Friday, August 1, 2014

How He Loves by David Crowder Band


HOW HE LOVES
He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh! how He loves us,
Oh! how He loves us,
Oh! how He loves.


We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

Von Balthasar on the Cross

“It is to the Cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master: no path of redemption can make a detour around it.” 

The Desert Monks

The following comes from Brother Marcus:


What is a monk? The word ‘monk’ is derived from the Greek word monakhos which means ‘alone’ or ‘solitary’. In the early years of the fourth century, which are generally accepted as the embryonic years of Christian monasticism, individual Christian ascetics migrated into the desert wilderness of Egypt to engage in a solitary life of spiritual discipline. Their extraordinary way of life became an inspiration to great numbers of Christians who, following their example, withdrew from the secular world and entered the desert wilderness. Why this migration took place, how such Christians were perceived and why so many over so many years followed the way of the monakhos are issues too complex to be studied here.

Nevertheless, we should reflect upon how in the preceding centuries the persecution of Christians throughout the Roman Empire had become ever more frequent and violent, culminating in the Great Persecution instituted by the Emperor Diocletian in the year 303. It was to last for more than eight years, during which time thousands of Christians were killed and many more abused in the most terrible of ways, and it is reasonable to assume that during those years many Christians fled into the wilderness to lead a Christian way of life free from oppression. The Great Persecution finally came to an end when Constantine became emperor in the year 312.

That earlier Christians, of the second and third centuries, may also have looked to the desert as a place of refuge is a matter of speculation as there are few records to guide us. It is probable, however, that during this period numerous Christians, albeit unrecorded, left the main centres of population and entered the wilderness to engage in the spiritual life free from religious intolerance, thereby establishing a precedent for the later solitaries of the fourth century. Another factor to be considered is the effect of the Edict of Milan, issued by Constantine and Licinius in the year 313. This edict granted religious freedom to Christians throughout the empire, and returned to them any properties previously confiscated by the state. As a consequence, the fortunes of the Church were reversed and the power of the bishops increased. This unexpected turn of events was not without its problems, of which one in particular stands out.

In many cases the motivation for spiritual perfection took second place to the desire for wealth, power and status. The result was that nominal Christians were to be found everywhere whilst spiritually aspiring Christians were just as few as before the time of Constantine. Furthermore, conflicts arose within the Church concerning orthodoxy, heresy and the parameters of authority. In the light of these seismic changes it is easy to understand how spiritually minded Christians of the fourth century fled not so much from the material world but from the materialism infesting the Church, and from court bishops who were fighting each other for choice territories. One can imagine the traditionally minded Christians, fleeing from the unseemly politics of the Church, entering the wilderness of Egypt and Palestine to return to the ancient prescribed life of simplicity and spiritual purity.
 
The word ‘monk’ was not then a commonplace name as it is today. Initially, the term ‘monk’ (monakhos) was used specifically to describe a man living a spiritual life in solitude. Other terms were also used to describe these solitary ascetics, such as the word ‘hermit’ or ‘eremite’ (from the Greek eremos, denoting an ‘inhabitant of a desert’). They were also called ‘anchorites’ (from anachoréo, I withdraw). Eremites or anchorites were predominantly men who withdrew from the company of other people to dwell alone in isolation, although it is apparent that not all of them sought complete solitude as it is recorded that many were accompanied by a disciple. As the fourth century progressed many inspired Christians of both sexes were forming religious communities in the Egyptian desert. These communities were called coenobia – a term derived from the Greek word koinobion indicating a shared or common life. Their members were known as coenobites, but as time passed they were also called monks.

In the early years of the fourth century, the most renowned ‘solitary’, St. Anthony (c. 251–356), introduced a form of community life known as the eremitical, when he undertook the spiritual direction and organisation of the many spiritual aspirants who had gathered about him. At about the same time St. Pachomius (c. 292–348) founded what may be considered the first conventional monastery, or coenobium, at Tabenna in the far south of Egypt [see map]. These community models or systems spread rapidly and in a relatively short time were firmly established throughout the Levant. Eremites or hermits were not specifically bound to a Rule such as that undertaken by those dwelling in a ceonobium and, unlike the coenobites, were generally free to wander at will.
  
