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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Catholic Voter


What's a Catholic to do? While the primaries in Connecticut are over many Catholics are still struggling with balancing their faith and their voting options. Some Catholics already know who they are supporting and hope to see in the White House next, but many do not. This post is to the undecided Catholics out there. How many of you are making pros and cons lists? I am not going to get all political on this blog, I figure there are more than enough political blogs out there without adding my two cents. But from a Catholic point of view, I found a video on Youtube from Father Frank Pavone who has something to say about voting when our options aren't clear and we don't see any clear good person to vote for. I agree with Father Pavone that we need to use our right to vote and not stay home because we don't care for the choices. There is always a choice to be made and one choice will be better (even if not by much) than the other choice. So take your time and make your pros and cons lists then vote! Don't let others decide for you who our next President will be. Don't let others decide who your next Senator or Representative or state officials will be. Your vote is your voice. It's your right. Don't throw away your right to vote because you are unhappy with the choices before you. Make the best choice you can and let your voice be heard. Vote.





Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Catholic Statues and Icons Explained


Why do Catholic's have statues and icons? Do Catholics worship statues? These are things I have been asked when my Protestant friends and family found out I was becoming Catholic. Some seemed to feel that Catholics are pagans and hold to pagan beliefs such as statue worshiping. This is not true. We can honor saints, but not worship them. Catholics do not worship anyone but God. Statues and icons are simply just that. Statues and icons. They are earthly visuals or reminders. Like the cross is for non-Catholics and Catholics alike. It's a reminder of Christ's sacrifice on the cross for us. Statues and icons are the same. When we look at a statue of Mary it's a reminder of Mary being the Mother of God and the scriptures telling her story and how she too suffered along with Christ just for being his Mother. (Luke 2:34-35 "Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: 'This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.") When we look at an icon or statue of any saint we recall their Christian story, their testimony and faith and the trials they endured for the love of God. There is nothing pagan about this. We here in America have statues of our nations Founding Fathers. We don't worship them. They are simply reminders of those people and their lives. When we look at a statue of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln we think of their presidency and what it meant to our nation. If we look at an angel pin someone is wearing we might think of all the scripture verses about angels and how they are messengers from God. If a person looks upon a replica of the Crown of Thorns they are not worshiping the replica, but recalling how it was used on our Lord. EWTN's Mother Angelica put it best when she calls these things "holy reminders". Catholic statues and icons are holy reminders. Not pagan worship items. Here's a video from "That Catholic Show" which further explains Catholic statues and icons.



That Catholic Show Video

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day from Connecticut Catholic Corner!


So what's "Earth Day" and why is it on a Catholic blog? The history of Earth Day for the United States began in 1970 with the first Earth Day on April 22 of that year. It was proposed the year before by U.S. Senator Gaylor Nelson as a grassroots movement to right the wrongs humans had done to our environment. Those of us who recall the 1970's may remember the sudden commercials on television showing the pollution and litter coating our nation and raw sewage pouring into our oceans and smoke stacks filling our air with toxic fumes. This exposed the need for something to be done and opened many American eyes to what was happening in our own backyards. One of the most famous commercials during that time is probably the "Crying Indian", showing a Native American gentleman looking at all trash and pollution dumped over the land and a tear falling down his cheek at the sight. Powerful commercial. I recall being a kid in the 1970's and joining a Connecticut recycling drive. My cousin dressed up as a huge seagull for the event that took place in Wallingford Connecticut. My grandfather and I created a recycled water fountain for drinking made from broken glass and cement. This fountain was in Wallingford for decades and was recently replaced, but I will never forget working on it with my grandfather and learning that "trash" (in this case broken soda and beer/wine bottles) could be reused to create new and beautiful things. This lesson has stayed with me my whole life and I hope I am passing it on to my children who love the earth that God gave us and worked for six days to create just for us. People have abused the land terribly yet it still sustains us. We all need to learn to take better care of all the things our Lord has given us- that includes this earth and the air we breathe and the water we drink. So this Earth Day, I'd like to ask all my readers to please pray for our earth and think of a way you can help make it a better place for our children for many generations to come. If everyone does something, no matter how small, the world we live in will be a better place.
The Beginning

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water."

