Faith Check – with Greg Youell

Temporal Consequences for Sin

play audio Faith Check 29   Temporal Consequences for Sin

Common sense tells us that our sins have consequences.  If after committing a sin, we confess, then God promises to forgive us.  Yet there can still remain what the Church calls a “temporal punishment,” or consequence, for our sin.

For instance, in 2 Samuel 12 after David confesses his sin of adultery, the prophet Nathaniel tells him that the Lord has forgiven him, but nevertheless he will suffer the death of his child as a consequence of his sin.1  Our relationship with God is a personal one and our sins are not just rule violations, but personal offenses that need to be mended.

We can fulfill the temporal punishments for our sins through sincere sorrow for our sins, prayers, sacrifices, and acts of charity.

Mother Teresa and serving 300x212 Faith Check 29   Temporal Consequences for Sin

But as part of the Body of Christ, we can also assist in coming to the aid of our brothers and sisters, both living and dead.  This is the basic principle of the Church’s practice of indulgences, and undoubtedly what St. Paul has in mind in Colossians 1:24 where he says, “I rejoice in my sufferings, and complete what is lacking in Christ’s affliction for the sake of his body, the Church.”  Or perhaps it’s put best in 1 Peter 4:8, which simply states, “love covers a multitude of sins.”

1 –  2 Sam. 12:13-14


Greg Youell 1 Faith Check 26   Sacramentals with Greg Youell

Faith Check/Greg Youell

Sacramentals

play audio Faith Check 26   Sacramentals with Greg Youell

In the minds of non-Catholics, Catholicism often conjures images of Catholic stuff: candles, crucifixes, rosaries, statues, holy water, oils,
and the like.  These are called sacramentals—not to be confused with the seven sacraments, they are material items that the Lord uses as conduits of his blessing.
Because of our belief in sacramentals, Catholics have sometimes been accused of practicing magic.  But magic is the pagan or new age belief that an object has power in and of itself.  Sacramentals are the Christian belief that the living and true God uses His creation as instruments of grace and healing.Sacramentals Faith Check 26   Sacramentals with Greg Youell

Sacramentals appear all throughout the Scriptures.  James speaks of anointing with oil.1 Acts of the Apostles tells us that Paul’s handkerchiefs brought healing power to those they touched.2In the Old Testament, Elisha’s bones were used to bring a dead man back to life.3

And of course the Gospels portray Our Lord himself often using water, mud or even his own spit to perform mighty works of healing and cleansing, a power which Jesus passed on to his priests to be continued to this day.4  Sacramentals are neither magic nor make believe, but powerful weapons to be utilized in our spiritual journeys.

1 –  Js. 5:14

2 –  Acts 19:11-12

3 –  2 Kgs. 13:21

4 –  cf. Mt. 10:7-8; Lk. 10:18-20; Jn. 20:21-23, etc.


Greg Youell 1 Faith Check 27   Development of the Living Church w/Greg Youell

Faith Check/Greg Youell

Development of the Living Church

play audio Faith Check 27   Development of the Living Church w/Greg Youell

The celebrated English convert, John Henry Cardinal Newman, pointed out that the Catholic Church can be likened to a tiny acorn which grows into a tree—though it looks entirely different, it remains in its essence, the same thing.  Likewise, a human grows from a tiny child to an adolescent through adulthood to old age, yet he remains the same person with the same DNA.Vatican 300x225 Faith Check 27   Development of the Living Church w/Greg Youell

So too the Church grows and develops as the living Body of Christ.  Of course, the Church of over one billion people today is not a mirror image of the relatively tiny Church in the first century Mediterranean we read about in the New Testament—nor should it be.  The Church’s organization and outward forms are dynamic, not static, and must change to meet the needs of the age—yet the Church remains the same Church believing the same Faith.

The Church’s doctrine also grows and develops—never contradicting itself, but deepening with years of reflection and clarification.  For instance, it was not until Christ’s divinity was denied that the Nicene Council gave us the Creed we profess each Sunday at Mass, which states precisely what we do and do not believe about our Lord. And so the grows the Church until the consummation of time.


Eucharistic Miracleseucharistic miracle 199x300 Faith Check 23   Eucharistic Miracles

play audio Faith Check 23   Eucharistic Miracles

For 2,000 years, Catholics have believed that the Holy Eucharist more than a mere symbolic reminder, but the actual Body and Blood of Christ.  Of course, the Eucharist still looks and tastes like bread and wine, but a miraculous change takes place that our eyes cannot perceive.

