Peter’s Faith in the Living God

You are the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16)

St. Peter confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that God lives. He exists; He lives.

The Lord Jesus Himself certainly taught that God lives. God sees in secret. He cares for every sparrow and every flower of the field. He counts the hairs on our heads. He makes the sun shine and the rain fall on the just and the unjust. He knows the human heart and demands honesty. He is the God of the living, not the dead. His kingdom comes. He seeks the lost. He forgives sins. His Word is truth. He wills the salvation of man. He begets children by the Holy Spirit. God is alive.

Moses burning bushJesus teaches this. St. Peter confessed it. The Church believes it. God lives. God is infinitely more alive than we are. Our life comes from His life. Sure: our parents gave each of us life. But who gave it to them? Okay, well, who gave it to our grandparents? Who gave it to our great-grandparents? Etc., etc. Who gave it to Adam and Eve? And who sustains us in existence? Who gives us hope and the prospect of life without end?
God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that’s Who. The Lord Jesus testified that all of the life He Himself has comes from the Father. And Jesus promised to share that undying life with everyone who believes.

With St. Peter and all his successors, we believe this. We believe that God lives, and that Jesus lives, and that all the saints live. The Church stands on this faith, and our faith is true. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church, because the gates of hell cannot prevail against the truth. They cannot prevail against the vigor of God.

Miranda Lambert Sacrilege?


Does this song cry out to heaven for vengeance? Or is it actually something (kind-of) beautiful?

I would not hold it forward as the best poem of the 21st century. That said, the image shines forth clear enough.

I think the Lord would object to being presented as Someone with Whom to throw back a few backstage. After all, we read as much about the prayer, study, and austerity in His pilgrim life as we do about His attending wedding banquets.

But, on the other hand: Isn’t it true that, yes, He would understand a heart like mine? And that Sacred Scripture does teach us to look forward to a banquet, which probably would involve long-stemmed glasses?

Chime in with your thoughts, if you please.

Proton-Torpedo the Devil

What actually is the great drama? The decisive conflict? North Carolina vs. Duke? Republicans vs. Democrats? Dog people vs. cat people?

The strong man, fully armed, guards his palace…

We know that Mother Nature possesses many frightening powers. Tornadoes can level whole towns. Tsunamis can drown cities. Hurricanes can cripple coastlines.

All of these forces of natural destruction, however, look like so many wavelets lapping in a kiddie pool, when compared to the power of Satan.

All the volcanic eruptions in the history of the world cannot ruin a single human soul. If and when the sun explodes, the force of the blast will not of itself bring about a single sin. But even Satan’s least powerful minions have been known to turn whole television networks into sin factories, with minimal effort.

Who can fight with more strength than Lucifer? Who has more powerful weapons than all the riches of the world, all the pleasure of the flesh, and all the pride of human pomp and splendor?

The great drama, the great conflict. Satan vs. the well-read carpenter.

The conflict began in the beginning. Satan, immeasurably stronger, smarter, and more beautiful than Adam and Eve, hated us. He hates our race. We look like worms to him. And yet God treats us like His children. Satan burns with an uncontrollable, unending jealous rage, like Glenn Close boiling the bunny forever.

The drama—the conflict—will end when history ends, not before. Man on earth can never altogether escape the Enemy’s depredations. His weapons are everywhere.

But: In the little corner of the world where camels make their way between Egypt and Arabia, the carpenter doled out the Holy Spirit with flashes of infinite power. Then the stronger Man deployed the decisive weapon.

He went nuclear. He shot the proton torpedo into the Death Star’s thermal exhaust port.

What did He do? What fire-forged sword can actually overpower the strong man who made the earth his palace back in the days when fruit grew in the Garden of Eden?

Obedience. Humble, brave, serene, faithful obedience. The Messiah did the will of the Father. They nailed His gentle hands to the cross. At that point, Satan was toast.

Best (Valentine’s) Plan: Holy Mass instead of Cupiditas

On the Mediterranean coast, north of the Holy Land, the Phoenicians worshiped the goddess we usually call Venus.

King Solomon, as we read, fell under the sway of a Phoenician woman. He betrayed his god, the God of Israel, the source of all true wisdom.

Then, as we read, the God of Israel visited Phoenicia. The Wisdom of God calmly walked into Venus’ territory. And another Phoenician woman forsook the pagan goddess and believed in Him. She entrusted the well-being of her possessed daughter to the Holy One of Israel, the Christ.

He came to conquer the demons. He came to deliver us from the shadow of evil, false worship, sin. He came to open up the door of truth.

The truth is: God Almighty, the one and only, loves everyone. He wills everyone’s eternal salvation–by the practice of true religion, the religion Jesus Christ brought to the world.

Let’s humble ourselves, entrust our prayers to Christ–like the second Phoenician woman did—and offer the one genuinely worthy sacrifice to God: Jesus Christ, and ourselves united with Him.

Vatican II and the Atheist

Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose I have come. (Mark 1:38)

Christ cured St. Peter’s mother-in-law of her fever. But He did not do it simply so that she could get up and serve Him a cup of cool water and a falafel sandwich.

Continue reading “Vatican II and the Atheist”

Woe to you Pharisees, you fools!

(Luke 11:40)

In the beginning, man fell away from God. Many generations passed, during which the silent sky stretched over human history. Then God called Abraham.

The friendship between the Lord and Abraham was so pure and intimate that succeeding generations had a very difficult time getting a grip on it.

