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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I used to be Catholic, but now I think for myself

"Thinking for yourself"...this seems to be the mantra of the modern atheists.  This meme of a quote by the late atheist Christopher Hitchens is circulating the internet:

Inline image

This prompts a few apologetic thoughts:

1) It's a bit amusing to see folks re-posting this meme.  For doesn't this mean that they are, ironically, NOT thinking for themselves but rather simply parroting an idea that someone else coined?

2) Anyone who, say, types a response to this meme that says, "I agree!" or "Like!" or "So true...." is actually, again, NOT thinking for themselves because they have followed the rules that everyone else who speaks English dictates as to how to write and spell.  

If they actually wanted think for themselves they should respond with something like, ";jfjajf".  And when someone says, "huh?" the response is:  "I think for myself.  No one tells me how to spell!"  *;) winking

3) I am 100% certain that the advocates of the "think for yourself" movement are quite glad that our engineers, airline pilots, construction workers, navigators DON'T "think for themselves" but rather follow the laws of science, physics, math, geography in order to get us safely to our destinations.  Who wants to drive over a bridge in which the engineer has decided, "Hey, I want to think for myself and I've decided to build this bridge without using Calculus.  Or submitting to the Laws of Thermodynamics".  

Of course, the Catholic Both/And is at work here.  We DO embrace the idea of thinking for ourselves.  That is a good and righteous way to evaluate the world.  We don't want our children to follow what the Queen Bee says in order to be liked, right? We should tell our children "Think for yourself!  Was that a smart thing to do just because Queenie told you to do this?"

However, we also say that sometimes it's good to accept the moral truths, scientific principles, laws of physics, educational truths our teachers have shared with us...We wouldn't encourage our child to try to argue with her teacher that she should get 100% on her geography quiz because she "thought for herself" and decided that Amarillo is the capital of the US, right?

So when someone says she has left the Church because she can "think for herself" now and doesn't have to follow the doctrines imposed on her by some dogmatic authority, I think we should ask her why she inconsistently applies this model.  If she "thinks for herself" with Catholic laws, then shouldn't she "think for herself" when it comes to scientific laws, traffic laws, grammatical laws, civil laws...and if she does this, her life is going to be really, really chaotic and confusing.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Is Easter really a pagan holiday?

According to Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs),  Easter ought not be celebrated because it is, in actuality, a pagan holiday.

 "Easter is a pagan holiday that those who want to please God will avoid."

There are also quite a few fundamentalist Christian denominations which also eschew Easter because:

-Easter celebrations are not found in the Bible.

-The Bible commanded us to commemorate his death, not his resurrection.

-Easter eggs and bunny rabbits are symbols from pagan religions and Christians must separate themselves from all things pagan.  Plus, bunny rabbits and Easter egg hunts are not in the Bible.

-Sunrise services are linked to rituals done by ancient sun-worshippers.

-the word "Easter" comes from the AngloSaxon (or perhaps German) pagan goddess "Oestre", who was purportedly the goddess of Spring, fertility and renewal of life.

What is the Catholic response?

Regarding the last objection of "Easter" really being another way to say "Oestre", a pagan goddess...that's simply made up nonsense;  not to mention it's a very narrow Anglo-centric objection Most of the Christian world doesn't speak English and doesn't call this holy day "Easter" at all, so the alleged link to a pagan goddess is non-existent. Most of the Christian world refers to Easter as some derivative of the Latin and Greek wordPascha, which references the Passover.  In Spanish it's called "Pascuas"; French "Pasques"; Afrikaans "Paasfees", Italian "Pasqua", Icelandid "Paska", Turkish "Paskalya....

As St. Paul wrote, "Christ our Pascha (Passover) has been sacrificed for us"--1 Cor 5:7.

Regarding an association to any pagan rituals:  Christ came into a pagan world and sanctified it.  Thus, any link to pagan rituals (true or alleged) is irrelevant because we aren't pagan anymore, and we have taken these pagan customs and made them Christian.  The Catholic Church "sprinkled holy water" on these pagan practices and made them holy! Plus, if the JW or fundamentalist Christian really believes in renouncing all things pagan, he shouldn't be wearing a wedding ring, which has its origin in pagan custom, or calling the days of the week by their English names, which are rooted in pagan mythology (Thursday references the Norse god, Thor, for example).  Incidentally, this month, March, is named after Mars, the pagan god of war, so...