Throughout history, however, God has sometimes worked Eucharistic Miracles, in which the Eucharist physically appears as flesh and blood.

One of the most famous such events occurred in the year 700 A.D. at Lanciano, Italy.  During Mass one day, a monk who had been doubting his Faith was shocked as the bread and wine suddenly changed into flesh and blood before his very eyes.  News of the miracle spread rapidly, and the miraculous flesh and blood have been preserved to this day in the church.

In the 1970s, this same flesh and blood were submitted to a rigorous scientific examination. The study determined that there they contained no preservatives; that the flesh was of human heart tissue; while the blood was human blood, type AB. It was also noted that the receptacle that contained them for centuries had not been hermetically sealed, meaning that they had been exposed to the elements and otherwise would have decayed or spoiled within days. The study concluded that there was no scientific possibility of fraud, confirming the belief of the faithful that Eucharistic Miracle at Lanciano was authentic.


lectio 1 Faith Check 22   Lectio DivinaLectio Divina

play audio Faith Check 22   Lectio Divina

When the Holy Father says that the practice of a certain devotion would lead to nothing less than the renewal of the Church,1 we do well to sit up and take notice.

Pope Benedict XVI said exactly this about the practice of lectio divina, which is an ancient form of praying over the Scriptures.  In lectio divina, a passage is read and followed by silence.  The hearers focus on a single word or phrase that jumps out at them and allow the “still small voice of the Lord” to speak to their hearts.  The same passage is read another two or three more times, with each reading followed by another period of silence, and a time of sharing may follow for the edification of all.

Many parishes are starting groups for lectio divina and it can also be done during individual prayer time.  Sacred Scripture is our spiritual food, the lamp unto our feet and director of our steps.  But this can’t happen if God’s Word remains on our bookshelf collecting dust.

Let us crack open our Bibles and not only read God’s Word, but prayerfully and slowly listen to what the Holy Spirit is speaking personally to us this day.

1 –  From Address of Pope Benedict XVI to the Participants of the International Congress Organized to Commemorate the
40th Anniversary of the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation ‘Dei Verbum’: “If [Lectio divina] is effectively
promoted, this practice will bring ot the Church – I am convinced of it – a new spiritual springtime.”


 


Mortal Sin

play audio Faith Check 20   Mortal Sin

sin 300x200 Faith Check 20   Mortal SinYou know, we shouldn’t kid ourselves that we can’t earn God’s love.  That’s about as foolish as a kid down the street trying to earn his way into my family by mowing my lawn every week.  To be reborn in Christ is to be adopted as God’s son or daughter, 1 something that could never be purchased or earned.

Nevertheless, there are still certain requirements for remaining part of that family.  Just as a child can get himself kicked out of the house or even disinherited, so too we can separate ourselves from God’s grace through what the Church traditionally calls mortal sin.2  These sins can take the form of co-mmission, such as hatred or adultery, or o-mission, such as ignoring those in need or refusing to forgive someone.

Paul exhorts us in 1 Corinthians 10 to not be like the Israelites, who, in spite of having been liberated from the slavery of Egypt, baptized in the Red Sea, and fed with manna from heaven in the desert, failed to enter the Promised Land because of their disobedience.3

So if today you hear his voice, brothers and sisters, harden not your hearts!

1 –  cf. 1 Jn. 3:1

2 –  cf. Mt. 7:21; Rom. 6:21; 8:12; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 7:19; Gal. 5:17-21; Js. 1:15; 1 Jn. 2:4; 3:22; 5:3; Rev. 2:5, 12:17; 14:12;
22:11; etc.

2 –  1 Cor. 10:1-6

 



God’s Plan for Marriagemarriage Faith Check 18   Gods Plan for Marriage

play audio Faith Check 18   Gods Plan for Marriage

Bishops 240x300 Faith Check 17   Apostolic Succession of BishopsApostolic Succession of Bishops

play audio Faith Check 17   Apostolic Succession of Bishops

There are many forms of church governance among Christians today.  In some churches congregations vote to make decisions; in others the church is run by a group of elders; and in still others, authority resides with bishops.

While all Christians point to Scripture to support their church structure, it is very difficult to determine the precise way the early Church was governed from the Bible alone.

But in the year 110 A.D., only about 50 years after most of the New Testament was written, St. Ignatius of Antioch described the early church leadership in his letters:  Each area was led by a single bishop who was accompanied by priests and deacons in ministry.

