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The Wanderers

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2014/03/07 at 12:00 AM

In the long history of the human race, never have humans been as conflicted as they are today.  Technology has made the whole world accessible to almost anyone.  Yet, in spite of this new familiarity, there is hardly a section of the world not in some kind of turmoil from wars, terrorism, civil unrest, etc.  There is a widespread attitude of “What’s next?”.  Modern man is miserable and frustrated.  He does not know where he came from, why he is here, and where he is going.  In a word, he is alienated from himself, from people (often even his own family), his work, his civic responsibilities, his past, and his future.

The root cause of his problem is that he is first alienated from God, without whom life is meaningless.  Because he has rejected God, man has lost the standard of rational thinking and his ability to deal sensibly with his world and the world of others.  Without God, there can be no rational or moral standards beyond those made by the “movers and shakers” of society.  We know how well that has worked over the last 60 or so years.  What are the causes of this human upheaval?  How did modern man lose sight of what is so vitally necessary to his well-being?

The first cause is SIN . . . sin in the traditional sense of the Ten Commandments, not the politically-correct sins of racism, sexism, and homophobia to the exclusion of the Commandments.  Habits of serious sin break any connection we might have with God because He is a holy God, and He and sin are incompatible.  Sin alienates the sinner from God.  Those who never or rarely attend worship services, those having affairs, those promoting abortion,  the promiscuous, by their actions, have objectively separated themselves from God.  We saw the effects of sin in the story of Adam and Eve.  We cannot serve two masters, God and Devil.  We must choose by our lifestyle.

Some people sense instinctively that they are living immoral lives, and to make themselves feel better, they grasp at false teachings of the incompetent in order to be able to keep their pet sins.  For example, the false doctrine that there is no hell or if there is, it is not eternal.  Very comforting to the sinner and very false.  Then there is the common idea that all religions are pretty much the same, and all the sinner needs to do is find a religion that approves of his immoral life.  If one wishes to live the gay lifestyle, it is easy to find a church that will accommodate that wish, forgetting or ignoring the fact that no Church or no human being has any authority to veto a divine command.  (A human may announce a veto, but God does not ratify it.)

The ultimate purpose of human life, believe it or like it or not, is to be reunited with our Creator after death.  Our souls come from God, and we are meant to return to Him.  Habitual serious sin makes that impossible and makes life an ultimate failure.

Another cause of alienation is the CULTURE we live in.  In the story of Noah, we are told that God destroyed most of the human race because they were so immoral.  What does that say about us?  Those people did not have anywhere near the means to sin we have and which some use without a second thought.  The result has been chaos because sin, by its very nature, is irrational and unnatural.  To indulge in it habitually is to act abnormally.  “Right is right even if no one is right, and wrong is wrong even if everyone is wrong.”

The contemporary culture of the Western world is Godless and immoral.  The culture advocates sin; it applauds it; it invents new sins of which earlier people could not have conceived.  The chief movers of society show a disdain for God in the sense that they do not consider religion to be of great importance beyond a person’s private “hobby.”  The film and TV industries are always extending the range of vulgarity, and the internet generates a multi-billion dollar porn output.  The print media is seen as so biased that they have become a joke.  Fair reporting died long ago.  Democrats can do no wrong; Republicans can do no right.

Education at all levels is atheistic in practice.  Schools do not teach about moral right and wrong.  (One could wonder if there is a connection between that and the increasing disciplinary problem at all levels.)  The ACLU lies lurking somewhere to catch some child doing something religious.  (Their venom is aimed mainly and mostly at the Christian religion.)  We don’t want religion in school because someone . . . whoever that is . . . “might be offended.”  The irrational rationale is usually the so-called separation of Church and State, an idea found in neither the Declaration of Independence nor in the Constitution.  Our culture is awash in sin.  There is no charismatic voice to object to any of this.  Those few who do express opposition are vilified because those on the wrong side cannot justify their positions with any convincing arguments; it is easier and more effective to call your opponent names. Global warming, like evolution, has been declared a proven fact (neither one has actually), but to go counter to these prevailing orthodoxies is to risk at least ridicule, but never a counter-argument.

The reason is the culture does not believe in objective truth.  Truth is what the individual says it is, and that’s final.  Applied to morals, the result is moral chaos and cannot be other than that.  Humans devise laws because too many people cannot be relied on to use common sense.

It is not easy to resist a culture because it impinges on so many aspects of life.  It makes demands; it makes judgments; it censors.  But cultures come and go.  God is still God; Truth is still Truth; error is still error.  We will be judged by our attitude to Divine Truth, not cultural truth.  Modern man has allied himself with the culture, a totally selfish and false ally.

Modern man is a wanderer.  He has no guide, no map, no compass.  He has decided that he can walk through life using his own skills.  The result is a life of doubt, fear, uncertainty and apprehension about the future.  He wanders in his alienation.  He has no idea where he is going or where he should be going.  Unless he realizes his folly, he will wander right over the cliff.

Remember the lament of the unrepentant sinner: “The past has deceived me; the present torments, and the future terrifies me.”

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With All Due Respect…

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2014/01/24 at 12:00 AM

One of the seldom-mentioned causes or contributors to a society’s decline is the loss of civility, of politeness, of good manners.  Civility is one of those uniquely human traits that animals do not have. Civility is the lubricant of a society because it makes human interaction easier and more pleasant – and often more effective.

Part of the concept of civility or politeness is the idea of respect and reverence due to individuals or situations. Some people have earned respect because of what they have done in the past (war heroes). Some are accorded respect by virtue of their role in society (medical doctors). Reverence, however, really cannot be earned; it is offered to someone who deserves even more than respect because of the nature of the being involved (God).

Reverence and respect are  in decline in this country. The U.S. Senate calls itself the “greatest deliberative body in the world,” but its members are quite content to be known by nicknames . . . Chuck, Bill, Tom, Joe, Fred. This is true of all levels of government officials. I suspect it  makes them think they will be be perceived as just a “good ol’ boy.”  The approval rate for Congress and government, in general, does not seem to support that idea.

Another notable example of loss of respect has been perpetrated by feminists who demanded that women been seen as equal to men.  Since they were already superior in the important things concerning the human race, (marriage, family, nurture, compassion) they had to lower themselves to achieve this “equality.”  One of the sad effects of this is the diminution of the sense of chivalry toward women by many men. God did not make women equal to men, but then, God did not check in with Gloria Steinem.  Respect for both men and women is in serious decline in the US.

