Tag Archives: apologetics

Why Did God Take Peter’s Keys?

Dear K.P.,

I thank God for the blessing in getting to know you.  My soul leapt when I met you, just as the baby leapt inside Elizabeth when he was in the presence of Christ (cf. Lk 1:41).  I intuited that Christ was strong within you and I praise God for making our meeting in Atlanta possible.  As iron sharpens iron, I pray that we will sharpen one another (cf. Prov 27:17), that we will encourage one another and build one another up (cf. 1 Thess 5:11), and through our exchanges we can test to discern the will of God, what is good, acceptable and perfect (cf. Rom 12:2).  I pray that God’s face will shine upon you during your time at seminary.

Reformed Calvinists and other Protestants all find common cause against papal authority.  If Protestantism is true, after centuries of its existence, God decided to eradicate the office of the papacy.  I would claim that because Catholicism is true, the papacy was established by Christ, has endured, and retains the authority entrusted to it by Christ, even to this day.

Keys to Kingdom

I want to share this essay from the Ignatius Study Bible and solicit your feedback, “Peter, Prince of the Apostles”:

Catholic tradition makes mighty claims for Simon Peter.  It holds that Peter was lifted to an unrivaled position of honor and preeminence among the original apostles.  It holds, too, that Peter was the chief shepherd and teacher of the early Church.

Since these points have generated debate and even division among Christian groups, there is need to reexamine the biblical data that shapes the Catholic perspective on the primacy of Peter.  Do these claims reflect the intentions of Jesus?  Are they consistent with the evidence of the NT?

Peter in the Gospels

Simon Peter is at once the most visible and the most vocal apostle in the Gospels.

(1) When the evangelists recount how Jesus selected the Twelve, they put Peter at the top of the apostolic list (Mk 3:16; Lk 6:14), with Matthew even specifying that he was “first” (Mt 10:2).

(2) When the evangelists mention the apostles together, Peter is often singled out from the group in a way that is not done with any other apostle (Mk 1:36; 16:7; Lk 9:32).

(3) When the collectors of the Temple tax approached the apostles for the annual half-shekel, they approached Peter as the conspicuous representative of the group (Mt 17:24-27).

(4) When Peter spoke with Jesus, he often did so on behalf of the Twelve (Mk 8:29; Lk 12:41; Jn 6:66-69).

(5) Peter was one of three apostles given special attention by Jesus.  Together with James and John, the sons of Zebedee, he was chosen to witness the raising of Jairus’ daughter (Mk 5:37), the Transfiguration (Mk 9:2), and the agony of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (Mk 14:33).  These are also the only three disciples among the Twelve whom Jesus renamed — Simon being called “Peter” (the rock, Mk 3:16) and James and John being called “Boanerges” (the sons of thunder, Mk 3:17).

(6) On the night of his betrayal, when Satan was about to test the disciples, Jesus told Peter that he had prayed for him personally that he might turn again and steady the faith of his brother apostles (Lk 22:31-32).

(7) On Easter morning, Peter and John raced to inspect the empty tomb.  Though John outran him, he waited for Peter to catch up and in deference allowed him to enter the tomb first (Jn 20:3-8).

(8) Later that Easter day, Jesus appeared privately to Peter, making him the first witness of the Resurrection among the apostles (Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5).

(9) Lastly and most importantly, Jesus made promises to Peter that he never made to any other apostle.  He promised to build his Church on Peter, so that he alone would be the foundation stone of Christ’s new and living Temple (Mt 16:18), that he alone would be the keeper of the keys of Christ’s kingdom (Mt 16:19), and that he alone would be the head shepherd in charge of Christ’s sheep (Jn 21:15-17).

Peter in the Book of Acts

This prominence of Peter in the Gospels continued into the earliest days of the Church.  Here we see Peter exercising a level of authority and leadership that was unmatched in the ministry of any other apostle.

(1) Soon after Jesus ascended into heaven, it was Peter who initiated and oversaw the replacement of Judas Iscariot with another longtime disciple, Matthias, to complete the number of the Twelve (Acts 1:15-26).

(2) When the Spirit rained down upon the apostles at Pentecost, it was Peter who delivered the inaugural sermon of Church history to the throngs in Jerusalem (Acts 2:14-36).

(3) When the crowds accepted his testimony and wondered how to respond, it was Peter who urged them to repent and receive Baptism (Acts 2:37-41).

(4) It was Peter who performed the first recorded healing in Church history (Acts 3:1-10).

(5) When Peter and John were arrested and asked to account for their actions, it was Peter who addressed the Sanhedrin and gave powerful witness to the Gospel (Acts 4:5-12).

