Unlikely Apostles

Sunday, June 29, AD 2014


To: Jesus, Son of Joseph
Woodcrafter’s Carpenter Shop
Nazareth 25922

From: Jordan Management Consultants

Dear Sir:

Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.

The profiles of all tests are included, and you will want to study each of them carefully.

As part of our service, we make some general comments for your guidance, much as an auditor will include some general statements. This is given as a result of staff consultation, and comes without any additional fee.

It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.

Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew had been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.

One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory.

We wish you every success in your new venture.


Jordan Management Consultants

I have long thought that God has a very well developed sense of humor, and nowhere is that attribute of God more in evidence than in His selection of the human instruments He chooses to work His Will.  Saint Peter was a fisherman and God chose him to be the first Pope.  I assume that almost everyone, including Peter, thought that Christ had made a great mistake in doing this, since other than having a big heart, Peter had no other qualities to the casual observer that would explain why Christ chose him.  Such doubts were underlined when Peter, as predicted by Christ, denied Him three times after the arrest of Christ.  Yet Peter, after the Resurrection, would be transformed into a heroic leader, fearlessly preaching the message of Christ, leading the Church from a small band in Judea into a religion spanning the Mediterranean and beyond.  The big fisherman had been a good choice after all.

No such initial doubts would have concerned the worthiness of Saul of Tarsus for some important office.  He was a keen scholar of the Scriptures, a riveting speaker and utterly fearless.  He was also on the other side, a persecutor of Christianity as a hideous blasphemy against I AM.  In less than the twinkling of an eye God seizes upon His enemy and transforms him into a zealous champion of the New Way, a man who from being afraid of the transformation of Judaism by the teachings of Christ, into the Apostle of Christ to the Gentiles.

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8 Responses to Unlikely Apostles

John Wayne Catholics Throughout History

Saturday, September 7, AD 2013

This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy’s motives for creating a dangerous world – a world in which moral issues really come to the point. He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.

CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Paul has mentioned here the wonderful post by Pat Archbold in which he longs for John Wayne, a death bed Catholic convert, Catholicism as opposed to what he calls the Woody Allen Catholicism adopted by too many Catholics in the past half century:

Oh how I long for a religion with enough boldness to loudly, proudly, and  incessantly proclaim uncomfortable truths, even to its own supposed adherents,  until they all understand what it means to be Catholic.

How I long for a religion with that quiet and gentle resoluteness. A  religion that can acknowledge the mistakes of its members while loudly  proclaiming the Church One, Holy, Apostolic, and Infallible.

I desire John Wayne Catholicism in a Woody Allen world.

But the thing about John Wayne characters, without fanfare, gratitude,  understanding, or appreciation, they just did what needed doing for no other  reason than it was the right thing.

So I guess I will just try to do that.

I agree.  The Catholicism that Pat longs for is the Catholicism that has existed throughout almost all the history of the Church.  Some reminders:




1.  John Sobieski- After defeating the Turks at Vienna in 1683 he sent the green flag of Islam to the Pope with this message:  “Venimus, Vidimus, Deus vincit”!  (We came, we saw, God conquered!)

2.  The Martyrs of Otranto-Twelve years before Christopher Columbus discovered a New World, 800 men and boys of Otranto laid down their lives for Christ.  The city of Otranto, at the heel of the boot of Italy, was seized by the Turks under Gedik Ahmed Pasha, grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire.  Archbishop Stefano Argercolo de Pendinellis was murdered in his cathedral by the Turks and the garrison commander was sawn in half.  Following a massacre of most of the population the Turks offered some 800 men and boys the choice between conversion to Islam or death.  Led by an elderly tailor, Antonio Pezzulla, the men and boys chose death rather than apostacy, and were beheaded on the hill of Minvera outside the town on August 14, 1480, their families forced by the Turks to help in the executions.

The witness of the martyrs of Otranto was truly remarkable.  Not priests or soldiers, they were just plain, ordinary folk.  They had every earthly reason to attempt to save their lives, but with supernatural courage they went to their deaths for a love that passes understanding.  The old tailor spoke for them all when he addressed them after the Turks had given them their grim choice:

My brothers, until today we have fought in defense of our country, to save our lives, and for our lords; now it is time that we fight to save our souls for our Lord, so that having died on the cross for us, it is good that we should die for him, standing firm and constant in the faith, and with this earthly death we shall win eternal life and the glory of martyrs.

The martyrs in response cried out that they were willing to die a thousand times for Christ.

3.  Archbishop John Hughes-After the anti-Catholic riots in Philadelphia in 1844 he called on the mayor of New York, an anti-Catholic bigot, and informed him that if a single Catholic church were touched in New York, New York would be a second Moscow.  (The reference was to the burning of Moscow in 1812 during Napoleon’s occupation of the city.) Not a Catholic church was touched.  On another occasion when a threat was made to burn Saint Patrick’s cathedral the Archbishop had it guarded within hours by 4,000 armed Catholics.  No wonder his enemies and friends nicknamed him “Dagger John”!

4.  Father Joe Lacy-On June 6, 1944 at 7:30 AM,  LCA 1377 landed the Rangers on Omaha Dog Green Beach, the first landing craft to land on that section of Omaha Beach.  Father Lacy was the last man out just before an artillery shell hit the fantail.  Everything was chaos with the beach being swept by German artillery and small arms fire.  Wounded men were everywhere, both on the beach and in the water feebly trying to get to the beach.  Father Lacy did not hesistate.  With no thought for his own safety he waded into the water to pull men out of the ocean and onto the beach.  He began treating the wounded on the beach and administering the Last Rites to those beyond human assistance.  On a day when courage was not in short supply men took notice of this small fat priest who was doing his best under fire to save as many lives as he could.  While his battalion led the way off Omaha Beach, Father Lacy continued to tend their  wounded and the wounded of other units.  For his actions that day Father Lacy was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest decoration for valor, after the Medal of Honor, in the United States Army.

5.  Don John of Austria and his Men-Before the battle of Lepanto Don John of Austria went about the ships of his fleet and said this to his crews:  ‘My children, we are here to conquer or die. In death or in victory, you will win immortality.’  The chaplains of the fleet preached sermons on the theme:  “No Heaven For Cowards”.    Many of the men were clutching rosaries just before the battle.  Admiral Andrea Doria went into the fight with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe aboard his ship.  Back in Europe countless Catholics were praying rosaries at the request of Saint Pope Pius V for the success of the Christian fleet.

At the hour of the battle, and this fact is very well attested, the Pope was talking to some cardinals in Rome.  He abruptly ceased the conversation, opened a window and looked heavenward.  He then turned to the cardinals and said:   “It is not now a time to talk any more upon business; but to give thanks to God for the victory he has granted to the arms of the Christians.”  So that Catholics would never forget Lepanto and the intercession of Mary, he instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victory.  To aid in this remembrance G. K. Chesterton in 1911 wrote his epic poem Lepanto: 


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35 Responses to John Wayne Catholics Throughout History

  • You’ve got reality messed up with hollywood romanticism.
    John Wayne was a deathbed conversion to Catholicism much the same as Constantine. Although the Wayne family was Catholic, …John Wayne always married Hispanic Catholic wives. He had 3 marriages and 2 divorces. One of John Waynes grandsons is a Catholic priest and has received some press as a ‘Surfing Priest’.

    So one is not really a John Wayne Catholic in any way, anymore than one is an Errol Flynn Catholic or an Alec Baldwin Catholic or a Anthony Quinn Catholic.
    Anthony Quinn by the way was born Catholic , buried a Baptist had several wives and divorces and several children out of wedlock. Although he played a Pope in the movies.