Ignatius wrote, “let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop.  Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he appoints. … [T]his … is pleasing to God, so that whatever is done will be secure and valid.”1

Ignatius himself was with the apostle John, so we have every reason to trust that this basic church structure which the Catholic Church has to this day comes from the apostles themselves.

1 – Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8:1



Born Again in Baptism

play audio Faith Check 14 –  Born Again in Baptism
play audio Faith Check 14 –  Born Again in Baptism

Are you born again? It’s a question that Catholics aren’t quite sure how to respond to, but those who are living out their faith should answer with a whole-hearted Yes.baptism1 300x148 Faith Check 14 –  Born Again in Baptism

The term “born again” comes from John 3 when our Lord tells Nicodemus, “Amen, Amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above,”1 or “born again,” as some translations put it. Nicodemus is confused, thinking that Jesus is referring to a 2nd physical birth, so Jesus clarifies that “no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.”2 The early Church unanimously interpreted this as a reference to the sacrament of baptism, 3 which is no mere symbolic ritual, but the normative instrument that Christ instituted for our spiritual rebirth.
Romans 6 says that in baptism our old natures are buried and we are raised to new life in Christ. 4 And 1 Peter 3:21 puts it plainly, “baptism now saves you.”
Salvation is a lifelong process, a race to the finish line. But baptism is where it all begins, where we are born again, if you will.
1 – Jn. 3:3
2 – Jn. 3:5
3 – See Catholic Answers website on subject: http://www.catholic.com/library/Born_Again_in_Baptism.asp
4 – Rom. 6:3-4


Works of the Law

play audio Faith Check 13 –  Works of the Law

In Romans and Galatians, St. Paul warns about those trying to justify themselves before God byPaulFresco 261x300 Faith Check 13 –  Works of the Law following the works of the Law. 

To properly understand this, we must look at the historical context.  As we read in the Acts, there was a group in the early Church called the “Judaizers,”1 which taught that Gentile converts to Christianity must be circumcised and follow the kosher laws.

Paul says in no uncertain terms that those trying to be saved through these Old Testament works of the Law have rejected Christ and lost their salvation.

The attitude of the Judaizers is contrasted with the faith of Abraham,2 who trusted and obeyed God even to the point of offering his own son, Isaac.  Paul’s point is not that our works have no bearing on our salvation, but rather that these particular Jewish rituals were not necessary for eternal life.

For the same Romans that teaches “a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law,”3 also says that God “shows no partiality … [for] he will render to everyone according to his works..” 4

There is no contradiction, as long as we correctly understand what Paul meant by the works of the law.

1 –  cf. Acts 15:1-6, etc.

2 –  Rom. 4:1ff

3 –  3:28

4 –  2:6-10


Liturgy of the Hours

play audio Faith Check 12 – Liturgy of the Hours
play audio Faith Check 12 – Liturgy of the Hours

prayinghands 224x300 Faith Check 12 – Liturgy of the HoursFor centuries Catholic priests, monks and nuns sanctified their days by praying the Psalms.  This practice was inherited from the Jews, who prayed at set times in the temple.  The Western Church was largely influenced by the Benedictine monks, who immersed themselves in the Psalms seven times each day, in addition to Mass and private prayer.

The Church today encourages the laity to pray a shorter form of this called the “Liturgy of the Hours.”  The two major parts of this are called morning prayer and evening prayer, and there are also readings for each day corresponding to the seasons of the Church’s liturgical calendar.

Praying the Liturgy of the Hours can be a powerful tool.  It helps us acquire the discipline of regular prayer and fills our hearts and minds with Scripture as we go about our days.  I once heard a priest say every single one of the priests he knew who had left the priesthood had stopped praying their daily office of prayer.

For more info talk to your priest or Catholic bookstore, and cover your household in spiritual protection each day with Mass, rosary, and the Liturgy of the Hours


Canon of Scripture

play audio Faith Check 11   Canon of Scripture

On this Faith Check, let’s talk a little about how we got God’s Holy Word.

The early Christians relied on the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which is the version most often quoted in the New Testament and the one Jesus probably heard growing up.  This version also6949759 300x195 Faith Check 11   Canon of Scripture includes the books that Protestants call the “Apocrypha” and typically don’t include in their Bibles.

It took a while for the Catholic Church to compile the New Testament.  Some books such as the 4 gospels were accepted by all, and others, such as the spurious gospels one hears about in The DaVinci Code were rejected by all. However, other books were completely orthodox but disputed, including some that weren’t ultimately included such as The Didache and others that were like Hebrews and Revelation.