Read the rest here.

Saint of the day: Alphonsus Ligouri


The following comes from the American Catholic site:
Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.

In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.

At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but soon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups.

He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over.

Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions.

He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese.

His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united.

At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent.

Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His Glories of Mary is one of the great works on that subject, and his book Visits to the Blessed Sacrament went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

After All (Holy) by The Digital Age

Padre Pio: "The Madonna is the shortcut to get to God"



The following comes from Zenit:
Padre Pio said that "The Madonna is the shortcut to get to God."
There is no doubt that in order to see the face of Jesus, we must turn to His Mother, and it is to Her who we look to heal our diseases, to turn our tears into prayer. To Her, we offer our suffering and concern for the salvation of souls , our loneliness so that it becomes contemplation, and our fears to turn into hope.
We are confident, as written by St. Bernard of Clairvaux in his prayer, Memorare, that never was it known that anyone who fled to Mary's protection, implored her help, or sought her intercession was left unaided.
We wish you, dear readers, your families, your friends, and your loved ones a Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

St. Ignatius Loyola: Soldier for Christ!


Today is the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola! For information on his life please check out the Patron Saints Index!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Worn by Tenth Avenue North

Peter Kreeft: Who's in authority here?


The following comes from Peter Kreeft at The Integrated Catholic Life:
All the beliefs that divide Catholics from fundamentalists are derived from the teaching authority of the Church.
Because Catholics believe in the Church, they believe a fuller, more complex and mysterious set of things than the narrowed down fundamentalist. Thus, the Church is the essential point of divergence.
In the fundamentalist view, the Catholic Church exalts itself over the Bible, adding to God’s Word: It is man arrogating to himself the right to speak in God’s name.
But for Catholics, the fundamentalist puts the Bible in place of the Church as his “paper pope.” Instead of a living teacher (the Church) with a book (the Bible), the fundamentalist has only a book.
Fundamentalists believe that the Bible authorizes the Church. They accept a Church only because it’s in the Bible. Catholics, on the other hand, believe the Bible because the Church teaches it, canonized it (i.e., defined its books) and authored it (the disciples wrote the New Testament).
Last week we looked at the fundamentalist idea of the Bible and contrasted it with the Catholic view. Now we must do the same with fundamentalist notions of the Church.
The most important point here is that the fundamentalist view is a new one while the Catholic view is an old one. The Catholic Church and its claims have been around for more than 19 centuries, fundamentalism for less than one. The historical argument for the Catholic Church is thus very strong. Fundamentalists have to believe that the early Christian Church went very wrong (i.e., Catholic) very early, and went right (i.e., fundamentalist) very late. In other words, the Holy Spirit must have been asleep for 19 centuries in between.
Fundamentalists usually know very little about Church history. They don’t know how many Catholic doctrines can be traced back to the early Fathers of the Church — e.g., that appeals to the Bishop of Rome to definitively settle disputes throughout the rest of the Church occur as early as turn of the first Century; or that the Mass, not Bible preaching, was the central act of worship in all the earliest descriptions of the Christian community.
Five key differences between fundamentalists and Catholics center on the Church’s (1) nature, (2) mystery, (3) authority, (4) structure and (5) end.
Nature
Fundamentalists agree with Catholics that the Church was founded by God, not just by men. For a fundamentalist the Church is not just a religious social club, as it is for a modernist. But while fundamentalists see that God commanded the Church’s beginning, they do not see that He still dwells in it intimately, as a soul lives in its body and as He lives in faithful souls. For a fundamentalist, the Church’s origin is divine but its nature is human.
Mystery
Fundamentalists see the Church in the opposite way from which they see the Bible. They affirm the divine identity of Scripture and minimize or ignore the human side of its authorship. But they stress the human side of the Church and ignore its divine side. In other words, they’re Docetists about the Bible and Arians about the Church. (Docetism was an early heresy that denied Christ’s human nature; Arianism denied His divine nature.) Catholicism alone has consistently affirmed the mystery of the two natures both of Christ, and of the Church and Bible.
Fundamentalists often accuse Catholics of the error of the Pharisees and love to quote Mark 7:7-8, Jesus’ rebuke to the Pharisees for teaching as divine doctrines mere human traditions. The Pope and bishops are men, after all, and fundamentalists bristle at the thought of ascribing to these humans a divine authority. But they’re inconsistent, for they ascribe to the human writers of the Bible a divine authority, and (of course) they ascribe to Christ a divine authority, though He was also human. So the principle that God can and does speak through human authorities is a principle based on Christ and Scripture.
Maybe the simplest way to see the difference is this: Fundamentalists see the Church as man’s gift (of worship) to God, while Catholics see it as God’s gift (of salvation) to man. For fundamentalists, we’re saved as individuals and then join in a kind of ecclesiastical chorus to sing our thanks back to God. For Catholics, we are saved precisely by being incorporated into the Church, Christ’s mystical Body, as Noah and his family were saved by being put into the ark. (Many of the Church Fathers use the ark as a symbol for the Church.)
It’s as if — to extend the metaphor — fundamentalists prefer to be saved by clinging to individual life preservers, then tying them together for fellowship.
To Catholics, the Church is “the mystical Body of Christ.” The Church is a “mystery.” Fundamentalists don’t understand this category. “Mystery” sounds suspiciously pagan to them. They want their religion to be clear and simple (as Moslems do). They’ll admit, of course, that God’s ways are not our ways and often appear mysterious to us. But they don’t want their Church to be mysterious, like God, because they don’t think of it as an extension of God but as an extension of man.
In other words, they think of “mystery” as mere darkness or puzzlement. But in Catholic theology it’s a positive thing: hidden light, hidden wisdom.
Fundamentalists say that they emphasize “the Church invisible” more than “the Church visible” and accuse Catholics of overemphasizing the latter. Fundamentalists draw a sharp distinction between these two dimensions of the Church so that they can explain Scripture’s strong statements about the Church as applying only to “the Church invisible” (the number of saved souls, known to God) and not to the visible Church on earth.
Why? Because if they referred such statements to the visible Church, the claims of the Catholic Church to be that single, worldwide, visible Church stretching back in history to Christ, still forgiving sins and exercising teaching authority in His name — well, these claims would surely seem more likely to be true of the Catholic Church than of any other visible Church.
Fundamentalists also have a very individualistic notion of the Church. The Catholic sense of a single great worldwide organism, a real thing, is not there. The Eastern Orthodox Church usually has an even more powerful sense of the mystery and splendor of the Church than most modern Western Catholics do. They’re east of Rome spiritually as well as geographically — i.e., more mystical. Fundamentalists are west of Rome — much too American.
Authority
A third difference concerns the authority of the Church. This follows from the previous point: Fundamentalists lack the Catholic vision of the Church as a great mystical entity, an invisible divine society present simultaneously in heaven and on earth, linking heaven and earth as closely as man’s soul and body are linked. And lacking this vision, authority can only mean power, especially political power. Thus, fundamentalists sometimes sound like their archenemies, the modernists, when it comes to criticizing the “authoritarianism” and political power of Rome. For both fundamentalists and modernists lack the Catholic understanding of the Church and its authority as much more than “political.”
Yet fundamentalists tend to be quite authoritarian themselves on a personal level — e.g., in their families. They are more willing than most people to both command and to obey authority, if it’s biblical. The issue that divides us is not authority as such but where it is to be found: Church or Bible only?
Structure
The structure of the Christian community also divides us. Fundamentalists usually criticize the “hierarchical” Church. This is often more a matter of politics than of religion, sometimes stemming from American egalitarianism rather than religious conviction. But when it is a matter of religious conviction, such criticism usually takes one of these three forms:
  • First, fundamentalists charge that Catholics worship the Church and the hierarchy, especially the Pope. There’s a fear of idolatry coupled with a fear of the papacy mixed up here, a confusion between sound principle (anti-idolatry) and a gross misunderstanding of facts. While I’ve met many Catholics who love the Pope and (unfortunately) some who hate him, I’ve never met or heard of anyone who worships him!
  • Second, the hierarchy is suspected of corruption just because it’s a hierarchy: It is structurally, culturally, un-American. (So is the hierarchy of angels “un-American.” But that doesn’t mean it’s corrupt.) Of course, 500 years ago there was some truth to this charge, but fundamentalists are still fighting Luther’s battle.
  • Third, there’s often an unadmitted racial prejudice against Italian Popes. Some people, when they hear “Italian,” immediately think “mafia” and “Machiavelli.” This element is rarely admitted, but it definitely plays a part in anti-papal prejudice.
Beyond these irrational criticisms, I’ve never come across any solid theological argument against the papacy. The current Pope (Blessed John Paul II as of the time of this essay – Editors) has done much to temper fundamentalist fears by his holy personality, wise words and strong opposition to abortion and to the excesses of some contemporary theologians.
End
Finally, fundamentalists and Catholics have different visions of the end or task of the Church. For fundamentalists, that task is only two things: edification of the saved and evangelization of the unsaved. For the Catholic, these two ends are essential, but there are also two others.
  • First, Catholics also emphasize the Church’s this-worldly tasks — social justice and the corporal works of mercy such as building hospitals and feeding the poor. Fundamentalists say the Church “shouldn’t get involved in politics” (though many of them are thoroughly politicized on the far right). And when did you last see a fundamentalist hospital.
  • Second, there’s a still more ultimate goal. Evangelization, edification and social service are ultimately only means to this greater end in the Catholic vision. The Church is there for the world, yes (the first three ends), but in a more ultimate sense the world is there for the Church, for her eternal glory and perfection.
The Church’s ultimate task is to glorify God, to be the Bride of Christ. The world is, in the long run, only the raw material out of which God makes the Church. In fact, the universe was created for the sake of the Church! God’s aim from Day One was to perfect His Bride, to share His glory eternally.
When we speak of this eternal glory we have in mind first of all the Church as invisible, as “mystical”; but there’s a substantial unity between the Church invisible and the Church visible, between the Church as inner organism and the Church as outer organization, between its soul and body, as there is between man’s soul and body.
You can see this mystical thing, as you can see a man. The most holy thing you can see on earth has its seat in Rome, its heart in bread and wine on the altar and its fingers as close as your neighbor.
It isn’t that fundamentalists explicitly deny this Catholic vision of the Church; they just don’t comprehend it. They may have things to teach us about being on fire with religious zeal, but we have much to teach them about the fireplace.
A fireplace without a fire is cold and gloomy. But a fire without a fireplace is catastrophic.

