Friday, May 29, 2009
1) Thank you all for the prayers. I was able to work that day fairly well; my mom gave me coffee with extra caffeine, two Tylenol, and a Sudaphede. So yeah. thanks again everyone, I am sure your prayers helped me get through my shifts! :)
2) HAAAAANNAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!! *bangs head against wall* How could you?! How?! Why?! You see, my sister decided to be cruel, and post pictures of me that she knows I don't like!! They were some dopey, "FBI" pics that we took.....I hate them!!! I have way to much lipstick (not to mention the wrong color on), my hair was a mess, and my lips are what Hannah calls "baby lips" so they don't help my overall appearance. >:( Bad Hannah, bad!
3) We went to the zoo for the first time in about 7 years. It was a lot of fun; they had the cutest looking Chinese Panda.....he was just so adorable!!!! I'll post pics sometime.
4) uh........what else has been going on? hmm.....I am considering leaving the FT Forum........uuuhhhh.........I'm sewing two new skirts...........I'm going to try to take some elvish pictures today with Danny's Elf ears.............and I think that is pretty much it. If I think of anything else I'll let you know. Not that you want to here about my life. Why would anyone want to hear about my life? My life is one of boredom and......wait!!! I got it!!!! *clears throat* Number five!!
5) I watched "Patriot" last night starring Mel Gibson.
*SPOILERS* Awesome movie. It is soooo good!!! OOOO! But that stupid British Colonel!!! I just wanted to shoot his head off with a cannon ball!!! HE WAS SO EVIL!!!! He shot a 15 year old boy in front of the whole family and then called him stupid to the father's face, locked a whole town in a church and burned them all alive inside, ordered the shooting (death) of wounded American soldiers, and so forth. So, moral of the movie: when you meet up with a nasty Colonel, kill him at the begging of the it not the end! They waited till the very last battle to kill the darn guy!!
Being a Mel Gibson movie, it naturally had blood, gore, and was rated R. However, still an awesome story and very well made. Not for little kids or the faint of heart. Little example: You see a cannon ball go flying through the air, there's a soldier standing there, and the next thing you see is his head get chomped right off from his body. So you are left seeing this headless/neck-less body fall to the ground.
My favorite lines (and they won't seem as funny unless you have seen the movie):
"I say we drink the wine, eat the dogs, and use the paper for rifle wadding."
"If I die, I die well dressed."
"I don't think we came to the right place."
"God save the King!"........*knives and food being thrown*
"I think we came to the right place."
So there you have it.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Only a few words from the Virgin Mary have come down to us in the Gospels. But these few words are like heavy grains of pure gold. When they melt in the ardor of loving meditation, they more than suffice to bathe our entire lives in a luminous golden glow.
~Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
To surrender all that we are, as we are, to the Spirit of love in order that our lives may bear Christ into the world - that is what we shall be asked. Our Lady has made this possible. Her fiat was for herself and for us, but if we want God's will to be completed in us as it is in her, we must echo her fiat.
~Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Namarie!!! ......Maybe I should say something more Narnian-ish instead of Elvish? Oh! I got it. *ahem* May the wisdom of Aslan be with you! ;)
Holy Virgin Mary, there is none like you among women born in the world. Daughter and handmaid of the heavenly Father, the almighty King, mother of our most high Lord Jesus Christ, and spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for us to your most holy Son, our Lord and Master.
~Saint Francis of
Friday, May 15, 2009
Here is an excerpt from the article:
Here are the seven hedges in Tolkien and Lewis.
1. Tolkien and Lewis confine the pursuit of magic as a safe and lawful occupation to wholly imaginary realms, with place-names like Middle-earth and Narnia — worlds that cannot be located either in time or in space with reference to our own world, and which stand outside Judeo-Christian salvation history and divine revelation. By contrast, Harry Potter lives in a fictionalized version of our own world that is recognizable in time and space, in a country called England (which is at least nominally a Christian nation), in a time frame of our own era.
2. Reinforcing the above point, in Tolkien’s and Lewis’s fictional worlds where magic is practiced, the existence of magic is an openly known reality of which the inhabitants of those worlds are as aware as we are of rocket science — even if most of them might have as little chance of actually encountering magic as most of us would of riding in the space shuttle. By contrast, Harry Potter lives in a world in which magic is a secret, hidden reality acknowledged openly only among a magical elite, a world in which (as in our world) most people apparently believe there is no such thing as magic.
3. Tolkien and Lewis confine the pursuit of magic as a safe and lawful occupation to characters who are numbered among the supporting cast, not the protagonists with whom the reader is primarily to identify. By contrast, Harry Potter, a student of wizardry, is the title character and hero of his novels.
4. Reinforcing the above point, Tolkien and Lewis include cautionary threads in which exposure to magical forces proves to be a corrupting influence on their protagonists: Frodo is almost consumed by the great Ring; Lucy and Digory succumb to temptation and use magic in ways they shouldn’t. By contrast, the practice of magic is Harry Potter’s salvation from his horrible relatives and from virtually every adversity he must overcome.
5. Tolkien and Lewis confine the pursuit of magic as a safe and lawful occupation to characters who are not in fact human beings (for although Gandalf and Coriakin are human in appearance, we are in fact told that they are, respectively, a semi-incarnate angelic being and an earthbound star.) In Harry Potter’s world, by contrast, while some human beings (called “Muggles”) lack the capacity for magic, others (including Harry’s true parents and of course Harry himself) do not.
6. Reinforcing the above point, Tolkien and Lewis emphasize the pursuit of magic as the safe and lawful occupation of characters who, in appearance, stature, behavior, and role, embody a certain wizard archetype — white-haired old men with beards and robes and staffs, mysterious, remote, unapproachable, who serve to guide and mentor the heroes. Harry Potter, by contrast, is a wizard-in-training who is in many crucial respects the peer of many of his avid young readers, a boy with the same problems and interests that they have.
7. Finally, Tolkien and Lewis devote no narrative space to the process by which their magical specialists acquire their magical prowess. Although study may be assumed as part of the back story, the wizard appears as a finished product with powers in place, and the reader is not in the least encouraged to think about or dwell on the process of acquiring prowess in magic. In the Harry Potter books, by contrast, Harry’s acquisition of mastery over magical forces at the Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft is a central organizing principle in the story-arc of the series as a whole.
Read the whole thing here.
P.S. I would like to go on record saying that I don't agree with a couple of things in this article, but other than that, I love it.
Fav. Narnia Book? The Magician’s Nephew
Fav. Character? In the books – Aslan I suppose. In the movies – Susan and Caspian, and Ed....and Lucy….and Peter…..I know I’m bad. I was only supposed to shoose one. :(
Fav. Pevensie? Uh….all of them *giggles*
Fav, King or Queen? Caspian
Fav. Talking Animal? Aslan and Reepicheep
Fav. Gift from Father Christmas? Susan's bow and arrow!!!!!!! Oh yeah, and Lucy’s healing juice stuff
Fav. Weapon? Susan's bow and arrow…..duh.
Fav. Bad guy? Know why would I want to like a bad guy?
Fav. "added scene" in movies? Oooo…hard. Well, although the Night Raid is really sad I like it and I also like a lot of the added scenes in LWW.
Fav. Line or quote from book or movie? Aw jee…..too many!!!
1) “Choose you last words carefully Telmarine.” “You are a mouse.” “I was hoping for something a little more orginal.” ~Caspian and Reepicheep
2) “I’m a little busy Pete!” ~Edmund
3) “Tell me Prince…” “King.” “Pardon me?” “It’s King Edmund, actally. Just King though. Peter’s the High King. I know. It’s confusing.” ~Miraz and Ed
4) “I didn’t say I refused.” ~Miraz
5) “I am Prince Caspian. The tenth.” ~you know who
6) And a bunch of others.
WHO DO YOU LIKE BETTER?
~Mr. or Mrs. Beaver? Ooooo. Hard one. Uh…..Mr. Beaver I guess.
Orieus or Glenstorm? ORIEUS!!!
Peter or Edmund? Peter in LWW and Ed in PC
Susan or Lucy? Susan……sometimes Lucy
Jadis or Miraz? Eek. Uh….well…..am I supposed to choose who is the more evil or which one is the lesser of the two?
Jill or Eustace? Eustace
Drinian or Rynelf? Uh….must be from the books which I read a long time ago
Reepicheep or Trufflehunter? Reepicheep
Trumpkin or Nikabrik? Trumpkin
Polly or Digory? Oh boy. Well…..both?
Bree or Hwin? Hwin……and Bree
Aravis or Shasta? *sighs* both
Rilian or Tirian? Rillian (heck, he’s my step son! :P)
Coriakin (the magician) or Ramandu (the star)? Coriakin?
Thursday, May 14, 2009
The exorcist, with his decades of experience in directly combating evil, explained that J.K. Rowling's books contain innumerable positive references to magic, "the satanic art". He noted that the books attempt to make a false distinction between black and white magic, when in fact, the distinction "does not exist, because magic is always a turn to the devil."
In the interview which was published in papers across Europe, Rev. Amorth also criticized the disordered morality presented in Rowling's works, noting that they suggest that rules can be contravened and lying is justified when they work to one's benefit.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Harry Potter: Agent of Conversion
By Toni Collins
Author J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books have captured the hearts of millions of children and adults. They’re arguably the most quickly embraced children’s books in history. You’d have to be tucked away in the remotest of hermitages to have avoided the books thus far, and you’d have to be just about as isolated to have avoided the controversy surrounding them.
Controversy does abound, and Harry Potter stirs up strong emotions. Some parents are thrilled that their children are reading enthusiastically for the first time. They love the way the books pit good against evil, and they use the books to help their children learn the difference between right and wrong. But other parents are deeply disturbed about the subject matter in the Harry Potter books. They’re concerned to see so many children embracing a world of witchcraft and wizardry.
I’m a parent who falls within the latter category, and I often find myself uncomfortably trying to explain to the dearest of friends why I’m so disturbed by the books. It’s not pleasant to say to someone, “I know you love these books, but . . .”
When I do, I’m forced to share a bit of my pre-Catholic background that I’d prefer to keep quiet. But it’s become critical to open up about things I’ve done, if only because those of us who share similar experiences seem also to share a feeling of dread about the popularity of Harry Potter. Despite my discomfort with the Harry Potter books, I have to admit that they helped me see how an old unconfessed sin was troubling my life.
Astrology, Hypnotism, Witchcraft
Baptized Catholic in a non-practicing home, I spent my childhood in various Protestant churches. I was taught to say my bedtime prayers. My parents emphasized good morals. I had a deep, abiding sense of God’s presence in my life.
I knew He loved me, and I always knew that I could turn to Him. But as I recall, by the time my parents divorced when I was fourteen, God wasn’t much emphasized in my home. What I do recall is a heavy emphasis on the importance of astrology in explaining people’s personalities, a fascination with fortune telling, and an incredible zodiac-themed party that my mom and I threw, complete with black lights for ambiance and levitation games for entertainment.
Not too much later, I went to see a stage hypnotist whose shows I began to attend frequently, as it gave a stage-hungry teen like me the opportunity to sing in front of an audience. I considered the hypnotism a sham until the evening that hypnotist chose me for his show’s finale. Telling me that my body was “stiff as a steel beam,” he laid me across the back edges of two folding chairs and then stood on top of me.
Having a 250-pound man stand upon my airborne body taught me that something really does happen to you when you’re hypnotized. Christian friends tried to tell me this “something” was not healthy for me spiritually, but I wouldn’t listen. I really didn’t think it could affect me; it was all just a lot of fun. But looking back over my life, I can now tell you that the end of the two years I spent attending that hypnotist’s show coincided with my conscious decision to turn away from God.
Was it a direct result of being hypnotized? Probably not. I can assure you, though, that regularly allowing someone to take over my conscious choices didn’t do my meager faith life any good.
The most frightening event of my life occurred when I tried witchcraft. I had been a lonely child who had grown into a lonely teen, always looking for love. One day I picked up one of those ubiquitous little books sold at the grocery store checkout, and this one was about casting love spells. I took it home, stood in my bedroom, and started to cast a spell over my on-again, off-again boyfriend. I don’t remember the words I spoke (thank you, God), but I’ll never forget what happened.
I started to cast the spell. Wham! A huge black door (picture the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey) slammed shut as if traveling from my left hand to my right.
“God doesn’t want you to do this,” said a deep voice within me.
Wham! A door just as large slammed shut the other direction, and a voice responded, “It doesn’t matter. There is no God.” I was tempted to listen.
Wham! The door slammed back the original direction and a voice stated firmly and slowly, “Yes . . . there . . . is.”
I put the witchcraft book down, never to pick it up again. I was deeply shaken, and I knew that I had encountered something beyond this world. Doubt had entered my life for the first time, and I knew that I could have embraced a Godless universe at the moment that second door slammed shut. I knew that something out there had wanted me to turn away from God forever, and that it had its opportunity when I participated in the world of witchcraft.
