Monday, June 23, 2014

Last month I gave a talk in Ann Arbor entitled “The Foundations of our Faith: Scripture, Tradition & Magisterium.” (Watch the video below.) As I love to do, I tied the Old and New Testaments together and showed the continuity that lays the foundation for who and what we are as Catholics today. 

But my second purpose was to show how I do my research these days. I have given away about 1/2 of my books because I rarely use my 20,000 volume library any more because I have Logos’ Verbum Catholic and Bible Software. The future of Bible and Catholic study is here. There is nothing like Verbum.

The talk was video-taped and you can see me (kind of dark to the right) but you can easily see the screen where my friend and Verbum associate demonstrated how powerful it is and how it puts whole libraries at your fingertips.

To learn more about Verbum visit my Verbum page and if you use STEVE in the Promo Code you get a 15% discount.

I began using Logos over 20 years ago when it was still a Protestant and when Logos was solely Protestant. I urged them over the years and worked with them to develop a Catholic package. I even gave talks at their corporate offices in Washington State. 

Three years ago they DID IT and the result is stupendous. There is nothing else like it. Study Scripture, the Tradition, the Catechism, the Lectionary with reading and saints and more. Delve into the Hebrew and Greek without even knowing the original languages. Use Bible dictionaries, read the Fathers of the Church….

…visit www.Verbum.com/steve

Vi

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Bishops Seek ‘Rescue Plan’ as Iraq’s Christians Near Extinction

For 1st Time in 1,600 Years, There Was a Sunday in Mosul With No Masses Offered

ROME, June 23, 2014 (Zenit.org) – Catholic bishops from Iraq are meeting this week to come up with a “rescue plan” amid growing fears that the ISIS Islamist attacks have put Christianity at increased risk of being extinguished from the country.

The meeting of the Chaldean hierarchy, which starts Tuesday, comes after the military success of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) prompted yet another wave of displacement within a country that has already seen a dramatic decline in the Christian population over the past decade.

Speaking today in an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Saad Sirop of Baghdad said that up to 75% of Christians had left the capital over the past few years.

He said that ISIS attacks elsewhere in the country – and the threat to Baghdad itself – meant yet more Christians were leaving.

The bishop added that in the capital, Mass attendance last weekend was “much lower” than normal.

Speaking after arriving in Erbil, in Kurdish northern Iraq, ahead of the start of the meeting, Bishop Sirop said: “What we need is a rescue plan and this is what we will be discussing at our next synod, which we hold every year.”

He added: “Christians and others in Baghdad are leaving because they are afraid of what is going to happen. So many have left Iraq already.

“It is a very difficult moment for the Church in Baghdad.”

The bishop stressed that the decline of Christian presence is not just restricted to Baghdad.

His comments come as recent reports cast increasing doubt on some figures given for the Christian population in Iraq, which some claim to be as high as 300,000 – down from 1.4 million at the time of the last census in 1987.

For more read HERE and HERE.

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Dear Family,

 So that you know I have been vigilant in reading and studying about the Catholic Church.  Below are the many, many reasons why it is apparent to me that the Catholic Church is Christ’s Church that he built, and why there is no doubt in mind this is where I belong.  Sorry it’s so long, but there is so much to say and cover.  Here it goes, primarily it all starts with the Eucharist more than anything else.  Read this:

 The Lord Jesus, on the night before he suffered on the cross, shared one last meal with his disciples. During this meal our Savior instituted the sacrament of his Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the ages and to entrust to the Church his Spouse a memorial of his death and resurrection. As the Gospel of Matthew tells us: While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26:26-28; cf. Mk 14:22-24, Lk 22:17-20, 1 Cor 11:23-25)

 Recalling these words of Jesus, the Catholic Church professes that, in the celebration of the Eucharist, bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and the instrumentality of the priest. Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. . . . For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:51-55).

The whole Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine—the glorified Christ who rose from the dead after dying for our sins. This is what the Church means when she speaks of the “Real Presence” of Christ in the Eucharist. This presence of Christ in the Eucharist is called “real” not to exclude other types of his presence as if they could not be understood as real (cf. Catechism, no. 1374). The risen Christ is present to his Church in many ways, but most especially through the sacrament of his Body and Blood.