(6) It was Peter who handled the first recorded case of ecclesial discipline exercised in Church history (Acts 5:1-11).

(7) When the Gospel first spread beyond Judea into the neighboring region of Samaria, it was Peter who brought the Spirit to endorse this new missionary development (Acts 8:14-17).

(8) When God arranged for the first Gentile conversions in Church history, he sent Peter to preach and administer Baptism (Acts 10:1-48).

(9) Lastly and most importantly, when the first recorded council in Church history convened in Jerusalem, it was Peter who stood up to end the debate with a solemn proclamation of Christian doctrine (Acts 15:6-11).

The sheer breadth and depth of this evidence is staggering.  In passage after passage in the Gospels we see Jesus grooming Peter for a unique mission of leadership and service.

In passage after passage in Acts, we see Peter engaged in leadership as a spiritual father caring for the family of faith.  The testimony of Catholic tradition is thus merely an echo of biblical tradition.  No other apostle appears so prominently in NT history.  No other apostle receives such honors and is asked to shoulder such responsibilities.  Among the apostles, only Simon Peter holds a position of primacy.

Thank you in advance, K.P., for reading the above and for your thoughtful response.

United in Christ,

KfG

Rediscover Catholicism: Quotes (#51-75)

Quotes #1-21 from “Rediscover Catholicism,” by Matthew Kelly.

Quotes #22-50.

As I’ve said before, if you haven’t read it yet, you should.  It may set your soul on fire for our Catholic faith.

  1. There are certain disciplines that are associated with the lifestyle of an athlete that could also be compared with the lifestyle of a Christian.
  2. For the first Christians, Christianity was a lifestyle.
  3. There was unity and continuity between their professional lives and their family lives, between their social lives and their lives as members of the Church.
  4. Many people feel that they need to leave the values and principles of their faith outside certain activities in the same way you leave a coat in a waiting room.
  5. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.  Enkindle in us the fire of your love.  Send forth your spirit and we shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.
  6. The essence of Catholicism is dynamic transformation.
  7. You cannot become more like Jesus Christ and at the same time stay as you are.
  8. God constantly calls us to new life.
  9. As you journey toward your destiny, God intertwines your talents with the needs of others to allow you the privilege of touching them, serving them, and inspiring them as they make their own journey.
  10. [Quoting G.K. Chesteron:] “Christianity has not be tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”
  11. “Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you should also love one another.  This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
  12. How I wish that when people discovered you or I are Catholic, they could immediately conclude that we are honest, hardworking, generous, loving, joyful, compassionate, temperate, humble, disciplined, prayerful, and generally in love with life.
  13. [In meeting with Catholic leaders around the world], the same issues seem to emerge consistently: Our parishes are emptying; we lack real contact with the youth; divorce is destroying families, dividing communities, and alienating whole families from Catholicism for generations to come; vocations to the priesthood and religious life are scarce; and the Church is facing a growing marginalization in the wake of an ever-intensifying secularity.
  14. As a Church, we have failed to show them how Jesus, the sacraments, the Gospel, the Eucharist, and Catholic spirituality in general can ease their pain, make them whole again, and bring meaning and purpose to their lives.
  15. The mission of the Church in this age is to share the life-giving gift of the Gospel with the people of our time.
  16. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and only when necessary use words.”  Our culture is hungry for authentic lives.  Let your life speak.
  17. Personal holiness is the answer to every problem.
  18. Holiness is simply the application of the values, principles, and spirit of the Gospel to the circumstances of our everyday lives, one moment at a time.  It is not complicated; it is disarmingly simple.  But simple is not the same as easy.
  19. [Saints] fashion Catholicism into a lifestyle, they listen attentively to the voice of God in their lives, and they passionately pursue their personal adventure of salvation.
  20. The Church… is not so much something we inherit from generations past… as it is something on loan to us from future generations.
  21. Everything the Church does is centered around a celebration.
  22. The spirit of Catholicism is predominantly one of celebration, which is the genius and the fundamental orientation of our faith.
  23. I believe the best way to defend life is to celebrate life.
  24. When Catholicism is the foundation of our family life, our social life, our intellectual life, our spiritual life, our community life, and our professional life, then we will have established an integrated life, a life of integrity.
  25. And if just a handful of people in one place and at one time will give their whole selves to seeking, discovering, embracing, and living this life, they will change the whole course of human history.