7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
9 And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
20 And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
24 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. (Genesis 1)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Holy Land USA Cross Project


I've gotten a few emails about the Holy Land USA cross and people wishing to make donations but not knowing how to go about it. I've also heard, but do not know for sure, that there is talk of pieces of the original Holy Land USA cross being auctioned off on Ebay to help raise money for the new cross. I do not know if that is true or not, but I do have an address for people who wish to make a donation to the project. If you have questions I am sure someone at the Queen of Apostles can answer them.


Queen of Apostles
Religious Teachers Fillipini
474 East Rd.
Bristol, CT 06010

Monday, April 14, 2008

Birthday Announcements


Happy Birthday Pope Benedict! On April 16, our Pope will celebrate his 81st birthday while visiting the United States.

Another notable birthday to mention is EWTN's Mother Angelica. Her 85th birthday is on April 20th. Happy Birthday Mother Angelica!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Holy Land USA Cross Comes Down


What Connecticut resident isn't familiar with the Pine Hill cross? Certainly no one who spends any time driving on I-84 in Waterbury. The 50 foot Holy Land USA cross in Waterbury is going to be taken down on Tuesday April 8th to make way for a replacement. Holy Land USA was built in the 1950's upon Pine Hill by a Roman Catholic lawyer named John Baptist Greco. Greco wanted to create his own version of the Holy Land in miniature. Holy Land grew out of 18 acres on Pine Hill and was created and built with assorted easy to find materials. By the 1960's and 1970's there were 50,000 visitors a year to the site. What it's probably best known for though is the 50 foot cross that can be seen for miles and for years lit up the night for all to see. During Lent it would be lit in purple and at Christmas the cross was a brilliant red beacon on a hill top. I remember several night time drives to Waterbury just to see the cross lit up. As a child I visited Holy Land USA, though I don't have many memories of it and wish I had some photo's. Living in CT all my life, that 50ft cross and Holy Land have always been part of Connecticut's unique culture for me. When I heard the cross was coming down I was saddened. I know it's being replaced and the hill top won't be barren for long, but I will miss the original and all the times I stared up at that cross as a child and an adult. It's too bad Holy Land has fallen into such disrepair and closed it's gates decades ago. I would have liked to have been able to take my children there to witness one Catholics vision and dream made a reality. Perhaps one day the site will be fixed up and open it's gates once more to welcome people.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Eucharist: The Real Presence


I have unfortunately come across some anti-Catholics in my life who seem to take great delight in mocking the Eucharist. They have referred to it as “a wafer God” and to Catholics as “hunk of bread worshipers”. All of these people that I have heard this from are self proclaimed Christians. I have never heard an Atheist or Pagan mock Holy Communion. That is not to say, none do, it’s just that none have done so in front of me nor to me in email as some Christians have. So in this post, I will attempt to share how I understand the Eucharist. The first place we need to go to in our search to better understanding the Eucharist is Sacred Scriptures.
-Matt.26 "26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." 27Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."
In Matthew 26, we see Jesus institute Holy Communion. He tells the disciples to take the bread and cup and to eat and drink them saying “this is my body” and “this is my blood”. He does not say “this SYMBOLIZES my body and blood” but “this IS”. Now let’s read what Luke shares about the Eucharist. In Luke 24, the tomb is found empty and the disciples remembered the words of the Lord saying “on the third day He would be raised again”. Two disciples are walking along the road to Emmaus when they encounter Jesus but do not recognize Him. They speak with Him and tell Him about Jesus and all that has occurred then they invited Him to stay with them as the day was nearly over (verse 29). During dinner, Jesus took the bread and as soon as he broke the bread the disciples saw Him and recognized Him as Jesus. They quickly returned to Jerusalem and told the other disciples what had happened.
-Luke 24:35 "Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread."
The Apostle John’s account of the Eucharist is extensive and specific. John relates several times how Jesus says “this IS my body”, “this IS my blood”.
-John 6: 51 "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
-John 6 "53Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him."
The Eucharist is “real food” as Jesus says in verse 55. Jesus knew this was a hard teaching for many to believe, so He repeated it several times and specified by saying “real”, not “symbolic”. Yet still, many who had been following Jesus could not accept this teaching and turned away from Him.
-John 6:66 “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
If Jesus meant the Eucharist as symbolic only, why didn’t He stop these disciples from leaving and explain it was only symbolic when they took it as literal? He didn’t stop them because it was literal. They were understanding Jesus’ teaching as literal, but they couldn’t believe it. They didn’t have the faith to believe Him that He could do that, make the bread and cup truly His flesh and blood. They couldn’t accept a literal interpretation just like Protestants today. Those who turned from following Jesus over the Eucharist being “real” food are the same as those today whom mock Catholics as I mentioned at the beginning of this post. The Catholic Church today is teaching the same as Jesus did in the Gospel accounts of the Eucharist.

Dead rituals and dogmas



Kay writes: Your Church is nothing. Nothing but rituals, rules, dogmas and orders for people. It is my opinion that you can keep your church and all it's made up of. Your so call apostolic succession, your baby baptizing, your Eucharist and your "Peter is the first pope" theology, your idea that Mary never had other children, and your hierarchy historical hocus pocus. Your passion for Mother church is nothing but an insult to me, to all Christians and to the holiness and the beauty that Jesus brought to us by sending the real Holy Spirit of God that comes to true believers and reveals to them God's heart and will. In my opinion the so called 'Church' (the RCC) is still trying to deceive the ignorant and the feeble with her dead ritual and dogmas that saves no one and heals no one. That's it. So thanks for reading this. It is not my intention to insult Catholics but rather to tell them all the truth. There is absolutely nothing that Catholics or your pope, priests or whatever they want to call themselves will be ever able to convince the true saints of God that you have something we don't have.

My response: You of course have free will and are entitled to your opinions, but I have to completely disagree with what you've stated. My Church, the Catholic Church is not "nothing". The Catholic Church is the church created by Jesus Christ and has stood the test of time. The Catholic Church brings the sacraments to people and preaches the Gospel to the world. She is a gift from God. I am truly sorry that you do not know or see the beauty of the Catholic Church the way I do. It is my hope that one day you will. You have hit upon many area's that are part of the Catholic Church, i.e., "apostolic succession" and "infant baptism" and "the Eucharist" and "Peter our first Pope" etc. I think each of these perhaps needs their own post as it would be too lengthy to answer all these topics in one. So in the future, I will write on each of these topics. For now, I'd like to briefly touch on them. Apostolic succession is seen clearly in Acts when Judas' is replaced. Infant baptism is also seen in Acts when whole households are baptized. The Eucharist is beautifully revealed in John 6. Peter our first Pope is seen in Matthew 16 and the last chapter of John. And the bible never ever records Mary as giving birth to anyone but Jesus. There is no other record of her being pregnant or giving birth to another child. I have already addressed this topic on my blog: Connecticut Catholic Corner: Christ's "brothers" (http://connecticutcatholiccorner.blogspot.com/2008/01/christs-brothers.html), so I don't feel I need to repeat this. Nor will I at this time repeat the topic of Peter as this was addressed 2 weeks ago in March:http://connecticutcatholiccorner.blogspot.com/2008/03/peter-is-first-pope.html

If however you feel something is missing, I will be happy to return to this topic. You also mention "hierarchy historical hocus pocus". What "hocus pocus" would that be? Hierarchy is seen in scripture and since there is over 2,000 years of Catholic Church history, I really don't know what are referring to. I can say, there is absolutely no "hocus pocus" in the Catholic faith. So yes, we have hierarchy and we have history, but we do NOT have "hocus pocus". I don't know of any "dead rituals" in my Church. And the dogma's aren't "dead" either, they are very much alive and part of my Church. Doesn't your church (if you have one-I know some Christians are deciding not to attend churches any more) have dogma's or some sort of defined doctrines or statements of faith so others know what you believe and why?
I am sorry you feel "insulted" by my passion for my Church, but I am not sorry I am passionate about my Catholic faith. I can tell you that Jesus is not insulted by it as you are, because Jesus inspires it. You feel insulted because you are ignorant of the Truth of the Catholic faith. That doesn't not mean you are stupid or dumb. I want to clarify. It merely means that you do not yet, know the truth of the Catholic faith, what we believe and why. If you knew the truth and understood it, you would not have said the things you did. You speak from ignorance, not stupidity on your part. Of the two, ignorance is the easier to rectify. The problem occurs when one wishes to remain ignorant and that is just plain stupidity in any given situation. And I don't mean to insult you by saying that, but rather to share the truth with you. From your above statement to me, I am sure we understand each other. I look forward to addressing each of the topics you've mentioned and hope to shed some light on these topics. If I fail, it's my fault, not the fault of the Catholic Church or it's teachings. And I recommend taking your questions to Catholic clergy who can best answer all your concerns. Thanks for reading.

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