Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Featured Post: How to Defend the Catholic Faith

The prospect of defending the Catholic faith is daunting for most people. It's scary to put yourself out there, and if someone asks you a difficult question ... what are you going to say?

But, it's really not as hard as you might think. With the right approach, a few key resources, and a healthy dose of practice and prayer, you can become an effective Catholic apologist. Here's what you need to get started, and if you've already started, this will take you well on your way to confidently engaging in Catholic apologetics.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

How to Respond to the Transgender Movement

One day, Charles Dickens sat in a coffee shop. Actually, it was a “coffee room,” as indicated on the glass door of the establishment. Dickens had read that sign and frequented rooms like it many times. But, on this day, he happened to read the sign from inside the establishment. It read: “mooreeffoc.” This new word startled him. Suddenly, the sign was new and so was the room. Dickens realized that every-day things can take on a strange new meaning when viewed from a different angle.

Today, the transgender movement challenges us with another radically different way to view the world. This movement takes the ordinary categories of male and female and asserts that gender is assigned, it is not fixed, and a person can determine, regardless of what the body reveals, that he/she actually belongs to the opposite gender.

What should we believe? How can we seize this moment to share our faith in a loving way?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states it plainly: “Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity” (no. 2333). “Man may not despise his bodily life. Rather, he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day” (no. 364). “Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law” (no. 2297).

“This is a hard saying, who can hear it?” (Jn 6:60). This topic certainly challenges us all. Let’s distill it down to the Good News. All of the Church’s teachings have some “Good News” component to them. Find that and you find the key to understanding the doctrine and explaining it to others.

Here is the Good News the Church proclaims to people who struggle with their gender identity:
  • You are loved. You are not a mistake. You are a child of God and deeply precious to Him. We want to love you like God loves you. We aren’t always very good at it, but we are trying.
  • Your body and mind are God’s gifts to you. Sometimes the body and the mind can cause us great suffering, as when a 90-pound woman looks in a mirror and sees a fat person, or when a healthy young man develops bone cancer. In your case, you feel trapped in the wrong body. All of this is extremely difficult. But we believe it’s possible for all people to value who they are exactly as God made them. We have to believe this is possible, or we’d be left with a lot of hopelessness in this world.
  • Your body reveals who you are. When someone punches me, I don’t say, “Why did you hit my body?” Instead, I say, “Why did you hit me?” We all respond this way because we intuitively know that human beings are body and soul intertwined. Our bodies are a self-revelation of who we are. That is why we must care for them and build them up.
  • We want to see you flourish. Gender theory is harmful to you. It says you are a mistake. It says the best medical practice is to halt your body in its normal, healthy functioning, or to completely replace your power for reproduction. It advocates medical treatments with no solid proof of positive outcomes, and with many negative ones. It is harmful to you, and we don’t like that very much.

Ultimately, we must love and encourage without alienating or stigmatizing. We must acknowledge the suffering of others while also advocating for a “still more excellent way” (1 Cor 12:31) of understanding the human person.

We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. But, it requires reading the world from the proper point-of-view.

For more resources on how to respond to the transgender movement and it's particular gender ideology, see the following articles:
Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Monday, February 26, 2018

Three Easy Ways to Defend the Resurrection of Jesus

Although we are still focused on the season of Lent, Easter will be here soon. You know what that means: it’s “open season” on the Resurrection. The History Channel will reveal a “secret Gospel” that contradicts Jesus’ rising from the dead. Atheists on Facebook will start posting memes about “Zombie Jesus.” News networks will trot out their “Bible expert” who will explain that the Resurrection “probably didn’t happen” the way the Bible describes. It doesn't help that Easter Sunday this year falls on April Fool's Day.

Of course, not everyone who questions the Resurrection is trying to stir up higher ratings or more Facebook followers. Most people genuinely want to know, “Why do you believe Jesus rose from the dead?”

Let’s get ready to respond. Here are three simple points you can use to defend the Resurrection.
  1. The Gospels Describe What Actually Happened

    As Catholics, we believe the Gospel accounts are true because the Bible is inspired. But, for non-Christians we need other reasons.

    Try this: imagine you’re a historian researching an event that happened long ago. What would you do? One approach would be to read the written accounts of those who witnessed the event.

    That’s what the Gospels are: the eyewitness accounts of the earliest followers of Jesus. The authors themselves tell us they intended to faithfully record what they saw, or what they received from those who saw it (cf. Lk 1:1-4; Jn 21:24-25). As an unbiased researcher, we would have to give them some credence.

  2. There’s No Better Explanation

    The Gospels tells us that when Jesus’ followers came to the tomb, they found the stone rolled away, the burial garments piled in the corner, and the tomb empty (cf. Mt 28:1-8; Mk 16:1-8; Lk 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-10). They knew that Jesus had risen.

    If anyone challenges this, just ask them, “Do you have a better explanation?” There are many theories, but they’re all ridiculous. For example:
    • “The apostles stole the body”: It’s not possible to roll away the heavy stone, remove the burial garments, and run away with the body without waking the guards.
    • “Jesus was still alive when they buried him”: In other words, perhaps Jesus regained consciousness, rolled away the stone, and walked out. Really? The Romans were experts at execution. The soldier who broke the legs of the crucified (to hasten their death) did not break Jesus’ legs because Jesus was already dead (cf. Jn 19:31-33). At any rate, Jesus was too bruised and beaten to roll away the stone or walk around town without the soldiers stopping him.
    • “The tomb wasn’t empty”: Perhaps the whole thing was made up. Doubtful. For one, Jesus’ enemies didn’t even doubt that the tomb was empty (cf. Mt 28:11-15). And if any of the contemporaries of the Apostles doubted, they could just go to the tomb and see for themselves. It would have been impossible to lie about it.

  3. Many People Saw the Resurrected Jesus

    If Jesus did not die and then rise to new life, why did so many people see Him during those 40 days after His Resurrection? First, the women saw Jesus (cf. Mk 16:1, 7). Then Peter, then the twelve, then more than 500 at once, then James, and finally, Paul himself (cf. 1 Cor 15:5-8). This couldn’t have been visions of a spirit. They “took hold of his feet” (Mt 28:9). They handled his hands (cf. Lk 24:39). He ate fish (cf. Lk 24:42-43). Thomas put his hand right into Jesus’ side! (cf. Jn 20:27). Jesus was very physically present to them. Plus, 500 people don’t hallucinate all at once, and hallucinations don’t last 40 days.

The truth is: Jesus has risen! This is what Easter is all about, and when Easter comes, we will have good reason to celebrate.

For an easy-to-read book in defense of the Resurrection, see The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary R. Habermas, or Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? by Carl E. Olson.

Also see the following articles:

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Friday, November 03, 2017

Theology on Tap on the Five Marian Doctrines

Tomorrow night I will be at St. Paul's Catholic Church in Leitchfield, KY, speaking for the local Theology on Tap group about the five Marian doctrines. I spoke there a couple of years ago and they have invited me back, which means I must be doing something right!

For the scripture passages I will be citing during the talk, as well as other biblical arguments I probably won't have time to use, see:
The talk is in their new Parish Hall, from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM CST. Please join us!

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bowling Green Theology on Tap

Tonight I will be at "The Duck Shack" in Bowling Green, KY, speaking for the local Theology on Tap group about the saints. Specifically, I will be addressing what a proper relationship with the saints looks like and what the biblical proof is for that relationship. We gather for snacks and refreshments at 6:30pm CST, and the talk begins at 7:30pm.

For the scripture passages I will be citing during the talk (and many more passages I probably won't have time to use), see: A Comprehensive and Biblical Defense of Praying to the Saints.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

For the Memorial of St. John Bosco, priest


As a catechist, I have a special place in my heart for St. John Bosco. He is one of the premier models of what we are called to be as teachers of the Faith. Bosco had a very Christ-like ability to draw all people to himself (even the rowdiest street kids) so as to change their lives and convert their hearts to Christ. The boys under his care loved him so much that they couldn't stand the thought of doing anything to disappoint him, and they knew that all he wanted for them was that they live good and holy lives.

What we learn from Bosco's approach and methodology is that the person of the catechist is just as important as orthodox teaching. You can have all of your facts straight, but if the children don't see that the Truth is something that enlivens you and informs every decision that you make -- if they don't see that you are committed to the very salvation of their souls -- then they won't give your words any more than a passing thought. Street kids know when they're getting fed a line. They know who the phonies are, the teachers who just clock in for their 9 to 5 and could give 2 cents about them. In St. John Bosco they saw someone different, someone who truly loved and cared for them.

If I could only have half the passion, zeal, and charisma that St. John Bosco had ...

