Category Archives: Ecumenism and Interfaith

Signs from God: Science Tests Faith

Science tests faith: Well known investigative reporter Michael Willesee rediscovers his faith in his 50s, through his personal experience and live reporting of miracles within the Catholic Church. In 1998 he made a report entitled Signs From God on the appearance of stigmata displayed by a woman, Katya Revas, in Bolivia among other miracles. Scientists put these miracles to the test live on TV hosted by the Fox Broadcasting Company.

See the full playlist for ‘Signs from God: Science Tests Faith’.

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Case against Abortion: Fetal Development

15-week-old Fetus Thumb-Sucking
15-week-old Fetus Thumb-Sucking

In an issue as heated as abortion (or, ‘feticide’, to disrobe the politically-correct label for killing of the fetus), it’s important first to look at the hard cold facts.

Here’s a fetal development chart from the Voice For Life Fact Sheet on the Unborn (Keep in mind in reading this that most abortions [at least in the UK] happen around the 8-9-week period):

1st day the child’s conception takes place
7 day a tiny human implants in the mother’s uterus
10 days the mother’s menses stop
18 days the child’s heart begins to beat

21 days

the heart pumps own blood through separate closed circulatory system with own blood type.

28 days

the child’s eyes, ears and respiratory system begin to form

42 days

the brain waves can be recorded, skeleton is complete, reflexes are present, hiccoughs first occur.

7 weeks

thumbsucking has been photographed, startles first occur from 6-7 1/2 weeks

8 weeks

all body systems are present, isolated arm movements begin about 7 1/4 to 8 1/2 weeks after conception. Breathing movements begin during the eighth week. Stretches first occur during the eighth week.

9 weeks

the child squints, swallows, moves tongue and makes a fist. Rotations of the head also begin from the middle of the seventh week after conception to the middle of the tenth week.

10 weeks

Hand to face contacts first occur 8 to 10 1/2 weeks after conception.

11 weeks

spontaneous breathing movements, the child has fingernails and all body systems are operating. Jaw openings and forward head movement begin during 8 1/2 to 12 1/2 weeks after conception.

12 weeks

the child weighs one ounce

16 weeks

genital organs clearly differentiated, the child grasps with hands, swims, kicks, turns and somersaults (still not felt by the mother)

18 weeks

the vocal cords work and baby can cry

19 weeks

Kenya King’s birth, Florida, June 1985

20 weeks

the child has hair on its head, weighs one pound, 12 inches long

23 weeks

15% of babies survive premature birth

24 weeks

56% of babies survive premature birth

25 weeks

79% of babies survive premature birth

39-40 weeks

normal birth

The Catholic Faith site update

The Catholic Faith project page has been updated, with a new logo and with the addition of several new sections. You are encouraged to download and disseminate the pdf booklets for you evangelical pleasure. From the About page:

The Catholic Faith project aims to assist the lay faithful – the ‘sleeping giant’ of the Church – to know, love, defend and proclaim the Catholic faith.

The greatest commandment given to us as Catholics is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). As such, we must first know our faith, for it reveals God – we cannot love what we do not know.

As we continue to grow in knowledge and love of the faith – which naturally includes living it to the full – the Scriptures also call us to, “go into all the world and proclaim the gospel [euangelos] to every creature” (Mark 16:15), and, “always be prepared to make a defense [apologia] to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). This is the work of evangelisation and apologetics to which we are all called, as part of the volitional faith that saves us and brings salvation to others (James 2:26, Matthew 25:31-46); but we must first know and love our faith – we cannot give what we do not have.

This is a not-for-profit (other than winning souls!), self-propagating (reader-distributed) project aiming to inform and equip the Catholic fathful for this glorious task at hand!

Scripture and Bias of Tradition?

One of the nuances on the Sola Scriptura doctrine I recently come across is to acknowledge the role of tradition in scriptural interpretation, but as a source of ‘bias’ (correct or incorrect).

As a believer, I would be asking if all tradition is ‘bias’, or can it be more? As a believing Catholic, but also as a believer open to the objective data, I would say it is more. Let me outline a few reasons and data which seems to me to indicate this.

First is Scripture. Upon examining the case of Bereans (Acts 17:11), one sees that these Jews are examining the Apostolic teachings with the Jewish scriptures. Would it be true that “the Bible has authority over church tradition”? This would seem to me to be hasty generalization, for a few reasons. Firstly, the Apostles were teaching new doctrines that went above and beyond the Old Testament, of the Christ who authoritatively fulfilled and also superceded the Law of Moses. The Bereans, in this sense, were checking for consistency with the prospect of Messianic doctrine that would supercede the limitation of their scriptures. Secondly, the Apostolic teaching as superceding the Old Testament is explicitly acknowledged and, in fact, proclaimed, as coming in two modes: “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (II Thess 2:15). Indeed, this Apostolic word of mouth is considered to be divine revelation: “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (I Thess 2:13). If one is to go by the scriptural practice of the Bereans, then, it would stand to sense to allow authoritative Apostolic teaching to properly guide scriptural interpretation.

