Thursday, September 6, 2007


I recently posted this article to my other blog. Professionally, I am a director of manufacturing and CIP (continuous improvement process) for my company. I do a lot of work in the field of "lean manufacturing" and "six sigma." These methodologies help us solve business problems, etc. Anyhow, here is the article.

This past Sunday the readings for Roman Catholics around the world centered on the theme of humilty.

The pastor of my parish gave an excellent homily on the topic and I wanted to share some of my own thoughts as it relates to the those of us working to make things better for our companies or clients.

Let's start with some words from the Good Book itself.

My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God. What is too sublime for you, seek not, into things beyond your strength search not (Sirach 3:17-18,20).

The last sentence initially caused me difficulty since seeking solutions to problems no one has been able to solve (i.e. what lean and six sigma is all about) seems to fly in the face of the recommendation by the Old Testament writer. But after some thought I think what is really being discussed is how we, as leaders of change, should humble ourselves enough to realize that we need others to help us solve problems.

I am guilty as anyone when it comes to the idea that I can do this better than anyone so why not just do it myself. But the thing I am missing is that while this attitude may get us by in the short term I am not building a long term culture of improvement.

On a deeper, more spiritual level, this reading means that we cannot go at life alone. We need the support and assistance of a higher power. For Christians this higher power is the triune God.


Humility does not mean, as some seem to think, we should feel unworthy or weak. Instead, what it really means is that when we run a kaizen event or complete a black belt project we can, and should, celebrate our success. But this celebraton must be tempered in such a way as to say we can still do better. Interestingly enough, temperance is one of the four cardinal virtues.

Isn't it interesting how we sometimes think the philosophies of lean and six sigma are less than 100 years old... when in fact people figured this stuff out thousands of years ago. They even wrote it down in a book! How cool is that?

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Praying the Rosary - SJCK Style

I am a member of the St. Joseph's Covenant Keepers of Tarrant County. We meet every Saturday morning from 7:00 AM to 8:30 AM.

Prior to the meeting we also meet to say the Rosary in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It's hard to describe how awesome this is... but to help please see this slideshow.

If you are interested in attending a meeting we meet at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Keller, TX. Just email me if you want the details or visit our website.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Open Invitation to Roland S. Martin and Catholic Answers

Today CNN carried a strongly worded anti-Catholic article written by a Mr. Roland S. Martin. Mr. Martin is a former Catholic and now seems to take great joy in bashing the Church Jesus instituted 2000 years ago (Matthew 16:18).

In any event I posted a comment to Mr. Martin on his blog which is currently awaiting moderation. I am not sure it will even make it to his page. In case it doesn't, here is my official statement to him.

Mr. Martin,

I wonder if you would be open to discussing this topic publicly via a podcast or webcast with someone like Jimmy Akin, Tim Staples, or Karl Keating? They work for a Catholic apostolate called Catholic Answers.

I am sure they would be happy to discuss this topic with you in a civil manner. Please email me if you are interested. If you are interested I will reach out to the guys at Catholic Answers to see if they are also interested. I can almost guarantee they would be.

If I don’t hear from you I will assume you are not interested in publicly defending your position.

Finally, in case anyone is interested in reading the actual Vatican document Mr. Martin is referencing you can
find it here.

Peace in Christ,
Ron Pereira
CatholicReply dot com

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Who Needs Confession - Part 3

Gosh, I guess am a little slow at updating this blog. Well slow is better than never I guess.

Let's wrap this series up on confession. If you missed part 1 and part 2 please read them first.

Rather than getting all technical and sounding like a walking Catechism I wanted to keep this post as down to earth as possible tonight.

Confession is one of the greatest gifts our Lord left us. And sadly it is the one sacrament most people miss out on. I don't want to generalize or judge but I sometimes wonder if everyone walking up to communion is in the state of grace. I pray they are as receiving our Lord in the Eucharist in an unworthy manner is serious sin.