Were there consequences from this aborted act of witchcraft? Most assuredly. Shortly thereafter, when the movie The Exorcist came out, that boyfriend became enamored with the Devil, both drawn to him and desiring his power. Eventually he began to cruise the streets of
I too felt consequences, but they didn’t surface until I’d left God, then returned to Him and become a Catholic. At that point I found that I had a remarkable sensitivity to the occult. Anything even remotely associated with the occult — horoscopes, palm readers, metaphysical bookstores, or crystal healing — would disturb me deeply. I would feel a dark whirlpool tugging at my soul, drawing me towards the preternatural. I would fight this whirlpool both by praying for the people involved in such practices and by shielding myself from exposure to anything occultic.
Along Comes Harry
Then along came Harry Potter. I was introduced to him when my dearest friend found that Harry inspired her oldest son to enjoy reading for the first time in his life. The next thing I knew, Harry Potter was everywhere, and my eighteen-year-old daughter was reading the books. But I felt that whirlpool tugging, so I knew I had to find out if my fears had any basis in reality.
Too scared to read the books at first, I instead read what other people had to say about them. I began to notice a pattern. Of the commentators I read who loved the Harry Potter books, virtually none of them had ever experienced the occult. To them this was a delightful fantasy in the same genre as J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. In contrast, almost every commentator I read who had experience with the occult found the books disturbing, almost as if they were primers on witchcraft.
Why the difference of opinions? I read the first two books, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Scholastic Press, 1997 and 1998), and came up with an answer. Much of the Harry Potter books are in fact delightful fantasy. The author, Joanne Rowling, tickles our imaginations with tales of unicorns, Quidditch games, and owls who deliver mail.
But among these charming depictions are much darker sections, particularly in the early part of Harry’s education. This combination — darker elements introduced early and a delightful finish that can only be considered imaginative — leaves many readers with an overall good feeling about the books.
So why did I feel such dread when I read Harry Potter? Why do other people who’ve left the occult feel such distaste for the books? John Gibson, who converted out of neopaganism into Catholicism and whose conversion story appears in Surprised by Truth 2, wrote this to me: “First and foremost, most people who have been involved in the occult still have something like a fingerprint of it on their soul. It gives us a kind of sensitivity to the occult that others don’t have.”
“A fingerprint on the soul” — that was the difference I was seeing between readers who loved Harry Potter and those of us who didn’t. That “fingerprint” was being touched again whenever we read Harry Potter, and our souls were growing troubled. We were recognizing things we’d known in the past and had rejected for the love of God.
To clarify what I mean here, let me offer just a few stories of people whose lives at some point intertwined with the occult and who today voice concerns about Harry Potter.
“There Is Only One Kind of Magic”
Clare McGrath Merkle is a former New Age healer, well educated in the occult, and a revert to Catholicism. Her concern about the Potter books runs deep, because she recognizes within its pages so many of the arts she once practiced. She and her friends in the occult, psychologists, physicists, and other professionals (who were also wizards, warlocks, and witches) defended their studies together “as being of the white magic category, much like [Hogwarts,] the wizardry
Jacqui Komschlies provides a similar warning, telling her readers “we need to remember that witchcraft in real life can and does lead to death — the forever and ever kind.” For over ten years she was fascinated with the supernatural, an appetite she says she developed from reading stories of “wizards, magic, power and adventure.” (Sound familiar?) Eventually she found that the supernatural was taking over her thoughts.
One day the spirits, powers, and goddesses who filled even her dreams began actually to speak to her. Frightened, she cried out to God. He rescued her, and the voices ceased.
Today she warns: “Our world is exploding with interest in real witchcraft. Type ‘How can I become a witch?’ in Google.com and you’ll get listings for dozens of related sites. The same query in AskJeeves.com brings up many articles — the main one giving a simple eight-step process for becoming a witch on your own.”2
Though Vivian Dudro has no background in the occult, she shares Mrs. Komschlies’ concerns about children’s increased fascination with the occult. Her own research has shown that “in
“Playing With a Fire From Hell”
The editor of that same newsletter, Steve Wood, weighed in with the revelation of his own background in the occult. Many readers of this magazine will recognize Mr. Wood as the soft-spoken host of the
“Before my conversion to Christianity,” he recalls, “I was involved in New Age and false religious movements that actually practiced several of the things casually described in the Harry Potter novels. . . . I have led young people out of the very world described in the Harry Potter novels to a commitment to Christ. . . . I have personally confronted and ministered to demonically possessed individuals involved in Satanism and the occult. In light of this experience, I warn fathers that exposing your children to the enchanting world of Harry Potter is playing with a fire from hell.”4
It’s not only laymen who worry about Harry Potter. Fr. Phillip Scott is a priest who lives near a community of “Gothics” in
Fr. Scott believes that the entry into this horrendous lifestyle begins with curiosity, and he believes that books like Harry Potter can stimulate such curiosity. In an interview with Steve Wood, Fr. Scott tells of having ministered to a young boy whose mind was filled with the images in the Harry Potter books. What is most frightening is that the books had not been written at the time the boy received ministry; Fr. Scott in retrospect recognized within the pages of Harry Potter the very images that had been tormenting the young man.
What does Fr. Scott say about the Harry Potter books? He calls them “poison.”5
Spells and Brews
What are some of these images and their ensuing dangers? In her 1991 book, Ungodly Rage, Donna Steichen shared this insightful quote from a repentant former practitioner of Wicca, Carmen Helen Guerra:
When I was a witch, I performed rituals. I evoked spirits. I called entities. I cast spells, burned candles, concocted brews. The only thing I didn’t do was fly on a broom, but I probably would have figured it out if given time. But where did it lead to? Into darkness, depression, and the creation of an aura of gloom around me. I was frequently under demon attack. The house where I lived was alive with poltergeist activity . . . due to residual “guests” from rituals. My friends and family were afraid of me. I knew I had no future; all I had was a dark present. I was locked in by oaths and “destiny.” But I had power, something I’d always wanted. It wasn’t Satan’s fault. He didn’t exist — or so I thought. I gave it all up, and came to Jesus on my knees. . . . He freed me from the oppression and gave me back my soul — the one I had so foolishly given to evil in exchange for power.6
Does this have anything to do with Harry Potter? You bet. Though it’s all dressed up as sweetness and light, the first Harry Potter book has rituals (for example, “the Sorting Ceremony,” pp. 117-122); spells (Hermione casts the full Body-Bind spell on Neville, p. 273); spirits and other non-human entities (Voldemort inhabits Quirrell’s body, pp. 293-295, and the myriad ghosts of Hogwarts); candles (thousands floating above the tables at Hogwarts, p. 116); and brews (Professor Snape’s potions class, pp. 136-139).
It’s not pleasant to contemplate, but there really are people out there who practice witchcraft, who cast spells and perform rituals, and who see results. J. K. Rowling writes as if their powers can be channeled into good, and that is the great danger of her books. Rituals and spells and brews are used by witches in the real world, and they work because of the power of evil spirits. As such they can never lead to good. Portraying these innately evil practices as if they can be harnessed for good is a dangerous lie.
Rowling further confuses the issue by portraying witchcraft not as a moral issue, but as an issue of heredity. In Rowling’s world, the ability to practice witchcraft is inherited. But in reality, you don’t need to possess a particular bloodline in order to make witchcraft work. All you have to do is tap into evil spirits, turn over your will, and leave Jesus Christ for the world of the occult.
We thus have two falsehoods presented to the children who read these books: first, that their status as a witch is written in their genes; and second, if they’re one of the “lucky” ones, they can use their powers for good. These are harmful lies to teach, because the reality is so different and so dangerous. Just ask Carmen Helen Guerra.
The Church’s Warning
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states unequivocally: “All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others — even if this were for the sake of restoring their health — are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. … The Church for her part warns the faithful against it” (2117).
This is strong language in the catechism, the same language used to condemn lust, fornication, and abortion. Catholics cannot in good conscience take such a warning lightly. If Harry were using lust, fornication, or abortion to save his friends at Hogwarts, would we still think these books were acceptable children’s fare?
It’s important to note that the witchcraft about which Rowling writes stands in stark contrast to fantasy magic as it’s portrayed in Tolkien and Lewis. The good characters in Middle Earth and Narnia don’t cast spells on people, don’t call up spirits and commune with them like beloved neighbors, don’t perform rituals, and don’t mix potions. The good characters at Hogwarts do.
In Narnia, a ring transports you to another world, and in Middle Earth lightning flashes at a critical time to perform some powerful feat. But at Hogwarts, the evil Voldemort enchants a diary to take possession of a girl’s soul. These are vast and substantial differences, requiring us to view Rowling’s witchcraft in a much different light from Tolkien’s and Lewis’s magic.
Bad Role Models
What about the argument that the Potter books help to teach the difference between right and wrong? Putting witchcraft aside, it’s true there are definite “bad guys” in the books, and that they are consistently fought by the “good guys.” But I found those “good guys” to be less-than-stellar role models.
At first glance, Harry Potter seems a noble little boy, one who will put his own life at risk to save his friends. He defends the weak, comforts the sad, and fights evil. But I found he also had a nasty propensity to flaunt school rules and to lie.
In fact, at the end of the first book, Harry saves the world from the evil Lord Voldemort by screwing up his courage and telling a lie. Now, telling a lie to save the world may at first seem to be acceptable, but we have to remember that this is a work of fiction, and the author could have easily found a truthful way for Harry to save the world. A close reading of the second book shows that lying now comes much more easily to Harry than it did in the first book, so we see Harry’s character growing weaker rather than stronger.
I’m also concerned about the way Harry is allowed to avoid proper discipline. He’s famous, he’s talented, and he’s a celebrity. Time after time in both the first two books, when Harry breaks school rules, he is either clever enough to get away with it or he’s a skillful-enough liar not to be chastised.
Repeatedly threatened with expulsion, he is always forgiven. In the worst case of all, he’s threatened with expulsion from Hogwarts if he flies on his broomstick. But when he in fact does, and does so with great talent, he’s actually rewarded with a prime spot on the school Quidditch team.
Much like some American college football heroes, he receives not a lick of punishment precisely because he’s such a great athlete. Even the points that Harry and his friends lose for their schoolhouse during the course of the first book are handed back to them with bonuses at the end, and enough so that their house wins the coveted school cup. What’s the overall message? If you’re cute enough, talented enough, strong enough, or clever enough, you don’t have to worry about following the rules in your little corner of the universe. This is hardly teaching the difference between right and wrong.
Disturbing Religious Elements
I further noticed some disturbing religious elements in the books — an apparent twisting of Catholic terminology, symbolism, and even theology. Whether or not all the instances of such twisting were intentional, the dangerous confusion resulting in the minds of young readers remains the same.
Picture this. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pages 51-52, Harry is hidden in a shop that sells paraphernalia of the Dark Arts. He sees a customer express interest in a withered hand sitting on a cushion. Turns out it’s called the “Hand of Glory,” and it’s considered the “best friend” of thieves and plunderers.
Wait a minute. “Glory” is a term of worship used by angels and humans alike. Why is it being used to describe the favorite tool of robbers?
Later, when attending a “deathday party” for ghosts, Harry and his friends notice “a group of gloomy nuns . . . and the fat friar” (p. 132). This was a dark and dreary party of obviously tortured souls, and the friar and the nuns could have easily been left out. Did Rowling think this was cute or did she mean to give insult?
Blink and you’d miss it, but in two short paragraphs of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Rowling twists and perverts the meaning of a word of tremendous significance to Catholics. The word is “transfiguration,” which should call to every Catholic child’s mind the glorification of our Lord on the mountaintop with Moses and Elijah. Instead, Rowling uses the word to mean “some of the most complex and dangerous magic you will learn”: that of changing one object into another (p. 134).
Having thus assigned “transfiguration” a decidedly un-Christian meaning in the first book, she peppers the second book with numerous references to the subject. My heart breaks when I think of how many children will forever more listen to the Gospel reading about the Transfiguration, and will find their minds drawn to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The book of Revelation is arguably the least understood book of the Bible, but the significance of one element in it is generally agreed upon: The number “666” is the diabolical number of the beast (see Rev 13:18), and it’s not a good thing. Yet J. K. Rowling has chosen to use this number as significant for one of the most unselfish and noble of her characters, Mr. Nicolas Flamel.
Always portrayed as a good character, at the end of the first book he is raised to heights of actual heroism when he decides to lose his life for the sake of the world. We the readers are introduced to Flamel when Harry and his friends read Flamel’s biography on page 220. Figuring prominently in this biography is the fact that last year Mr. Flamel celebrated his six hundred and sixty-fifth birthday. That means that the year in which his biography was written, the year in which he is immortalized for all of us, Mr. Flamel is in the 666th year of his life. The symbol of the beast for Christians is the age of the savior of humanity for Hogwarts.
Rowling then presents a perversion of Catholic theology when a unicorn is killed just before the climax of the first book. “The blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price,” writes Rowling on page 258. Drinking blood will keep us alive?
When I first read this, I wondered if we were about to see a Catholic metaphor that might redeem the entire book. The next phrase kept my hope alive, “You have slain something pure and defenseless to save yourself. . . .” Yes, I thought, we are about to see a Eucharistic analogy, but then my eyes traveled to the next line on the page: “You will have but a half-life, a cursed life, from the moment the blood touches your lips.”
I felt as if I’d been punched in the stomach. It isn’t the crime of killing the pure and defenseless unicorn that curses, but the act of drinking its blood. What a horrendous twisting of the biblical promise that drinking the blood of Jesus, who is the purest of the pure, will bring us eternal life. The antithetical notion that a pure creature’s blood will bring us “a half-life, a cursed life” is a slap in the face of Catholics.
An Agent of Conversion
There’s a lot I see wrong in the Potter books, but I’ve left out an important way in which they’ve changed my life for the better. Remember the love spell I tried to cast as a teenager? Not having been raised Catholic, it never occurred to me that I needed to take that act into the confessional. In my great distress over the books, feeling that dark whirlpool tug at my soul just looking at them, I finally realized that I needed the grace of Reconciliation for having once tried to cast a spell. I could have argued that I didn’t need confession (I hadn’t quite met all the qualifications for mortal sin), but I’m so glad I went.
Through my confession, God in His mercy gave me a great gift: His forgiveness has blessed my life, and I’ve experienced palpable benefits from the sacrament I received that day. That whirlpool, that dragging, dark force that used to draw me back toward the occult, is gone. I still pray for fortunetellers and witches when I come across them, and I regularly pray for protection from the occult, but I no longer have to protect myself fearfully from its drag.
What blessed freedom! In that sense, I must view Harry Potter as an agent of my conversion. It’s in that sense that I hope you too will see him as an agent of conversion in your children’s lives.
Not everyone who reads Harry Potter will be harmed spiritually. While I do see danger in the books stimulating an interest in the occult, I’m the least worried about children who are protected by the sacraments and well grounded in their faith.
If your children haven’t yet read Harry Potter, I hope I’ve given you plenty of reasons why they shouldn’t. But if they’ve already read the books, as have so many American children, I hope you’ll use this article to spur a discussion in your family. Share with your kids the teaching of the Catholic Church on witchcraft, and share with them the destructive influences the occult has on people.
If Harry Potter can become an inoculation against the occult instead of a gateway into it, he will have unwittingly done your children a great favor.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Mainstreaming Witchcraft? by Tim Drake
As the Harry Potter movie hits theaters, parents and experts continue to disagree about whether the story will lead children into the occult.
As Harry Potter and the Sorcerer´s Stone opened to record-breaking crowds the weekend of Nov. 17, parents and experts continue to agree to disagree upon its appropriateness for children. While some see the series as merely adventuresome entertainment, others wonder if the film might take the stigma away from witchcraft and the occult, opening children to danger.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer´s Stone is the first in the series of four Harry Potter adventures written by Britain´s J.K. Rowling. The film follows the exploits of a bespectacled orphan with magical powers who attends the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
In the first three days of its release, the film made a record $93.5 million. Audiences packed theaters, with thousands lining up for midnight screenings.
"I have never attended a movie on opening weekend," admitted Barb Hennen, a Catholic mother of seven in Ghent, Minn. "Yet, it was really fun for my 13-year-old son and I to see the film together."
She and her son Robert saw the film at their local multiplex on Nov. 17. "I was disappointed that some of the characters in the book were not in the movie," recalled Robert. To date, only one of Robert´s 15 classmates had seen the film. "I hope to go see it again," said Robert, who admitted that he has read each of Rowling´s four books at least five times each.
However, Barb Hennen cautioned that the film was probably not appropriate for anyone under the age of 9. "Lord Voldemort is scary," she said. "At one point he absorbs a man´s body. That´s not as clear or visible in the book. That certainly would not be appropriate for younger children to see."
Otherwise, she said it was a fine movie. "The Christian mothers I´ve talked to have agreed that it´s an imaginative and adventuresome story. I don´t think it´s right to focus only on what could be wrong with it." While she admitted that it could be an entry point for a child into the occult, she added, "A child leaning in that direction might … but Harry Potter wouldn´t be the only source the child would go to."
Michael O´Brien respectfully disagrees.
"I think it is a mistake to take a child to the Potter film," said the Canadian Catholic artist and author of A Landscape with Dragons: The Battle for Your Child´s Mind.
"The series uses the symbol-world of the occult as its primary metaphor," he explained. "This has the potential of lowering a child´s guard to the actual occult activity in the world around us, which is everywhere and growing."
O´Brien argues that both the books and the film present serious threats to the moral integrity of the coming generations. "In the film, an added dimension of psychological influence is at work," he said. "Any serious student of modern media recognizes the power of film to reshape consciousness. By using overt and subliminal techniques, it can override the mind´s natural critical faculty."
He added that the widespread devotion to the Potter phenomenon, even among Catholic parents and scholars, "is a symptom of our naivete about the power of culture. In our modern culture we have all become accustomed to eating a certain amount of poison in our diet; indeed we often no longer even recognize the poison. Why have we accepted a set of books which glamorize and normalize occult activity, even though it is every bit as deadly to the soul as sexual sin?"
Clare McGrath Merkle, a former New Age "healer" and a revert to the Catholic faith, said she has seen firsthand that O´Brien´s warning should be heeded. "We just don´t understand that our children live in a reality steeped in violence, sex and the occult," she said.
She said the problem with Potter remains, despite the explanation that the books depict an innocent, even humorous, white magic. "There is only one kind of magic," said Merkle. It´s "variously known as black magic, occultism, diabolism, or the dark arts."
Los Angeles film critic Michael Medved, known for his defense of traditional virtues and criticism of Hollywood´s rejection of them, defends Harry Potter.
"A number of Christian organizations have objected to the whole Harry Potter phenomenon, suggesting that its benign, light-hearted treatment of witchcraft and the occult will lead young people into dangerous realms. I resisted this argument concerning the books and I reject it even more with the movie," he said. "It´s hard to imagine any child who will want to study necromancy, spells or Satanism as a result of seeing the film."
Medved contends that the film projects a "deadly serious battle between good and evil, while highlighting humane values of generosity, loyalty, discipline and selflessness."
"Magic," said Medved, "remains a staple in most of the best children´s literature in history, and generations of young people have indulged in those fantasies without satanic influence. In Grimm´s Fairy Tales, for example, magic and witches and shape-changing and curses and incantations have always played a role."
British Catholic home-schooling mother Debbie Nowak also believes that the film can be viewed as good entertainment.
She has seen the film with four of her eight children and doesn´t worry about her children falling into the occult.
"Harry Potter has an invisible mark inside of him that his mother gave to him when she sacrificed her life for his," she said. "This mark, unlike his lightning bolt scar, is one of love. Because he has this mark of love, evil cannot bear his touch."
Mary Weyrich of Paso Robles, Calif., warned that, in these days of cross-marketing, much of the danger with the book is extraneous to the story.
"I recently went shopping and noticed the sold-out Harry Potter display," the Catholic mother of eight said. "There on the same shelf was a book of Spells for Children. It looked like a cookbook, except that it was filled with the sorts of things that Harry does, in the books and movie. It was user friendly, easy for children to try."
She looked into the matter further, she said.
On the Internet, "I went to a large online bookstore´s Harry Potter site, found Harry´s ´related subjects,´ which included witchcraft." Three clicks connected her to The Witch Bible, she said.
Her conclusion: "Many will say that the Harry Potter books and movie are just fiction. Many will say that they are so glad that the children are reading again. Many will say that the movie wasn´t that scary and it is no big deal. But I do believe that it is a very big deal."
The Harry Potter phenomenon and franchise - and debate - is only just beginning. Warner Bros. was scheduled to begin shooting a sequel in November, and fans are already looking forward to Rowling´s next book.
~Tim Drake is the executive editor of Catholic.net and author of the book There We Stood, Here We Stand: 11 Lutherans Rediscover their Catholic Roots.
Pictures from Danny's birthday:
He also received the Ring of Doom (he's been wearing it around his neck for days)
In case you aren't aware of it, my brother Tony has abnormally large cheeks (not really). So, he decided to shove his whole slice of flan (the dessert of Danny's b-day) in his mouth. Believe it or not, it all fit.
Canadian Geese on our field
Canadian Geese on our lawn. Aren't they pretty?
Monday, May 11, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
The term "Catholic" is in the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian creeds, and many Protestants, claiming the term for themselves, give it a meaning that is unsupported historically, ignoring the term’s use at the time the creeds were written.
Early Church historian J. N. D. Kelly, a Protestant, writes: "As regards ‘Catholic,’ its original meaning was 'universal' or 'general.' . . . in the latter half of the second century at latest, we find it conveying the suggestion that the Catholic is the true Church as distinct from heretical congregations (cf., e.g., Muratorian Canon). . . . What these early Fathers were envisaging was almost always the empirical, visible society; they had little or no inkling of the distinction which was later to become important between a visible and an invisible Church" (Early Christian Doctrines, 190–1).
Thus people who recite the creeds mentally inserting another meaning for "Catholic" are reinterpreting them according to a modern preference, much as a liberal biblical scholar does with Scripture texts offensive to contemporary sensibilities.
Included in the quotes below are extracts from the first creeds to use the term "Catholic"; so that the term can be seen it its historical context, which is supplied by the other quotations. It is from this broader context that the meaning of the term in the creeds is established, not by one’s own notion of what the term once meant or of what it ought to mean.
Ignatius of Antioch
"Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he ordains [i.e., a presbyter]. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church" (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]).
The Martyrdom of Polycarp
"And of the elect, he was one indeed, the wonderful martyr Polycarp, who in our days was an apostolic and prophetic teacher, bishop of the Catholic Church in Smyrna. For every word which came forth from his mouth was fulfilled and will be fulfilled" (Martyrdom of Polycarp 16:2 [A.D. 155]).
The Muratorian Canon
"Besides these [letters of Paul] there is one to Philemon, and one to Titus, and two to Timothy, in affection and love, but nevertheless regarded as holy in the Catholic Church, in the ordering of churchly discipline. There is also one [letter] to the Laodiceans and another to the Alexandrians, forged under the name of Paul, in regard to the heresy of Marcion, and there are several others which cannot be received by the Church, for it is not suitable that gall be mixed with honey. The epistle of Jude, indeed, and the two ascribed to John are received by the Catholic Church (Muratorian fragment [A.D. 177]).
"Where was [the heretic] Marcion, that shipmaster of Pontus, the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago—in the reign of Antonius for the most part—and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherius, until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled" (Demurrer Against the Heretics 30 [A.D. 200]).
Cyprian of Carthage
"They alone have remained outside [the Church] who, were they within, would have to be ejected. . . . There [in John 6:68–69] speaks Peter, upon whom the Church would be built, teaching in the name of the Church and showing that even if a stubborn and proud multitude withdraws because it does not wish to obey, yet the Church does not withdraw from Christ. The people joined to the priest, and the flock clinging to their shepherd in the Church. You ought to know, then, that the bishop is in the Church and the Church in the bishops; and if someone is not with the bishop, he is not in the Church. They vainly flatter themselves who creep up, not having peace with the priest of God, believing that they are secretly in communion with certain individuals. For the Church, which is one and catholic, is not split or divided, but is indeed united and joined by the cement of priests who adhere to one another" (Letters 66:8 [A.D. 253]).
Council of Nicaea I
"But those who say: ‘There was [a time] when he [the Son] was not,’ and ‘before he was born, he was not,’ and ‘because he was made from non-existing matter, he is either of another substance or essence,’ and those who call ‘God the Son of God changeable and mutable,’ these the Catholic Church anathematizes" (Appendix to the Creed of Nicaea [A.D. 325]).
"Concerning those who call themselves Cathari [Novatians], that is, ‘the Clean,’ if at any time they come to the Catholic Church, it has been decided by the holy and great council that, provided they receive the imposition of hands, they remain among the clergy. However, because they are accepting and following the doctrines of the catholic and apostolic Church, it is fitting that they acknowledge this in writing before all; that is, both that they communicate with the twice married and with those who have lapsed during a persecution" (Canon 8).
"Concerning the Paulianists who take refuge with the Catholic Church, a decree has been published that they should be fully baptized. If, however, any of these in times past have been in the clerical order, if indeed they have appeared spotless and above reproach, after being baptized, let them be ordained by the bishop of the Catholic Church" (Canon 9).
Cyril of Jerusalem
"[The Church] is called catholic, then, because it extends over the whole world, from end to end of the earth, and because it teaches universally and infallibly each and every doctrine which must come to the knowledge of men, concerning things visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly, and because it brings every race of men into subjection to godliness, governors and governed, learned and unlearned, and because it universally treats and heals every class of sins, those committed with the soul and those with the body, and it possesses within itself every conceivable form of virtue, in deeds and in words and in the spiritual gifts of every description" (Catechetical Lectures 18:23 [A.D. 350]).
"And if you ever are visiting in cities, do not inquire simply where the house of the Lord is—for the others, sects of the impious, attempt to call their dens ‘houses of the Lord’—nor ask merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the name peculiar to this holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God" (ibid., 18:26).
The Apostles’ Creed
"I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen" (Apostles’ Creed [A.D. 360 version, the first to include the term "Catholic"]).
Council of Constantinople I
"I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who together with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who spoke through the prophets; in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church" (Nicene Creed [A.D. 381]).