Fundamentally, Abraham lived with his heart lifted up to the Lord, trusting in His gracious promises. Abraham did not fret that he would die before the promises were fulfilled. Instead, his pure heart rejoiced in simple trust. God is good. He will provide.

This faith of Abraham, the faith of Israel, reaches into the absolute epicenter of the human soul. It is as invisible as God Himself.

Over the course of the history of the Chosen People, the holy faith manifested itself in different external trappings. The law written on the inner heart of man was spelled out in stone on Mt. Sinai. Abraham’s religious acts were carried out perpetually in the Temple in Jerusalem. King David ruled the people with the same faith, and he sang it in the Psalms.

Then the Israelites were driven into exile by their enemies. All the external trappings were taken away. The Temple was razed to the ground. The line of kings was broken.

But the pure faith of Abraham endured. It had always been directed to the future anyway. The faith and hope of the Israelite lived on, through the war-torn centuries that followed the exile, when the Jews found themselves back in the Holy Land, but nonetheless oppressed by one pagan empire after another.

The living guardians of the faith of Abraham were the Pharisees. Their teaching and example protected their disciples from the worldliness and cynicism of the pagans. The post-exilic Jewish monarchy could lay no real claim to the inheritance of King David, and the priestly class just went through the motions. In other words, the traditional institutions of the Chosen People had been completely corrupted by outside influences.

But the Pharisees guarded the separateness of the chosen nation. “Pharisee” means ‘separate from the heathen.’ They taught Jews how to keep their homes and towns quiet, hidden enclaves of pure faith.

Except when they didn’t. Except when they took their place right alongside all the other sons of Adam. Except when they, too, fell prey to vanity and greed. Except when their ‘pure’ observances covered over their selfishness and meanness.

Christ reserved his harsh words for the ones who came within millimeters of the truth, but missed it. He expressed nothing but patient compassion for humble sinners who knew perfectly well that they fell far from the mark. But the ones who got close enough to being right that they forgot that God is God and we are not? That’s how you make the Son of God mad.

Abraham rejoiced to look forward to the day of Christ. Abraham believed in the fulfillment to come. The Pharisees guarded the faith of Abraham so ferociously that, when the Messiah came, they tried to lock Him outside the house.

Friday Penance

The Lord Jesus died for us on Friday, and He arose from the dead on Sunday. It happened nearly two millennia ago. But the significance of these events does not fade. We want to keep them in mind.

The death and resurrection of Christ took place in the springtime, at Passover, at the first full moon after the vernal equinox. So we keep Holy Week and Easter every year, to make sure the events of salvation stay fresh in our minds, at the time of year when they originally happened.

But, obviously, commemorating our salvation once a year is not often enough.

We need to commemorate it at least once a week.

So every Sunday we remember the resurrection of Christ in church. We keep the Sabbath by remembering the resurrection of Christ.

Every Friday, we commemorate the Passion of Christ. As the Lord Jesus tells us in today’s gospel reading:

The days will come when the Bridegroom is taken away from the wedding guests. They will fast in those days.

He was taken away from us on a Friday; He returned to us on a Sunday. So, on Friday, we fast; we do penance; we keep the Passion of Christ in mind.

The traditional way to do this is to abstain from eating meat on Fridays. A generation ago, the shepherds of the Church decided to leave it up to us individually to decide what we would do to commemorate the Passion of Christ on the Fridays of the year outside of Lent.

Abstaining from meat still makes for a good Friday commemoration of the Passion. We can abstain from meat every Friday, just like we all do together during Lent.

Also, there are other options. Coming to Mass, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, saying the Rosary, making the Stations of the Cross, sacrificing some time for the good of others, visiting the sick, abstaining for some food or drink we like—all these make for a good Friday commemoration of the Passion, too.

Now, outside of Lent, the choice of how to remember Christ’s death on Friday is ours. But God forbid that we let a Friday pass without giving a thought to what our Lord did for us.

Source of Apostolic Zeal: the Promise

(for the Feast of St. Bartholomew)

The Holy Apostles acted with such great courage that they seem superhuman.

Among the Apostles, we know St. Paul the most intimately, since so many of his writings have been passed down to us. We know the details of how he willingly suffered every possible hardship for the sake of expanding the kingdom of Christ.

St. Paul nearly starved; he nearly drowned; was repeatedly imprisoned, flogged, beaten within an inch of his life. He patiently endured painful mistreatment of every kind—the willful misunderstanding of his motives by people he had helped, betrayal by people he loved, the unfair judgment of countless supposed allies. In the end, he willingly bent his neck under the executioner’s axe, rather than deny Christ.

All the Apostles acted with similarly astonishing zeal and dedication. The Church expanded from a small band of dreamers, apparently beaten in an obscure Roman province, to a unified worldwide organization.

In other words, a great miracle of social development occurred. And at the heart of this miracle lies the Apostles’ superhuman zeal. Where did it come from?

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Will He Judge?

Jesus said: “The Father commanded me what to say and speak, and I know that his commandment is eternal life.”

On a number of occasions, Christ declined to present Himself as the supreme judge which, in fact, He is.

Once, He told his audience that the Ninevites of old and the ancient Queen of Sheba would judge them, because these pagans had listened to, and heeded, the Word of God.

Christ told His faithful Apostles that they, His appointed teachers, would judge the Twelve tribes of Israel.

He asked an aggrieved plaintiff, “Friend, who appointed me your judge and arbitrator?”

And right before the Last Supper, the Lord Jesus insisted: ‘I came to save, not to judge. My doctrine itself will judge those who fail to heed it.’

Continue reading “Will He Judge?”