But what do we do if we fall from grace and commit mortal sin? The answer is easy. Tell God you are sorry and mean it. Don't wait until Wednesday night at 7:00 PM since that is when confessions are heard. Say it now. In fact, if you are in the state of sin as you read this please stop and close your eyes and tell God you are sorry and ask our Lady to pray for you.

Once this is out of the way you need to stop receiving communion until you reconcile yourself with the church via confession. I am here to tell you on this blog that I sin about as much as anyone and there are many times when I walk up to communion and place my finger over my mouth in order to receive a blessing.

Funny story along these lines. There was one Sunday when I was carrying my now 4 year old daughter Kileigh up to communion. When I reached the Priest I placed my finger in front of my mouth as I needed to go to confession first. After church, when we were walking to the car Kileigh asked me, "Daddy, why didn't you take the chip?" I laughed so hard I almost cried. I simply replied, "Because, baby, I need to tell Jesus I am sorry first."

So here is the deal about going to confession. If you haven't been for a long time (even 40+ years) fear not. When I came into the church I had 30 years of sin to confess! No matter how long it has been you simply need to follow a few steps to prepare.

  1. Do a thorough examination of conscious. The easiest way to do this is to think of how you may have broken any of the ten commandments.
  2. You also need to actually be sorry (have contrition) for sinning against God. If you are not sorry and simply say the words to the Priest, who sits in the person of Christ (in persona Christi), this is not a valid confession.
  3. Find out when confessions are heard or schedule a private confession.
  4. Confess your sins to the Priest.
  5. Receive absolution and any instructions from the Priest.
  6. Do pennance as prescribed by the Priest.
  7. Fight sin with all your might and pray to our Lady and St. Michael to help protect you.

Now, number 4 (confess your sins) is the tough one for many. For me, I must admit I love confession and get this amazing feeling of anxiousness before going in. But for some the minutes leading up to confession can be scary.

All you have to do when you go in to see the Priest is kneel behind the screen or in most cases you can sit face to face. I like the screen.

Then the Priest will usually start off by saying, "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Sometimes they don't.. in which case you just get on with it!

Now it's your turn.

You should start by saying, "Bless me Father for I have sinned. It's been (insert time) since my last confession."

Normally the Priest will sit silent at this point. Then you simply tell the Priest the sins you committed and in some cases how many times you committed them. If you are not sure where to start just say, "Father, it's been awhile and I am not sure where to start." Trust me they know how to help you through this.

Don't be ashamed or leave anything out. For one, it can make the confession invalid if you purposely leave sins out. For another, God already knows your sins... He just wants to hear you say your sorry to the Priest, who again sits in the person of Christ. So don't leave anything out!

Finally, I usually end my confessions with this saying. "I am sorry for these sins Father, and for any sins I may be forgetting."

Now at this point the Priest may talk to you about some things. They may not. They will then give you absolution from your sins and state your pennance. I have had all kinds of pennances... everything from take your kids to McDonald's for a special treat to saying a certain amount of Hail Mary's. Whatever the pennance is do it with a cheerful heart!

It comes down to this. Either the church is dead wrong about confession or completely right. There is no in between.

If you bet for the church and go to confession on a regular basis what harm can come of it? Even if the church is wrong about confession there can be no harm in confessing our sins.

On the other hand, what if you bet against the church and don't go to confession and the church is right. This will result in infinite loss (hell).

It's time to place your wager. Where will you lay your chips? My bet is on the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Who Needs Confession - Part 2

Tonight I will discuss part 2 of the confession series. Please read part 1 here if you haven’t already.

There are 3 things we need to understand about confession:

1) The ability to forgive sins was in fact given to men by Christ
2) Initially, Christ gave this ability to a handful of men
3) That authority is passed on to more people

Let’s start with the words of St. John to demonstrate that the ability to forgive sins was in fact given to men by Christ.

First though, let’s set the stage a bit. Jesus had been crucified and his apostles were scared stiff. Mary Magdalene learns that Jesus was not in the tomb and thus did what any good Catholic should in cases such as this – she went and told the Pope! I am not kidding; she went and told St. Peter. So our first pope and his pal St. John go to the tomb and see that it is empty… and the scripture says, “For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”

OK, now that the scene is set let’s go to the Gospel of John and read what happens next.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (Jesus) said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained" (John 20:19-23).