    Orange County, California

  • I guess you didn’t bother to read the original post by Pat Archbold RB or my post that I linked to about the deathbed conversion of John Wayne that fully covered his marital misadventures. Reading: it saves so much wasted effort in commenting. I did like the comparison of Wayne to Constantine, completely erroneous but colorful.

  • I’m just tired of *you guys* (writers) passing off undeserving actors as examples to Catholics. I grew up in a studio town of LA, roamed the sets, these are actors not examples of christian virtue or icons of Christianity. I’ve had quotes read to me from Anthony Quinn during a homily at mass once. Now you and others are promoting John Wayne to us.

    Roman Martyrology has more examples of heroism than celluloid figures. Take St. George who did the right thing speaking boldly to Diocletian and then promptly losing his life. All the myths aside.

    As to me not reading Archbolds article, yes I didnt read it first before replying.
    But I didnt need to, you see I’ve heard and read it all before, I live next to John Wayne Airport in Orange County California.
    He’s was a native here! Him and his grandson(Munoz) gets press here both in the newspapers and the Catholic media. I note that you or Archbolds article contained an error claiming that John Wayne lost his scholarship to USC because of a football incident. Thats erroneous as to the cause of the injury.

    As to the similarity between Constantine and John Wayne, delaying their entrance into the faith, you claim it erroneous?

    Tell me how I am wrong?

  • “I’m just tired of *you guys* (writers) passing off undeserving actors as examples to Catholics.”

    Once again you completely missed the point. No one was attempting to pass John Wayne off as an exemplar for Catholics and it is obtuse of you to pretend otherwise.

    “Take St. George who did the right thing speaking boldly to Diocletian and then promptly losing his life.”

    The whole point of Archbold’s post is that Catholicism in our day does not boldly and fearlessly proclaim the truth. That is his Woody Allen Catholicism which he contrasts with John Wayne Catholicism. Sheesh, his post was not hard to understand.

    “As to me not reading Archbolds article, yes I didnt read it first before replying.”

    That was obvious and now you are flailing about to justify your original erroneous comment.

    “Tell me how I am wrong?”

    Constantine had been a Catholic in belief for decades before his death. He delayed baptism until death approached, not uncommon for his time, due to rigorist concerns about the efficacy of the forgiveness of sins following baptism. John Wayne had no such concerns and did not delay entry into the Church for that reason.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deathbed_conversion
    A deathbed conversion is the adoption of a particular religious faith shortly before dying.

    Perhaps the most momentous conversion in Western history was that of Constantine I, Roman Emperor and later proclaimed a Christian Saint. While his belief in Christianity occurred long before his death, it was only on his deathbed that he was baptised, in 337.

    Sickness and death
    The Baptism of Constantine, as imagined by students of Raphael

    Constantine had known death would soon come. Within the Church of the Holy Apostles, Constantine had secretly prepared a final resting-place for himself.[245] It came sooner than he had expected. Soon after the Feast of Easter 337, Constantine fell seriously ill.[246] He left Constantinople for the hot baths near his mother’s city of Helenopolis (Altinova), on the southern shores of the Gulf of İzmit. There, in a church his mother built in honor of Lucian the Apostle, he prayed, and there he realized that he was dying. Seeking purification, he became a catechumen, and attempted a return to Constantinople, making it only as far as a suburb of Nicomedia.[247] He summoned the bishops, and told them of his hope to be baptized in the River Jordan, where Christ was written to have been baptized. He requested the baptism right away, promising to live a more Christian life should he live through his illness.

  • Your right.
    I commented on this, your title: “John Wayne Catholics Throughout History”

    Its your bait and I criticized it!
    I criticize using the lure of sinful actors, most of whom have not lived their lives in any kind of accordance with the gospel, being presented as a lure to Catholicism.

  • Thankfully John Travolta didnt pick his parts anywhere near as well as John Wayne.
    Even though Travolta’s mortal sexual sins(gay vs. divorce/multiple marriages) are of a different nature than John Waynes, they are still mortal sin.
    Somehow, I dont think you’d be calling for us to be ‘John Travolta Catholics’.

  • Priests and those in the religious life will relate how they dont watch much TV because it can lead them astray. Being constantly exposed to the culture through TV and movies can warp our perceptions and values. Good faithful Catholic I knw who I presume would, or maybe not, suffer through a bad marriage because of their Catholic convictions. They relate to me how this or that public figure should divorce their wife or husband and get someone else because of this or that humiliating offense(cheating,etc. ). I never mention that people should do divorce/remarriage even lightly.

    Do they mean it? But the culture affects them, and me and you to.
    Now you wouldnt’ mention ‘John Travolta Catholic’ , but in another 20+ years,
    with even a baser more pagan culture, your successor might.

  • If John Travolta were to repent on his deathbed, receive Confession, and die a good death, he’d be a model Catholic in that moment.

    Not all his life. But in that moment, the moment of the last chance, he would become one.

    The mystery of God’s mercy and our salvation is that we are encouraged to live well, but that even great sinners can often die well in Christ. Some of us are more like Mary and John and Mary Magdalene; but those of us who are more like the Good Thief can also be, this very day, with Jesus in Paradise, if we will call on Him. He calls us even at the eleventh hour, and He pays the last workers as generously as the first.

  • RB, it’s very clear from the post that the reference is to the sort of characters whom John Wayne played as an actor. Those characters did the right thing because it needed to be done, and without fanfare.

    It would be nice to have more of those Catholics. I know quite a few. They volunteer in the pregnancy centers and homes for unwed mothers. They step up for fundraisers for the pro life movement, and teach in RCIA and children’s religious ed. They don’t expect anything for it. They don’t trumpet what they’ve done. They just do it, and move on to the next task. Furthermore, they do it boldly. They don’t shrink from their Catholicism. They embrace it, and take courage from it. When adversity strikes, they overcome it.

  • Thank you for this post. Today, as I prayed for peace as Pope Francis requested, I thought about Don John and Sobieski and Charles Martel. Pacifism never brings peace. Strength of faith and willingness to defend that faith are what is needed today.

  • “John Wayne” is an archetype– as is made very obvious by the post itself.

    Though she didn’t decide to share it– I had the image of this fellow dancing in my head since I read SuburbanBanshee’s post on him.

    I just adore the mental image of someone smiting his attempted murderers with a stone cross….

  • Re: Omaha beach. Some died in the surf due to their heavily loaded water soaked backpacks.

  • As the valiant King John Sobieski has been mentioned already, may I throw in a few others?

    Pelayo, who escaped from a Muslim slave caravan in eight century Spain, went to Asturias and began La Reconquista. Queen Isabel the Catholic, who completed La Reconquista. Blessed Junipero Serra, who built the missions in California. Demetirus Gallitzin, who forfeited his place in Russian royalty and became the Missionary to the Alleghenies of west central Pennsylvania.

    Let us not forget the significance of today – September 8 – the birth of Mary, as well as September 12, the Most Holy Name of Mary.

  • “John Wayne Catholics” refers to the strong and good hero he played in the movies, as opposed to the uninspiring characters Although John Wayne’s choices of heroic roles may have had something to do with his inner life and “heliotropic” later years.

    And thanks Penguins Fan – great list. I add Miguel Pro.