G.K. Chesterton on Confession


When people ask me, or indeed anybody else, “Why did you join the Church of Rome?” the first essential answer, if it is partly an elliptical answer, is, “To get rid of my sins.” For there is no other religious system that does really profess to get rid of people’s sins. It is confirmed by the logic, which to many seems startling, by which the Church deduces that sin confessed and adequately repented is actually abolished; and that the sinner does really begin again as if he had never sinned.
And this brought me sharply back to those visions or fancies with which I have dealt in the chapter about childhood. I spoke there of the indescribable and indestructible certitude in the soul, that those first years of innocence were the beginning of something worthy, perhaps more worthy than any of the things that actually followed them: I spoke of the strange daylight, which was something more than the light of common day, that still seems in my memory to shine on those steep roads down from Campden Hill, from which one could see the Crystal Palace from afar.
Well, when a Catholic comes from Confession, he does truly, by definition, step out again into that dawn of his own beginning and look with new eyes across the world to a Crystal Palace that is really of crystal. He believes that in that dim corner, and in that brief ritual, God has really remade him in His own image. He is now a new experiment of the Creator. He is as much a new experiment as he was when he was really only five years old. He stands, as I said, in the white light at the worthy beginning of the life of a man. The accumulations of time can no longer terrify. He may be grey and gouty; but he is only five minutes old.
-G.K. Chesterton (From his Autobiography)

Chris Stefanick: Mass boring?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Come As You Are by David Crowder

Scott Hahn on Prayer

"If we do not fill our mind with prayer, it will fill itself with anxieties, worries, temptations, resentments, and unwelcome memories."  
                                               Scott Hahn

Scott Hahn: Defending the Faith

Saint of the day: Martha


The following comes from the Word on Fire:

There are some legendary stories of saints that deserve telling and re-telling, and the story of St. Martha the Dragonslayer is one of them.