Worse than all those ill-conceived practices and others like them,  the greatest irreverence of all is the attitude which too many Catholics have when attending weekend Masses. The external practices of the Church have for many decades  indicated what some see as a clergy-approved loss of reverence for  worship . . . Holy Communion in the hand, standing to receive It, altar girls, the Blessed Sacrament shunted off to the side and not reverenced by the clergy.

The result of these practices is that too many Catholics do not know how to conduct themselves within the church building . . . or, worse, don’t care.

Thus, we have men at weekend Masses wearing T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops, children distracting the congregation all through the Mass with crying and noise, parents who refuse to use cry rooms, bulletin-reading during Mass, able-bodied people failing to genuflect upon reaching the pew. When I was child, the rule was silence in the church because you were in the presence of God, and He should be your entire focus (still true today).  Since 63% of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence (of God in the Eucharist), there is little incentive to show reverence to a God who may or may not be there.

There is an attitude among some that just being in the church (no matter how you behave) is sufficient to be able to claim that you attended Mass.

What’s the big deal? Is not the church my father’s house.  No, your father’s house is where you live or lived. The Church is THE Father’s house . . . God THE Father. God is THE Creator.  He does not need a single thing that he has created, including us. The lesser owes reverence to the higher. We OWE as much reverence as we can show to God.  As creatures we OUGHT to reverence God, and the very “oughtness” of something creates an obligation. Failure to show reverence to God is a serious failure in faith.  One writer has said that missing Sunday Mass is worse than murder because murder rejects a fellow human while irreverence rejects God Himself.  If we refuse due worship to God, it will be that much easier to disrespect persons with whom we come into contact.

Thus, we, as creatures, have a need to show reverence to God as His creatures. It is a duty, not an option. To refuse due reverence is tantamount to declaring ourselves equal to God which is a hopelessly demented idea. It is better to know and acknowledge our place in relation to God and act accordingly. If nothing else, it is at least awareness of reality.

This failure of due reverence for God and the things of God has logical consequences. It was the Catholic vote that elected Clinton and Obama, neither one noted for respecting Catholic moral principles; many Catholics are pro-abortion; many are still demanding women’s ordination (more of the feminists’ equality chant) even though Blessed John Paul II declared once and for all it could not be done for doctrinal reasons.

Active persecution is going on all over the world. The form it takes here is the ACLU suing any government entity that dares mention religion in CHRISTIAN form; the assault on Christmas Nativity scenes; the silly use of “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.” The US culture, the education establishment, the media and Federal government are all, in practice, anti-God.

We are already losing freedom because of government rules and regulations. These come when the society has lost its grip on truth and reality as ours has done. A society and/or leaders who disrespect truth tend to declare themselves to be omniscient and act accordingly, while heading for ultimate disaster.

Reverence for God while in the church building is pleasing to God; “reverence” for other people or things in place of God is not.  We should strive to make the better choice.

Ideas and Consequences

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/12/12 at 12:01 PM

One of the many properties that distinguishes humans from animals is a sense of history. Animals simply have no awareness of history (theirs or anyone else’s), but humans have been involved in history for at least 5000 years of recorded written history.  History is not an exact science; history can be biased or incomplete.  The most important history books are the four Gospels.  They give us a true history because if the events depicted  did not happen, Christianity falls on its face and can be set aside along with Greek mythology.  However, the Gospels are the true history of the life of Christ.  The events described therein really happened in real time; in fact they  more realistic than even the most objective histories today.

The Gospels  were written during the lifetime of many of those who witnessed  many of the events in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.  There’s no record of any claim that the Gospels are fictional.  When a historical record is controversial, there are those  who attempt to correct the errors or protest that the events described happened as the author claimed.  Again, this did not happen in the case of the Gospels.

Some non-Christian sources also wrote about the fact that Jesus of Nazareth existed.  This indicates that the existence of Christ was known beyond the Jewish world and that the story was not merely a Jewish or Christian fantasy.

No one dies for an idea that he knows is false or fraudulent.  There was no advantage to the writer of the Gospels whatsoever.  In producing the Gospels, it did not make them heroes, in fact, just the opposite.  St. Matthew was martyred for his Gospel.  St. John endured persecution and exile for his efforts, and the other apostles all suffered death rather than deny the content of the Gospels.

The Gospels have been analyzed, scrutinized, examined, re-examined for 2000 years.  Many have attempted to show the Gospels to be a hoax perpetrated by the Apostles and the early Christians, but no one has ever succeeded in proving the Gospels are anything but what the Church says they are.  Adolph von Harnack, a noted rationalist of the 19th century set out to prove definitively that the Gospels were false.  He labored many years, and, finally, he not only could not show the Gospels were false, but he even became a Christian.

The Gospel story has inspired and sustained millions of people for 2000 years.  One of the reasons is that Christianity has not changed its basic doctrines in 2000 years. No other religion can say that; they all have divisions and subdivisions. If nothing else, this shows that Christianity is a divine religion.

There is another factor in the Gospel history that is not alluded to very much: the Gospels were not written for several decades after the death of Christ. Thus, the Gospels are a compilation of what the early Christians believed. It is a fact that stories passed on orally change radically after a just a few transmissions. Yet, the oral Gospel story did not change.  I suggest that the Holy Spirit, observing His duty to protect the Church, simply did not allow deviation from the true history – a miracle of sorts.  Then, too, Christians believe that the Gospels are inspired by God and they could not possibly contain errors or false facts because God, in His very nature, could not inspire what is untrue.

Thus we say without fear of error that the four Gospels depict what was said and done by Jesus Christ in real time, centuries ago in the Holy Land. It all happened, and there is no evidence that it did not.

If the Gospels are true history of real events, there are serious implications for us. The historicity of the Gospels is not in doubt and never has been. If this is true, then we come to a “So what now?”  The Gospels contain divine truth that we cannot avoid, ignore, or reject except at great peril to our eternal life

1. Christ really lived and is a divine being in human form as He said He was; His words and actions are words and actions of God Himself.

