Pentacost Sunday

There are two different very important things about Pentecost Sunday that I think people should think about.

The first was told to me by my pastor. Consider, Jesus is executed, the Jewish leaders are not big on the people who followed him and the Roman’s certainly are not friendly. Yet starting on Pentecost Sunday the apostles start to fearlessly preach Jesus. This is one of the great proofs of Christianity. Some dramatic thing happened between the day that Christ dies and the day of Pentecost. What is it?

It is actually two things, the appearance of Christ that they saw in person and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

The second is something that I was considering one week when I was debating some seventh day Adventists on the Bible. The first evangalists appear at the Pentecost. They are NOT the Apostles.
They are the crowd. Consider the passage in Acts:

We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.” Acts 2:9-11

These people were all visitors, they all heard the apostles in their own languages. They were all aware of it and they likely went home (as they were visitors) before Paul’s and the other Apostles journeys.

They were eyewitnesses to a miracle. They saw it and heard it and when they came home in those days before IPODS, TIVO and DVD’s told what they saw. When a person returned from travels it was a big event. How much bigger was the event when they described the improbable thing they saw and heard? How often was this spread by the people who heard her?

So the ground was prepared, yet when is this ever mentioned?

That is the second story of the Pentecost and it should not be forgotten.

American interest online has an interesting article about the splits that continue in the Episcopal Church:

People like me will be in a tough spot. I think Bishop Glasspool’s election and consecration were ill-advised, but that is by no means the same thing as denying the possibility that in due time and with due order and deliberation, such a step could be taken without harm to Christian faith and morals.

They are talking about the second openly gay (in this case lesbian) bishop. He then compares this to an earlier time:

And those who criticize this step most bitterly need to reflect that earlier steps to desegregate Episcopal churches and ordain African Americans were once bitterly fought as well.

I don’t claim to be a biblical expert, but I can’t seem to find anything in the bible that forbids black people from being ordained. If anyone can show it to be I’d be rather surprised, however there does seem to be something specific about homosexuality even Mr Mead concedes the point.

It’s also impossible to avoid the reflection that the Episcopal church is unilaterally imposing its own vision of the church on a worldwide communion. Whatever one thinks of the matter on a personal basis, the New Testament as well as the Old specifically condemns homosexual behavior as contrary to the will of God…These are not easy questions and a person doesn’t need to be a homophobe or unthinking fundamentalist to continue to accept traditional Christian teaching on this subject.

Most generous of you. This is a great example of the sin of pride and this type of thing isn’t just a protestant issue:

Now is a time to challenge the bishops head on. The definition of Catholicism — of what it means to be Catholic — is what is at stake. Now is a time of upheaval. Dare I say war?

Oh how about that, war against the church, that sounds very faithful:

The Church needs to change. If it is to change it is going to change now. And it will change only with direct challenges to authority from within its fold, not from without.

We as Catholics must be prepared to lose everything — even risk excommunication — in order to gain back our moral authority. As my Italian-born Catholic grandfather used to say, “You can’t excommunicate me. I excommunicate you.”

That my dear friends is the sin of pride, Thomas Peters takes on some of this nonsense

Buddy, just where are you getting your facts? Is it the seminaries with record numbers of young Catholic men ready to embrace a life of celibacy for the sake of the Church? Is it the flourishing proudly-Catholic colleges like Steubenville, Christendom, and a dozen more? Is it the tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of young, brave Catholics who proudly live their faith despite all the cultural forces being against it?

How’s that “inspid and weak” Cafeteria Catholicisim working out for you? After all, people with far more ability to threaten the Church have predicted its demise before, and they have all been wrong as yes, you are now mistaken.

Let’s get down to business this is the basics of Christianity:

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. Matthew 16:15-17

This sentence is the basis for all of Christianity. The divinity of Christ. Any denomination or church that doesn’t emphasize this as a blunt fact is unlikely to sustain itself. Lets continue the passage:

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matt 16:18-19

Well that seems pretty direct too in terms of authority doesn’t it, but hold on a second some might suggest this doesn’t apply to those pope’s who followed Peter, lets take a peek at another passage:

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. John 20:22-24

Now does anyone dispute Thomas’ position among the apostles? Does anyone deny his apostolic authority? Apparently Mr. Rotondaro, his allies in the dissenting group Catholics in alliance for the common group would and perhaps Mr. Mead would too.

The reason why the church is not a democracy is that people given the chance to define sin, will always define it to excuse their own actions or desires. That’s where the Anglican communion came from in the first place. Anglicans aren’t coming over to Rome because of the arguments of our liberal friends.

This morning it is really interesting to see the level of coincidence yesterday.

First of all because I had failed to raise the money to get to Pa-12 I was in Fitchburg instead of being on the road.

Because of this I went to morning Mass for Ascension Thursday.

Because of this I ran into my 80 something godfather.

Because of this I was able to invite him to breakfast with my mother and myself.

He ended up going to the wrong diner, because of this I had to go get him.

Because of this I saw the sign at J & R glass concerning the Governor’s visit.

Because of this after breakfast I headed down there to report on it.

Because of this I heard about the cancellation and the terror arrests

and because of that I have the photos and stories that you read yesterday.

The moral of the story? When you attend Mass on a holy day of obligation, good things happen!

I took it very ill at the short that Mika took at the Pope this morning but after seeing this story at the memeorandum I am even more upset:

“Today we see in a truly terrifying way that the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from outside enemies, but is born of sin within the Church,” the pontiff told reporters on a plane bound for Portugal.

His comments were his most direct response to press questions, and some of his strongest words yet on the abuse scandal, says the BBC’s Vatican Correspondent, who is travelling with the Pope.

Benedict said the Church has “a very deep need” to acknowledge that it must do penance for its sins and “accept purification”.

However, he added that forgiveness should not be a substitute for justice.

MSNBC portrayed the pope’s remarks saying that the scandal represents the greatest persecution of the church but didn’t mention the rest of the quote saying that its origin is from within, that is: the scandal.

I very much hope that Mika was not aware of the rest of the quote and is a question of a producer giving her incomplete information. If she was aware and she is not ashamed as a journalist she ought to be.

A friend of mine has just become my latest blogchild. She is a former SEPD teacher locally and blogs under the name The Carmelite.

As indicated by the name she will be writing on the Catholic Church and it’s teaching etc. She has taught courses on the Church at local parishes and at local community colleges and has been a guest speaker locally on Catholic Faith and doctrine.

You can find her first post on the search for God here. Stop by and say hello.

My old review from June 2008 of How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization is available at Amazon.com here.

This book should be required reading for the media before they write a single story on the church.

And in case you live under a rock here is the sketch in question from the review:

The list from the Church would likely be longer.

When you look at the South Park situation, the reaction of comedy central and the sudden concern at offending religion that seems to pop up as long as that religion isn’t Christianity in general or Catholicism in particular, it tends to make the average Christian sick.

You have seen the Lord berated, your forms of worship mocked. You find yourself called every name in the book in movies and film, you endure the wrath of the mainstream media for your willingness to stand against sin and when like all men, you succumb to sin of any sort they pounce with glee.

For Catholics in particular, the religion that brought you hospitals, education of the non-noble classes, the preservation of some of the greatest knowledge of antiquity, t religion that feeds, clothes, and shelters more people worldwide than any other and has done so for centuries. The religion whose dedication to educating the poor is so great that even atheists donate to our schools. To see comedy central happily insult Christ and the Pope while bleeping out even the name of Islam’s prophet, its gotta be another twist of the knife.

But worse than that, it is a temptation. It comes from jealousy. It is a little voice that is saying: “Hey you know that Christ is worth defending, you see how the media and almost everyone in Hollywood cringe and bow all it takes is an ambiguous phase.” Just one little suggestion, you don’t even have to do anything, that sort of a “me too” thing, than maybe just maybe they will decide to leave you alone too. It’s not so bad, after all it will keep them from violating the second commandment, it will keep kids from getting the idea they can make fun of the Lord. Maybe even save a soul or two.”

It’s the same kind of voice that the kid who works at the local grocery store for minimum wage hears when he sees a neighbor who is dealing with a $500 iPhone. It’s the voice the girl working two jobs to pay student loan hears when she sees another working three days at the strip club or maybe turning a trick, with money in the bank.

But most important of all it’s the same kind of voice that whispered to Scott Roeder, telling him it was alright to murder.

That voice should not be unfamiliar to us. it whispered to Herod to remove the children who might be a threat to their rule, it told Peter that it was ok to deny Jesus to save his skin, that told Pilate that it was better to kill an innocent man than to risk rebellion and told Judas that he was doing the right thing to deliver Jesus to the High Priest.

For a Christian that is the real significance of the South Park incident. Not what has actually been done, Christ and the Church has been the subject of ridicule as long as there have been Christians, it is the attempt to tempt away from our church, our faith and our very identity.

What should our response be? Prayer for Parker and Stone, Prayer for the Islamic barbarians who want to kill them, and prayer for that same media that scorns us.

It is through that prayer that we will not only save ourselves and others because in the end that is the bottom line. It’s what’s at stake, if we look at it otherwise, then we commit the sin of pride. There is a reason why it leads the list of deadly sins. As Christ said:

“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin; but as it is they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me also hates my Father. John 15:18-23

This is the way things are, and we’d best act like it.

The Anchoress informs me of an incredible suggestion:

So here is my question for you. What if our bishops chose to do public penance? What if they lay prostrate or knelt in front of their cathedrals as penitents before each Mass on the weekend closest to the feast of St.Peter and Paul or on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or some other appropriate day or days? Or, even better, on the first Friday of every month for the next year starting with the feast of the Sacred Heart or Sts.Peter and Paul? And what if we, as their deacons, as an order in the Church, in all humility, not only called on our bishops to do public penance, but offered to join them in it?

To those who do not understand Catholicism this might not seem like much but within the Church it would be earth shattering, and the suggestion of inclusion of the laity is even better:

As a lay person, I would participate in this prostration, with my pope, my bishops and priests and all the rest. I would participate as a means of communicating to the victims that I have heard them and that I am united to them, angry for them and ashamed on their behalf, and also to express to the whole world that I too am a sinner, in need of mercy. I would prostrate myself as to express unity with the clergy and religious, that they are no more outside of redemption than the rest of us, that they are valued and their healing is as necessary to the Body of Christ as is the healing of the victims.

My participation would also demonstrate my intention to remain within this injured body, contributing to both its weakness and its strengths, because I know my redeemer lives, and that we all shall rise again.

Count me in.