the Lord's brother.

“Then, after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother.-Galatians 1:18-19

3. Two apostles are named James.

“When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”-Luke 6:13-16
One James (the brother of John) is not the womb brother of Jesus; his father is Zebedee.

            “James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder)”--Mark 3:17

The other apostle named James is not the uterine brother of Jesus; his father is Alpheus.

“And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he called apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter and Andrew his brother, and James and John and Philip and Bartholomew, and Matthew and James the son of Alpheus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”--Luke 6:13-16

Therefore, neither apostle named James was a womb brother of Jesus.

4. The man named Joses is not the womb brother of Jesus; his mother is Mary and his brother is James. Therefore, this Mary is the wife of Alphaeus.
“Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons.” --Matthew 27:55-56

5. Judas is not a womb brother of Jesus because he is the son of James.
“When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.” --Acts 1:13

6. Regarding Simon, not much is known, but suffice it to say that if the above "brothers" have been dismissed as possibilities as sons of Mary, we can assume that Simon, too, in association with those listed, is also not a womb brother.
Thus, while this Sunday's gospel declares James, Joses and Judas to be the “brothers” of Jesus, it has been demonstrated that they are NOT womb brothers of Jesus. From this, it is apparent that scripture must be using the term “brothers” to mean relatives other than sons of Mary. Adapted from here
I apologize for the multicolored, oddly spaced text today. Not sure why it's not following my text commands!
For more in-depth study visit these websites:

Catholic Answers Tract:  The Case for Mary's Perpetual Virginity
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15