St. John Bosco, "Apostle of Youth" ... pray for us.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

RESOURCES:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

For the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor

In thanksgiving for the inspiring life and work of St. Francis de Sales on this his feast day, I offer the following resources:
Works by St. Francis de Sales:
In closing, and for old-time's sake (this used to be a regular feature on my blog), here is today's selection from "Daily with De Sales":
  • During the course of the day, recall as often as possible that you are in God's presence. Consider what God does and what you are doing. You will see His eyes turned toward you and constantly fixed on you with incomparable love. Then you will say to Him, "O God, why do I not look always at You, just as You always look at me? Why do You think so often of me, O Lord, and why do I think so seldom of You?" Where are we, O my soul? God is our true place, and where are we? (INT. Part II, Ch. 12; O. III, p. 92)

St. Francis de Sales, bishop and doctor of the Church ... pray for us.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Holy Family: A Triple Threat

I suspect that when most people think about the Holy Family, they imagine a picture of total happiness, where there is no suffering of any kind and where every day just turns out perfectly. Yes, Jesus and Mary were completely sinless, and Joseph was a most chaste and righteous man. But, they still had their difficulties.

The movie The Nativity Story is what first gave me a sense of this, but if you think about it, Scripture reveals it too. The Holy Family had many trials, including public scorn, homelessness, harsh environments and traveling conditions, a power-hungry and blood-thirsty king, and the pressures -- and ultimately the suffering -- that comes with knowing that your son must die to save the world.

What we can learn from this is that the Holy Family can relate to a family that struggles. A sword pierced Mary's heart, so that the thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed (cf. Lk 2:35). Joseph, for his part, had always on his shoulders the task of protecting and providing for this holiest of holy families. They both had quite a scare when, for three days, they had no clue where to find their son (cf. Lk 2:41-49). Of course, if anyone knows suffering, it is Jesus. As a family, they are acquainted with struggle, but more importantly, they also know how to overcome and to survive.

Because of their family experience, they are powerful intercessors when we wrestle with family issues. If you suffer because of your mother, find solace in Mary. She cares greatly for the entire Body of Christ, just as she cared for the literal body of Christ. Just as Sarah was the spiritual mother of the Jews (cf. 1 Pet 3:6), Mary is the spiritual mother of "those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus" (Rev 12:17). Her prayer for us will always be powerful because her will is always united with her Son's, and because "the prayer of the righteous has great power in its effects" (Jas 5:16).

If you suffer because of your father, find solace in St. Joseph, Jesus' father in this world. St. Joseph will never forsake his fatherly duty. He is the patron saint and the protector of families. With his powerful intercession, he protects God's children, just like he protected God's Child. As Mary's most chaste spouse, he also teaches boys how to be good men, and men how to be good men too. Pray that St. Joseph will help your father to be the man that God is calling him to be.

Of course, there is no intercession, no solace, no love, no source of strength and courage and hope like that of the Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is our Rock and our Salvation. In Him, we can do all things, overcome all things, be all things. Together, the mother, the father, and the Son are a triple threat against anything that threatens the integrity of the family.

For more on the Holy Family, see the following articles. I conclude with the words from a song about the Holy Family that we often sing at Mass.

Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary ... have mercy on us.
Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church ... pray for us.
Joseph, Protector of Families ... pray for us.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic
- - - - - - - - - -
Articles:
- - - - - - - - - -
Sing of Mary

Sing of Mary, pure and lowly, Virgin mothjer undefiled.
Sing of God's own Son most holy, Who became her little child.
Fairest child of fairest mother, God the Lord who came to earth;
Word made flesh, our very brother, Takes our nature by His birth.

Sing of Mary, pure and spotless, Born to bear the Holy Child;
Blest was she, to do God's bidding, Blessed, gentle, meek and mild.
Blessed, too, was good Saint Joseph, Foster father to the Lord;
Let us praise God's Holy Family Who brought forth God's Holy Word.

Sing of Mary, sing of Joseph, keepers of the wondrous Boy,
Called by God to high vocation, Sharing sorrow, sharing joy;
Sharing love, and by that loving in their home in Nazareth,
Forming One whose grace and glory suffered, died and conquered death.

Glory be to God the Father; Glory be to God the Son;
Glory be to God the Spirit; Glory to the Three in One.
From the blessed Virgin Mary, From Saint Joseph praise ascends,
And the Church the strain reechoes Unto earth's remotest ends.
- - - - -
Text: Vss. 1-2, Roland F. Palmer, SSJE, 1891-1985, © Estate of Roland Palmer. All rights reserved. Vs. 3, Herbert O'Driscoll, ©. Melody: Christian Lyre, 1830.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Online Catholic Scripture Commentaries on St. John's Gospel

In honor of St. John on his feast day, I present (as I do every year) the following online Catholic commentaries on his Gospel:

Read John's Gospel ... and soar on eagle's wings to new heights of spiritual wisdom. If you know of any other Catholic commentaries on John's Gospel that exist online, please let me know.

St. John the Evangelist ... pray for us.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic
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