2. His words are also of divine origin and were spoken in real time.

3.  His divine teaching is not optional because we are creatures and owe the Creator reverence and obedience.

4. He set up a Church now known as the Catholic Church (again, historical fact), and He intended it to be the chief vehicle of salvation for mankind.

If we accept the historicity of the Gospels, but do not accept the ramifications, we have missed the whole point.  Salvation does not depend on being able to defend the Gospels, but in living them to the best of our ability.

To paraphrase a Gospel verse,”What does it profit a man to know all about the technicalities of the Gospels, but fail to live accordingly.”

Good Intentions May Not Be Good

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/11/06 at 1:00 AM

I have attended many Catholic funerals in which the deceased is declared by the priest to be in Heaven. In one of these funerals, the deceased was an avowed atheist who had a Catholic funeral because his family of lapsed Catholics “had to do something.” The priest declared the atheist to be in Heaven at least 4-5 times.  I have heard Mother Angelica of EWTN declare twice in one program that a deceased was in Heaven. A nun who works with the elderly reminds them constantly that God is just waiting for them to die in order to sweep them into Heaven. And we have heard for decades about the “unconditional love” God has for people. Unfortunately, these efforts to make the living feel good is not  good theology.

There is a false teaching going around that God is so good that He could not possibly condemn anyone to Hell, and everyone eventually gets to Heaven. How many people have fallen for this idea, and decided that, no matter what they did, they couldn’t lose in the end?

It is very true that God condemns no one to Hell; we condemn ourselves by the type of life we have led on earth. In fact, our entire eternal destiny is in our hands and no one else’s.

One would not have to read very far in the divinely-inspired Psalms to learn what God thinks of sinners. He not only does not like them, but he warns of their ultimate destruction. Christ Himself referred to Hell more than to Heaven because He knew anyone can end up there if he/she so chooses, and it will not be pleasant at all. So much for the wishful thinking of universal salvation.

God’s love is unconditional and infinite in capacity.  What does that mean?  Simply put, it means that God will give every person the grace needed to do His will, but if a person decides to go his own way, then God will say to him: “Depart from me, I know you not.” It is true that God’s love for humans is unconditional but not in its application which respects human will. The love of God is always available, but it is not a matter of, “I will love you no matter what you do, no matter how sinful your life.” It is your choice.  As the sinner goes, he has a claim on infinite mercy, but he must ask for and seek it.

The Catholic who stopped attending Sunday Mass or is harboring other habitual mortal sins has severed his relationship with God (again, by his own choice). His only real hope is to receive the grace of repentance and to reform. At this point, God owes him nothing because such a person has rejected his status as a creature and refused to worship his Creator, or he insists on doing things his way regardless of the will of God. These are the real daredevils in life because there is no guarantee that they will even live to repent. Then what?

( Of course, I can speak only objectively here because no living person knows the status of another person in God’s eyes; we don’t really know our own status, for that matter.  (We are not judging; we are describing a condition of soul.)

The problem with sin, especially mortal sin, is that it always has negative consequences. First of all, sin is attractive; some sins are quite enjoyable (at the time). It is easy  to develop habits of sin, thereby compounding our predicament. I am always a bit amused at the Christmas and Easter attendees who skip the rest of the year. Who are they kidding?  Habits of mortal sin turn us away from God and things of God. They turn us away from the very purpose of human life, union with God for eternity. The habitual sinner will get to eternity, but he will spend it regretting his stupidity for falling for the Devil’s games.

There IS another false idea in circulation, namely, that at the moment after death we will get a chance to repent. There is not one bit of Biblical or theological or even rational evidence to support this. In fact, our last chance is the moment of death. After death, our fate is sealed.

Why are these perhaps well-intentioned “canonizations” at a funeral so wrong?

For a person to go immediately on death to heaven requires two conditions. One is that he be free of any sin, and that he not owe any temporal punishment due to his past sins.

Sins may be forgiven, but they still have a penalty due which is usually dealt with in Purgatory. I would think very few could qualify on both counts. (Martyrs are in a different category.)

In summary then, the mortal sinner, especially the habitual mortal sinner has in effect:

Rejected God

Added to the sufferings of Christ,

Defied the Divine Will,

Declared himself superior to God,

Decided that he is exempt from the moral law,

Possibly deprived himself of necessary graces  and blessings,

Become, in effect, a follower of Satan who hopes to lead him into his kingdom (Hell).

We live in a time when Christianity and religion in general are not only not respected, but are barely tolerated. The movers and shakers of the world are atheists in practice at least. Too many Catholics have jumped right into the culture propagated by these anti-God “leaders.”  Only about 20% of Catholics attend Sunday Mass regularly; 63% do not believe the Holy Eucharist is what Christ and the Church says It is. And on it goes!

The problem for Catholics who embrace the contemporary culture is that this culture cannot give anyone eternal salvation…just the opposite.

In the last analysis, we must choose eternal life or eternal death, God or Satan, Heaven or Hell. Whether you believe it or not, that’s all there is according to both Revelation and Reason.

Try to imagine what you will say immediately after you die, and you realize  “I blew it.” Worth it?

Abstractions?

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/10/10 at 8:29 AM

General Semantics is the study of words and how they are used to manipulate us and affect us in positive and negative ways. For example, the manufacturer of Dove soap has been successful for years. Suppose they had used a synonym, “pigeon,” instead?   A term used in this field is “high level of abstraction”.  This means that a word can mean almost anything because it is so abstract  and exists only in the mind, e.g. religion, education, patriotism, economics, love and the like. Try asking 10 people to tell you the first word that comes to mind when they hear any of these words. There will be at least 7 different words  offered. This is why Socrates said that those who want to debate must first define what they are going to discuss. Suppose persons A and B were always arguing religion. It turned out that when A thought of religion, he thought of salvation, heaven, eternity and peace of mind. B saw religion as money-grubbing, fund-drives, money sermons, etc. No wonder they could not reach any agreement; they were not arguing about the same thing.

There are two words frequently tossed around  freely in political discourse, but actually mean nothing because they mean almost anything to anyone. These words are “liberal/progressive” and “conservative.”  I have heard them all my life, but I would be unable to give a definition to cover what is involved in these terms. In some circles, the words cause knee-jerk reaction. “Liberal is good/bad.”  “Conservative is good/bad.”

While it might be difficult define these terms, it would not be difficult to describe them from the viewpoint of history, how they actually operate in everyday life.

Liberals tend to act on emotion and appeal to emotion to make their points. Their proposals are meant to make themselves feel good about themselves, to feel noble, generous, caring, concerned only with others and wanting  the best for everyone.

Polls have shown they are not particularly religious and when affiliated with some religion, tend to look for the easiest doctrines, or to alter it to suit themselves.

They have a misplaced faith in the almighty Federal Government, and see it as the only source of all society’s needs. Some actually see the Feds as substitutes for religion and parents. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most overturned appellate court, actually ruled that parental rights stop at the schoolhouse door, which was later overturned.

They have no problem with huge national deficits because life is now. Later on can look out for itself.  Spend now to attain liberal Utopia.

Generally they reject the Judea-Christian element in the history of the U.S.

With this, they reject the traditional moral code of Christianity. All religions are sacred….except Christianity which is always fair game for mockery and cynicism.

The individual who runs afoul of the law is a victim, not a criminal. Society has let him down.

There is no objective truth. Truth is in one’s own mind. We decide for ourselves what is true and what is moral.  We are not to try to impose our beliefs on others. (The exception is liberal policies which are always to be considered above reproach; liberals have no problem trying to impose liberal ideas on others.)

There is a mania for equality at the expense of liberty. This is why they are so fond of whatever schemes promote income distribution. People have no right to be wealthy (except themselves) and to be poor is unfair– the fault of “the rich.”

The U.S. Constitution is “evolving.”  It is not set once and for all; it must be updated to fit new situations. Think of all the activities the Federal government is involved in now that are not in the Constitution. The Feds became dominant after the Civil War and have constantly and consistently added to their power with deafening applause from liberals, e.g  Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare  (the Supreme Court had to be contortionists to declare Obamacare constitutional, but they managed),  most of the cabinet departments, food stamps, etc.

Liberals  (which include most Democrats), for the most part can be described as favoring what in some circles is called sin…abortion (murder disguised as a women’s health issue), same-sex marriage (disguised as a civil rights issue), embryonic stem cell research (disguised as a means of conquering disease; although this has so far resulted in many human deaths and not a single benefit to disease eradication), and euthanasia (disguised as mercy, but is actually cost-cutting).

What have liberals given to the U.S. that we can be grateful for?

Secularism and the almost complete absence of God in the school and in public life.

The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, invented by  Congressional staff members and unread by those who voted for it.

$17 TRILLION dollars of debt, much of which is held by enemies.

Political-correctness which is a denial of reality which makes its devotees live a fantasy world .

Affirmative action which is a positive name for reverse discrimination.

The Great Society and the War on Poverty which cost billions and accomplished nothing.

Global warming propagated by the non-intellectual Al Gore and which is a denial of Divine Providence, to say nothing of fraudulent “research” to assure the “correct” answer.

The media which is so intellectually corrupt that they don’t even pretend anymore not to be biased toward liberals.

Public universities and colleges indoctrinating students into the  ideas of liberalism. No contrary views wanted, thank you.

Feminism which has had a deleterious effect on both women and men, distorting the natural roles of both.

The   annual assault on Christmas via the ACLU.  “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

I assume that many of you will not like the list above. True liberals will complain that I am being judgmental….which I am, but I am judging by the long history of liberals in action. Don’t succumb to the usual liberal way to refute an argument against them…call their opponents names. In the recent government shutdown, Harry Reid could not refute or give any reasons why the Republicans were wrong; he merely called them “terrorists,” “anarchists” and “arsonists.”  (Interestingly enough, the Administration will not use “terrorist” to describe anyone…even terrorists.)

The Conservative approach to the political world is to appeal to reason and common sense.  (We can see immediately that it is much easier for liberals to appeal to feelings  than it is for conservatives to appeal to reason.)

He is more interested in the individual  and his freedom to develop his own life and abilities.

He is less interested in equality because he believes that social and economic equality are not realistic given the wide range of talents, opportunities and effort found in human nature.

He wants the smallest government at all levels consistent with maintaining the common good and basic rights.

He believes that individuals have duties, not just rights.

He approves of private property as a basis for personal freedom.

He has great respect for the history and traditions of this country.

There are extremists and diehards in both camps.  Is there a possible solution?  Let me suggest one.  An idea is neither good nor bad because it is liberal or conservative. We must begin to look at the ideas, proposals, etc. in and of themselves, forgetting which group proposed them.  Can the idea work? Is it worth the cost?  Are there any possible unforeseen consequences?  What will it logically lead to?  Is this an old idea in a new suit?  Does the idea really solve a problem or create more problems?  Can there be oversight, not by politicians who propose it, but by experts in the field?

Would this work? I think it might, but it will never be tried because politics is not about reason; it’s about politics.

The Bible – A Perspective

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/09/19 at 12:00 AM

This essay is about the Bible, not about its content or it’s significance, but about the Bible as a book.  Modern Christians take the availability of the Bible for granted; we can buy any number of Bibles and versions of the Bible in any bookstore or on-line.  That has not always been the case, and this fact is what I want to delve into.

Christ Himself (God in human form) who set up the Christian Church did not leave any personal writings to His followers.  His charge to the Apostles was to preach the Gospel, not to write a book.  If Christ had considered any written material to be essential, He would have provided and enabled it to be accessed on a large scale as the Church grew.  He did not do this, and remember that He is a divine being who cannot make mistakes.

The Apostles spread Christianity by word of mouth.  In fact, only the Apostle John could possibly have read all the books of the Bible because he was still alive after all the New Testament books were written.  Only five of the Apostles wrote anything in the New Testament (Peter, Matthew, John, James, Jude).  The other Apostles did not feel obliged to write anything as far as we know.

In the early days of the Church, the laity did not have access to Bibles.  The Canon of the Bible was not settled until the fourth century.  When the Bible as we know it was completed, copies were few and far between because they had to be hand-copied and one can imagine how long it took to copy by hand the entire Bible.  Thus Bibles were nowhere as omnipresent as they are today.  Moreover, the vast majority of people could not read, especially the foreign language of the early Bible.  The clergy were sufficiently educated to be able to deal with the Bible, but it was the Church that was the center and focus of Christian life.  The attitude was to follow the Church and that would be more than sufficient.

The Bible itself was completed by the 90’s AD, that is, all the books of the New Testament were written by this time and were circulated privately.  But the Bible as a book was not compiled until the fourth century ( Council of Carthage in 397 was the first Council to publish a list of all the inspired books of the Bible) .  But even then, Bibles were still scarce.  

So it appears that the early Church did not consider reading the Bible to be essential to a member’s spiritual welfare based on Christ’s own example and His mandate.

Then in 1517, along came Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation which taught that the Bible ALONE is essential for salvation.  A few years later, printing was developed and Bibles became more available, always increasing in availability to the point  we have reached today.

With this in mind, there are some problems with the Protestant view of the Bible.

1. Luther dropped 11 books of the Bible for merely personal reasons. He referred to the Epistle of James as that “damned epistle” but was prevented by followers from dropping it!

2. Luther claimed that the Bible has all the spiritually essential information for the believer.  But nowhere does the Bible itself claim to be the SOLE source of religious truth.

3. If God had intended the Bible to be accorded the level of necessity claimed by Luther, why was it practically unavailable for centuries?  Luther further claimed that the individual could correctly interpret the Bible under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit, but the Bible is not a do-it-yourself book; it is not self-explanatory.

4. Luther really had no choice but to put too much emphasis on a book because he rejected the idea of the teaching authority of the Catholic Church which was granted to it by Christ Himself under the protection of the Holy Spirit.

5. Christ’s legacy is the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  Luther’s legacy is 30,000 Protestant sects, all claiming to be the true and best interpreters of the one Bible.

6. The evidence speaks for itself.  Protestants, regardless of personal sincerity, are in churches that lack the whole truth. It is certainly true that Protestants believe many of the same doctrines as do Catholics, but unfortunately, not all the doctrines, such as the Holy Eucharist, Purgatory, Communion of Saints, etc..

Please do not misread the above and think that I am denigrating the Bible and those who read it.  Far from it.  The Bible is inspired by God Himself.  Christ quoted from the Old Testament while on earth.  It is just that He did not make it essential to salvation.  Contrary to some common misconceptions, the Catholic Church has great respect for the Bible which it presents to its faithful daily in the Mass  through the scripture readings from the Old Testament, the Psalms and the Gospel which are then preached on.  The clergy, since the early centuries, have prayed daily as an obligation the Liturgy of the Hours which also consists of Old and New Testament readings and writings from the early Church Fathers.

In the last analysis, it is a historical fact that the Protestant Bible is the Catholic Bible reduced in size. In other words, the Protestants would have no Bible at all were it not for the Catholic Church.

The Siblings of Christ?

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/08/09 at 12:00 AM

Converts to Catholicism from Protestantism often experience doctrinal problems with the role of Mary as the Mother of God and the devotion shown to her by the Catholic Church. Part of the reason is that Mary has very little status in the Protestant Church beyond the acknowledgement of her maternity. When Luther started the Protestant religion, he was reacting to the abuses in the Catholic Church at that time. What he failed to understand is that moral abuses cannot be corrected by doctrinal deviations. Thus, he rejected, among other traditional beliefs, the doctrine of the saints. Protestantism today has almost no interest in saints, preferring to put all their emphasis on Christ and the Father. This is not wrong in itself, but it is incomplete. Modern Protestant Sunday practice, with few exceptions, consists of a song and a sermon with emphasis on Christ and little else.

In the matter of Mary, she is just about invisible and unknown except as a typical Jewish woman who had one unusual experience (the birth of Christ) and then went on to make a family with her husband, Joseph. Thus, Protestantism has taught that Mary had other children which meant that Christ had siblings. While the Protestant emphasis has been on the other children of Mary, they failed to see that, if there were other children, there would also be presumably grandchildren and descendants. There is no evidence or even mention of this natural progression in the Protestant world.

The Catholic Church teaches that Mary did not have other children, and that the Biblical word the Protestants translate as “brothers” can be translated as “cousins” just as accurately. “Brother” is a frequently used religious term of address in both the Protestant and Catholic Churches, suggesting in no way genetic family relationships. Baptists often address one another as “brother” or “sister”, and Catholics have a type of religious group known as “brothers”. Priests often address their congregations as “brothers and sisters”. No one understands the words literally.

If Mary and Joseph did have children, they would not be siblings of Christ because Joseph was not the real father of Christ; they would only be half-siblings.

Can we really imagine a house full of children, one of them Divine God Himself, and not be a source of some kind of turmoil? A sinless child among normal children? It would not be a usual household at all.

The Bible is very generous with names of significant persons. It seems reasonable that siblings of Christ would be named as were Mary and Joseph. Lesser personages, than those siblings would have been, were named: the Apostles, Jairus, Pilate, Simon of Cyrene. Why not the literal “brothers” of Christ?

At the time of the Crucifixion, Our Lord designated St. John as the guardian of His Mother. It would have been more normal and reasonable for one of the siblings to have taken that role. Evidently there were no other children to assume that role.

Mary and Joseph were legally married, and there was nothing in law or nature to prevent them from having children. That’s what everyone did normally. But perhaps, since they both had experienced extraordinary events with the Divine, it would seem anti-climactic to produce human children after being so favored by God. They would have known that normal children would create unusual problems for all concerned because normal children would be sinners in a family of three persons unusually close to God. (In fact, one was God, and the other was Mary, who according to the Catholic doctrine, did not have the taint of Original Sin.) Mary and Joseph knew that they were unusually privileged people, and it would be reasonable, understanding that gift, that they knew life for them was not be lived in the ordinary human way. Thus, it can be inferred that after a divine child was born to Mary, a human child would not seem appropriate. Contemporary culture cannot fathom that a couple would choose not to avail themselves of marital rights; therefore, they must have.

In the Gospel story of Mary and Martha of Bethany, there is a lesson to be drawn that experiencing divinity is better than not experiencing it, and that mundane household chores, good in themselves, fade away in comparison to contemplation of the divine. Martha was not told that she was doing anything wrong, but only inferior to what Mary had chosen. Intimacy with God changes a person from merely human to a special relationship with God. Mary of Bethany deemed it better to be with Christ than to do chores, and Christ confirmed her choice. At the same time, he undoubtedly ate the meal that Martha had prepared. So also, Mary, the Mother of Christ, had this special relationship and could not be content with anything lesser.