Rediscover Catholicism: Quotes (#22-50)

This post is a continuation from the one I published earlier.  Again, if you haven’t already gotten a copy, I highly recommend Matthew Kelly’s “Rediscover Catholicism.”  This book may very well revitalize your love for our faith.  There is genius in Catholicism:

  1. We often do things that we think will make us happy, only to discover that they end up making us miserable.
  2. These moments of happiness are of course real, but only as real as a shadow: A person’s shadow is real, but it is nothing compared to the actual person.
  3. God gave us this yearning for happiness that constantly preoccupy our hearts.  It seems he has placed this yearning within each human heart as a spiritual navigational instrument designed to lead us to our destiny.
  4. The philosophy of Christ is the ultimate philosophy of human happiness.
  5. It is easy to be a follower, but to be a disciple means to be a student — to be humble, docile, and teachable, and to listen.  All this requires discipline.  Christ invites us to a life of discipline not for his sake, but for our sake; not to help him, but to help us; not to make him happy, but to allow us to share in his happiness.
  6. There are four major aspects of the human person: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.
  7. Christ proposes a life of discipline… as the key to freedom.
  8. We find ourselves enslaved and imprisoned by a thousand different whims, cravings, addictions, and attachments.
  9. [Our culture subscribes to] the adolescent notion that freedom is the ability to do whatever you want, wherever you want, whenever you want, without interference from any authority.
  10. Freedom is the strength of character and the self-possession to do what is good, true, noble, and right.
  11. Love is the core of Jesus’ philosophy.  But in order to love you must be free.  For to love is to give your self freely and without reservation.
  12. [To] give your self — to another person, to an endeavor, or to God — you must first possess your self.  This possession of self is freedom.  It is a prerequisite for love, and is attained only through discipline.
  13. Before Jesus, the sick were left on the side of the road, left there to rot and die by relatives who feared for their own health.
  14. Education was only for the nobility until the Church recognized and proclaimed the dignity of every human person and introduced the idea that every person deserved an education.
  15. All the worldly success of Christ and the Church are insignificant compared to the change Christ wants to have in you and your life.
  16. Love is our origin and our destiny.
  17. Our quest for happiness is a quest for God.  This is the genius of God.  [It] is the ultimate homing device, designed to draw us gently toward our eternal home.
  18. [Quoting St. Augustine:] “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, Lord.”
  19. Christ did not entrust the Church with a social, political, or economic mission, but with a mission that is primarily spiritual.
  20. When we allow the Gospel to transform the way we live and love and work, it elevates every honest human endeavor and every aspect of society.
  21. [God] wants to deliver you from everything that stands in the way of becoming the-best-version-of-yourself.
  22. [God reveals to us our unique pat of salvation through] the relationship between our legitimate needs, our deepest desires, and our talents.
  23. One of the most ancient practices of Christian spirituality is the unveiling of the deepest desires of our hearts through contemplation and reflection.
  24. It is through prayer, reflection, the Scriptures, the grace of the Sacraments, the wisdom of the Church, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we discover and walk the path that God is calling us to walk.
  25. The world and all it has to offer [i.e. pleasure, possessions, power] can never content the human heart.  God alone can satisfy the deepest cravings of our hearts.
  26. It is the task of the Church to introduce us to our destiny by unveiling for us the mystery of God, who is our ultimate end and our destiny.
  27. God invites us to live, and become the-best-version-of-ourselves.
  28. Let us never forget that people do not exist for the Church — the Church exists for people.
  29. It is your task and mine to introduce others to their destiny by unveiling the mystery of God for them.  It is your task and mine to assist all those who cross our paths to fulfill their destiny.  This is one of the brilliant and beautiful ways that God has tied us all together.

Rediscover Catholicism: Quotes (#1-21)

I’m re-reading Matthew Kelly’s “Rediscover Catholicism” and am finding the author to be very quotable.  So here are 21 quotes for your enjoyment:

  1. There are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world.  There are sixty-seven million Catholics in America — that’s at least fifteen million more people than it takes to elect an American president.
  2. Every single day the Catholic Church feeds, houses, and clothes more people, takes care of more sick people, visits more prisoners, and educates more people than any other institution on the face of the earth could ever hope to.
  3. The very essence of health care and caring for the sick emerged through the Church, through the religious orders, in direct response to the value and dignity that the Gospel assigns to each and every human life.
  4. Prior to the Church’s introduction of education for the common man, education was reserved only for the nobility.  Almost the entire Western world is educated today because of the Church’s pioneering role in universal education.
  5. In the United States alone the Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students every day, at the cost of ten billion dollars a year to parents and parishes.
  6. The Catholic education system alone saves American taxpayers eighteen billion dollars a year.
  7. The Catholic Church has a nonprofit hospital system comprising of 637 hospitals, which treat one in five patients in the United States every day.
  8. Our contribution on a local, national and global scale remains phenomenal even in spite of our faults, inefficiencies, and recent scandals, and yet the Church is despised by millions of ordinary Americans, while most Catholics want to crawl under the table when people start talking about the Church in a social setting.
  9. We have forgotten our story and as a result we allow the anti-Catholic segments of the media to distort our story on a daily basis.
  10. This year Catholic Charities will provide 2.2 million free meals to the hungry and the needy of Chicago.  We don’t ask them if they are Catholic — we just ask them if they are hungry.  Rediscover Catholicism.
  11. There is nothing wrong with Catholicism that can’t be fixed by what is right with Catholicism.
  12. We gravitate toward what is manageable, rather than imagining what is possible.
  13. If you had an ancient treasure map, would you throw it away just because it was old?
  14. Most of us know good, intelligent people, contributing members of our communities, who won’t have anything to do with Christianity. … Did the hypocrisy of individual church members or leaders obscure their experience of God?
  15. Our siblings, parents, and children are sending us this message, as are our friends, neighbors, and colleagues.  They are saying, whispering, crying out, “Don’t tell me — show me!”
  16. In reference to the well-known fact that Gandhi read from the New Testament every day and often quoted the Christian Scriptures, a reporter once asked him why he had never become a Christian.  He answered, “If I had ever met one, I would have become one.”
  17. We spend much of our time fixated on secondary questions (usually related to controversial and sensational issues) and every little time exploring the primary questions about our brief stay here on earth.
  18. [The three dominant philosophies of our time:] (1) Individualism: “What’s in it for me?”; (2) Hedonism: “If it feels good, do it!”; (3) Minimalism: “What is the least I can do?”
  19. The false and adolescent notion is that freedom is the opportunity to do whatever you want, wherever you want, whenever you want, without the interference of any other person or party.
  20. Hedonism is not an expression of freedom; it is a passport to enslavement by a thousand cravings and addictions.  And in the end it produces not pleasure, but despair.
  21. Minimalism is the enemy of excellence and the father of mediocrity.

There is No Inflation in Heaven

My wife suggested that I should blog about an analogy I used to explain why I felt the need to point out teachings that are damaging to the Christian faith.  She said I should not judge and argued that believing in Jesus is better than not believing at all.  I used the following analogy to explain why it is important to explain false teachings:

dollar-bill-inflated-like-balloon
There is No Inflation in Heaven

Imagine someone taught you an investment method that would generate over a billion dollars in monthly income.  Your monthly investment income will be more than you can ever use in a lifetime, but you keep on receiving billions of more dollars every month.  There is nothing that anyone can do to you to take away that ability.  Only by your own sins can you lose this incredible stream of income.  With such security, you become magnanimous.  You become very charitable and want to teach others how to also make a billion dollars a month.  It’s so easy!

Pointing out false teaching is like warning other investors about bad financial advice.  Some financial advisors may even genuinely believe in their own advice, but they are scams.  People will lose their hard-earned money.  They will lose their souls.  I point out the financial scams not because I will make more money; I don’t need more money.  I want to teach others how to make a billion dollars a month out of gratitude for the Person who taught me.  It’s out of love for the Teacher.  This Teacher merely wants others to enjoy their original inheritance: to be divine sons and daughters of God.  He already has everything He needs.  All he asks is for the nouveau riche to teach others how to also become rich.  Everyone can make a billion dollars a month!  There is no inflation in Heaven.

So, calling out bad financial advice is not being judgmental.  It’s being charitable.  And it is not with my own investment knowledge that I speak, but from the wealthy storehouse of knowledge that is the Catholic Church.  Whether or not they believe is their choice.

The Supernatural Case for Catholicism

Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Our Lady of Guadalupe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shameless Popery wrote an article about including supernatural events when making the case for Catholicism (or to the Christian faith, I’d say).  I am also guilty of the tendency to use only logical arguments to defend my faith.  The article by Joe Heschmeyer challenged me to reconsider this tendency.  So, I think I’m going to look into several miracles and write about my personal miracles.

These are some of the miracles that I’d like to look into:

  • The Lanciano Miracle
  • The Shroud of Turin
  • Fatima
  • St. Bernadette of Lourdes
  • St. John Vianney
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe
  • Statue of Akita
  • Therese Neumann
  • Marian Apparition of Zeitoun

These are some personal miracles I should at some point write about: