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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

“The richness of our faith”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/12/20 at 12:00 AM
Don’t be a pessimist. Don’t you realize that all that happens or can happen is for the best?—Your optimism will be a necessary consequence of your faith. (The Way, 378)

In the midst of the limitations that accompany our present life, in which sin is still present in us to some extent at least, we Christians perceive with a particular clearness all the wealth of our divine filiation, when we realize that we are fully free because we are doing our Father’s work, when our joy becomes constant because no one can take our hope away.

It is then that we can admire at the same time all the great and beautiful things of this earth, can appreciate the richness and goodness of creation, and can love with all the strength and purity for which the human heart was made. It is then that sorrow for sin does not degenerate into a bitter gesture of despair or pride, because sorrow and knowledge of human weakness lead us to identify ourselves again with Christ’s work of redemption and feel more deeply our solidarity with other men.

It is then, finally, that we Christians experience in our own life the sure strength of the Holy Spirit, in such a way that our own failures do not drag us down. Rather they are an invitation to begin again, and to continue being faithful witnesses of Christ in all the moments of our life — in spite of our own personal weaknesses, which, in such a case, are normally no more than small failings that hardly perturb the soul. And even if they were grave sins, the sacrament of penance, received with true sorrow, enables us to recover our peace with God and to become again a good witness of his mercy.

Such is the brief summary, which can barely be expressed in human language, of the richness of our faith and of our christian life, if we let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit. (Christ is passing by, 138)

“Come, Sanctifier, almighty and eternal God”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/09/04 at 12:00 AM
Be a eucharistic soul! If the centre around which your thoughts and hopes turn is the Tabernacle, then, my child, how abundant the fruits of your sanctity and apostolate will be! (The Forge, 835)

I was talking to you about the love of the Blessed Trinity for man. And where can we see this more clearly than in the Mass? The three divine Persons act together in the holy sacrifice of the altar. This is why I like to repeat the final words of the collect, secret and postcommunion: “Through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,” we pray to God the Father, “who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”

In the Mass, our prayer to God the Father is constant. The priest represents the eternal high priest, Jesus Christ, who is, at the same time, the victim offered in this sacrifice. And the action of the Holy Spirit in the Mass is truly present, although in a mysterious manner. “By the power of the Holy Spirit,” writes St John Damascene, “the transformation of the bread into the body of Christ takes place.”

The action of the Holy Spirit is clearly expressed when the priest invokes the divine blessing on the offerings: “Come, Sanctifier, almighty and eternal God, and bless this sacrifice prepared in honour of your holy name” — the holocaust that will give to the holy name of God the glory that is due. The sanctification we pray for is attributed to the Paraclete, who is sent to us by the Father and the Son. And we also recognize the active presence of the Holy Spirit in this sacrifice, as we say, shortly before communion: “Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the will of the Father, with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, by your death have brought life to the world…” (Christ is passing by, 85)

“Learn how to do good”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/07/31 at 12:00 AM
When you are with someone, you have to see a soul: a soul who has to be helped, who has to be understood, with whom you have to live in harmony, and who has to be saved. (The Forge, 573)

I like to repeat what the Holy Spirit tells us through the prophet Isaiah, discite benefacere, learn how to do good…

Charity towards our neighbor is an expression of our love of God. Accordingly, when we strive to grow in this virtue, we cannot fix any limits to our growth. The only possible measure for the love of God is to love without measure; on the one hand, because we will never be able to thank him enough for what he has done for us; and on the other, because this is exactly what God’s own love for us, his creatures, is like: it overflows without calculation or limit.

Mercy is more than simply being compassionate. Mercy is the overflow of charity, which brings with it also an overflow of justice. Mercy means keeping one’s heart totally alive, throbbing in a way that is both human and divine, with a love that is strong, self‑sacrificing and generous. (Friends of God, 232)

“Without Him we can do nothing”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/06/05 at 12:00 AM
When you feel self love – pride! – stirring within you, making you out to be a superman, it is time to cry out: No! In this way you will savour the joy of the good son of God who goes through life with not a few faults, but doing good. (The Forge, 1054)

Do you see how necessary it is to know Jesus and lovingly observe his life? I have often gone to look for a definition or a biography of Jesus in Scripture. And I have found it written by the Holy Spirit: “He went about doing good” [1]. Every single day of Jesus Christ’s life on earth, from his birth until his death, can be summed up like that: he filled them all doing good. And in another place Scripture says, “He has done all things well” [2], he finished everything well, he did nothing that wasn’t good.

What about you and me, then? Let’s take a look to see if we have to put anything right. I certainly can find plenty to improve. I know that by myself I am incapable of doing good. And, since Jesus has said that without him we can do nothing [3], let us, you and me, go to our Lord and ask for his help, through his Mother, in one of those intimate conversations natural to souls who love God. I will say no more, for it’s up to each of you to speak to him personally, about your own needs. Do it interiorly, without the noise of words, now — while I for my part apply these counsels to my own sorry state. (Christ is passing by, 16)
[1] Acts 10:38
[2] Mark 7:37
[3] Cf John 15:5

Rebels and rebellions

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/07/11 at 12:00 AM

The prophet Ezekiel recounts for us today how the Lord sent him to the Israelites. The Lord says that the Israelites are “rebels who have rebelled” against Him; people who are “hard of face and obstinate of heart.” Certainly biblical history bears this out.

  • Although they were God’s chosen people, and despite the many miracles and wonders our Lord wrought in their midst, there were many times when the Israelites rebelled against our Lord and His ways – and always to their detriment.
  • Yet does not our country today resemble the Israelites of old? Is not our country today filled with many people like those our Lord describes to Ezekiel: people who have obstinately rebelled against the laws of God and the natural order?
  • As a nation we have been blessed beyond any other the world has ever known. And yet are we not turning away from our Lord and His laws by some of the laws that we have created?
  • So many things that are manifestly contrary to God’s law, most notably the destruction of innocent life through abortion, are not only legal but regarded as sacred rights in our country today. Thus, as a nation, we now find ourselves amidst terrible culture wars.
  • The arguments that we are having on so many issues – like abortion, contraception, same-sex unions, euthanasia, and even whether or not God & religion have a place in public discourse – will only become fiercer if the citizens of this country do not seek the truth of these issues.
  • And there is a truth to these issues; there is a right and wrong answer to these moral issues.
  • If we do not seek the truth, the fighting will continue because laws not based on truth will almost always lead to strife and division, for the truth is not something that can be destroyed.
  • While we may be able to hide it, distort it, or suppress it, Truth always has a way of eventually making itself known. This is because Truth is not a thing or simply an idea or concept. Truth is a Person: none other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • In looking through the course of history and the way evil has punctuated it, we can see that man has often positioned himself as an enemy of Truth. In order to fulfill his own political agenda, man often tries to distort, bend, or even destroy Truth.
  • But evil men can only distort, bend, or try to destroy the Truth if people who are committed to Truth do not stand up and fight.
  • And so that we might know the Truth, God gave us the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit. Founded by Jesus Christ, Who is the way, the TRUTH, and the life, to the Church has been entrusted the full revelation of Jesus Christ.
  • By the power of the Holy Spirit that truth has been passed down faithfully for 2000 years through Scripture and Tradition. The Catholic Church safeguards Christ’s truth, which we call the Deposit of Faith, and it has been enshrined in the constant teachings of the Church.
  • As Catholics we know that the Truth is a given. It’s not something that changes or evolves over time. It is what it is. Truth is eternal, and our Lord has written it upon our hearts.
  • We set ourselves up as the children of God to the degree that we conform our lives to the Truth, and we fashion ourselves as God’s enemies to the degree that we depart from it.
  • But it is not enough for us to know the truth in order for us to change our country so that it better reflects God’s laws. As I mentioned last week at the end of Mass, if we want to make our country a godly nation once again, we must be holy.
  • Because of our inherent tendencies toward selfishness and rebellion, holiness is difficult to attain. The remedy for our sinfulness that obstructs our ability to be holy is the cross.
  • When I say the cross is the remedy for our sins, I mean not only the salvation won for us by Jesus’ death on the cross, but also the crosses that come into our lives – the sufferings that we endure as part of life.
  • Every form of suffering that God allows to enter into our lives is meant to be an instrument in the hands of the Divine Physician to excise our sinfulness and help us grow in holiness.
  • It’s for this reason that our Lord rarely removes our crosses miraculously. So many times when suffering enters our lives, we beg our Lord to take it away, do we not?
  • Yet most of the time our Lord allows us to suffer our crosses – at least for a while – so that we might grow in holiness by carrying them.
  • In those moments of pain, we must remember the words of our Lord to St. Paul today: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”
  • But our Lord does not expect us to carry our crosses and endure our sufferings all alone.
  • To help us in our times of suffering, our Lord has given us His Mother Mary! As a loving mother Mary understands our weaknesses, and when we entrust ourselves to her loving care, she helps to correct our faults and failings through the power of her spouse, the Holy Spirit.
  • Our Lady also obtains for us the grace we need to carry our crosses with courage and dignity, and to profit by them. In short, if we give ourselves to her, Mary works to make us holy.
  • Indeed, St. Louis de Montfort stated that consecrating oneself to Jesus through Mary is “the surest, easiest, shortest, and the most perfect means to becoming a saint.”
  • It is for this reason that last week at the end of Mass I invited all of you to consider consecrating yourselves to Jesus through Mary this coming August 15th: the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the anniversary of our parish founding.
  • As the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Mary’s role in the divine economy now “is to give spiritual birth to Christians, to feed and nurture them with grace, and to help them grow to full stature in Christ” (33 Days to Morning Glory, p. 25).
  • By consecrating oneself to Jesus through Mary, one is giving our Lady full permission to take on her motherly role of forming us into ever more perfect likenesses of her Son, Jesus.
  • Just as she gave birth to the Christ Child over 2000 years ago in Bethlehem, by her intercession and motherly love, Mary helps us to grow into the likeness of her Son, in whose image we were created. Consecrating ourselves to Jesus through Mary is the way that we fully entrust ourselves to her maternal care.
  • Because of the importance and solemnity of such a consecration, it is important toprepare. And we will do so by setting aside 33 days, beginning this Friday, July 13th,to do some readings and meditate upon them.
  • As I mentioned last week, these readings will come from Fr. Michael Gaitley’s book:33 Days to Morning Glory, which you can purchase from the Poor Clares or from an on-line retailer. We’ve also dedicated a special section on our parish website to the consecration.
  • For those of you who would like to make this consecration, I invite you to purchase Fr. Gaitley’s book, and then on Friday, begin with the reading for Day 1, and then simply follow the outline set forth in his book.
  • Then, after all of the Masses on August 15th, those who have prepared will make the consecration together.
  • If we want to change our country, we must be holy. If we want to be holy, we need Mary.
  • As a parish, let us enter into these 33 days with heartfelt prayer for one another as we strive to abandon ourselves to Mary’s loving task of making us holy.
  • While this retreat will be intimately personal, let us set out together, united in faith, to beg the help of our common Mother.
  • O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

 

08 July 2012

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
To enable the audio, please go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

 

Be Open to God’s Surprises

In Uncategorized on 2014/07/04 at 12:00 AM

In his homily, Francis noted that “we contemplate and re-live in the liturgy the outpouring of the Holy Spirit sent by the Risen Christ upon his Church; an event of grace which filled the Upper Room in Jerusalem and then spread throughout the world.”

“Newness,” he said, “always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, programme, and plan our lives … This is also the case when it comes to God. … It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives … We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, He brings newness—God always brings newness—and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel. This is not a question of newness for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom … The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfilment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves today: Are we open to ‘God’s surprises’? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new? We would do well to ask ourselves these questions all through the day.”

“The Holy Spirit,” the pontiff continued, “would appear to create disorder in the Church, since he brings the diversity of charisms and gifts; yet all this, by his working, is a great source of wealth, for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, which does not mean uniformity, but which leads everything back to harmony. In the Church, it is the Holy Spirit who creates harmony. … Only the Spirit can awaken diversity, plurality, and multiplicity, while at the same time building unity. Here too, when we are the ones who try to create diversity and close ourselves up in what makes us different and other, we bring division. When we are the ones who want to build unity in accordance with our human plans, we end up creating uniformity, standardization. But if instead we let ourselves be guided by the Spirit, richness, variety and diversity never become a source of conflict, because he impels us to experience variety within the communion of the Church. … Having a sense of the Church is something fundamental for every Christian, every community, and every movement. It is the Church which brings Christ to me, and me to Christ; parallel journeys are very dangerous! When we venture beyond the Church’s teaching and community … and do not remain in them, we are not one with the God of Jesus Christ.”

In his last point, the Pope observed that “early theologians used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails and drives it forward, and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Lacking his impulse and his grace, we do not go forward. The Holy Spirit draws us into the mystery of the living God and saves us from the threat of a Church which is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself; He impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the goodness of the Gospel … The Holy Spirit is the soul of mission. The events that took place in Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago are not something far removed from us; they are events which affect us and become a lived experience in each of us. The Pentecost of the Upper Room in Jerusalem is the beginning, a beginning which endures. … It is the Paraclete, the ‘Comforter’, who grants us the courage to take to the streets of the world, bringing the Gospel! The Holy Spirit makes us look to the horizon and urges us toward the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ.”

VIS 130520

“Be docile to the Holy Spirit”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2014/06/14 at 12:00 AM
Our Lord Jesus wants it: we have to follow him closely. There is no other way. This is the task of the Holy Spirit in each soul, in yours too. You have to be docile, so as not to put obstacles in the way of your God. (The Forge, 860)

Let us describe, at least in general, the way of life which will bring us to deal in a familiar manner with the Holy Spirit, and together with him, the Father and the Son. We can fix our attention on three fundamental points: docility, life of prayer, and union with the cross.

First of all docility, because it is the Holy Spirit who, with his inspirations, gives a supernatural tone to our thoughts, desires and actions. It is he who leads us to receive Christ’s teaching and to assimilate it in a profound way. It is he who gives us the light by which we perceive our personal calling and the strength to carry out all that God expects of us. If we are docile to the Holy Spirit, the image of Christ will be formed more and more fully in us, and we will be brought closer every day to God the Father. “For whoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God.”

If we let ourselves be guided by this life‑giving principle, who is the Holy Spirit in us, our spiritual vitality will grow. We will place ourselves in the hands of our Father God, with the same spontaneity and confidence with which a child abandons himself to his father’s care. Our Lord has said: “Unless you become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” This is the old and well‑known “way of childhood,” which is not sentimentality or lack of human maturity. It is a supernatural maturity, which makes us realize more deeply the wonders of God’s love, while leading us to acknowledge our own smallness and identify our will fully with God’s will. (Christ is passing by, 135)

Credo: We Believe

In 15 Audio on 2014/05/30 at 12:00 AM

Host – Fr. Pablo Straub

An explanation of what we mean when we say the Creed.


Credo: We Believe Back to Series List
Program Name Audio File Name – Click to download
1. We Believe
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo1.mp3
2. We Believe in One God, Part 1
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo2.mp3
3. We Believe in One God, Part 2
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo3.mp3
4. God the Father
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo4.mp3
5. The Father Almighty
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo5.mp3
6. Maker of Heaven and Earth
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo6.mp3
7. The Only Son of God
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo7.mp3
8. Eternally Begotten of the Father
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo8.mp3
9. Born of the Virgin Mary
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo9.mp3
10. He Suffered Under Pontius Pilate
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo10.mp3
11. He Descended to the Dead
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo11.mp3
12. On the Third Day He Rose
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo12.mp3
13. He Ascended into Heaven
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo13.mp3
14. He Will Come Again to Judge
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo14.mp3
15. We Believe in the Holy Spirit
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo15.mp3
16. The Holy Catholic Church
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo16.mp3
17. The Communion of Saints
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo17.mp3
18. The Forgiveness of Sins
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo18.mp3
19. The Resurrection of the Body
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo19.mp3
20. Life Everlasting
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo20.mp3

 

The Most Holy Trinity

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/05/23 at 12:00 AM

For those of us who are blessed to be Christians, the greatest mystery facing man is not whether or not God exists. We believe the answer to that question is self‐evident.

Indeed, the great Greek philosophers reasoned their way to the existence of God long before Jesus was born and revealed God to us.

And in dealing with the question of God’s existence, many of our great Catholic theologians have built upon the seminal philosophy of the Greeks, noting that the beauty, complexity, and interdependence of the various elements of creation point to the existence of a God who is not only all‐powerful, but all loving as well.

Moreover, it part of our Christian anthropological tradition that knowledge of God’s existence is something written on our souls and discernible by the natural light of human reason. As such, we are hard‐wired, so to speak, to believe that God exists.

And the grace of faith, first given to us at baptism, builds upon this very natural belief so that we can be certain of God’s existence and His love for us.

While as Christians we know with certainty that God exists, His nature remains a mystery. Thus, the greatest mystery facing us is that God exists as a Trinity of Persons. It is this particular mystery of our faith that separates us from every other religion.

Last week on Pentecost Sunday I briefly explained the roles of each Person of the Blessed Trinity.

