Growing Apologist

Becoming a Defender of Truth

Where Better to Start?

Here I am, on the path of growing apologetic’s– which is nothing like growing pains I hope– and I thought to myself, Self where better to start than the bible.  Or more appropriately, Catholic Answers pointed me in that direction, but that is hardly the point.  The point is that I’ve done a series of posts on the Rosary, Communion of Saints, Advent, and Prayer.  But I have not yet done one on the bible.  It is very prudent that my first series of posts since a long batch of silence would be on the thing that has been giving Christians hope and inspiration and teaching for a very long time.  Just how long? Read the rest of this entry »

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The Angelic Doctor: St. Thomas Aquinas

A Student’s Prayer

By St. Thomas Aquinas

Creator of all things, True source of light and wisdom, Origin of all being, Graciously let a ray of your light penetrate The darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness In which I have been born, An obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding, A retentive memory, and The ability to grasp things Correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent Of being exact in my explanations And the ability to express myself With thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning, Direct the progress, And help in the completion.

I ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Taken from the Apple Seeds website, produced by Fr. Brian Cavanaugh of the Third Order Franciscan and is found here: http://www.appleseeds.org/aquinas_stdpryr.htm

What is a Doctor?

From Microsoft Office

The Doctors writings are used to educate

The title ‘Doctor of the Church’ does not refer to a medical practice, but is the title of an authorized teacher and theologian of the Catholic Church. [1] This is a special title given by the pope to people who fulfill three requirements: remarkable holiness even for a saint; depth of doctrinal insight; extensive body of writings that are an expression of authentic and life giving Catholic Tradition. [1]

Often times, these people are also considered fathers of Christianity and whose works are well respected by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. There are thirty-three official Doctors of the Church; each one is considered to not be infallible—meaning there may be errors in their writings and teachings, however their writing impacted and guided the Church none-the-less. [2] St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Francis de Sales and St. Catherine of Siena are a few of the Doctors.

Five Lessons from the Angelic Doctor of the Church

Saint Thomas Aquinas recently had a feast day on January 28th. Here are five key points about his life, a model for all to look up to.

  1. With his parent’s end goal of gaining prestige and power by their son becoming the Abbey of Monte, St. Thomas was submitted to the care of the Benedictines of Monte Casino at the age of five around the year 1231. [3, 4] There St. Thomas excelled in his education, even going beyond his peers in education and virtue. [4]
  2. At the age of 17, his father, the Count of Aquinas, sent St. Thomas to the University of Naples so to further his education. [3] To the distress of his parents, St. Thomas became inspired by the Dominicans and decided to join the order despite his family’s plans. [3, 4]
  3. His parents tried everything to dissuade him of this decision. During his two years of discernment, they went as far as sending St. Thomas an impure woman to tempt him. But St. Thomas remained chaste and for this, God rewarded him the gift of perfect, ‘Angelic’ chastity. [4]
  4. St. Thomas Aquinas’s writings and sermons flowed from his personal prayer life. [3] His greatest writing, Summa Theologiae summarizes and explains the entire body of Catholic teaching and is used even today to educate people. [5]
  5. He died in 1274, canonized as a saint and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1323. [4] St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron saint of Academics, apologists, theologians, chastity, lightning and storms. [5]

References and Additional Reading

On Doctors of the Catholic Church:

[1] Introduction to the Doctors of the Catholic Church; Definition and Complete List, The Crossroads Initiative, Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D., available online (1/31/12). 

[2] Doctors of the Church, Catholic Online, available online (1/31/12).

On St. Thomas Aquinas:

[3] St. Thomas Aquinas: His Life and Writings, The Crossroads Initiative, available online (1/31/12).

[4] St. Thomas Aquinas, Catholic Online, available online (1/31/12).

[5] January 28th, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor, CatholicCulture.org, available online (1/31/12).

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Weekly Media: CU Podcast

Have a media that you love to use? I would be glad to review it and provide a post on it with you and your website attributed to it. Just send me an email through the Feedback! Page or post in the comments.

CU Podcast Avatar

I listen to a lot of different podcasts while at work and one of my favorites is Catholic Underground (CU), “Your guide to the digital continent”. The CU podcast is a round table discussion on news, media and technology through the lens of Catholicism. The round table is made up of priests and lay people—it is quite entertaining.

I attribute my motivation and desire to learn more about faith to these men. As a new convert to the faith, I didn’t realize the depth and breadth of the Catholic faith and these men discussing hot topics in the news and how Catholics should be responding to such events helped me to realize that there is so much more to being a Catholic than attending mass once a week. Somehow they are able to take pressing news and work in a discussion on pro-life, natural family planning, the papacy, etc., and be lighthearted and entertaining at the same time.

I listen to CU through iTunes. Click here to download iTunes for free. Once it is downloaded, click on the iTunes store inside the program and search for Catholic Underground. For those of you who do not use iTunes, you can listen directly from their site here.

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IgnitumToday: Another Path to Holiness

English: Holy Family, Mary, Joseph, and child ...

Today, I direct you to one of my favorite blogs called Ignitum Today, where I was welcomed to submit a guest post.  Ignitum Today is a multi-blogger site that cover topics relevant to the younger generation of the Catholic Church.  The site features many talented writers, such as Brandon Vogt which is one of my favorite, published authors. 

With much excitement, I submitted a post on how the Holy Family can teach us to become holy ourselves.  You can find the article here

There are many different paths to holiness– a person does not have to be a nun or a priest to become a saint.  Do you have examples of ‘average’ people becoming a saint?  Any particular person, Catholic or non, alive or dead, who inspires you?  Share in the comments.

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To Become A Saint

I knew that the Church has quite a process in place to declare a person a Saint, but I did not realize how involved it actually is.  There are three titles that a person is given during the process before the person is actually declared to be a Saint of the Church [1].  However, before this process can even begin, five years must pass after the person’s death in order to allow the people’s emotions to settle and to keep the process objective [2].  In rare instances, the five year waiting period can be waived by the Pope [1,2].

Antichristus, a woodcut by Lucas Cranach of th...

Servant of God

The first title given to the person in question is the Servant of God, but this title is given only after close examination of the person’s life.  People who knew the person are called to the ecclesiastical court to testify of the person’s Christian virtues of faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, and others [2].  Additionally, all public and private documents of the person is gathered and reviewed.  After all of this is reviewed, it is decided whether to pass the Decree of Heroic Virtue.  If passed, then the person is given the title Servant of God [1].

Venerable

The Decree of Heroic Virtue is passed to the Pope.  Once the Pope agrees with the Decree of Heroic Virtue, the person is then given the title Venerable Servant of God [1].

Blessed

Pope Benedictus XVI

Once made a Vernerable Servant of God, a miracle has to take place.  This miracle has to be something that could not have happened naturally and must be proven to be attributed solely to the intercession of the Vernerable Servant of God [1].  The miracle is the first proof that the person in question is in heaven.  In cases of Martyrdom, the requirement of the first miracle is waived, on the basis that the Martyrdom is an Act of Grace and is a miracle in itself [1].  Upon agreement between the scientific commission and the theological commission that the act was in fact a miracle completed at the intercession of the Servant of God, the person is declared Blessed by the Pope and the rite of beatification begins, which is the acknowledgment in certain regions of the Church of the person’s intercessory abilities [1,2].  The person is not yet recognized in the entire church.

Saint

A second miracle, just like the first, must take place after the title of Blessed is given to the Servant of God.  Once the second miracle goes through the scientific and theological commissions, the person is canonized as a Saint by the Pope [1,2].  It should be noted that the person is not made a saint by the Pope, as this Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont of 10...is only done by God.  Rather the person is merely recognized by the Church as a person called to God’s side [1].  It is at this point that the person is recognized by the entire Church as a Saint with the ability to intercede for us.

As you can see, this is quite a process that can take many years to be completed.  There are a lot more details and intricate steps that take place, and I invite all to investigate this process in more details.  Below are my references for this article along with links for more information.

Questions?

Please ask if you have any questions, and I will get back to you with an answer and/or resources.

References

[1] The Process of Beautification and Canonization,  EWTN, Link

[2] Canonization Process, Catholic Pages, Link

More information

Vatican Saint-Maker Tells What it Takes to Make the Cut, Catholic Education Resource Center

Beautification and Canonization, New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia

Saint What’s Your Name, Saint Theodora/Mother Theodora Blog

St. Maria and Our Call to Sainthood, A Knight’s Walk in the Kingdom Blog

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Catholic Defined

The catholic meaning of solemnity, feast, memorial and obligation

I have found that although there are a lot of Catholic terms that frustrate my understanding, the jargon adds beauty to the faith.  Here are some definitions of key terms that are likely to show up in this month’s posts.

Low Mass.

Solemnity Memorial

A solemnity is the highest rank of celebration and is identified in the calendar with an [capital] S. Easter, Christmas, All Saints Day, the Ascension, Corpus Christi, and other celebrations of events in our Lord’s life on earth and certain saints are solemnities. Solemnities are like Sundays, though most of them are not days of obligation.  Reference.

Feast Day

Feasts are the next rank down and are identified with an [capital] F. They consist of the celebration of certain saints like the feast of the Archangels or most of the Apostles.  Reference.

Memorial Days

Memorials are the lowest rank and are simply the celebrations of most of the saints.  Obligatory memorials, identified with a capital M, must be observed. Optional memorials, identified with an [lowercase] m, may be observed but such observation is not required.  Reference.

Days of Obligation

2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor.  Reference.

Let me know if you have any questions!  🙂

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All Soul’s Day

 Purgatory and Prayers for the dead

Albrecht Dürer, Study of Praying Hands, 1508

by Dr. D’Ambrosio at Crossroads Initiative

 A reflection on the Solemnity or Solemn Feast of All Souls, touching on the mystery of death and the afterlife including heaven, hell, and purgatory, and the validity of prayers for the dead.

I’ll never forget that bleak January day when my father died.  It was very hard to believe in the resurrection as I watched the undertakers carry his lifeless corpse away in a body bag. 

But imagine this scene.  You are an unborn child who has lived in cozy but cramped quarters with your twin for nine months.  But now you both are experiencing tremendous pressure, and your twin is squeezed through a narrow opening leaving you alone in the darkness.

Now think of it from the point of view of little one who just was squeezed through the bottleneck of the womb.   He has to learn to breath the air of this new world.  His eyes now must adjust to blinding light and his skin to much cooler temperatures.

But what if he was born premature?  What if his body was not ready for this new, challenging environment?  What if he emerged from the womb with a dangerous infection?  Would he not have to stay in an incubator in the hospital for a while until he was infection-free and strong enough to endure the challenges of life on planet earth?

On the first two days of November, as daylight shrinks in the Northern Hemisphere and frost turns vegetation brown, the Church leads us to confront the mystery of death.

Giotto, fresco from Scrovegni Chapel, Crucifixion

These days remind us that love is stronger than death, that Christ’s death for us means that our beloved deceased who believed in Christ are very much alive.  They may be among those whose lungs breathe the exhilarating air of heaven and whose eyes gaze upon the glory of God.   In this case, they help us through their prayers.

Yet they may also be among those whose lungs were not ready for breathing and whose eyes were not ready for the brilliance of the beatific vision, whose body carried an infection that needed to be eliminated.  In which case, we must help them through our prayers.  Our loving intercession can hasten the purification and preparation necessary for the full enjoyment of their inheritance.

The Catholic Church has always been very reserved in its teaching about the mystery of life after death, including the mystery of purgatory.  Here’s what we know.  Christ’s death and resurrection won eternal life for everyone.  Yet the fruit of his redeeming work needs to be personally appropriated.  Each person must say yes to Christ, and yield to the liberating power of his grace which progressively breaks the sin’s power and heals sin’s wounds.  Everyone is obliged to actively participate in this process and to renounce all sin, great or small.  God, through his church, provides all the means of grace necessary to facilitate this purification and healing.

Yet what about people who say a fundamental yes to Christ, but drag their feet, clinging to some “small” sins, nursing some attachments to the evil that they’ve supposedly renounced?  Purgatory is the process after death where these attachments, the umbilical cord which binds people to the old world, are cut so that people can be free to enter into the life to come.  It is the hospital where the infection of sin is eliminated.  It is the incubator where heart, lungs, and vision is made ready for a much larger life.

Rosary...

Purgatory is not a temporary hell.  The Church does not teach that there is physical fire there (how could fire hurt spirits, anyway?) or that people spend a certain number of years or months there (after death, how do we measure time?) or that everyone but the greatest saints must go there after death (all the means are provided for it to happen here!).

We can’t know for sure where our beloved deceased are, unless they happen to be canonized saints.  So when in doubt, we pray for them.  If they happen to need our help, our act of kindness can have great impact on them.  If not, this kind act still has great impact on us, exercising our love muscles so that we will be ready to enter directly into the wedding feast of the Lamb when our own time inevitably comes. 

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