"Those who embrace orthodoxy and join the number of those who are being saved from the heretics, we receive in the following regular and customary manner: Arians, Macedonians, Sabbatians, Novatians, those who call themselves Cathars and Aristeri, Quartodecimians or Tetradites, Apollinarians— these we receive when they hand in statements and anathematize every heresy which is not of the same mind as the holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of God" (Canon 7).
"We must hold to the Christian religion and to communication in her Church, which is catholic and which is called catholic not only by her own members but even by all her enemies. For when heretics or the adherents of schisms talk about her, not among themselves but with strangers, willy-nilly they call her nothing else but Catholic. For they will not be understood unless they distinguish her by this name which the whole world employs in her regard" (The True Religion 7:12 [A.D. 390]).
"We believe in the holy Church, that is, the Catholic Church; for heretics and schismatics call their own congregations churches. But heretics violate the faith itself by a false opinion about God; schismatics, however, withdraw from fraternal love by hostile separations, although they believe the same things we do. Consequently, neither heretics nor schismatics belong to the Catholic Church; not heretics, because the Church loves God, and not schismatics, because the Church loves neighbor" (Faith and Creed 10:21 [A.D. 393]).
""If you should find someone who does not yet believe in the gospel, what would you [Mani] answer him when he says, ‘I do not believe’? Indeed, I would not believe in the gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so" (ibid., 5:6).
Vincent of Lerins
"I have often then inquired earnestly and attentively of very many men eminent for sanctity and learning, how and by what sure and so to speak universal rule I may be able to distinguish the truth of Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical depravity; and I have always, and in almost every instance, received an answer to this effect: that whether I or anyone else should wish to detect the frauds and avoid the snares of heretics as they arise, and to continue sound and complete in the Catholic faith, we must, the Lord helping, fortify our own belief in two ways: first, by the authority of the divine law [Scripture], and then by the tradition of the Catholic Church. But here some one perhaps will ask, ‘Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the Church’s interpretation?’ For this reason: Because, owing to the depth of holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another, so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are men. . . . Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various errors, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of ecclesiastical and catholic interpretation" (The Notebooks 2:1–2 [A.D. 434]).
Council of Chalcedon
"Since in certain provinces readers and cantors have been allowed to marry, this sacred synod decrees that none of them is permitted to marry a wife of heterodox views. If those thus married have already had children, and if they have already had the children baptized among heretics, they are to bring them into the communion of the Catholic Church" (Canon 14 [A.D. 451]).
Now take a closer look at the key verse: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church" (Matt. 16:18). Disputes about this passage have always been related to the meaning of the term "rock." To whom, or to what, does it refer? Since Simon’s new name of Peter itself means rock, the sentence could be rewritten as: "You are Rock and upon this rock I will build my Church." The play on words seems obvious, but commentators wishing to avoid what follows from this—namely the establishment of the papacy—have suggested that the word rock could not refer to Peter but must refer to his profession of faith or to Christ.
From the grammatical point of view, the phrase "this rock" must relate back to the closest noun. Peter’s profession of faith ("You are the Christ, the Son of the living God") is two verses earlier, while his name, a proper noun, is in the immediately preceding clause.
As an analogy, consider this artificial sentence: "I have a car and a truck, and it is blue." Which is blue? The truck, because that is the noun closest to the pronoun "it." This is all the more clear if the reference to the car is two sentences earlier, as the reference to Peter’s profession is two sentences earlier than the term rock.
The previous argument also settles the question of whether the word refers to Christ himself, since he is mentioned within the profession of faith. The fact that he is elsewhere, by a different metaphor, called the cornerstone (Eph. 2:20, 1 Pet. 2:4-8) does not disprove that here Peter is the foundation. Christ is naturally the principal and, since he will be returning to heaven, the invisible foundation of the Church that he will establish; but Peter is named by him as the secondary and, because he and his successors will remain on earth, the visible foundation. Peter can be a foundation only because Christ is the cornerstone.
In fact, the New Testament contains five different metaphors for the foundation of the Church (Matt. 16:18, 1 Cor. 3:11, Eph. 2:20, 1 Pet. 2:5-6, Rev. 21:14). One cannot take a single metaphor from a single passage and use it to twist the plain meaning of other passages. Rather, one must respect and harmonize the different passages, for the Church can be described as having different foundations since the word foundation can be used in different senses.
To read the whole articel click here.
There are only two covenants, the old and the new. But the first Christians under the New Covenant had a living and infallible guide to the truth in Christ himself. Surely the lack of such a guide in future times would constitute yet another covenant -- the difference would be so radical.
It is clear even from Scripture that Peter had a special commission and special powers from Christ to care for the flock of Christ, to bind and loose, and to confirm his brothers in faith -- indeed he had the very powers of the keys to the Kingdom. Obviously, these powers were essential to the Church as constituted by Christ. And Christ promised to be with the Church always to the end of time, and said that the powers of hell would not prevail against it.
Now, clearly Christ knew that Peter would not live until the end of time, so he must have intended that the power he gave to Peter would be carried on until His return. After all, Peter was to feed "My" (Christ's) sheep, and so was serving as the Vicar of Christ in Christ's absence. When Peter died, a new vicar would take his place, and so on, until Christ returned to claim his own. The parable of the steward awaiting his Master's return is very much to the point.
Just as clearly, Peter's authority also enabled himself (and his successors) to set forth the manner in which their successors would be selected, either by choosing the successor personally before death, or by setting forth some other means -- eventually, election by the college of cardinals.
Moreover, if these special and essential powers were to pass out of existence, it would be proof that Christ was no longer with his Church and that the powers of Hell had indeed prevailed. Therefore, again, Christ must have intended successors to Peter.
For this reason, we are not at all surprised that subsequent popes claimed to have the Petrine power and that the early Christian community accepted it without question. As I indicated above, this authority was exercised by the fourth Pope, Clement, while St. John the Evangelist was still alive. The earliest Christians were in a position to know Christ's will from other sources than Scripture, just as we today, under the guidance of the Church, are able to learn from Tradition. And we can assuredly trust in tradition because the Bible told us to in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 – “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.”
***Note that the above article (with the exception of the last sentence) is from EWTN website. To read the whole thing click here. ***
The early Church was structured in a hierarchical manner as it is today. We see in Acts, chapter 15 how the apostles and the elders came together under the leadership of St. Peter to decide the question of what was required of Gentiles. We also see how St. Peter was regarded as the head of the Church when St. Paul, "Went up to Jerusalem to confer with Kephas [Peter] and remained with him fifteen days." (Galatians 1:18) There is no Scriptural evidence of independent local churches.