Consider all the men and women saints of the Catholic Church who had direct, personal and visual interaction with God or His Mother: St. Margaret Mary (devotion to the Sacred Heart), St. Faustina Kowalska (devotion to the Divine Mercy), St. Bernadette (of Lourdes), Sr. Lucia of Fatima, St. Catherine of Siena, St.Teresa of Avila, and many more whose lives were intimately involved with God and the things of God. Once they had experienced God, their lives never went back to “normal” and they devoted their whole life to things divine, the better choice. So, too, it can be implied ever more strongly that Mary of Nazareth would respond in an even stronger way by contemplating God for all of her days.

But does it really make any difference? The Catholics say Mary was a perpetual Virgin, and the Protestants claim she had a normal family life with other children. Modern culture would say, “You believe what you want, and I’ll believe what I want. Everybody’s happy.” That sounds so generous and tolerant, but there is a contradiction involved, and that means one side is wrong. To be willing to live on the wrong side is not a sign of the tolerance our culture so applauds, but a sign of weak thinking or the unwillingness to think.

It does matter, because the things of God MUST be dealt with as He wants them dealt with, not according to the whims of humans. There is an answer.

Christ promised his Church divine protection and guidance until the end of time. There is no way whatsoever to explain the continued existence of the Catholic Church, in spite of all her problems, both internal and external, for 2000 years except by divine protection. The Protestant Church lacks this protection and guidance, and that is why there are 30,000+ sects within Protestantism while there are no doctrinal divisions in the Catholic Church. (This not to imply that the Catholic Church is full of saints … far from it.) The Church has always believed that Mary was a perpetual Virgin. If the Holy Spirit guides the Church, the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity must be true because the Holy Spirit does not make mistakes.

We can be assured that Mary of Nazareth is everything the Church says she is. Therefore, she is worthy of the great devotion shown to her because she is a truly unique woman; veneration (not worship) of her is not uncalled for, but raises poor souls to a higher degree of piety. Most men respect their mothers, and most men favor anyone else who respects them. I doubt if Christ frowns upon the devotion shown to His mother, but He may frown on the lack of it in the Protestant Church.

I’ll grant that I have made inferences based on the Bible narrative of the New Testament. But inferences are not false if they are based on reasonable evidence. The evidence for Mary’s other children is slim to none beyond the dubious translation of a word.

We should embrace devotion to Mary because, as the story of Cana shows, Christ does what His Mothers asks … and she is the holiest of all humans who ever existed. If she is on our side, we are in good hands.

The siblings of Christ? The preponderance of evidence indicates there were none.

Oh, Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Response to article of 7/19/13 Life in a Mirage

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/07/26 at 12:00 AM

We recently received this comment via e-mail from a friend re the article: “I don’t think contraception is evil.”

Here is what I responded: I thought I would elaborate a bit on the matter of contraception. Just thoughts, not proselytizing! This is why I think it is wrong and always wrong.

1. It is unnatural. The first divine command to man was increase and multiply.  There was no mention of “unless you’re on the pill” or the like. This a command, not a suggestion, because it involves the welfare of the human race. Contraception introduces an alien element into a divine plan. Contraception is a man-made invention which was not meant to be part of a divine plan. Unnatural actions have consequences; between abortion and contraception, the Western world is depopulating itself out of existence, and this is unnatural in itself. The statistics are horrifying. Any activity contrary  to nature exacts punishment at least eventually. That’s a law of nature too.

2. Contraception sees sex as an end itself, rather than a means. Its goal, too often nowadays, is simply personal pleasure and gratification.  It’s certainly true that pleasure accompanies sex, but more as incentive than goal. Pleasure is not meant to be the main goal; otherwise, sexual activity would not produce new people.

3. Men, by nature, have a more casual attitude about sex. Family is far more the domain of the woman; it is almost a part of their being. Initially, men can take it or leave it. This is why adolescent boys (of all ages) can approach a girl  and speak about “love” while hoping for sex.  Adolescent girls (of all ages) can agree to sex hoping for love. Guess which one always loses?

4. Contraception means using another person for one’s own ends. How many times have I heard of women on the pill for fear the man involved would leave otherwise? What about a family’s economic circumstances that, by any objective  calculation, simply do not have sufficient income to produce unlimited numbers of children? There is no law, divine, Church or human, that requires any married couple to have children at all. It is a free choice.  But to engage in the activity that produces children while thwarting the laws of nature is wrong. Natural laws are divine laws and man has no authority to subvert them. A basic rule in any aspect of human life is  that if  we do not want the EFFECT, we should not operate the CAUSE. If we don’t want to die, we don’t eat poison, jump off tall buildings, or drive at 100mph. Moreover, sex is the one natural drive (like food, water and sleep) that does not have to be satisfied. When God planned the Incarnation of Christ, he did not include sex in it.

5. On balance then, I personally do not think contraception has been any kind of boon to mankind. “They are going to do it anyway.” That may be, but we don’t repeal laws just because they will be broken. Laws are for the good of society, not just deterrents. Many will not break them. Contraception leads to the widespread promiscuity in our contemporary culture. It can also lead to abortion when it fails at its usual 20% rate.

6. Just as we have no authority to change any of the 10 Commandments, (although it is widely attempted), we have no authority to alter, deny, repeal, or ignore any other divine plan.

The problem with all this presumptuousness on the part of humans is that while humans may declare a divine law repealed, it is not ratified by God, and it still in force and still expected to be obeyed.

Life In a Mirage

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/07/19 at 12:00 AM

What is the most pernicious evil in the world today and has been for a long time, but has been rejected or denied or ignored by most people because they do not see the baneful effect of it?  Some even redefine it to fit their personal, political, or social agenda.  Even churches rarely warn against it.  In fact, the term for it is rarely heard or written about.  I  refer to what used to be called sin.

The first sin in history was almost fatal to the human race which at that time consisted of only two people.  Its devastating effects have plagued the human race ever since.

What is sin?  Since it affects everyone, we can deal with it without needing to mention religion because it is not peculiar to any particular group; it is a human problem.  Sin is an irrational act.  It is a failure of common sense.