Now, this is not some isolated theory, but, again, found in historical data in the early Church:

Papias:

Whenever anyone came my way, who had been a follower of my seniors, I would ask for the accounts of our seniors: What did Andrew or Peter say? Or Phillip or Thomas or James or John or Matthew, or any of the Lord’s disciples? I also asked: What did Aristion and John the Presbyter, disciples of the Lord say. For, as I see it, it is not so much from books as from the living and permanent voice that I must draw profit (The Sayings of the Lord [between A.D. 115 and 140] as recorded by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3:39 [A.D. 325]).

Irenaeus:

For even creation reveals Him who formed it, and the very work made suggests Him who made it, and the world manifests Him who ordered it. The Universal [Catholic] Church, moreover, through the whole world, has received this tradition from the Apostles (Against Heresies 2:9 [A.D. 189]).

True knowledge is the doctrine of the Apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us, being guarded and preserved, without any forging of Scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine, and neither addition nor curtailment [in truths which she believes]; and [it consists in] reading [the Word of God] without falsification, and a lawful and diligent exposition in harmony with the Scriptures, both without danger and without blasphemy…(ibid. 4:33 [A.D. 189]).

Origen:

Seeing there are many who think they hold the opinions of Christ, and yet some of these think differently from their predecessors, yet as the teaching of the Church, transmitted in orderly succession from the Apostles, and remaining in the churches to the present day, is still preserved, that alone is to be accepted as truth which differs in no respect from ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition (On First Principles Bk. 1 Preface 2 [circa A.D. 225]).

So, historically, Apostolic tradition was not seen as merely a basis for ‘bias’ – no; according to historical and Scriptural data, this view is novel and foreign to both. Church has faithfully obeyed the Apostolic exhortation to “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us”, since they recognized the Apostolic teaching as “what it really is, the word of God”.

Growth and Orthodoxy

To add to the previous post, here’s an article on Liberal Religions in Free Fall:

Beginning with the work of Dean Kelly in the 1970s, it has been empirically obvious that those religions which have experienced the greatest proportionate decline in membership are generally the most progressive or liberal in their teachings; conversely, conservative-oriented religions have fared comparatively well. The latest data from the Yearbook proves this to be true again.

…With the exception of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and to some extent the American Baptist Churches, all the other churches with declining membership hold liberal views on abortion and gay rights. Moreover, the smallest decline among the Baptist churches was registered by the most conservative among them, the Southern Baptist Convention (down .42). By sharp contrast, all the religions that experienced a growth in membership are pro-life and pro-marriage (normatively understood).

Orthodoxy (among the conservatives, in this case) flourishes, because we are made to know and seek the truth.

As the article claims, this is consistent with the past findings, tracked by ad2000: for the Crisis magazine (2007);

The better-known orthodox bishops and dioceses – such as Archbishop Chaput (Denver) and Bishop Bruskewitz (Lincoln) – ranked well, while long-time liberal dioceses, such as Milwaukee, Albany and Rochester, fared very poorly. Not all dioceses fitted this pattern, due to other factors, but there was an evident correlation between success and strongly orthodox leadership.

Catholic World Report (2005);

Ziegler’s analysis took account of factors like the selection processes in different dioceses, the numbers accepted from other dioceses or overseas, the effects of clerical sex abuse scandals and rapid changes in population. However, these did not substantially affect the likely ingredients of success.

Successful seminaries were linked for the most part with strong, orthodox episcopal leadership, the witness of devout, enthusiastic clergy, focus on the indispensable role of the priest, effective programs in schools and parishes, and spiritual practices such as Eucharistic adoration.

and Human Life International;

2. The proportion of diocesan priests in orthodox dioceses has remained steady, while the number of diocesan priests in progressive dioceses has been continually declining for four decades. In orthodox dioceses, there were 1,830 diocesan priests per million active Catholics in 1956, and 12 percent more (2,057) in 1996….

1. There are currently nearly five times as many ordinations of diocesan priests per million active Catholics in orthodox dioceses as there are in progressive dioceses (53 vs. 11); and

2. The rate of ordinations of diocesan priests in orthodox dioceses shows a strong upward trend, while the rate in progressive dioceses, relatively low four decades ago, continues to decline. In orthodox dioceses, there were 34 ordinations of diocesan priests per million active Catholics in 1986, and 53 in 1996 – an increase of more than 50 percent. In progressive dioceses, the rate was 16 in 1986, and only 11 in 1996 – a one-third decrease.

This is consistent with the claims in Goodbye Good Men, which notes that the vocation crisis is artificially created by dissenting factions who turn away orthodox candidates as being “rigid”. Such dissenters forget that “liberal” flexibility and open-mindedness are, again, “values” that are relative and limited; by their very nature, they are never, nor can they ever be, absolute as to supersede universal truths.