The Catholic Church is the only church that can claim to have been founded by Christ personally. Every other church traces its lineage back to a mere human person such as Martin Luther or John Wesley. The Catholic Church can trace its lineage back to Jesus Christ who appointed St. Peter as the first pope. This line of popes has continued unbroken for almost 2,000 years. We started first Pope Saint Peter (32-67), then Pope St. Linus (67-76), then Pope St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88), then St. Clement I (88-97), then St. Evaristus (97-105), then St. Alexander I (105-115), then St. Sixtus I (115-125) also called Xystus I, then St. Telesphorus (125-136), then St. Hyginus (136-140), then St. Pius I (140-155), and all the way to our present Pope Benedict XVI.
God rules, instructs and sanctifies His people through His Church. Under her teaching office, the Catholic Church preserves the Word of God. She is the custodian, keeper, dispenser and interpreter of teachings of Christ. And she accomplishes this under the protection of the Holy Spirit.
***Note that I didn’t write the majority of this article either, but I forget where I got it from. :( Oops. So, just know that I am not taking credit for this article.***
When they were named, Peter almost always headed the list – Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16.
Sometimes it was only “Peter and his companions” – Luke 9:32
Peter was the one who generally spoke for the apostles – Matthew 18:21; Mark 8:29; Luke 12:41; John 6:69.
Peter figured in many of the most dramatic scenes – Matthew 14:28-32, 17:24; Mark 10:28.
Now for after the Ascension:
Acts 1:15-16 – Peter stands up and tells the others that they must appointment to another who witnessed of the life, death and resurrection of Christ to replace Judas.
Acts 2:14-41 – After Pentecost, Peter stood with the Apostles and gave the first public sermon about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. After that he and the others baptized around 3,000 people that day.
Acts 3:1-4:4 – Peter was the first to work a public miracle, he cured a lame man, after which he preached to the people which brought about more converts.
Acts 4:5-21 – When questioned by the Jewish High Council, Peter defends in undismayed and impressive fashion the cause of Jesus and the obligation and liberty of the Apostles to preach the Gospel.
Acts 5: 1-11 – When a couple, named Ananias and Sapphira, attempted to deceive the Apostles and the people, Peter appears as judge of their action, and God executes the sentence of punishment passed by the Apostle by causing the sudden death of the two guilty parties.
Acts 5:12-16 - there is special mention of Peter, since it is recorded that the inhabitants of Jerusalem and neighboring towns carried their sick in their beds into the streets so that the shadow of Peter might fall on them and they might be thereby healed.
Galatians 1:18-20 - A confirmation of the position accorded to Peter by Luke, in the Acts, is afforded by the testimony of St. Paul.
Acts 12:1-18 – Peter was thrown into prison by Herod Agrippa I, intending to have him also executed; however, Peter was freed in a miraculous manner, and, proceeding to the house of the mother of John Mark, where many of the faithful were assembled for prayer, informed them of his liberation from the hands of Herod, commissioned them to communicate the fact to James and the brethren, and then left Jerusalem. As one can see from this verse, the Church still needed Peter’s guidance and leadership, so, by the grace of God, it was not yet Peter’s time to die.
So, there are some of the numerous examples that Peter was head of the Church after Jesus ascended into heaven. There are even more examples in Scripture of Peter’s leadership. To be sure, Peter was not perfect. He was human, and humans make mistakes; however, he still had the promise of Christ to be infallible in matters of faith and morals.
To be continued..........
***Note that much of this information is taken from Catholic sources, namely: New Advent Online Catholic Encyclopedia, EWTN website, and Catholic Answers.***
Thursday, May 7, 2009
“Then Jesus answered and said, ‘Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but my father in heaven. And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever though shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:17-19)
Now to break down and define the meaning of this passage:
1) “And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church” Opponents of the Catholic interpretation of Matthew 16:18 sometimes argue that in the Greek text the name of the apostle is Petros, while "rock" is rendered as petra. They claim that the former refers to a small stone, while the latter refers to a massive rock; so, if Peter was meant to be the massive rock, why isn’t his name Petra?
Note that Christ did not speak to the disciples in Greek. He spoke Aramaic, the common language of Palestine at that time. In that language the word for rock is kepha, which is what Jesus called him in everyday speech (note that in John 1:42 he was told, "You will be called Cephas"). What Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 was: "You are Kepha, and upon this kepha I will build my Church."
When Matthew’s Gospel was translated from the original Aramaic to Greek, there arose a problem which did not confront the evangelist when he first composed his account of Christ’s life. In Aramaic the word kepha has the same ending whether it refers to a rock or is used as a man’s name. In Greek, though, the word for rock, petra, is feminine in gender. The translator could use it for the second appearance of kepha in the sentence, but not for the first because it would be inappropriate to give a man a feminine name. So he put a masculine ending on it, and hence Peter became Petros.
The word ‘rock’ is merely a play on words. In Aramaic there is no difference between the word for rock and Kepha, Peter. Some people will attempt to claim that the “rock” mentioned by Jesus isn’t Peter personally, but a vague attitude of faith on the part of all true believers. This idea, however, has long since been discredited by serious Catholic and Protestant biblical scholars; there’s overwhelming scholarly agreement that Peter alone is the rock to which Jesus refers.
2) “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The gates of hell could mean the gates of death, but more naturally mean the powers of hell. They will not prevail. So if the Church founded by Christ had taught the wrong way to salvation for most of 1500 years, until Luther, the promises of Christ would be practically worthless. The Church as such, as identifiable, would have been in gross error until Luther was sent by God to correct it! So, God is promising that the Church will stand with Peter’s, and his successors, guidance against all the attacks of Satan and his followers. This also means that the Church would be free from error.
3) “And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven” "Keys" of course signified power to rule, as is obvious. Keys to important objects, such as money safes, gates, doors, cash drawers are entrusted to those with authority and/or power. Jesus is giving the “keys to the kingdom” to Peter; which can only mean he is entrusting to him the authority and power to govern, teach, and guide the Church. The promise there made by Christ, finds its explanation in Isaiah 22, in which "the key of the house of David" is conferred upon Eliacim, the son of Helcias, as the symbol of plenary authority in the Kingdom of Juda. Christ by employing this expression clearly designed to signify his intention to confer on St. Peter the supreme authority over His Church.
4) “whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever though shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” What does “bind and loose” mean? Well, it is another way of saying to forgive or not to forgive sins. Here Peter was singled out for the authority that provides for the forgiveness of sins and the making of disciplinary rules. Later the apostles as a whole would be given similar power [Matt.18:18], but here Peter received it in a special sense.
To be continued……..
***Note that large portions of this information are taken from Catholic sources, namely: New Advent Online Catholic Encyclopedia, EWTN website, Catholic Answers, Catholic Catechism of the Catholic Church, and “Christian, Yes- But Why Catholic? Helpful Ideas on Explaining and Defending Your Faith” by Rev. Joseph M. Esper.***