Humans are a mixture of the rational and the animalistic or as has been said, humans are rational animals, animals who can think.  We certainly share many characteristics of animals.  In fact, Darwinian evolutionists have been attempting to convince us for more than a hundred and fifty years that we are nothing more than sophisticated monkeys.   But we also have a mind which gives us the ability to think, analyze, evaluate, ponder and abstract.  Animals cannot do this.  Thus humans can develop literature, law, music, art, and invent.  No animal has any of those talents.  A dog who came back to life after dying 50 years ago would be right at home with your dog; a normal man coming back to life after 50 years would be astonished at what he had to learn and relearn today.  Thus, the human intellect, even at the C or D  level, is outstanding compared to any animal.  That is why your dog cannot speak a single word in your language.

The intellect or mind is far more important than the body; it is meant to direct and control both itself and the body.  Thus we say that sin is an irrational action because it acts against the best interests and welfare of the person (soul and the body).  A sin is performing an act, or failing to perform one when required, which militates against some good of the body and/or the soul.

The reason that religion need not be mentioned here is that every person is endowed with a sense of moral right and wrong regardless of his religious belief or lack of it.  We instinctively know when something is morally good or bad.  This is called the Natural Moral Law which comes from the Creator.  But the Natural Moral Law is not looked upon favorably in modern society because it makes moral demands and too many “modern people” prefer evil to good.  The most concrete expression of the Moral Law is found in the Ten Commandments because they simply make sense; a society cannot function without them.  Imagine what would happen in your city if the Ten  Commandments were suspended for a week, or even a day.

While the idea of sin may be ignored or rejected, the evil effects persist regardless of our attitude towards the concept of sin.  Whenever we violate a natural law, either physical, intellectual, moral, somewhere, sometime, somehow, there will be a price to be paid.  Violate the law of gravity and you will pay the price immediately; violate the laws of learning and you will not acquire knowledge; violate the moral law regarding sex outside of marriage and all kinds of miseries will befall you.  There is simply no way to avoid or evade the consequence of irrational behavior.

Sin is also grossly deceptive.  It always promises far more than it will deliver.  In fact, sin has been defined as evil under the appearance of good.  We sin because we expect to get some reward, and we may in the short run, but sin, especially habits of serious sins will leave its mark.  We fool ourselves into thinking that moral evil will give us a better life than a moral good, but since sin is basically irrational, it cannot help but deceive the sinner.

Another aspect of sin is that vice (habits of sins) can lead to a kind of slavery.  The sinner becomes addicted to evil and cannot seem to stop sinning because the perceived benefit clouds his mind to the  adverse effects.  His mind no longer functions reasonably or with common sense.  Think of the drug addict, the serial adulterer or fornicator, the pornography addict; they are enslaved to vice and more often than not, are not even aware of it.  This is the ultimate deception of sin, slavery to the irrational.

When a people or a society reject the idea of sin, great misfortunes come to them:                                                                                     a. What used to be considered bad is now considered good and vice versa; for example, abortion used to be illegal and public prayer was never deemed inappropriate.

b. A minority of persons, sometimes just one person, can bring a whole cultural habit to a halt.  Example: Nativity scenes, public prayer by individuals, Christian prayer, display of religious symbols.  How many times has one atheist been allowed by a judge to disenfranchise thousands from participating in some religious practice because the atheists might be “offended”?

c. People develop a hardness of heart so that immorality seems to have no effect on their thought processes.  Nothing negative seems to bother them.  If you question them about violence on TV or sexually suggestive dialogue or totally humorless “humor”, the response will usually be a shrug because the moral beacon has been extinguished.

I have chosen to deal with this subject from the aspect of reason alone because, as I wrote above, morality affects everyone.  However, appealing to religious authority or orthodox Christian morality would make the case against sin even stronger.  There are those who claim that an anti-abortion attitude is merely a Catholic or Mormon doctrine.  The reality is that the anti-abortion argument can be made solely from a rational viewpoint without mentioning religion at all because abortion is in reality premeditated murder.  The pro-abortion arguments are easily refuted on the basis of reason alone.  Thus, being anti-abortion is simply being rational.

The world is awash in moral evil.  Every one of the Ten Commandments is being flagrantly violated and we are paying the price in the United States whether we realize it or not, because so much in society is going wrong.  Nothing seems to work out; no problems are really being solved; government officials do not seem to move from crisis to crisis with any effective plan to solve the problems.   Colleges have become little more than biased indoctrination centers.  The media has lost all semblance of honest and fair reporting; instead, it preaches an agenda. And on and on.

Unless we regain our grip on reality and start using our heads as nature intended and demands, collapse is inevitable.  Not a pleasant reality, but a definite historical reality.  While sin can be discussed without mentioning God, the reality is that life cannot be lived without Him. There is a Creator who designed the human person to have a relationship with Him. This has been shown over and over down the centuries whether we believe it or not. Not only that, but He has set a goal for us to be united with Him for eternity….whether you believe it or not. Whether we attain that goal depends on our choices throughout our lifetime. Sin, whether you consider it from a rational or religious point of view, militates against this goal. The deliberate habitual sinner will lose out.

The most important day of your life is the last one.   You may or may not know it’s the last day.  Your relationship to the Creator at that time will determine whether you have achieved the goal of human life or not. If you have lived in a mirage of enjoyable sin, you will not enjoy the following day.

Contemporary Mischief

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/05/31 at 12:00 AM

In previous essays, I have expressed my belief that the United States is a Godless nation, at least in practice, and as a consequence of the rejection of God, is the fact that we have lost the power of rational thinking in non-physical matters. We no longer think and react according to fixed principles; every problem is seen as an isolated factor with no reference to anything that happened before or might happen afterwards. The result is that whichever side shouts the loudest or is favored by the media is heard while the other side (which may have the more valid arguments) is drowned out. Thus it is that the Democrats can do no wrong, and the Republicans can do no right. We are no longer guided by objective truth, only by subjective opinion of the loudest because God, who is the standard of truth, is considered irrelevant to human life.

