Clearing the Heart to See the Truth

Interior Life

Clearing the Heart to See the Truth

Subscribe today to receive an email once a week.  A great way to get regular insights into the Catholic faith.
Name
Email

A Saint from Saints

Posted by on Aug 15, 2016 in Current Events, featured, Interior Life | 2 comments

A Saint from Saints

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux was called the “Greatest Saint of modern times,” by another great saint, St. Pope Pius X. Shortly after her death in 1897, her fame spread quickly, and her spiritual auto-biography—Story of a Soul—became an overnight success. In it, she recounted the growth of her interior life due to the workings of grace, culminating in her final words before entering into the abode of the blessed, “Oh, how I love him!” The ‘Him,’ of course, was Jesus. Despite her terrible disease of tuberculosis, which by the time of her death had consumed much of her lungs and capacity to breath, she remarked how her sufferings were joyful, as they drew her closer to her Beloved, Jesus. When I first returned to the Church in the early 1990’s, I tried reading her writings. I must admit, when I read some of them for the first time, I had to put the book down. The love and affections conveyed there were just too much for me. I confided to her sadly and secretly in the depths of my heart, “Thérèse, I don’t love Jesus like you. Further, I don’t even want to love Jesus like you did…but I want to want to.” She has been working on that part of my prayer ever since. Thus, when I was able to travel to Lisieux this summer with my teenage daughter, Claire Thérèse, to visit the wonderful shrines dedicated to her and her now canonized parents, I recognized her hand in all of this, nudging me—pushing me—to grow closer to her Beloved. To add extra leverage, she brought in her parents, Zélie and Louis. In learning about her parents, I understand better why Thérèse became such a great saint. In this beautiful family, a saint came from saints. By studying these holy parents and visiting their shrines along with Thérèse’s, I discovered five keys to that helped me understand obstacles to my growing closer to Jesus through my family and vocation as a father and husband. Recognize that Marriage is a Vocation Louis and Zélie each wanted to become a religious. After finding their efforts spurned, and through a providential meeting between Louis and his future mother-in-law, Louise-Jeanne, Louis met Zélie. They courted briefly and married. At first, the Martin’s struggled to understand God’s plan for them, since each wanted so desperately to serve Him in lives devoted to poverty, chastity, and obedience. Thus, they lived as brother and sister for the first ten months of their marriage before being encouraged by their spiritual director to truly embrace marriage as designed by God. By discovering that marriage is also a holy calling from God and a beautiful way to serve Him, they enthusiastically accepted all that marriage entails, eventually enjoying nine children! Even though I discovered the truth about marriage twenty-six years ago when I was discerning between marriage and the priesthood, I was always bothered by the fact that if marriage is indeed a way to serve God and become a saint, why are there no examples to prove this? Reading about the lives of Louis and Zélie confirmed my belief that marriage is a legitimate path to holiness. Fill Your Marital Life with Prayer and Hope The Martin household filled each day with prayer, prayer that only increased...

read more

Rome and Reasons for Hope

Posted by on Jul 2, 2015 in Current Events, featured, Interior Life, Morality | 3 comments

Rome and Reasons for Hope

I just returned from my second pilgrimage to Rome in the last 10 months. This one was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Apostles of the Interior Life community, a Roman/American community of consecrated women, priests, and laity, of which I am a lay member. The Lord God lavished grace upon grace upon me, and gave me reasons for hope in this time of world-wide moral struggles. It is for this reason that I compose this entry. God is utterly generous and gratuitous in the bestowal of heavenly gifts.  Of this truth, I am a living witness. So, if you feel anxious or worried about this present darkness, be at peace and confident in this fact–in Christ, the battle is won, and the victory is ours. Consider the following: Without realizing the audacious events that were about to unfold in the U.S. regarding the Supreme Court and the redefinition of marriage, we were given the privilege to celebrate Holy Mass in the crypt of the  tomb of St. Peter directly beneath the High Papal Altar in St. Peter’s Basilica on June 26. While attending Mass, I was able to peer continually over the priest’s shoulder to eye the actual tomb of Peter. Immediately after the homily, all of the married couples present were invited to approach the altar and renew our wedding nuptials. My wife was able to enjoy the pilgrimage with me, so we were deeply honored to be able to renew our vows with all of the other wonderful married couples. Only later that afternoon did we find out about the SCOTUS ruling. After my shock and anger subsided, I realized what had happened earlier in the day–I renewed my marriage, along with around 20 other couples, on the bones of Peter–the Rock of Christ’s Church. It is THIS Church to which Christ gave this promise: the gates of Hell will not prevail. The next sight we visited was the church of St. Alphonsus Ligouri, founder of the Redemptorists. This church is the custodian of a very popular and important icon: the original Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The original image was painted sometime before the 15th Century on the island of Crete, before it was stolen by a Roman merchant and brought to Italy. After various apparitions, miracles, and misfortunes, the holy image ended up on display in the current church in the mid-19th century under the care of the Redemportists. Known for the many miracles and profound fruits of her intercessory care, Our Lady of Perpetual Help  is one of the most popular and best known icon’s in the world. We all beseeched Our Lady for her continued intercession for our country and for the protection of marriages world wide. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we were there on the eve of the feast day of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, June 27. By the way, the holy image is particularly known for bringing good out of evil circumstances. On the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, we went to Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with Pope Francis. His message was that the church of our times, just like the times of Peter and Paul, is being challenged by a pagan culture and therefore needs to be a church of Prayer,...

read more

The Touch of Grace

Posted by on Dec 26, 2014 in featured, Interior Life, Theology, Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Touch of Grace

The Touch of Grace

In my previous blog, I shared some concerns I have regarding Catholics who attend some non-Catholic bible studies. As I indicated, I often discover in their thinking assumptions that are un-biblical. I summarized these in a series of either/or assertions: either you go to Christ, or Mary and the saints; either you receive grace spiritually (not sensibly) or you don’t receive it at all; and grace is either a free gift, or you have to do something, which means that its not free. In this post, I wish to examine the second another either/or assumption that can be unknowingly be presupposed in the understanding of our relationship with Christ. I summarize it as follows: either grace is given spiritually, or it’s not given at all. If some Christian (here read Catholic) tells you that you must enact some ritual (i.e. the Mass, or some other Sacrament,) to receive grace instead of a pure profession in Christ, he is placing an obstacle between you and Christ. At first glance, this certainly seems correct. God is pure spirit. His life and power come from His own eternal reality as pure spirit. Grace, the gift of His life and power to human creatures, is therefore a spiritual reality, and benefits us in our spirit. Therefore, grace must be received spiritually, or it’s not received at all. If God had not become man in Christ, I would completely agree with this. However, the reality of the Incarnation reveals the mystery of God’s new relationship with creation: The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us! (Jn 1: 14.) This means that the pure, eternal Spirit–God– has now permanently and irrevocably wed Himself to His creation by taking it unto Himself as Jesus Christ, the God-man, and now acts through His material world. This explains the entire sacramental vision of Catholicism. And this is where the disagreement comes in. If I am saved by faith alone, as Luther attested, then visible, tangible encounters with God are unnecessary.  The only thing that matters, according to this view point, is that we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. He will then impute His innocence on us in a purely spiritual exchange, and the process of salvation is complete. Although I agree that our faith must be personal and must firmly accept Him so as to become His disciple, the problems lie in the lack of an appreciation of the reality and effects of the Incarnation. How does this faith come to me, since all Christians agree that we need a Savior? After all, if I could produce the faith on my own, without divine assistance, I wouldn’t need a savior. The answer is through the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. His physical reality now mediates Divine grace. Further, He, Himself, established His Church as His Mystical Body (see Colossians 1:18; 1 Cor 12: 13-ff; Eph 5: 29-30, to name a few,) through which to continue to offer His living and active grace today. I recently had a conversation with someone who told me that she grew up Catholic, but wanted a personal relationship with Jesus and so was attending an Evangelical worship service and bible study with a friend. Although I was glad that she approached me after one of the classes I was teaching (which told me that she hadn’t shut the door on the...

read more

Wasting Money on the Poor; Wasting Time on the Dysfunctional

Posted by on Dec 10, 2014 in featured, Interior Life, Morality | 1 comment

Last spring I went to a lecture by Peter Brown, an expert on “Late Antiquity” (a time period centered around the early centuries of Christianity). The lecture dealt with the massive cultural and economic changes which occurred in the Roman empire due to the distinctively Christian way of conceiving the poor. Here’s more or less how Professor Brown put it: In pagan Rome, it was seen as socially irresponsible to give your money to the poor. Why? Well because it wouldn’t do any good. You’d give to the poor, they’d spend it, and then they’d be right back where they started from. So you’d be blowing your money on something with no long-term benefits. If you want to help society, do something that would improve the social infrastructure – don’t waste it on hopeless individuals. But then Jesus came along and told his followers that if you give your money to the poor, you’ll be “laying up treasure in Heaven.” Now once this idea took off, the poor became hugely important, since, after all, Christ had basically said that they were the currency exchange people for the next life. The poor were the folks who could change your Earth-bucks into Heaven-bucks, so it was a very savvy financial move to give them your money. Which is why, according to Brown, the poor became such a major factor in the economics of Christendom. Because in the Christian system it is wise to waste your money on the poor. So I thought that was interesting. Then this fall I got to go to a lecture by Leon Kass, who’s a sort of public intellectual figure. His presentation was on the “new poverty” in America – a poverty not characterized by material want, but by human dysfunctionality. Dr. Kass began his talk by mentioning that the leading nutritional problem among the poor in America today is not hunger, but obesity. His point was that it doesn’t work to simply keep treating poverty as a paucity of physical resources, when it has increasingly become a paucity of psychological and spiritual resources. Thus the new poverty is based on dysfunctionality. And it doesn’t really stop there, does it? America doesn’t just have a new type of poverty, it has a new type of wealth. Today’s elites aren’t just the ones with a lot of money; they’re the productive, the achievers, the successful. These are the new rich, and, like the rich of the Gospel, they have to take very intentional measures to make sure that their cache doesn’t go to their heads and cost them their souls. Like the rich man who wound up in torment because he didn’t give to Lazarus, the high achievers could go to Hell if they don’t stop to give to the poor. Give what? Money? But as we’ve just seen, the major problem with the poor around us isn’t that they lack money. It’s that they’re dysfunctional, that they lack basic skills or basic areas of human development (probably through no fault of their own) needed to make it in society. So what can you give them? You can give them time. Time is the lifeblood of love, and it’s also probably the most precious thing highly successful people can sacrifice. After all, we hear it over and...

read more

All Souls, Purgatory, and the Bible

Posted by on Oct 27, 2014 in featured, Interior Life, Theology | 10 comments

All Souls, Purgatory, and the Bible

On All Souls Day, the Catholic Church offers prayers and liturgies for the repose of the dead. As Catholics, we are called by the Church to focus our spiritual energies to assist these poor souls, who, though saved, are still in need of purification. Our prayers and sacrifices assist them in this process of purification as a means used by God to communicate purifying grace to them. After all, He is the vine, we are the branches so that He produces his fruits of grace through us.  The practice of praying for the dead actually predates Christianity. In 2 Maccabees 12: 41-45, Judas offers prayers and sacrifices for his fallen comrades to make “atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin.” Some argue that the books of the Maccabees are not inspired scripture. Leaving that argument aside for now, we can at least look at them as historical books detailing accepted pious practices of God’s people some 300 years before Christ. If that is the only place in the Bible where we find any reference to purgatory, many Protestant Christians argue, then that is a weak support for such a practice. Fortunately, we know as Catholics that all of our doctrines are indeed found in the Word of God, as is the doctrine of Purgatory. Hence what follows is a biblical understanding of the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. The book of Genesis recounts for us the far reaching repercussions of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden. This sin, we find, brought about four consequences which I will summarize here (Gen 3: 16-24): First, their sin brings about disharmony between persons. God tells Eve that both her relationship to her husband and children will now be characterized by pain and mistrust (Gen 3:16). Further, God has to make garments for man and woman because now, as the text implies, they feel shame (Gen 3:21). Second, their sin brings about disharmony between man and creation. God tells Adam that he will produce the fruit of the earth with toil and difficulty (Gen 3: 17). Even the ground itself is cursed because of their sin (Gen 3: 17). Third, their sin brings about disharmony between man and himself. He no longer has spiritual control over his body; thus, his body returns to the dust of the ground (Gen 3: 19). Adam and Eve are no longer able to receive everlasting life (Gen 3: 22). Lastly and most importantly, sin brings disharmony between God and man. This consequence results in mistrust and fear of God (Gen 3: 10), and, worse, spiritual death. Without God, neither physical nor spiritual life can be sustained (Gen 3: 19, 24). The first three disharmonies mentioned above are called ‘Temporal punishments due to sin.’ Temporal refers to things pertaining to this world. The last disharmony, the disharmony with God, is called eternal punishment, because it refers to things pertaining to the eternal world with God. All four of these disharmonies are healed by Christ. The only healing we experience fully in this life, however, is from eternal punishment–or disharmony with God. That’s why Christ is the One Mediator between God and man. It should be clear that we don’t experience a full healing from the temporal disharmonies/punishments as Christians, because we still struggle....

read more

Hidden Treasures, Blessed Adventures in Italy

Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Current Events, featured, History, Interior Life, Theology, Uncategorized | 6 comments

Hidden Treasures, Blessed Adventures in Italy

Pilgrimages reflect and remind the pilgrim of his sojourn on earth. They are not vacations, but, rather, journeys into God’s providence. It is a time of recognizing what is our true goal, union with God in heaven, versus what is merely the means to get there, our life on earth. We often get those two mixed up. I recently returned from leading a pilgrimage to Italy. I was reminded several times that I still lack patience and charity, and so my earthly pilgrimage still has a long way to go in achieving its end. Nevertheless, this pilgrimage was for me a truly blessed adventure. God never allows our own weaknesses and sins to completely deter Him from accomplishing what He wants to do in us. He only asks that we allow Him the opportunity. I experienced profound grace at every destination. It would take too long to recount the entire journey, but there were some hidden treasures that are worth sharing. Our pilgrimage started in Florence. Florence possesses some of the greatest art treasures on earth and is an art-lover’s paradise. One of the sites that really struck me was the convent of San Marco. This ancient monastery is less known compared to some of the other art museums in the city. 600 years ago, inside this old Dominican cloister, lived a friar and master-painter named Fr Angelico, Blessed Fra Angelico, as St. John Paull II beatified him in 1982. He was asked by his superior to paint frescos inside each monk’s cell. Those frescos are still there, and their splendor has not faded with the passing of the centuries. The holiness of Fra Angelico radiates through his work. Michelangelo said of him, “he must have seen heaven to paint heaven.” The elegance and gracefulness of his paintings actually encourage one to be silent. In fact, I think that they can only be appreciated fully in contemplative stillness, the same atmosphere in which they were created. I was captivated. I left San Marco feeling as though I viewed heaven, and was touched by grace.   We then traveled to Assisi. The entire town is so quaint and clean, you wonder if you have been transported to the middle ages. It doesn’t take long to experience the real attraction of Assisi, St. Francis. His spirit permeates the village. Outside of the Holy Land, I have never been to a place that so conveys the spirit of another. There is so much to see in Assisi, I was glad that we stayed three days. The one place that left our group speechless more than any other was the visit to Eremo or Carceri Hermitage. Francis came here with his friars to sleep in caves in an extended retreat. The hermitage was built by hand by the friars after they became too large to stay in the few caves. One of the oratories was even built by St. Bernadine of Sienna. The footpaths that trail out of the hermitage are so peaceful and beautiful, one could understand what inspired St. Francis to write the Canticle of Creation. Stone altars used by his priests for Holy Mass are still there and are still used for the sacred sacrifice. The beauty, simplicity, and solitude of the hermitage landscape mirrors the beauty, simplicity, and solitude...

read more

Changing the World By Changing Yourself

Posted by on Jun 20, 2014 in Current Events, featured, Interior Life, Theology | Comments Off on Changing the World By Changing Yourself

Changing the World By Changing Yourself

Carol staggered through the overcrowded streets in Pattaya, Thailand, deeply troubled by what she witnessed: bar after bar where women could be bought and sold as slaves for sexual desire. She witnessed black magic, drug use, intoxication—the smell of evil. She even witnessed a three year old offered for prostitution. This experience inspired her to begin a ministry aimed at rescuing young women from such a hopeless life of enslavement. Michael is a truck driver, and by his own admission, a recovering addict of many vices. When he gave his life over to Christ many years ago, he discovered the power of Jesus to heal and forgive, and decided to offer himself as an ambassador of hope for the addicted. Michael has been offering recovery counseling and encouragement for almost 20 years, now. Randy is a physician who grew weary of the antilife philosophies he encountered in a profession that is supposed to be aimed at helping sustain life and promoting health. He decided to do something about it. He now helps lead a physician’s guild for Catholic doctors who wish to practice according to the teachings of the Catholic Church. I have had the pleasure of getting to know all three of these individuals, as well as many, many others just like them, through a program called the Spiritual Mentorship Program in Kansas City, Kansas. I am an eye witness to the transforming power of grace and of the powerful creativity of God in the lives of His beloved. Working closely with my School of Faith team, as well as with the Apostles of the Interior Life, a religious community from Rome, Italy, I have been overwhelmed at the focused intensity of the Holy Spirit during our time together, one week in January, and one in May, in this two-year program. This program is designed to train lay people to be leaders of the spiritual renewal taking place in the midst of our cultural demise. It was the brain child of Archbishop Joseph Naumann, Kansas City, Kansas, when he was traveling in Rome. He and Sr. Susan Pieper, the Superior General of the Apostles of the Interior Life, were traveling in a bus filled to the brim on a hot Roman day, and the Archbishop commented to Sr. Susan that he wanted to raise up an army of trained laity who could spiritually mentor others in the interior life and their growth in holiness. He asked for her help, and asked the School of Faith for our help; the rest is history. We are now on our second class of 80 or so students, who are due to graduate in January of 2015. I am so impressed with the growth that I see from these adventurous souls. Carol came because she wanted to receive training in the interior life to bolster her confidence and energy with the power of Christ in her ministry.  In order to assist young women to transition out of the sordid life of sexual use and lost hope, she utilizes the formation she received in the Mentorship Program to teach them about prayer and the interior life. Michael takes the spiritual training he received to meet with and challenge other addicts to discover the freedom found only in Christ. Whether they be in the physical...

read more

Don’t Lust after the Church

Posted by on Jun 3, 2014 in featured, Interior Life, Theology | 2 comments

The Body-Person relationship is key for the Catholic understanding of the Church – St. Paul says the Church is Christ’s Body, and therefore to understand how Christ relates to His Church we just need to reflect on how we relate to our own bodies. For instance: 1. We express ourselves through our bodies. Therefore, Christ expresses Himself through the Church. 2. We identify ourselves with our bodies (e.g., “Why’d you throw that rock at me?”). Therefore, Christ identifies Himself with the Church (e.g., “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”). 3. Our bodies are how we interface with people. Therefore, the Church is how Christ interfaces with people. Okay, so far so good. But there’s another crucial fact about the Body-Person relationship that you don’t very often hear applied to the Church. That fact is the phenomenon of lust: sometimes we focus on the body to the exclusion of the person. In lust all we care about is the body, and instead of allowing the body to facilitate a relationship with the person, we reduce the person to the body. We ignore the personal, or at least make the personal secondary to the bodily. Not good. Now, let’s translate that into an ecclesiological principle: 4. It is possible to focus so much on the visible body that the potential for relationship with the person is diminished. Therefore, it is possible to focus so much on the visible Church that the potential for relationship with Christ is diminished. This is what I call ecclesiological lust, an excessive focus on the visible Church which is bad for our relationship with Christ. It’s maybe an esoteric disorder, but it’s one that I’m prone to and I think a lot of other Catholics are as well. In my life, at least, it has two primary manifestations: First, an excessive preoccupation with Church politics and Church rumors in general. Who got appointed to which commission? What are the important episcopal placements, and what are the various opposition parties in the bishop’s conference, or the curia? Did you hear Cardinal so-and-so’s response to Cardinal whats-his-name’s comment from last week? Who’s in favor with Francis, who’s out of favor? Did you hear the word on the street on the Via Nomentana? Did you read Lombardi’s latest statement? It’s one thing to be well-informed, but it’s another thing to be into gossip. And again, I struggle with this. I get into ecclesial trivia and hearsay the same way (and maybe for the same reason) other folks read the celebrity nonesense in E Weekly and People. It’s fun, it can be sensational, but it isn’t healthy – it’s too focused on the superficials, the skin-depth of Christ’s visible body. I’d be better off praying for the Church and for her hierarchy and for my own soul. A second form of ecclesiastical lust is liturgical hyper-sensitivity. Again, this is a big one for me. At mass I want the church to look nice, I want the music to sound nice, I want the homily to be insightful and orthodox, and I don’t want anybody messing with the rubrics. And if those pieces aren’t in place I really have a hard time not getting angry, and I even have a hard time praying. In other words, what I see and...

read more

Darkness His Only Friend

Posted by on Apr 16, 2014 in featured, Interior Life | 7 comments

Darkness His Only Friend

(The following is an re-posting of an experience I had when visiting the Holy Land. For this Triduum, will you keep darkness from being Jesus’ only friend?) Some scholars call the Holy Land the ‘Fifth Gospel,’ because when visiting there you are walking into the bible itself. The only word that I use when I reminisce about my trip to the Holy Land last summer is ‘incredible.’ This is the most appropriate term to describe my experience. I spent much of the time unable to wrap my mind around what I was seeing. Touching the slab where our dear Lord’s body was laid in the tomb of the Holy Sepulcher—incredible! Sitting down on the green grass where Jesus multiplied the fish and the loaves—incredible! Receiving the Eucharist at the Church built on the ruins of St. Peter’s home in Capharnaum while looking out of the church’s window  to gaze at the very synagogue where Jesus first taught about eating his flesh and drinking his blood—incredible! Yet, of all of the incredible experiences that I had, the one that sticks out as most incredible is not even mentioned explicitly in the Gospels. Although it may not be explicit, it is nevertheless most probable. The night of His arrest, Jesus is taken to the palace of Caiaphas, the high priest. As high priest, Caiaphas would have been selected from Jewish ‘high society;’ from a notable family of the priestly cast. He thus enjoyed a lavish mansion as his domicile. Once brought to Caiaphas, Jesus was interrogated, beaten, accused, judged, and condemned by the laws of the leading Pharisees. This all happens in the dark of night so the charade of these Temple leaders would remain hidden, thus avoiding a riot with the people who hailed Jesus as the Son of David not four days before. After determining Jesus’ fate, however, Caiaphas has to figure out what to do with Jesus until sun-up, when he and the Sanhedrin can take him to Pontius Pilate and see about getting the Roman governor to enact their sentence. Underneath Caiaphas’ palace archeologists have excavated an ancient, craggy cistern, dry and empty at the time of Caiaphas. According to ancient Jewish records, this cistern was used by Caiaphas to incarcerate prisoners for short periods of time. They could be lowered by rope down into the darkened depths and left there for as long as the High Priest deemed, as there was no way out unless retrieved by the rope. It was in this pit that Jesus would have been lowered. Beaten, bloodied, left in the darkness as his only friend, He was all alone in the gloom awaiting the remainder of his cruel fate. On the remains of the High Priest’s palace today is the church of St. Peter Gallicantu (which means, ‘Of the Cock Crowing.’) The ancient cistern is still there, relatively unchanged since the time of Jesus. Thus, standing in the bottom of that dank pit, I was gazing at the very spot where Jesus lay on Holy Thursday night 2000 years ago. With the exception of the lighting, the stairs, and the pilgrims, the cavity remains as it was for Him. This is one of the few places I visited where the setting has changed little since the time of our Lord. This is why it was...