  • well if on their death beds the most horrible of people make a good confession I was under the impression they could be saved just as the person who has led an exemplary life of holiness. Was Sister Gabriel wrong? I have always had problems with the likes of Hitler etc. So John Wayne wherever you are and whatever you’ve done there was always hope. Our Lord wanted ALL of His little lost sheep saved. Better late than never. Even if our silly minds can’t understand it. Oh and Don I get it. LOL

  • This is the problem with society in general, everything is taken out of context and distorted from its original intent to fit the liberal agenda, which is to destroy God’s plan and instill Satan’s. RB, get a life! John Wayne is being used as a metaphor meaning he always did the right thing in his movies and regardless of what type of things one does in their life they can and will be forgiven if they truly have truth in their heart.

  • i’ve got to be more careful- I had a pretty wordy comment and deleted part out of the middle– In my previous post I deleted more than I meant to! I should have said:

    “John Wayne Catholics” refers to the strong and good hero he played in the movies, as opposed to the uninspiring characters played by Woody Allen. The reference is to the roles they played in the movies, not necessarily their personal lives. Although John Wayne’s choices of heroic roles may have had something to do with his inner life and “heliotropic” later years.

  • Archbishop Hughes was hardly the hero that airbrushed biographies would suggest. While a champion of the Irish immigrants, he notoriously cold-shouldered the first influx of Italians. He also had approved the slave system when he visited plantations in the South and Cuba, and he preached on the benefits of slavery in Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1854. When the Irish leaders Daniel O’Connell and Father Theobald Mathew started an anti-slavery petition, Hughes accused them of interfering. Only reluctantly, and at the last moment, did he appeal for calm during the Draft Riots against blacks in Manhattan, largely the work of Irish Catholic immigrants, when 126 were killed and 2,000 injured and the Colored Orphans Asylum was burned to the ground in twenty minutes. In his rambling speech he did not mention slavery and instead attacked abolitionist Horace Greeley as a fanatical demagogue. The riots were stopped, not by him but by the arrival of state militiamen from Albany. His friendship with Secretary of State William Seward somewhat cooled over Hughes’ disapproval of the Emancipation Proclamation – Hughes thinking there should be a national referendum. The Civil War diarist, George Templeton Strong, was angry that Hughes was so tepid about emancipation. At the time of the archbishop’s funeral in January, 1864, he wrote: “Archbishop Hughes is dead. Pity he survived last June and committed the imbecility of his address to the rioters last July.”

  • 1. You left out that Archbishop Hughes worked with all his heart for the Union and that he helped keep foreign powers from intervening on the side of the Confederacy by undertaking a diplomatic mission to the Union. He opposed slavery, at least in the abstract, but thought that many of the abolitionists were dangerous fanatics as some of them, that is your cue John Brown, were. It did not help that some of the Northern abolitionists were also anti-Catholics and often butted heads with the Church. That was certainly the case with Horace Greeley who bashed the Church and the Irish on July 9, just prior to the draft riots. That is what Archbishop Hughes was referring to in his speech.


    2. George Templeton Strong was a Yankee blue blood bigot who despised both Catholics and Irish immigrants. Quoting him on Archbishop Hughes is akin to quoting Hitler on Churchill.

    3. Hughes was dying at the time he addressed the rioters; it is a miracle that he had the strength to make the address at all, and contrary to your statement it did have a calming effect on the rioters.

    4. Lincoln wrote on the death of Hughes:

    “[H]aving formed the Archbishop’s acquaintance in the earliest days of our country’s present troubles, his counsel and advice were gladly sought and continually received by the Government on those points which his position enabled him better than others to consider. At a conjuncture of deep interest to the country, the Archbishop, associated with others, went abroad, and did the nation a service there with all the loyalty, fidelity and practical wisdom which on so many other occasions illustrated his great ability for administration.”

  • “John Wayne Catholics” were by no means all men. One thinks of La Pucelle – On 29 April 1429, she arrived at the city of Orléans, which the English had been besieging since 12 October 1428. She took Les Augustins on 5 May, took the bridgehead of “les Tourelles” on the 6th when she was wounded and raised the siege on the 7th. The English abandoned their remaining positions on the 8th.

    Rejoining the army on 9th June, with no support from the Dauphin, who, as usual, had no money, in a lightening campaign, she took Jargeau on the 12th June, the bridge at Meung-sur-Loire and Meung itself on the 15th, Beaugency on the 17th and on the 18th completely routed the English relief force under Talbot, one of the greatest commanders of the day, at the battle of Patay.

    On 29th June, she set out for Rheims. Auxerre surrendered to her on 4th July, Troyes on the 5th, she entered Rheims on 16th July and on the following day, the Dauphin was anointed with the same holy oil with which Clovis had been anointed a thousand years earlier and crowned as Charles VII, Roi très-chrétien. No wonder the French call him Charles le Bien-Servi – Charles the well-served.

    All this, without considering her greatest victory, her glorious confession in the market-place of Rouen.

    Her statue at Orléans bears the words from the Book of Judith, “Fecísti viríliter, et confortátum est cor tuum” – For thou hast done manfully, and thy heart has been strengthened.

  • Shorter RB:

    “I don’t want these filthy, disgusting sinners in my church.”

  • Another point that doesn’t get emphasized enough about Don John is his humility: he was a man in his early twenties, appointed because Philip II insisted that a Spaniard be fleet commander, and he had minimal military experience.

    He sought out the advice and counsel of the savvy, experienced leader of the Venetians, Sebastiano Venier, and utilized it to perfection. A less sensible man would have been more insecure.

  • Also, an Arkansas SWAT team was justified in killing a 107 year-old geezer.

    “The riots were stopped, not by him but by the arrival of state militiamen from Albany.”

    Above, I quoted only one of the numerous misleading items in your comment, B. R.

    In fact,10,000 federal troops, fresh off the lines at Gettysburg, were deployed to massacre American cirtizens in New York City.

    ” . . . colonel of the 11th New York, Henry F. O’Brien, who was of Irish ancestry, after he used a howitzer to clear Second Avenue, killing a female bystander and her child.

    ” . . . troops of the 74th New York reached the city, followed by a Buffalo regiment and, at 4am on Thursday, July 16, the famous 7th New York. The 8th and 152nd New York infantry arrived later that morning. Ellis wrote, “All told, 10,000 veterans of the Battle of Gettysburg poured into the city, [which] was divided into four military districts.

    “Troops assaulted ‘infected’ districts, using howitzers loaded with grapeshot and canister…to mow down rioters, and engaged in fierce building-by-building firefights. Rioters defended their barricaded domains with mad desperation. Faced with tenement snipers and brick hurlers, soldiers broke down doors, bayoneted all who interfered, and drove occupants to the roof, from which many jumped to certain death below.”

  • Herein we remove the airbrush from the story of the Irish in America:

    “The Irish were the most despised ethnicity in the United States during much of the 19th century.

    “‘No Irish need Apply’ isn’t the half of it.

    “Ships full of sick immigrants fleeing the famine were turned away from New York and Boston, with entire shiploads dying in the St. Lawrence (there are mass graves for tens of thousands on islands below Montreal, unmarked to this day).

    “Police in major cities cordoned off Irish neighborhoods and watched as the gang members murdered each other.

    “According to Thomas Sowell, the Irish were shipped south for work too dangerous for the slaves. Slaves were worth money, while Irishmen were worth nothing.

    “And what was the Irish response in later years? Did they seek revenge against the WASP elites that had treated them so badly? Did they tear down the culture that had preceded them?

    “They did nothing of the sort. They became one with America, and today comprise one of the most admired ethnic strains in this country.”