 What does it mean that Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist under the appearances of bread and wine? How does this happen? The presence of the risen Christ in the Eucharist is an inexhaustible mystery that the Church can never fully explain in words. We must remember that the triune God is the creator of all that exists and has the power to do more than we can possibly imagine. As St. Ambrose said: “If the word of the Lord Jesus is so powerful as to bring into existence things which were not, then a fortiori those things which already exist can be changed into something else” (De Sacramentis, IV, 5-16).

God created the world in order to share his life with persons who are not God. This great plan of salvation reveals a wisdom that surpasses our understanding. But we are not left in ignorance: for out of his love for us, God reveals his truth to us in ways that we can understand through the gift of faith and the grace of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. We are thus enabled to understand at least in some measure what would otherwise remain unknown to us, though we can never completely comprehend the mystery of God.

 Should you want to know where the above came from or to learn even more go to: http://www.catholic.org/clife/jesus/eucharist.php

 More than anything else the Eucharist is what is missing in the Protestant faith.  That is the primary reason I will become a Catholic this Easter.  But there is so much more that is lacking in the Protestant Sunday worship.  The entire Mass at every Catholic Church is in preparation of receiving Christ’s body and blood.  It is also a true worship service for and to our God.  This is the church Christ built, not one made by man, who waters down the truth to fit their own ideas.  

 Another reason is his Mother Mary, who Protestants only bring out at Christmas.  Mary is the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, you don’t think she deserves to be appreciated, and shown respect for who she is, and what she took upon herself as the Mother of the Son of God.  This I do not understand?  Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant.  Pure, born with out original sin, that is why she was and is the Immaculate Conception the doctrine that God preserved the Virgin Mary from the taint of original sin from the moment she was conceived; it was defined as a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church in 1854.  

Her life is worthy of our love as the Holy Mother of God.  Her son loved his mother dearly, she is the Queen of Heaven, that St. John writes about in Revelations.  While still on the cross  before he breathed his last breath, Jesus Christ made certain his mother would be taken care of after he left this earth.  He gave her to his beloved Apostle St. John.  This too tells us that she had no other children to take care of her, but Jesus Christ alone her only begotten Son.  That is why he left her in the care of St. John.

 My third reason for being a Catholic.  I have had for many, many years at times seen visions in my minds eye. They always happen in the early morning hours before rising. Have always thought they were glimpses of heaven, because of the bright light and things that I see going on.  One morning last year I had a vision that went on, and on for two hours. That had never ever happened before, nor has it since. These visions normally only last a few minutes, or seconds. This time I saw white tables (later realizing they were altars) with gold candle sticks, gold and white was everywhere, along with throngs of people. I knew this had to be something important, because it went on for such a very long time, but what was it??? I truly did not understand the meaning, only that it must be extremely important.

 That morning when I went upstairs, turned on EWTN, there was my vision, it was Pope Francis’ inauguration.  I looked at the TV and said out loud, “I’m suppose to be a Catholic!” that was my vision on TV. WOW it shocked me, I don’t know if you can really grasp what a powerful statement that was for me that morning!!!  There it was, my vision on live TV.  The vision that I saw for over 2 hours, was all about Pope Francis’ inauguration.  What else could I draw from that vision, only that I was meant to be a Catholic.  I had never sought to make this change, my heart had been prepared, I was open to hearing and seeing the truth unfold before my eyes, the Holy Spirit was guiding my journey to the Catholic Church.

 I didn’t immediately go to Saint Bernard’s in Eureka, but did keep listening to Catholic Radio daily.  I was still the head of our Hospitality committee at New Heart, our church, as well as attending a ladies bible study group once a week.  My committee was extremely important to me, I was vigilant in making all who came feel welcomed.  My pantry is filled with supplies I had purchased to make them feel this is where they belonged.  Every month when I was the one serving it was done as if we were celebrating something special.  For me it was all about Christ.

 Another reason that I didn’t immediately go off to Saint Bernard’s, was my Baptist faith.  You know yourself all too well I was led to you and Jeannine, God had led me to you, to become a member of your church, after the miraculous healing of Matthew.  I could not understand why God led me to you then, and now was leading me to the Catholic church.  It was confusing.