Specifically, it is the Father who creates us and sustains us in being; it is the Son who suffered and died for us in order to redeem us; and it is the Holy Spirit who works to sanctify us so that we can cooperate with the gift of salvation.

Because each Person of the Blessed Trinity acts in our lives in different ways, it is important for us to develop a relationship with each of them.

So for example, we pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance and inspiration. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us to know the divine will and act upon it.

It is the Holy Spirit who prays within us, who awakens faith within us, and who restores the beauty of our souls lost through sinfulness. And it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that the Sacraments are made efficacious.

Jesus, on the other hand, is the primary object of our devotion. It is He who became one of us, and thus we most closely relate to Him. For most of us, it is Jesus whom we come to know best, for He is both God and man, and we know His human history.

Moreover, it is Jesus whom we receive and commune with through the Sacraments, most especially through the Holy Eucharist.

However, God the Father is the primary object of our communal worship. It is to the Father that our prayers are directed at Mass and in the celebration of all of the Sacraments. As it is Fathers Day, perhaps it is most appropriate to focus on Him.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that, “By calling God ‘Father’, the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children.” (#239)

And while Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as the 2nd and 3rd Persons of the Holy Trinity, are consubstantial with the Father and not subordinate to Him in any way, the Catechism does teach that the Father is the origin and source of the whole divinity (#245).It is for this reason, and in imitation of Jesus who taught us to pray to the Father, that our liturgical prayers are addressed to the Father. Indeed, when I stand at the altar at Mass and pray, even though I may be facing you, I am speaking to God the Father.

The question of how we pray to God the Father in our liturgies is something that has been given considerable attention lately, especially by our Holy Father.

Even before he was elevated to the Chair of Peter as Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was studying and reviewing the liturgical renewal occasioned by the Second Vatican Council.

For those of you who were born, perhaps, in 1955 or earlier, you remember well how much the liturgy changed in the years following Vatican II.

But now that we’ve experienced 40+ years of this liturgical renewal, the Church recognizes that some modifications to the renewal are in order so that we may render worship to God the Father that is wholly appropriate and rooted in our traditions.

It is for this reason that this coming Advent, we will begin using a new English translation of the Roman Missal, which is the book containing of all of our readings and prayers for the Mass.

Hopefully you’ve been reading the excellent articles on the new translation featured in the Catholic News Herald each week to keep abreast of the upcoming changes.

The primary purpose of the new translation is to provide an English text that is more faithful to the original Latin. The upshot is that our prayers and texts for the Mass will become much more formal, and yet much more beautiful and poetic as well.

This is good, for you see, my brothers and sisters, we must never lose sight of the absolute holiness of God. Because God is Holiness itself, we must always treat Him with the proper respect and reverence.

While it is so very important that we have a personal relationship with our Lord, we must never allow ourselves to be casual with Him. And this is particularly true when we worship Him at Mass.

God is not like anyone else to whom we speak, and therefore the language we use with God must not be like the language we use with one another. His holiness demands more of us than that.

The new translation we will begin using in Advent addresses this issue. In fact, it is reverence for God that has driven all of the liturgical changes we’ve made here at St. Ann’s in the past four years.

Reverence for God was also the primary concern we had in designing and building this new church! Our goal was to build the very best church we could with the limited funds we had – and to do it for God’s glory.

My brothers and sisters, to treat God the Father as we should and as He desires, we must be wholly convinced that nothing is too good for Him. Indeed, we must continually strive to give God the best of ourselves in every way, especially at Mass.

All of the elements of our worship matter. The building in which we worship matters, the music we use matters, the attitude we bring with us to Mass matters, even the clothing we wear matters.

If I may be so bold, I ask that you be very careful about what you wear to Mass. Shorts, t‐shirts, and “flip‐flops” have no place at Mass – no place at all.

I realize that it’s hot in the summer time, but when we come to Mass, we must leave concerns of personal comfort and convenience aside in order to render our Lord the reverence and respect that is due to Him.

So on this Father’s Day, I challenge you to think about your relationship with God the Father. How do you treat Him? Are you as reverent as you should be with Him? Do you always give Him the best you have to give?

Most importantly, let us all consider how we pray to God the Father, especially here at Mass. And let us all strive to be as reverent as possible, so that all that we say, do, and think here at Mass will show forth a love and devotion that is truly worthy of the Lord and Creator of us all.

Copyright 2011 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

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.”