  • Bl. Franz Jäggerstätter should be included

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  • Emperor Constantine I had definitely not “been a Catholic in belief for decades before his death” as claimed above. Although his mother St Helena was a devout Catholic, for most of his life he was a pagan. During the earlier part of his 25 year reign he was a sun-worshipper, as evidenced by thye “Sol Invictus” depicted on coins of that era. Later he became a sort of universalists believer in all religions including Christianuity, but he firmly rejected Catholicism. He much preferred Arianism which denies Christ’s divinity and sees Him as merely the greatest of men. Coinstantine used all of the military and political power available to him to try to force Catholics to convert to Arianism, even trying to make the bishops gathered for the Council of Nicea embrace Arianism, by a mixture of bullying, cajoling and largesse (the bishops’ travel expenses were paid with government money). The vast majority rejected his advances and he continued to promote Arianism until the day he died. He was baptised on his deathbed, but he was baptised by a notorious Arian priest into the Arian heresy. Some Eastern Christians regard him as a “saint” (mainly because they see it as enhancing the prestige of Constantinople) but the Catholic Church does not. The fact that he repealed (when he was a pagan) the laws authorising violent persecution of Christians does not make him a Catholic or even a Christian, much less a saint.

  • Wrong. Constantine was a professing Catholic from at least the age of 42 and probably a good deal before. For eight years after his accession he still had pagan images on his coins, but probably as no more than a sop to his many followers who were still pagan. He convened the Council of Nicaea that condemned Arianism. Eusebius, the bishop who baptized him was a favorite of his niece. He definitely had Arian leanings, but at Nicaea he was forced to sign the orthodox confession.

  • Thanks Donald.
    Reading all these comments make me smile and wonder how our own historical record as a Christian stands up to scrutiny ?

  • Depends if we get a supposition of innocence by the person doing the scrutinizing….

  • “He much preferred Arianism which denies Christ’s divinity and sees Him as merely the greatest of men.”

    Well, no. Arianism denied that Christ is theos in the same way God the Father is theos, but did not claim that he was a mere mortal. The Christ of Arianism was a divine being, but less than the Father.

  • T. Shaw. I agree completely. No whining on and on for decades. Just sought to improve themselves and assimilate. Great reminder. Thank you.

  • “Being constantly exposed to the culture through TV and movies can warp our perceptions and values.”

    It can, but it doesn’t have to, if we’re smart about how we interact with it. People are not always at the mercy of forces outside their control, to be battered about like a ship with no anchor. Some individuals may absorb everything passively and uncritically; others do not.

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Saint Peter and the Last Supper

Thursday, March 28, AD 2013



I have always been fascinated by the figure of Saint Peter, our first Pope.  He was such an unlikely choice!  God could have chosen a priest, a very wise teacher, a prophet, a ruler, even, Heaven help us, a lawyer.   Someone who, to most superficial human eyes, would have been vastly more suited to be the first head of His Church on Earth. Instead he chose a humble fisherman.  Why?  Any number of reasons, I suppose, many of them still known only to God.  Perhaps one of the major factors was the love that Peter bore for Christ.  We see this after their first meeting when Peter urges Christ to go from him because Peter is a sinful man.  I think that at that point Peter desperately wanted to follow Christ, but he thought he was unworthy to because of his sins.  He was willing to have Christ depart from him in order to protect Christ from Peter’s sinful nature.

Peter is heartbroken when Christ reveals that he must die on the Cross.  Peter tells Christ that this must not happen, only to be rebuked by Christ for acting as a Satan attempting to tempt His human weakness.  This was said shortly after Christ, no doubt to Peter’s immense shock, advised him that He was going to build His Church on him, and committed to him the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.  How strange it must have all seemed to the Fisherman from Galilee!  However, his love for Christ kept him at the side of Jesus.

At the Last Supper when Christ reveals the Eucharist, He has this dialogue with Peter:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

And he (Peter) said unto him, “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.”

And he (Jesus) said, “I tell thee Peter, the cock show not crow on this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.”

After seeing the great miracle of the Last Supper, Peter did precisely that, deserting Christ in His hour of need, denying him three times. 

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8 Responses to Saint Peter and the Last Supper

  • Beautifully done.
    Wait a second…..Jesus could of chosen a Lawyer?
    Well ummm, a public defender??…yes Yes a public defender!
    Just kidding…I realize your profession is an easy target. Many great Bannisters make good public officials…atleast thats what I’ve heard.
    All kidding aside. Thank you for this post.

  • St. Peter, pray for us.

    And, When Our Lord was led out from before the council, we looked at Peter and their eyes met. And, Peter wept bitterly and fled.

    However, Peter repented and sought forgiveness and came forward (Christ’s prayer for Peter had been answered) to lead his brothers and he founded the Church in Rome.

    When it came to his time to bear the fatal witness to the Gospel, Peter required that he be crucified head down so as not to die as Our Lord had died to redeem the World.

    We adore you, O Christ, and we bess you. Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the World.

  • Though, in his first Volume of Jesus of Nazareth, Benedict does propose that the Father of Simon and Andrew may have been one of the priests who performed duties in the temple on a rotating basis and that he kept his fishing business nearby to help make ends meet.

    If this is true, then it does point to a certain basic familiarity with the Temple that Simon/Peter would have had, rather than being merely some “ignorant fisherman”.

  • Whoops… I was mistaken. It was Zebedee the father of James and John that was referred to above as a possible priest with Temple duties, not Simon and Andrew’s father. (Jonah?)

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  • Yes, Chris. John tells us in his Gospel that he was known to the high priest. Strange, though, Zebedee is not called Saint. If I add a point to this excellent post: When Jesus speaks to Peter at the Passover meal, He first uses the plural “You,” then He switches to the singular. “Satan has desired to sift you (plural), but I have prayed for thee (singular). Such it is in the inspired Greek.

  • It is simply astounding to imagine Peter in Rome!

    He probably had a good head for business and figures since he had his own boat and men working for him but I doubt he spoke more than his local dialect or read more than essential Hebrew.

    That he and Paul spread the Gospel so widely is one of God’s most amazing and least celibrated miracles! It gives me great hope too for so many good people are lost and desperate. The West so very much needs us; now more than ever.

    I really heard the Good Friday readings for the first time today. I’ve gone through the Tridium motions for years but I heard the Gospel loudly today. How did I miss the passages from Isaiah foretelling Christ?! I’m a 42 year old, cradle Catholic and I never put it together… Even though the Church put it together for me. 700 years before Christ he told the world exactly what was going to happen. And, you know what, I now believe… Not in the amorphous, non-specific sense that I have but in the sense that my mind can conceive of no explanation for the accuracy of Isaiah’s prophesy that that Jesus is the Christ!

    It is a very good day and I am filled with hope and joy and am excited by my discovery and overwhelmed by my foolishness.

    Jesus lives!

  • I think of the devil in the role of accuser, his place in the story of Job and how it parallels his part with Peter. Interesting.

Council of Jerusalem

Thursday, September 1, AD 2011

A question arose yesterday in a thread, posed by Michael:

I have a real question. Homosexuality, as a sin an abomination, is mentioned in Leviticus. That book, however, also says:
 – disrespect of parents should be punishable by death
 – sleeping with a woman during her period should make both parties outcasts
 – don’t eat pork
 – shellfish are an abomination

So my question is, why are some of the verses ignored and others so important?

It is a good question and sometimes confuses Catholics and non-Catholics.  The answer to the question is in the very earliest history of the Church.  After the ascension of Jesus, the apostles went about the great task of making “disciples of all the nations”, and Christianity began to spread among Jew and Gentile alike.  The question quickly arose as to whether Gentile converts would have to be circumcised (the males only of course!) and follow all of the Jewish laws regarding ritual purity.  If they were asked to do this, it would mean a complete revolution in their life.  They would no longer be able to even eat a meal with their Gentile relatives and friends.  Like the Jews, the Christians would be a people set apart, cut off from interacting in the simplest ways with non-Jews for fear of violating the hundreds of laws of the Old Testament regarding ritual purity.