“Pro Multis” – “For Many” or “For All”?

The new English translation of the Missale Romanum, the Roman Missal, from the original latin text is already in use here in New Zealand. In my opinion, it is a vast improvement over the hastily and inadequately done translation in the years following the Second Vatican Council. One of the points of contention here is regarding the words of consecration for the precious blood, which, in the new translation, reads as follows: “For this is the Chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal Covenant which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” It is the word “many”, which has been changed from “all”, that is being disputed by “many” in the liberal and dissenting camp.

An author from the notorious America magazine has written:

The Latin word, multis, is, itself, perhaps, a mistranslation of the original Greek word, Pollown,which refers to ‘the many’ ( an expression already found in Isaiah) to indicate a substantially large, indeed capacious, number, equivalently all.

If one looks at the text with its Greek lexicon (click on the word “many” or “pollwn”), however, we see that the definitions are “many, much, large”. With regards the author’s appeal to the writings of Pope Benedict (God is Near Us: The Eucharist the Heart of Life), the Pope states in the same book in p.37:

I leave open the question of whether it was sensible to choose the translation “for all” here and, thus, to confuse translation with interpretation, at a point at which the process of interpretation remains in any case indispensable.

The footnote for this states,

The fact that in Hebrew the expression “many” would mean the same thing as “all” is not relevant to the question under consideration inasmuch as it is a question of translating, not a Hebrew text here, but a Latin text

Fr. Z’s blog on “Slavishly accurate liturgical translations” provides an explanation and history of its universal use behind the translation:

Look at it this way: if the Pope or a new Council chose to explain a new emphasis using a document of sufficient weight and authority, and if the Holy See then changed the Latin of the Missale Romanum to say “pro vobis et pro universis”, then there would be a linguistic justification for saying “for all” as an accurate translation of the Missale Romanum.

But the Church cannot change the Latin from pro multis to pro universis.

That would explicitly contradict the Church’s teaching as expressed in Latin by the Council of Trent (cf. Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part II, 4).

Such a change would contradict doctrine and not simply change emphasis about an aspect of that doctrine. Clear English must reflect the clarity of the Latin.

Many arguments have been forwarded to justify the choice to translate pro multis as “for all”.

In Latin pro multis means “for many”. All the Latin rites, historical or modern, have pro multis and not pro omnibus or pro universis.

The English translations of the Eastern Catholic Rites say “for many”.

Our patristic sources, such as the writings of the 4th c. Doctor of the Church St. Ambrose of Milan, when describing the words of consecration in the Eucharistic liturgy, has pro multis and not pro omnibus, etc. The liturgical formulas were from Scripture. The 4th c. Doctor of the Church St. Jerome, who translated from Greek and Hebrew texts into Latin giving us a Bible translation called the Vulgata, chose to use pro multis when translating the Greek tò peri pollôn (genitive plural of polus) in describing Jesus’ words at the Last Supper.

In Greek polus means “many” or “much” or even “most” as in the majority: it does not mean “all”. In the ancient Church, no one said “for all” instead of “for many”. In the Greek Gospel accounts of the Last Supper, Jesus uses a form polus “many”. The liturgical rites of the East retained a form of polus. The rites of the Latin West have ever used pro multis.

He also clarifies, in agreement with Pope Benedict, that the claim of the original Greek meaning being “equivalently all” is based not on the Greek but on a guess as to the possible original words:

The Lutheran Scripture scholar Joachim Jeremias, whose philological fan dance formed the basis for the claims that words in Greek meant something they have never meant in the history of Greek because of his guess about what Jesus may have said in Aramaic, said in the Scripture dictionary article on this matter that he was trying to avoid an interpretation he considered offensive. He tailored his article according to his predetermined idea.

“This is the question whether the broad interpretation of polloí corresponds to the original sense of Mk. 10:45; 14:24 or whether we have here a secondary and more comprehensive understanding designed to avoid the offence of a restriction of the scope of the atoning work of Jesus to ‘many’” (pp. 543-44).

The foundation for our present translation was the Lutheran Jeremias’ rereading of Scripture so as to avoid the offense in Catholic doctrine.

Is it “restricting the scope”, as Jeremias claims? I wouldn’t think so: God, of couse, wills for all to be saved, but, given free will, its fruition is not necessarily manifested universally. On this point, Fr. Z quotes the Catechism of Trent to further clarify the matter:

But when He added pro multis He wanted that there be understood the rest of those chosen (electos) from the Jews or from the gentiles. Rightly therefore did it happen that for all (pro universis) were not said, since at this point the discourse was only about the fruits of the Passion which bears the fruit of salvation only for the elect (delectis).

Thus, it can be seen linguistically, historically, and doctrinally, that “for many” is the more appropriate translation.