The “canon”, which is the list of books that belong in the Bible, was determined primarily to say which books could and could not be read at the liturgy, and was largely settled by a series of Church councils approved by the Pope and bishops in the late 300s.1

Hence, when you trust in the inspiration of the Bible, you are trusting a Spirit-led decision of the Roman Catholic Church.

1 –  Council of Rome under Pope St. Damasus I [A.D. 382], Council of Hippo [A.D. 393], Council of Carthage [A.D. 397],
Epistle of Pope St. Innocent I to Bishop Exuperius [A.D. 405]


Reliability of Oral Tradition

play audio Faith Check 10   Reliability of Oral Tradition

In the modern world, oral means of communication are deemed inherently unreliable as we’ve all heard of the game of telephone where a phrase is whispered around a circle and it comes out nothing like the original.

But scholars have shown that in the ancient world, and to this day in some places, oral traditions wereRaphael aka Raffaello Sanzi 300x233 Faith Check 10   Reliability of Oral Tradition memorized and passed down to multiple generations without alteration.1

When the apostles went out to teach the Faith, they did not whisper it in secret, but proclaimed it publicly to the multitudes.  Oral tradition was the normative means of passing on the faith, as St. Paul’s says in 2 Timothy 2:2, “what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

There is no evidence that a widespread change in belief took place among the early Christians.  Quite the opposite, at the end of the second century St. Irenaeus wrote that while the Church had spread over the entire known world, the Faith had been maintained in tact everywhere,2 something only attributable to the Holy Spirit.

1 –  e.g., . Kenneth Bailey, “Informal, Controlled, Oral Tradition and the Synoptic Gospels” Asia Journal of Theology, 5.1
(1991)

2 –  Against Heresies 1:10:2 [ca. A.D. 180]



The Place of the Bible in the Church

play audio Faith Check 9   The Place of the Bible in the Church

You know, as Catholics we believe that the Bible is God’s Holy and Inspired Word.

However, we don’t hold that our Lord intended the Bible alone to be our sole teacher in the Christian faith.pope gospel Faith Check 9   The Place of the Bible in the Church

Just think how easily the meaning of our e-mails can be misinterpreted, sometimes causing great strife between people.  Then take the Bible, which is infinitely longer, more complex, and written over a millennia ago in a world very different from our own, and we can begin to see why Jesus wouldn’t leave His teaching to just a book.

The Church looks to what it calls Sacred Tradition—which is rooted in things like Church Councils, Creeds, and the early Fathers of the Church—to safeguard our interpretation of God’s Word.  All of the Catholic Church’s beliefs can be traced back to the earliest Christians.

Our Lord also chose the twelve apostles to go out and make disciples of all nations1 and promised them the assistance of the Holy Spirit.2 The apostles ordained bishops who have succeeded them down to this present day.3 The Catholic Church is a living voice that rings out for all to hear, proclaiming and interpreting God’s Word to every generation.4

1 –  Mt. 28:20

2 –  Jn. 14:26

3 –  cf. Acts 14:23; 1 Tim. 3:1-8; 2 Tim. 1:6; 2:2; Tit. 1:5; Js. 5:14; 1 Pt. 5:1; Jd. 8ff

4 –  cf. 1 Tim. 3:15; Mt. 16:18


Sacred Tradition

play audio Faith Check 8   Sacred Tradition

On this Faith Check we’re talking about Tradition!
For many Christians, Tradition can be a sort of dirty word. This is probably because of Jesus’ harsh words for the tradition of the Pharisees,1 who added unnecessary rituals and ignored the weightier matters of God’s Law.the catholic faith is rich  300x267 Faith Check 8   Sacred Tradition
But some traditions can be good and helpful in our spiritual journey. Things like putting up a Nativity scene, praying the rosary, or fasting. These are not doctrines, but customs that we do as Catholics to help draw us closer to God.
Catholics also speak of Sacred Tradition with a “capital T,” which is the very message of Christ that has been faithfully handed down to us from the apostles.2 For example, St. Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 to “stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” Here Scripture itself teaches that the Word of God can come to us both through written Scripture and oral Tradition—either way, we are to receive it equally as God’s Word.
For a synopsis of the Sacred Tradition today, pick up a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
1 – Mk. 7:6-23, etc.
2 – cf. 1 Cor. 11:2, etc.