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47 Responses to Council of Jerusalem

  • EXCELLENT post, Don! I don’t believe I have ever seen this issue explained more clearly and concisely. This should be a “must read” and a “must link” throughout St. Blog’s.

  • Thank you Jay. The Old Testament laws and their applicability to Christians is an issue that keeps coming up in current debates and Catholics need to know that the answer is a pretty simple one.

  • Jesus and then Paul were asking the Jews to chuck 4,000 years of following the Law and sacred traditions as they understood them. It’s easy to grasp the reluctance of many to adopt the “new covenant” on the mere say-so of a dozen followers of a man claiming to be God. Jesus claimed to fulfill the law, of which the curse was sickness, poverty and death.

    As these things continued after Christ’s death, many understandably could not embrace the new religion. This is the “stumbling block” that remains for Jews to this today and many others including atheists and agnostics.

    Don, your explanation as to why some portions of the OT apply and others do not rests on Paul and the other apostles’ interpretations solely. As Saul he was the chief persecutor of the followers of Jesus, then claimed to be his chief supporter. A 180, which we are to believe was the result of his “vision” on the trip to Damascus. Likewise we are to take at face value Peter’s “vision” about which animals are OK to eat.

    Down through the centuries, men and women have claimed to have “visions,” which they subsequently offer as “proof” of divine instruction to pass along as the “truth.” These would include Joe Smith as well, who launched Mormonism as well as Mohammed and countless other major and minor prophets. Which of these “visions” are valid and which are bogus? It boils down to who one choose to believe and nothing more.

  • If you believe in Christ Joe, you believe in what Saint Peter and Saint Paul taught, and the authority of the magisterium of the Church, since Christ granted to the Church through Saint Peter the power to bind and to loose. Saint Peter and Saint Paul believed in what Christ had taught and the evidence of this is the martyrdoms they embraced.

    I answered the question posed by Michael as to how Catholics determine what Old Testament laws are binding and what are not. The doubt that has eaten away at you for so long is something that only you, with the grace of God, can address for yourself. For all of us the essential question always remains the one posed by Christ to Saint Peter: “Who do you say that I am?”

  • Joe, I don’t think that Donald was offering a proof. He lays out a consistent rule and explains its origins. Nothing wrong with that.

  • For all of us the essential question always remains the one posed by Christ to Saint Peter: “Who do you say that I am?”

    I ask myself that same question every day and every day I come up with the same answer: “I don’t know.”

  • While everything you say about the Council is true, it doesn’t apply to some of the Levitical Laws such as disrespect of parents should be punishable by death or having “Cafeteria Jews” put to death, otherwise most Jews would have been dead by the time of Jesus and the prophets would have no-one to rail against.

    As with Catholicism, Judaism is not a religion of the book. The laws were understood in community and they had a purpose. For instance, the law for parents to kill disrespectful children was not so much a commandment for parents as protection for children since in order to carry out this commandment you needed to go to priestly council to pass judgment. Most parents would not go that far since they love their children, and those who would have, would likely have killed their children anyway. Once at the council, there priests can talk to both parties and achieve reconciliation or use other means such as disowning the child to protect the child. If you look at Jewish historical records you will see that such disrespectful child executions rarely happened, so that pastoral counseling must have worked.

    Protestants have a much harder time with the Council of Jerusalem since they can’t make an Ecumenical Council “God Breathed” since that would mean Catholic doctrine was true, but if they don’t, they can’t abandon Jewish Law since neither Paul nor Peter nor an Ecumenical Council that took the words of Paul or Peter has the authority to repudiate Jewish Law. And even if they could, “since it is in the Bible”, the council merely stated gentiles should follow the Seven Laws of Noah which are binding on gentiles and Jews alike and nothing in the Bible says that we have the freedom to eating of flesh cut from a living animal (more than a few food Christians commonly eat qualify, especially some ham and sea food) or be blissfully unaware of how the food was processed.

  • I’m not sure the following is 100% correct.

    I’ve read that Leviticus distinguishes between two types of laws:
    (1) Laws for the Jewish people
    (2) Laws that prevent “defile the land”

    The first type of laws (like not wearing polyester) apply only to those initiated into the Mosaic covenant.

    The second type of laws, laws prevent the defilement of the land, apply to all peoples, regardless of whether or not they are initiated into the covenant. Lev. 18:26: “The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things” lest “the land become defiled.”

    Here is a list of all the “sins which defile the land,” all the Old Testament laws which non-Jews had to obey, or be “cut off from the community.”
    1. Exod 12.19: Do not eat leaven at Passover
    2. Lev 17.8-9: Only offer sacrifice at the Tabernacle door
    3. Lev 17.10-12, 14: Do not eat blood
    4. Lev 18.26: Do not commit sins listed in 18.6-26 (including homosexuality)
    5. Lev 20.2-3: Do not give children for Molech

    Do these laws which Judaism extended to all people also extend to Christians?

    The Council of Jerusalem, which decided to admit Gentiles to the Church, admitted them to the Church on four conditions (Acts 15:29):
    • Do not eat things polluted by idols (#2 & 5 above)
    • Do not commit porneia (sexual immorality) (#4 above)
    • Do not eat whatever has been strangled (#3 above)
    • Do not eat blood (#3 above)*

    In other words, the only condition which the Apostles laid down for Gentiles to enter the Church was that they keep all the laws which the Jewish Law commanded non-Jews to keep.

  • Jesus and then Paul were asking the Jews to chuck 4,000 years of following the Law

    1,000 years.

  • Art, give or take a millennia or two. Supposedly, Adam and Eve were created around 4,006 B.C., according to Bishop Usher (Oct. 15 if memory serves at around 9 a.m. eastern standard time), and since the Hebrews soon followed, 3,000 years would seem to be in the ballpark. But whatever the number, the original point holds: that for a long time the ancient Jews subscribed to rigid ritual.

  • “They were required to fellow the ten commandments” If that is so, then we should be going to church on Saturday, nor could we have statues or pictures of Jesus. The ten commandments were a part of the Old Covenant, as much as the law of kosher was. The laws of God existed before the Old Covenant (see Genesis 26:5), so this isn’t an arguement for antinomism. We do use a form of the ten in cathesis, but it isn’t the ten commandments of the Old Covenant. Jesus in the Sermon On The Mount, went beyond the mere letter of the law, and taught us the intent or the spirit of the law. we are no longer under the letter of the law, which kills, but the spirit of the law which gives life. (IICor 3:6-18)

  • No Stephen, the Ten Commandments, as interpreted by the Church, are still in full force and effect, as the Catechism amply demonstrates:

    “2068 The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and that the
    justified man is still bound to keep them;28 The Second Vatican Council confirms: “The bishops, successors
    of the apostles, receive from the Lord . . . the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to
    every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the

    Just one of many gifts that the Church has received from God through transmission by our beloved Jewish brethren.

  • Joe, if you don’t mind me saying, you describe your agnosticism like you’re in a dead-end relationship with it. Usually people stay in a dead-end relationship for a reason. So what are you getting out of it?

  • Just a lot of agonizing frustration, Pinky. Not much else. The search goes on.

  • Stephen, I believe your assessment is correct. The council dealt specifically with Jewish identity markers that were being forced upon Gentile converts. It did not deal with ‘the law.’ The coucil had to meet becasue there was a definite transition by the time that’s narrated in the Acts. It was peculiar to that time; this sort of thing could never again arise. Councils can and have been called ever since in various forms for different reasons. But who can say that the Spirit decided the results in each instance? I would never assume that.