 Then one Sunday at our Church, it was the Sunday that we have communion, we only have it once a month, my pastor held up the cracker then he said these words, “there is nothing mystical about this cracker”. That statement pierced my heart. Thinking to myself there must be more to this, otherwise why are we doing it. That statement really made me want to see what the Catholic church had to offer.  Why had God given me that vision, unless he wanted me to be Catholic?  Watching the Mass on EWTN does not really convey what is happening unless you understand it already.

So on May 5, 2013 I went to my very first Mass at Saint Bernard’s in Eureka.  I’d been to Weddings and Funerals at different times in my life, never a Sunday Mass.  Fr. Eric Freed was their priest.  He won me over that day.  The Mass and Fr Eric were the catalyst, that confirmed this is where I belong, I knew I was home.  I have not missed a Mass since that Sunday.  When I shared these things with Fr. Coddaire he said, you aren’t changing religions just the way of worship.

 I did not plan this change, it had to be the Holy Spirit leading me to Christ’s church the one he built.  Not one that was built by men.  I know you feel all of their traditions are unnecessary, and are not scriptural.  That all one needs are the scriptures and nothing else.  But Christ never said, write a book, and that will be my church.  He never told them to remove 7 books from the Old Testament, claiming they were not divinely inspired.  No Christ built the church and Peter was her first Vicar.  Have you ever read those 7 books?  I have, believe me they are obviously divinely inspired, here is an example.  

Sirach 15:15-20  15 If you choose, you will keep the commandments and so be faithful to his will.16 He has set fire and water before you; put out your hand to whichever you prefer.17 A human being has life and death before him; whichever he prefers will be given him.18 For vast is the wisdom of the Lord; he is almighty and all-seeing.19 His eyes are on those who fear him, he notes every human action.20 He never commanded anyone to be godless, he has given no one permission to sin.

 If you would like to know more about these 7 books, and how the authors of the New Testament quoted from them visit: 

http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-old-testament-canon  Primarily these books were dropped because of their doctrinal reasons by the Protestants, during the reformation period.  Think about this, those 7 books were are part of the Septuagint, they were the writings in the Old Testament, that Christ quoted from daily.  He never said get rid of those books.  So why were they removed, because they held stumbling blocks that Protestants did not want to follow?

 Truthfully must confess, I always felt something was missing every Sunday, for the past 40 years.  I never felt that true connection between us and Christ when we had communion, that was because it wasn’t the Eucharist.  Why did Christ set up this practice, if there isn’t anything “mystical about the cracker?”  Remember these words Jesus said, long before the Last Supper.  In John 6: 53 Jesus replied to them: In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

54 Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day.55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person.57 As the living Father sent me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will also draw life from me.58 This is the bread which has come down from heaven; it is not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.

I have never felt more closer to Christ than being in a Catholic Mass, the entire culmination of the Mass is seeing all the followers of Christ receiving his body and blood, with so much reverence for what it is.  Not just a cracker, but the true body and blood that Christ said we are to eat, so that we may draw life from him living in us.  

 In the Catholic church there is more love for all of his children, especially the little ones, as well as the adoration of our Savior, more than anyone can ever fathom.  Fr. Eric would always speak about how he loved to see and hear the little ones in our worship services.  All the small toddlers running and toddling down the aisles as fast as they can go, followed by their mother or father.  What joy that brings, seeing these precious gifts from God.  It’s just wonderful.

 If you have watched on the news, or are aware of the tortured murder of a Priest in Eureka, CA on January 1, 2014, that was Fr. Eric, may he rest in peace, my Parish Priest.  Our grief cannot be measured.  Every Thursday night since I decided to take the path to becoming a Catholic I attended meetings in the Rectory.  I saw Fr. Eric every Thursday at RCIA meetings, and Sunday Mass up to the day of his murder.  It has been extremely painful for all of us.  He lived his faith.  He won me over that first Sunday in May.  I shall be forever grateful to him, for who he was, his memory will be with me forever.  It should be Fr. Eric there for my Confirmation, and First Communion.  I know he will be with us in his Spirit.  Fr. Eric grew up in Covina, CA.  He was in High School at Northview High when we lived on Delay.  When he realized this we knew we had our own special bond together.