read more

The Pope, the Eucharist, and Mary

Posted by on Sep 19, 2013 in featured, Interior Life, Theology, Uncategorized | 8 comments

The Pope, the Eucharist, and Mary

The Pope, the Eucharist, and Mary. These three words summarize the most vivid area of disagreement between Catholics and other Christians. Most converts will admit that confusion with one of these realities was the last obstacle they had to overcome before finally entering the Church. As to those who do not convert, Catholic teaching on these three areas appears extravagantly theoretical and foreign to the basic gospel message. After all, where is “transubstantiation” in Scripture? What about “infallibility” or “immaculately conceived”? The Catholic doctrines concerning Mary, the Eucharist, and the Pope seem to many to be utterly groundless innovations of a Roman theology that has become hopelessly speculative. After all, what’s the point? Why do we need Mary and the Pope and the Eucharist? Why become distracted with these fringe issues when all that matters is that the Christian grow in divine life? All we want, all we need, is a personal relationship with God. Fair enough. That is all we want, and that is all we need. But there are two things to keep in mind when we talk about a personal relationship with God. The first is that God isn’t a person, He’s Three Persons. The second thing to remember is that a personal relationship can only be cultivated if there’s a point of contact – it might be through words, or through physical connection or through some other kind of expression, but you can’t build a relationship in a vacuum. So the question becomes: what are those contact points where Christians can relate to God, where they can cultivate a loving connection between themselves and the Father, Son and Spirit? Well, the answer of the Scriptures and the Catholic Church of today is pretty clear; those contact points are Mary, the Eucharist, and the Pope.   The Pope: Point of Contact with the Father             The Catholic Church has always seen the establishment of the papacy as being rooted in Matthew 16:13ff, where Christ gives Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Before doing so, however, Jesus quizzes the Apostles on what people are saying about his identity. Of course, the poll comes back inconsistent, inconclusive and ultimately, inaccurate: “John the Baptist,” “Elijah,” “Jeremiah,” or some other prophet. So you can’t get the truth about Jesus just by doing a survey. Then Jesus asks the Apostles as a group, “Who do you say that I am?” The Apostles are silent. No one, apart from Peter, says a word. Maybe that’s why the Orthodox, who still have successors of the Apostles, haven’t been able to call a general council since they separated from the Pope. Apart from Peter, they are silent. In any case, Peter steps forward and gets the right answer, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” How does Jesus react? By saying this, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” What, then, is the source of Peter’s gift, of Peter’s true and reliable profession of faith? It is the heavenly Father. He who before all Ages uttered the Eternal Word now gives His revealed word through the lips of Peter, the Rock. People form relationships through words. If there’s someone you love, you ask that person to...

read more
Skip to toolbar