  • The Sabbath Day of the Hebrews was Saturday because that is the day God rested. Christians came to have Sunday as Sabbath because that is the day of Christ’s Resurrection. The religious art was/is not worshipped as were idols.

    I look at the history as relayed, Stephen. Jesus, Divine and human, came to live among us and renew our spirits. We were, at the end of the Old Testament, fully involved with legislating the letter of the law with inhumane actions basing these on the Ten Commandments of old. As God saw the need for his people to have guidelines for worthy lives then, He also saw how we lost its meaning through lack of love of Him and one another. We made the laws to be ones that kill. He made them to give life to His people. So, the New Testament.

    In the New Testament, Jesus was born a man to clarify and help us get away from being bogged down with the letters, the way we do. He taught the spirit of the law, loving God and neighbor, which necessarily entails lovingly obeying the Ten Commandments. I think He came as a reminder that that God loves His people beyond our capability of understanding the depth. I don’t agree that He meant that we forget any of His guidance throughout the ages. Jesus also added the neighbor consciousness to determine that we understand Gentiles are also God’s children, who had customs different from those of Hebrews which were not going to make a difference in spiritual salvation.

    Thank you for this post on the Council of Jerusalem. It’s such a clear approach. I was thinking of how to reply to Michael’s question. All I could come up with was unclean: shellfish being bottom feeders (no plumbing then), pork somewhat the same reason (garbage for a diet), the woman unable to conceive at this time would entail pure lust, and the parents being an example of how unlovingly man tweeked God’s law – all evidence of no chastity or raising mind and spirit above the organs below the waist.

  • I suspect that the command against eating meat from strangled animals and consuming blood refers more to some kind of (for lack of a better term) “active participation” in pagan sacrifices or rituals, than it does to simply eating meat or meat products that have not been processed in accordance with specified dietary laws. Otherwise eating blood sausage would still be a mortal sin, I’d think. I believe this is also one of the biblical passages that the Jehovah’s Witnesses interpret as forbidding blood transfusions.

    In any event I have always understood that the command against “porneia” or “immorality” meant that all Old Testament laws defining certain sexual RELATIONSHIPS as immoral carry over into New Testament law and are also binding on Christians — including laws against homosexuality and incest.

    Furthermore, the Greek word “porneia” used here also occurs in the Gospel of Matthew when Christ states that anyone who divorces his wife “except for immorality (porneia)” and marries another commits adultery. Now many Protestants interpret this to mean that Christ allowed divorce if either spouse commits adultery, but the most common and orthodox Catholic reading of this passage that I have heard, is that it probably refers to already married converts from paganism who would never have been allowed to marry under Jewish law because their relationships were considered incestuous or immoral. Those couples were free to dissolve their unions and marry again, but not anyone else.

    However, other sexual purity laws such as the rule against intercourse during menstruation and the accompanying necessity for women to ritually purify themselves every month (google “Laws of Niddah” or “mikvah” if you care to know more about it), do not carry over into Christianity.

  • While everything you say about the Council is true, it doesn’t apply to some of the Levitical Laws such as disrespect of parents should be punishable by death…

    Anil Wang

    That law was the reason why the request of the Prodigal Son was so scandalous to Jesus’ hearers when He spoke the parable of that name.

    By the way, do you have any historical evidence to demonstrate that Judeans normally carried out executions in the name of this law?

  • Don

    you knocked it on the head. keep up the good work.

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  • Really ,this is a lot of stuff. Love and Honor God .Love and Honor your neighbor and the rest of the words are meant to make some people think they know more than they really know.
    Listen to the reports of some of our dedicated priests about the actions in Philadelphia and Kansas City.These dedicated men have to deal with the shame brought on by the pedophile priets and that heirarchy who covered up for them.

    A lot of prayer and love is needed.

  • @ Joe

    You are right, the million dollar question is, who was Jesus? Was he just a crazy man or was he really God made flesh? It is obviously an all or nothing question, but how do we know?

    The way to know can actually be answered by your reference to Joseph Smith. You asked what is the difference between trusting Peter or trusting Joseph Smith?

    Well first we know that Peter was taught by Jesus directly, while Joseph Smith claims to have had a vision from an Angel.

    Second, Peter’s words can be checked against the other 10 Apostles whom were taught directly by Jesus, while we are left to just take Joseph Smith at his word, that he really did see an angle, that the gold tablets really did exist, that he was actually able to translate them, etc.

    The list could actually go on, but you can read if you are interested in seeing the differences.

    So, it seems that if you are going to trust someone, it should be Peter, but that begs the questions, can Peter (or any of the Apostles) be trusted?

    I believe Peter can be trusted exactly because he has 10 other Apostles who say the same thing he did. But was it a conspiracy then, did all the Apostles create a big lie? Well if they did lie, they are both incredibly smart and incredibly stupid. I mean think about it. They were able to convince other people to follow them, even to the point of death, so they must have been really good “liars”. But they also must have been idiots because they didn’t gain anything from their “lies”. Not money, or fame, or women, or anything, except certain death.

    So to me, it seems that they were not lying, and that all of them must have been convinced that Jesus was in fact God. But what do you think?

  • Oops, I tried to put an HTML tag in my message but it didn’t work exactly right. Sorry about that, but you can still click on it and get the article I was trying to reference.

  • Paul also deals with the Jew/Gentile transition in a bit of a different way, I think. Rather than a council, he recommends private conviction. The ‘strong’ are not to pick on the ‘weak’, and neither is to judge or try to change the other in such matters of food, drink, and ceremonial days, etc.

  • Joel, I think Peter has much more cred than Joe Smith given he was a contemporary of Jesus and the apostles, according to the New Testament. Whether Peter or anyone “lied,” I cannot say, but just because many followed him and died as martyrs is not persuasive in and of itself. More than 900 people followed Peoples Temper leader Jim Jones to the grave in Jonestown in 1978.

    What is more convincing, however, is the undeniable magnetism of Christ. i would be willing to admit that Jesus of Nazareth is the most compelling person in all of history and his mark on humanity supersedes all others. I think about him every day. He has said, “come to me all ye who are weary and I will give you rest.” Although I do not pray much any more, that is the one hope I cling to: that I may have rest either in this life or the next.

    Thanks for your kind words.

  • I think what is convincing is that Christianity has lasted as a very significant world religion, and has since grown too. Also, it’s profoundly impacted and shaped cultures right up till the present. I don’t see those kinds of results happen so dynamically in the case of other religions. A few come close, perhaps, but don’t reach the extent Christianity does.

  • Am I right to believe, then, that the prohibitions in Leviticus concerning homosexual practices carry forward to the New Testament?
    That seems to be the case as from what I read and what one priest told me homosexuals found guilty of abominations were being executed right up into the 18th century.
    Please understand that I’m not advocating here for queers to be put to death but rather to genuinely understand what’s going on.
    Patrick Madrid says that Jesus Himself did away with the laws of Leviticus, at least concerning homosexuals, when He said “let him without sin cast the first stone” but how does Jesus’ retort reconcile with my second paragraph if in fact it’s true?

  • If you don’t remove me from moderation I will no longer offer my comments here.

  • Yes they do Michael, especially since Saint Paul repeats the condemnation of homosexual conduct. The Church has always condemned it, as did virtually all Christian churches until the day before yesterday in historical terms.

    Romans of course legislated against sex between free born men as early as the Lex Scantinia, in 225 BC so the Christian attitude against homosexual sex was not sui generis in the ancient world.