Regarding the Biblical command to commemorate his death, and not his resurrection, we ask:  where does the Bible say NOT to celebrate Christ's resurrection?  In fact, St. Paul states, "If Christ is not risen, our faith is in vain"--1 Cor 15:14, so if we DON'T celebrate the risen Christ, Christianity would seem to be a useless, hopeless and "vain" venture. 

Finally, the objection that Easter celebrations are not found in the Bible, therefore we ought not participate in them is a curious objection.  This criticism seems to fall under the paradigm "If it's not in the Bible it's forbidden". Thus, Christians ought not do these particular practices because they aren't found in the Bible:  praying the rosary, Lenten observances, celebrating Christmas and Easter...

However, what I've noticed is that those who embrace this paradigm also resort to, "If it's not forbidden in the Bible, it's permitted", when they are questioned as to why they engage in a particular practice--for example, folding one's hands in prayer, having a cross on your church steeple, altar calls, Tuesday evening Bible studies, calling your pastor "chaplain"...those things are not found in the Bible, but if you ask someone who endorses the "It's not found in the Bible so it's forbidden" view, he'll say, "Well, the Bible doesn't say I can't do this, so...."

One would think that a Christian should endorse one or the other view, and consistently apply it.  It's a little self-indulgent to object to a particular practice that someone else does because "it's not found in the Bible" while permitting their own particular practice because "the Bible doesn't forbid it".

For more in-depth study visit these websites:


"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

Friday, March 11, 2016

Why should we believe a Church that once taught that the Earth was flat?

This meme is circulating the internet: 

Image result for funny quotes about faith

It sounds like an authentic quote since it cites the author of the quote, and, heck, it even includes some official dates and everything!

However, it turns out that:

1) There is no reliable verification that Magellan actually said this

2) The Church NEVER taught that the Earth was flat.

Now, it may be true that a Catholic cleric may have taught that the Earth was flat...(although I haven't encountered any such quotes), but that's not the same thing as saying that "The Church says that the Earth is flat."  However, essentially no educated person from the time of Ptolemy in the first century to modern times ever taught that the Earth was flat.

In fact, Catholic clerics, at universities (established by the Catholic Church), had been at the forefront of asserting the universe had an order and symmetry and beauty, that the world was ascertainable, that the Earth was round...all because of their Faith in God, the creator of this orderly, discoverable, beautiful universe.

"Copernicus was a canon of the Catholic Church.  Newton devoted the last decades of his life to Bible study.  Galileo, also his whole life a devout Christian, spent the last part of his life as a guest in the home of a cardinal.  Kepler, who refined the theories of Copernicus, was a pious Lutheran his whole life.  The Scientific Method itself was created in the Christian universities of the Middle Ages.  How does that fit into the popular idea that Christians are opposed to science?  It does not, unless you believe that the Earth is flat - something Christians never thought.  Who, in olden time, thought the world was flat?  Everyone thought the world was flat but Christians."

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This meme is just another attempt to fuel the "Science wins! Religion loses (again)"  or "Scientists = smarties!  Religious folks = morons!" narrative.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Do Catholics recrucify Christ at Mass?

No,  Catholics DO NOT re-crucify Christ at the Mass.

While it is true that the Mass is indeed a sacrifice--we do call the Mass "the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass"--it is not correct to say that we re-crucify our Lord.

Jesus does not suffer and die again at every Catholic Mass.

Rather, it is simply a re-presentation of the One Time Event that occurred 2000 years ago.  It is the most sacred and important event that ever occurred in the history of creation, and we are privileged to participate in this at each and every Mass.

As Fr. John O' Brien wrote in his book, The Faith of Millions, "The Mass is the renewal and perpetuation of the sacrifice of the cross in the sense that it offers [Jesus] anew to God . . . and thus commemorates the sacrifice of the cross, reenacts it symbolically and mystically, and applies the fruits of Christ’s death upon the cross to individual human souls. All the efficacy of the Mass is derived, therefore, from the sacrifice of Calvary" .

And as Fr. Vincent Serpa says, "The Mass is the moment of His death brought into our lives in a concrete and physical way.:

Many Protestants bristle at this though of the Mass being a sacrifice.  This event occurred 2000 years ago and, in their eyes, there is no way for us to participate in this event.

Yet, there is a glaring inconsistency in their position.  For do not some of these Protestants profess that they are "washed in the Blood of the Lamb"?  It appears that they, too, are participating in (and receiving benefits from) an event that occurred 2000 years ago.