A consequence of this is that a certain complacency in the presence of contradiction sets in. We attempt to claim the opposite ideas are equally valid. The least important groups in the society are deemed most important. The most productive are denigrated, ridiculed, and falsely accused of  greed, price-gouging etc. The problem is that this attitude is applied to an entire class of people, many of whom are not guilty of such charges. Those whose efforts and hard work have resulted in the acquisition of wealth, even a large amount of wealth, are called thieves simply because they have acquired more than a person whose talents and effort were less; the rich owe the poor.  There are many people wealthier than I am, but I do not assume they owe me a dime.  As a result of this demagoguery, I see perhaps violent class warfare in our future instigated by those who have believed that if A has $100 and you have $50, A owes you $25 so you will both be equal. Because we are no longer thinking rationally, many fall for this  nonsense and might someday act accordingly.

To cover for the lack of clear thinking, we are told that we must be tolerant of the ideas (stupid or otherwise) of others. Tolerance is the watchword. Don’t offend anyone by pointing out his errors in thinking; after all,  “Who are you to judge anyone?” Thus, contradictions and other nonsense flows unabated through society rendering us more and more irrational as time goes on.

However, it seems that those who wave the tolerance flag the most are most intolerant of any ideas they do not like. Atheists, ignoring the fact that most Americans have at least some religious bent, demand that they be satisfied in their whims, even at the expense of the vast majority. They even demand that no one be allowed to pray silently at a public event. We are all familiar with their drive against Nativity scenes at Christmas or crosses on memorials.

Practicing homosexuals demand that they be given whatever social status they demand, but let anyone say a word in opposition, and the whole weight of the homosexual movement comes down on them.  Two homosexuals at George Washington University demand that the Catholic chaplain of the Newman Club be kicked off the campus and that the organization be defunded because the priest had the audacity to discuss principles of Catholicism regarding homosexuality. For these types, free speech is fine, but only if they approve of what you are saying.

Another example of the subjective thinking passing for wisdom is in the matter of gun control. Guns are certainly a convenient method of murder (they are also a convenient way to keep from being murdered), but many things can be used as murder weapons, for example, blades of any kind, fire, poison, hands, etc.   Why not control all these too?  To suggest it would be ludicrous. You simply cannot banish whatever could be used a weapon. The problem is the failure to realize that weapons have never killed anyone; the one wielding the weapon is the killer, whereas the weapon is only a means.  Those who oppose sweeping controls as unnecessary and unworkable are ridiculed and practically called  conspirators in the murder rate.

Another prominent sign of our intellectual poverty is the insane cry to allow homosexuals to “marry”. A contradiction in terms. The latest poll (if honest) claims that 49% of Americans favor same-sex marriage.  According to Bill O’Reilly, those opposed to same-sex marriage have not  made a “compelling argument” against it. Actually they have…many times, but they have been drowned out by the media which supports this joke, and the homosexual lobby  which is politically and financially “well-heeled”. This is what happens in a society in which opinion becomes “truth”.

Because we have rejected God and His creation, the fact that He established heterosexual marriage as the model and the means to perpetuate the human race is ignored. The first command in the Bible is to increase and multiply. Same-sex “marriage” cannot do this, but what does this guy, God, know?!  I fully realize that many heterosexual marriages are not successful, but that is not the fault of marriage as such, but of those who marry with faulty ideas about it. But, again, when we reject objective truth,  we will be offered silly ideas that are pushed and pushed until half the population agrees with them.  After all, if there are no objective truths, there can be no  errors; and if no errors, anything becomes “true”.

Follow the idea that the concept of marriage can be changed according to cultural passing fads and you come to some  interesting results, because if marriage is based merely on human manipulation, then we would have to allow “marriage” between relatives, animals,  and anything else that whims can think of. One woman in England wanted to marry herself. Why not?  It’s logical according to the new theory.

One argument in favor of same-sex “marriage” is that it is a matter of civil rights. This phrase has become one of those words or phrases that is used when one’s arguments are not going to work. How many times has “racist” been used to cut off opposition to false arguments. Call someone a racist, and he ends up defending himself against a lie, while the opponents faulty argument is assumed to be true because the opponent is a “racist’.

Another of these words currently in use to stop opponents is “homophobe”. It works the same way. This means that because I oppose same-sex marriage, I must be a homophobe and therefore, not worth listening to, which means my arguments are not worth anything either.

Same-sex marriage is not a civil right. Too long have we claimed that merely wanting something makes it a civil right. No one can have a civil right to oppose divine law; another example of the distorted “thinking” of a Godless society.

To some, same-sex marriage is a matter of love, and anyone “in love” should be able to marry. “Love” is one of the most misused words in the English language. It is used to express mere like, “I love ice cream.” It is used to express preference, “I’d love to see Europe before Asia.” It is used to refer to a hope, “I’d love to have a big family.”  Love is basically a matter of commitment between two people. You really cannot have a true commitment to anything not rational (only to God and humans). Can people have real love for others of the same sex? Of course, but the expression of that love must be rational. What is not rational is to declare that love allows you do the unnatural, such as incest, pedophilia and conjure up a false idea of marriage.

There are those who say they cannot oppose active homosexuality because they have family members involved,  especially children. This is probably the most difficult situation to deal with because it is so personal and involves such naturally close bonds. However, divine law still trumps family bonds, and God has condemned homosexuality several times. If something is condemned, it means it is not part of our nature. God does not condemn what we cannot do anything about. He does not condemn skin color, left-handedness, baldness, birth defects and the like.  Active homosexuality is a behavior; it is not a condition beyond one’s control. In the situation with family members, one cannot and should not stop loving, but one need not condone their activities. Family members would not condone other sexual deviations, so why this one?

The homosexual lobby is well-financed. Peter Lewis, who runs Progressive Insurance, the ubiquitous advertiser on TV, has donated 12 million dollars to homosexual causes. That’s a pile of cash that pro-marriage groups cannot match.  Then too, we have a rather inane expectation that the U.S. Supreme Court has a right to even declare, one way or the other, what is the definition of marriage. We certainly have come a long way on the slippery slope.

Remember this…God and His ways and laws are not affected at all by human rejection. He set up the universe based on His own infinite intelligence. He did not make any mistakes. Modern man thinks He did because modern man prefers divine law more to his liking, and, in his lack of intelligence, decides he can veto the divine Will. God does not change and those who try to reject divine law are in for quite a surprise just after their last breath. To slightly modify a line of Scripture…  ” What does it profit a man if he tries to remake his world to suit himself but causes the loss of his soul?”