    Jesus extended mercy to the woman caught in adultery and saved her from the equivalent of a lynch mob. The act of Jesus in giving mercy to the woman caught in adultery has never been considered as voiding the laws of Leviticus regarding homosexual conduct. Judging from the article linked below by Patrick Madrid I’d say that you have misinterpreted what he wrote. If you would care to link to the article where he made the statement you refer to, I would be happy to look at it.


  • Pat,

    It was needed in a prior posting.

    You’re back off moderation.

  • Donald, I still have Madrid’s email where he told me exactly what I said he said, so I’m not misrepresenting anything.
    He might’ve changed his tune since he said that to me, but what he said is what he said (I have it in writing) and I find it unfortunate that you would jump to the conclusion that he didn’t say what he said and then ever so subtly put my integrity on the line by saying I misrepresented him.
    That said your reply leaves me even more in the dark as to why the punishment of death for homosexual abominations no longer applies and when it was lifted and by whom.
    I’d be so grateful to get answers to those queries.

  • No Michael what I said was that what you said Madrid wrote appears to contradict what he wrote in the article I linked to and therefore I assumed that you must have misinterpreted what he wrote. Post what he said to you in the e-mail and I will look at it. I will go farther than that. If there is a contradiction I will send off an e-mail to Mr. Madrid asking him to comment. I do not know how I can be fairer than that.

    In regard to homosexual conduct the penalties were always in the hands of the state and not the Church. The death penalty for all sorts of offenses was much more common in the Eighteenth Century than in either the Nineteenth or the Twentieth centuries.

  • Looking at that article I linked to by Madrid, I see this paragraph:

    “In the Old Covenant, homosexual activity was punishable by death: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them” (Leviticus 20:13). Thankfully, in the New Covenant, that punishment no longer applies, but the Church reminds us of the much worse eternal punishment that awaits those (whether homosexual or heterosexual) who refuse to repent and turn from their sins.”

    If he is saying that Christians did not use the punishment of stoning, he is correct. I think there is nothing in that stating that the condemnation of Leviticus as to the conduct was not still in full force and effect, but that death by stoning was no longer required as a penalty. If your point Michael was Madrid stating that the penalty was no longer as set forth in Leviticus then what you are stating is correct. Of course the secular authorities were free to assess any penalty they wished to under the criminal law.

  • Donald moving on from Madrid what I am getting at is this.
    If Iran or any Muslim country for that matter were to put a queer to death for an abomination, in your opinion would Catholics and Christians, generally, be justified, perhaps even compelled to support what Iran did using Leviticus as their grounds since, as you confirm, Leviticus carries forward into the New Testament?

  • In thinking about the original post more, it dawned on me that Jesus himself laid the ground work for the Apostles to teach what they taught at the council of Jerusalem.

    Matthew 15:11 “Not what goes into the mouth defile a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” See verses 10-20 also.

    So this is good reason to reconsider the defilement laws of the Old Testament. But does that mean that the New Covenant was entirely replaced by the Old? Did Jesus ever say that homosexuality is not wrong? Not in so many words, but he did say this:

    Matthew 19:4-6 “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one’? So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”

    This clearly reaffirms that God created male and female, who are intended to be together. Also, if anyone is interested in what it means for the “two to become one” I would recommend the book “The Good News About Sex & Marriage” by Christopher West.

    @ Michael: Your questions regarding when crimes punishable by death were lifted, was clearly in John 8:7, “”Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” So if there were people still stoning homosexuals, they were wrong to do it. But can you be specific? Was there ever a Church document put out that said to stone homosexuals? When and where are you talking about when you say “right up until the 18th century”? The more information you can give, the better the answer you will get 🙂

  • “perhaps even compelled to support what Iran did using Leviticus as their grounds since, as you confirm, Leviticus carries forward into the New Testament?”

    No. Christians agreeing that particular conduct is sinful does not require support for a secular punishment of that sin. That has never been taught by the Church.

  • Plato: “Opinion is not truth.”

    T. Shaw: “Opinion is not reality; but you have a right to stick your fingers in your ears and feverishly stamp your feet.”

    Here is a list of the “sins which defile the land,” the Old Testament laws and were enforced for non-Jews, or they were “cut off from the community.”
    1. Exod 12.19: Do not eat leaven at Passover
    2. Lev 17.8-9: Only offer sacrifice at the Tabernacle door
    3. Lev 17.10-12, 14: Do not eat blood
    4. Lev 18.26: Do not commit sins listed in 18.6-26 (including homosexuality)
    5. Lev 20.2-3: Do not sacrifice children for Molech

    The Council of Jerusalem decided to admit Gentiles to the Church on condition (Acts 15:29):
    • Do not eat things polluted by idols (#2 & 5 above)
    • Do not commit porneia (sexual immorality) (#4 above)
    • Do not eat whatever has been strangled (#3 above)
    • Do not eat blood (#3 above)

  • Wonderful commentary. I always look at the Council of Jerusalem as a fulfillment of Matthew 16 and 18 and John 20. Peter and the Apostles where given the authority to bind and loose. In the Counsel of Jerusalem two fishermen and ex Pharisee overturned Law given to us by God through Abraham and Moses. The only way they could do that was if they were given authority by God. What ever they bind is bound, what ever they loose is loosed. The Church is the hand of God in the Church Militant, if they say do it you better do it, if they say you don’t have to do it then you shouldn’t do it. It seams pretty simple to me. It all comes down to authority, those that follow this teaching are Catholic those that go against this teaching are Protestant no matter how they actually refer to themselves.

  • Thank you, Tito. I’m aware that there are a variety of ways to view the council, what its import is for the church down through the ages. I don’t think it’s correct to view all councils as binding, since the test for me is whether it squares with scripture. If it squares with Scripture, then I consider it Spirit-inspired. It’s an application of the Bible within a particular context in that case.

  • I was not going to reply back to this, because I know it does not relate to the original post, but it is all I have been thinking about.

    Joe said: Joel, I think Peter has much more cred than Joe Smith given he was a contemporary of Jesus and the apostles, according to the New Testament. Whether Peter or anyone “lied,” I cannot say, but just because many followed him and died as martyrs is not persuasive in and of itself. More than 900 people followed Peoples Temper leader Jim Jones to the grave in Jonestown in 1978.

    I agree that Peter has more credibility than Joe Smith. I think we can know whether Peter or the Apostles were lying (at least with as much certainty as anything else we can know). But your comparing the followers of Jim Jones to the followers of the Apostles is not exactly the same. Those people apparently committed suicide (although who knows how many really knew what they were drinking?) while the Apostles and their followers were killed by other people. This is significant because all the Apostles or their followers had to do was recant their beliefs and they would have been spared. This is a crucial difference when we take into consideration what I was saying before, about did the Apostles lie about Jesus’ resurrection or did they tell the truth. Why would all 12 Apostles and Paul lie about Jesus being resurrected? What did they have to gain? I can see why someone like Joe Smith would lie, he had lots to gain (money, power, polygamy). Or Jim Jones can be explained with a simple: he was crazy and found other crazy (or easily convinced) people to follow him.

    But then could Jesus have been crazy and have found 12 crazy people to follow him? Well we have to ask ourselves, did Jesus rise from the dead? Either yes, which means he is God, or no. If no, then those 12 crazy Apostles decided to lie about the resurrection. Then we are to believe that all 12 crazy Apostles (and Paul came along a bit later) all worked together and were able to create what has to be the greatest conspiracy of all time. I mean think about it. All it would have taken to destroy the “lie”, would have been for just 1 of the Apostles to spill the beans. Yet we have no record of this happening. Why would Paul have done his ‘180’ and converted to Christianity? He had a great life and yet we are to believe that he “threw” it all away for a lie, but to gain what?