 This is my journey to the Catholic faith, and why the Protestant faith falls short in giving me a fulfilling relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I have felt the love of God, and his people’s love for him at every Mass I have attended.  I go alone, yet inside the church no one is alone, or feels alone.  God’s people living and loving one another, worshiping our Lord and Savior.  There is nothing to compare how transforming every Sunday is, and has been since that very first Sunday on May 5, 2012.

 I challenge you to spend time listening to Catholic radio with an open mind.  Visit Catholic. org, or Catholic.com for answers to your disbelief.  I can imagine your thoughts right now, like right me listening to Catholic Radio, that will never happen.  

You too might find yourself on a different path to becoming the Christian you seek to be, to increase your relationship with Christ.  It truly will teach you more truths that you have not known about Jesus and his church.  Every day is a new revelation from God.  Remember the “truth shall set you free”.  John 8: 31-32 “To the Jews who believed in him Jesus said: If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples; 32 you will come to know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

 One more thing, recently heard an interview with the person who wrote the article about the exorcism preformed by a Parish Priest, of course I heard it on Catholic radio.  This is the article:  http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/parish-priest-aids-family-in-fight-against-demons

I am bringing it up because, while it is true she was demon possessed, and well documented, no one from the several different Protestant denominations who visited her could free her from the powers of this demon.  All who had visited her, left in freight of what they saw.  The reporter said, “when the Parish Priest walked into the room she told her she saw Jesus Christ, not the Priest.”  The power of Jesus is with those who are called to be his Priests on earth.

 Below is a section out of the encyclopedia at Catholic.org

Power to Forgive Sins

It is noteworthy that the fundamental objection so often urged against the Sacrament of Penance was first thought of by the Scribes when Christ said to the sick man of the palsy: “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” “And there were some of the scribes sitting there, and thinking in their hearts: Why doth this man speak thus? he blasphemeth. Who can forgive sins but God only?” But Jesus seeing their thoughts, said to them: “Which is easier to say to the sick of the palsy: Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, take up thy bed and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say to thee: Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house” ( Mark 2:5-11 ; Matthew 9:2-7 ). Christ wrought a miracle to show that He had power to forgive sins and that this power could be exerted not only in heaven but also on earth. This power, moreover, He transmitted to Peter and the other Apostles. To Peter He says: “And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven ” ( Matthew 16:19 ). Later He says to all the Apostles : “Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven ; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven ” ( Matthew 18:18 ). As to the meaning of these texts, it should be noted:

  • that the “binding” and “loosing” refers not to physical but to spiritual or moral bonds among which sin is certainly included; the more so because
  • the power here granted is unlimited — ” whatsoever you shall bind, . . . whatsoever you shall loose”;
  • the power is judicial, i.e., the Apostles are authorized to bind and to loose ;
  • whether they bind or loose, their action is ratified in heaven. In healing the palsied man Christ declared that “the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins “; here He promises that what these men, the Apostles, bind or loose on earth, God in heaven will likewise bind or loose. (Cf. also POWER OF THE KEYS.)

 Here’s the link at Catholic.orghttps://www.catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=9880

It is the “power from Christ” given to his priests, that allowed this particular priest to be able to free that poor woman from the demon that possessed her.

 I’ve come to realize those 40 years, which it was precisely when I went to my first Mass, where for me to grow in loving God’s word.  When I started reading the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures as Fr. Eric called them, in studying them I came to understand how God’s temple, and his Priest were extremely important to him.  Seeing how many times he reprimanded the Israelites for allowing his temple to fall into disrepair.  Worship of our God is an important element of our commitment to him.  It was in the first century when Christ built his church, and remains the same today in 2014 in the Catholic Church.

 That is my story.  All of these scriptures, and many lifetime experiences are why I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is where God has led me.  I’m going to send you a couple of books to read that you might also find enlightening.

 Also visit catholicconvert.com  you will meet a man who too was stunned to find himself led to the Catholic faith.  He does an indepth study of scripture that led him to the church.  I know you will greatly appreciate his work in this matter.

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