Dragonslayer?

Am I speaking about the same Martha of the New Testament? The one who is depicted as a domestic scold who thinks that she knows better than the Lord Jesus himself what his will for others should be? The Martha who gets a famous comeuppance from the Lord that is meant to shock her out of her anxious fretting and self pre-occupation? The same Martha who is overcome with grief at the death of Lazarus, a grief that gives way to a startling profession of faith in Christ as Lord? This Martha was a dragonslayer?

Precisely.

Exiled during a time of persecution of the Church, Martha's wanderings brought her to a village plagued by a dragon who had a voracious appetite for the town's inhabitants. The villages told Martha that they would believe in the Gospel on the condition that the power of Christ could rid them of the dragon. She accepted this challenge. Martha went out, found the dragon's lair, subdued it with the sign of the cross, brought it back to the village on a leash, and then called for a sword. No more dragon!

Is this true? Did it really happen? Perhaps... Maybe... One day we will all have to ask Martha...

Of course, even if the dragon is not literally real, the story remains important.

The dragon may be a metaphor, a representation of the hostile pagan world that so vexed the early Church. St. Martha, in this respect, represents the Church that boldly and defiantly challenged the dark powers of fallen gods. Also, we can understand the dragon as a metaphor for all that is dark within ourselves, that dark power that consumes our goodness and life and makes us lose hope and succomb to fear. Martha, Christ-like in her sanctity is our friend and intercessor as we confront the dark powers within.

She conquers, as we are called to, in the Lord Jesus who strengthens us.

There is one more truth that we might attend to in regards to St. Martha the dragonslayer.

It has become far too easy to reduce our faith to something domestic, familiar, predictable. But discipleship is an adventure that demands more of us than just cocktails and garden parties. Christ did not establish the Church to be a faith based country club.

St. Martha found her mission by moving out from that domestic space that had become the controlling influence of her life. Her faith in the Lord took her out into a world not of her own making, a world that would not bend to her will. Her mission exposed her to danger, difficulty and risk.

And so may St. Martha the dragonslayer intercede for us, inspire us to take great risks for the faith, and through the power of Christ, help us to confront the dragons of sin that lurk within ourselves and in our world.

Monday, July 28, 2014

I Surrender by Hillsong

Archbishop Chaput: Economic Justice and Pope Francis

The following comes from Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. at Catholic Philly:
Speech at the Napa Institute, San Francisco, Calif.
July 26, 2014
I’m a Capuchin Franciscan, and I’ve often found that people think of Francis of Assisi as a kind of 13th-century flower child.  St. Francis was certainly “counter-cultural,” but only in his radical obedience to the Church, and his radical insistence on living the Gospel fully — including poverty and all of its other uncomfortable demands. Jesus, speaking to him from the cross of San Damiano, said “Repair my house.”  I think Pope Francis believes God has called him to do that as pope, as God calls every pope.  And he plans to do it in the way St. Francis did it.
Pope Francis took the name of the saint of Christian simplicity and poverty. As he’s said, he wants “a Church that is poor and for the poor.” In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, he grounded this goal in Jesus Christ, “who became poor, and was always close to the poor and the outcast.”  That’s a very Franciscan idea.
The Holy Father knows poverty and violence.  He knows the plague of corrupt politics and oppressive governments.  He’s seen the cruelty of human trafficking and other forms of exploitation.  He’s seen elites who rig the political system in their favor and keep the poor in poverty. When we Americans think about economics, we think in terms of efficiency and production. When Francis thinks about economics, he thinks in terms of human suffering. We’re blessed to live in a rich, free, stable country.  We can’t always see what Francis sees.
I think it would be a mistake to describe him as a “liberal” — much less a “Marxist.”  As I told the Italian newspaper La Stampa in an interview some weeks ago, words like “liberal” and “conservative” don’t describe Catholic belief.  They divide what shouldn’t be divided.  We should love the poor and love the unborn child.  Service to the oppressed and service to the family; defense of the weak and defense of the unborn child; belief in the value of business and belief in restraints on predatory business practices — all these things spring from the same Catholic commitment to human dignity. There’s nothing “progressive” about killing an unborn human child or allowing it to happen.  And there’s nothing “conservative” about ignoring the cries of the poor.
Before we go on, I should make a couple of obvious points about Francis. The first is that not everyone’s happy with him. G. K. Chesterton said that every age gets the saint it needs.  Not the saint people want, but the saint they need; the saint who’s the medicine for their illness. The same may be true of popes.
John Paul II revived the spirit of a Church that felt fractured, and even irrelevant, in the years after the council.  Benedict revived the mind of a Church that felt, even after John Paul II’s intellectual leadership, outgunned by the world in the public square. Francis has already started to revive the witness of a Church that, even after John Paul II’s and Benedict’s example, feels as if we can’t get a hearing and that we’re telling a story no one will believe.
Again, not everyone is pleased with Francis. Chesterton said that saints are so often martyrs because they’re the kind of antidote the world mistakes for poison. The website Salon recently ran an article complaining about the good press Francis has gotten.  It argued that “The new sexist, nun-hating, poverty-perpetuating, pedophile-protecting homophobe is the same as the old sexist, nun-hating, poverty-perpetuating, pedophile-protecting homophobe … . [I]t is ludicrous to suggest that a man who denies comprehensive reproductive health care (including all forms of birth control including condoms and abortion) and comprehensive family planning is a man who cares about the poor of this world.”
Some on the political right have attacked him in words almost as strong, though for different reasons.
What Francis says about economic justice may be hard for some of us to hear.  So we need to read the Holy Father’s writings for ourselves, without the filter of the mass mediaThen we need to open our hearts to what God is telling us through his words.

Jesus: Liar, Lunatic, Legend, Mystic, or Lord?

The following comes from Dr. Peter Kreeft at Strange Notions:


For Catholics, the doctrine of Christ's divinity is central, for it is like a skeleton key that opens all the other doctrines. Catholics have not independently reasoned out and tested each of the teachings of Christ received via the Bible and the Church, but believe them all on his authority. For if Christ is divine, He can be trusted to be infallible in everything He said, even hard things like exalting suffering and poverty, forbidding divorce, giving his Church the authority to teach and forgive sins in his name, warning about hell (very often and very seriously), instituting the scandalous sacrament of eating his flesh—we often forget how many "hard sayings" he taught!
When the first Christian apologists began to give a reason for their faith to unbelievers, this doctrine of Christ's divinity naturally came under attack, for it was almost as incredible to Gentiles as it was scandalous to Jews. That a man who was born out of a woman's womb and died on a cross, a man who got tired and hungry and angry and agitated and wept at his friend's tomb, that this man who got dirt under his fingernails should be God was, quite simply, the most astonishing, incredible, crazy-sounding idea that had ever entered the mind of man in all human history.
The argument the early apologists used to defend this apparently indefensible doctrine has become a classic one. C.S. Lewis used it often, e.g. in Mere Christianity, the book that convinced Chuck Colson (and thousands of others). I once spent half a book (Between Heaven and Hell) on this one argument alone. It is the most important argument in Christian apologetics, for once an unbeliever accepts the conclusion of this argument (that Christ is divine), everything else in the Faith follows, not only intellectually (Christ's teachings must all then be true) but also personally (if Christ is God, He is also your total Lord and Savior).
The argument, like all effective arguments, is extremely simple: Christ was either God or a bad man.
Unbelievers almost always say he was a good man, not a bad man; that he was a great moral teacher, a sage, a philosopher, a moralist, and a prophet—not a criminal, not a man who deserved to be crucified. But a good man is the one thing he could not possibly have been according to simple common sense and logic, for he claimed to be God. He said, "Before Abraham was, I Am", thus speaking the word no Jew dares to speak because it is God's own private name, spoken by God himself to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). Jesus wanted everyone to believe that he was God. He wanted people to worship him. He claimed to forgive everyone's sins against everyone. (Who can do that but God, the One offended in every sin?)