    So for me (I was once agnostic when it came to God, but it was thinking about this stuff that got me started down the proverbial rabbit hole) it is exactly because the Apostles had nothing to gain and they all remained united in their beliefs even to the point of death, that I can be sure that Jesus rose from the dead. (There are other things to further support the belief that the Apostles were not all lying: Peter having the title of First Apostle and the special place he has [why did no one else fight him for this], the unity of all the early church’s [they were all considered One Church, but how easy it would have been for say Thomas to go out and create his own church] etc.).

    What is more convincing, however, is the undeniable magnetism of Christ. i would be willing to admit that Jesus of Nazareth is the most compelling person in all of history and his mark on humanity supersedes all others.

    I am not sure exactly how “magnetic” Christ was? Obviously people sought him out, but it seems to me that it was more because of the miracles that he was performing. Obviously we view him as a great teacher, but many viewed his teachings as heretical and blasphemous. Read John Chapter 6, first he feeds the five thousand, but the next day he taught them about the Eucharist and said that to be saved they had to eat his flesh. John 6:66 says, “After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer walked with him.”

    But what really sets Jesus apart from all other “prophets” or “great teachers” is the claim that he rose from the dead which would mean that he is God made flesh. Once I had accepted that, then I could move forward with understanding the Scripture. Otherwise, a person just thinks Jesus was a great teacher, then the Bible is really confusing and actually doesn’t make sense. The Early Church fathers used to say, “Either Jesus was God or he was a crazy man.”

  • Joel, I’ve heard the “either crazy or God” argument before, used I think by CS Lewis. But there’s a lot of in-between. Maybe Jesus truly believed he was the Son of God, a self-delusion alluded to in “The Passover Plot.” Perhaps, egged on by his followers, he reluctantly assumed the role. There are some ambiguous passages in the NT: “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.” “The father is greater than I.”, etc.

    If the Apostles stuck with him to the end, willing to be martyred, they would hardly be the first to follow their leader to the grave, as I mentioned before. The Japanese samurai did it routinely, as did countless soldiers in battle. What did the apostles have to “gain”? Who knows? Maybe the assurance of an after-life from their master was enough, maybe they were just resigned to their fate. Renouncing Jesus likely would not have gotten them off the hook. Peter was going to be crucified one way or another for defying Roman authorities.

    I don’t rule out returning to the fold some day; but at this juncture I have too many burning questions, too many problems and issues with God to submit. Not the least of which is the age-old “problem of evil,” which has always been a huge hurdle for many wanting to believe. The failure of prayer is another. I have seen the righteous pray constantly for others, only to see their prayers unanswered. Innocents die, the wicked live on. Life is not fair. God is the author of life. God is not fair. That is my thinking. I can’t change it until I understand.

  • Joe, numerous theodicies have of course been written and nothing new can be said on the matter. Here’s my take based on my reading of the Bible: God created a perfect world. We became wayward. He calls us back to Himself but we continue to have a certain amount of free-will. As it’s exercised, this free-will is often used sinfully, which affects ourselves and others. The Lord deals with that on a higher level. But he doesn’t intervene so far as to eliminate that free-will with the entirety of results which follow. If He did, there would be grave problems for us philosophically. For example, are we not creatures endowed wtih choice-making ability? Does not God love us and wish us to respond in kind? If the answer to either or both those questions is negative, we are then faced with an even more difficult quandary.

  • Joe, please forgive this following. I’m just getting concerned about you.

    “What did the apostles have to “gain”? Who knows? Maybe the assurance of an after-life from their master was enough, maybe they were just resigned to their fate. Renouncing Jesus likely would not have gotten them off the hook.”

    The Holy Spirit on Pentecost visited them in the Upper Room, a visit that became the Catholic Church’s birthday. I wish for you such a visit – being sort of worried about your spiritual state of affairs.
    That old problem, Satan, is part of this vale of tears until the last day when Jesus comes back as promised. Our part is to strive to reach the fairness of God in eternity through virtues taught by Jesus, in the Gospels. Life isn’t fair, prayer lets God know us, we can’t tell Him what to do; but, I have to think that nothing we do without trying know Him is a waste of the time we have here. Please just don’t judge God as not fair, and shoot for understanding. You can get past your judgment.

  • Joe, I can see you have thought about this and are continuing to struggle, which is good.

    I would say though that the main point to consider is: did Jesus rise from the dead? If that question can be answered, then so many more will follow like domino’s.

    If he did, then obviously he is God. Which then answers the question as to why the Apostles would stay true to their beliefs.

    If he didn’t, then the Apostles lied about it. These 12 men must have had some reason for lying. What that reason would be, completely escapes me. The Apostles would have realized that their leader was dead. Their two options would have been to go home or pretend Jesus came back to life. Amazingly then, all 12 decided to take option number 2 and lie. Then even more amazingly they all continued to lie right up until their deaths. Who would do that? What are the chances that even one of them would not have said the heck with this, I am going home? And then their was Paul, who joins their ranks, but not like we would expect. He was doing quite well for himself, but he apparently threw it all away and joined the Christians. Why? I could understand if Paul had been given something (money, power, etc) but he had nothing. He was put in jail numerous times and was obviously going to be killed eventually. Are we to believe that he lied about Jesus blinding him on the road to Damascus?

    I know I can’t prove any of this to be 100% true, but when I consider the most likely scenario, 12 crazy apostles that lied just doesn’t seem plausible. So this leaves me with the first choice, that Jesus did rise from the dead.

    I am glad that you have engaged with me in this conversation because it helps me to grow in my faith when I have to explain what I believe and why. A lot of the atheists and agnostics I try to talk to just brush religion off as fairy tales that shouldn’t even be discussed because they feel as though nothing can really be proven. I obviously feel the opposite. I think that Christ and his Apostles can be proven in as much as we can weigh the different scenarios and believe the most likely one from the evidence. The final step is having faith, but it really becomes the same faith we have that the sun will rise tomorrow or faith in “what goes up, must come down”.

  • Joe Green,

    The apostles were not soldiers looking to take other lives with them like Muslim “martyrs” do.

    The apostles willingly went to their death peacefully and forgiving their persecutors.

    THAT is huge.

    Using your line of logic, can you convince 12 of your closest friends to die for a lie?

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Sunday, August 15, AD 2010

1. The most bountiful God, who is almighty, the plan of whose providence rests upon wisdom and love, tempers, in the secret purpose of his own mind, the sorrows of peoples and of individual men by means of joys that he interposes in their lives from time to time, in such a way that, under different conditions and in different ways, all things may work together unto good for those who love him.[1]

2. Now, just like the present age, our pontificate is weighed down by ever so many cares, anxieties, and troubles, by reason of very severe calamities that have taken place and by reason of the fact that many have strayed away from truth and virtue. Nevertheless, we are greatly consoled to see that, while the Catholic faith is being professed publicly and vigorously, piety toward the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing and daily growing more fervent, and that almost everywhere on earth it is showing indications of a better and holier life. Thus, while the Blessed Virgin is fulfilling in the most affectionate manner her maternal duties on behalf of those redeemed by the blood of Christ, the minds and the hearts of her children are being vigorously aroused to a more assiduous consideration of her prerogatives.

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The First Icons of Saints Peter and Paul

Wednesday, June 23, AD 2010

Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press wrote this neat article on these rediscovered icons inside Rome’s catacombs:

Twenty-first century laser technology has opened a window into the early days of the Catholic Church, guiding researchers through the dank, musty catacombs beneath Rome to a startling find: the first known icons of the apostles Peter and Paul.

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