The first thing Jesus says to them is peace. More specifically he uses the Hebrew word shalom, which is the deepest peace God can give someone. Jesus also clearly gives the authority to forgive sins to his disciples as we read in the last verse.

Some non Catholic bibles will actually place a footnote for these verses which say something to the extent of, “Obviously Jesus is not permitting the apostles to forgive sins since only God can forgive sins – see Mark 2:7.” If you have a non Catholic bible open up to these verses and check.

Let’s read Mark 2:7 to see if argument holds any validity. It reads, "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?"

Wow! They may be onto something… it clearly says only God can forgive sins. However, if you read Mark 2:7 carefully you will learn that the person that makes this comment is a Pharisee! In fact this Pharisee rebukes Jesus here in this verse. The absolute worst way one of our non Catholic brothers and sisters could begin their debate is to start quoting a Pharisee who rebuked the God man himself!

Now let’s examine the second point, that Christ only gave this authority to a handful of men. Let’s visit the Gospel of Matthew to help us understand this point.

In the 10th Chapter of Matthew we read, “Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness (Matthew 10:1).” So here we see how Christ gave his disciples authority over unclean spirits.

Next, let’s look at how our Lord gave St. Peter powers to bind and loose sins which is another way of saying to forgive (loose) or not forgive (bind).

“I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:18).

A few chapters later we nearly read the identical words. Only this time our Lord is giving this power to bind and loose to the other disciples. Note though how he gave this power AND the keys (Papacy) to Peter first.

“Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18).

The book of Matthew is all about authority. Again and again we see our Lord building His church. He is also setting up how He expects His church to be run once He is no longer on earth.

Now, let’s discuss the third point - that this authority to forgive sins is actually passed on to others by the apostles, even to this present day.

After Judas killed himself the disciples needed to replace him. And we read, “Then they prayed, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place" (Act 1:24, 25).

Then again in Acts we read, “They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them” (Acts 6:6).

More examples of this apostolic succession can be found in the following verses.

  • Acts 13:3
  • Acts 14:23
  • 1 Tim 4:14
  • 2 Tim 1:1

We see these examples of laying on of hands all over scripture. And the amazing thing about our Catholic Bishops, Priests, and Deacons is the fact that their apostolic succession can be traced all the way to the apostles. This also means it can also be traced all the way to Jesus himself. How cool is that!

In the third and final part of this series we will examine the specifics of this awesome sacrament. If you have not been to confession lately and are perhaps nervous or scared I hope to reduce your anxiety helping you get back to the confessional!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Power to Choose

The recent tragedy in Virginia has rocked the nation. My prayers are with victims, including the killer, as well as all involved. It is hard to fathom such a tragedy and I cannot attempt to truly understand it.

But after talking to my wife and in laws about it over coffee I wonder if we, as a nation, should really be so shocked.

Upon checking the Priests for Life website I saw the following statistic: Approximate number of babies killed by surgical abortion in the USA since January 22, 1973: 47,644,084.

That is almost 48 million babies killed in cold blood!

The left of this country, and sadly some on the right, think it is OK to choose to murder an innocent baby. Yet when some insane person chooses to shoot 32 people and himself all we talk about is how aweful it is. Aweful indeed, but so is the cold blooded murder of 48 million sweet babies. What, pray tell, is the real difference? I'll tell you the difference... the Va Tech killer may be able to blame his murder on a mental disorder. What do we as a nation have to fall back on? A women's right to choose murder? Give me a break. Wake up Rosie O'Donnell, Hillary Clinton, and even you Mr. Giuliani.

I pray God has mercy on us all.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fr. McBrien Speaks - Uh oh

If you have never heard of Fr. McBrien from Notre Dame you haven't missed much. He is the priest most talk shows bring out when they want a really nice "leftish" view of the church. How he has managed to maintain his collar is beyond me.

As my previous post explain the Vatican has spoken on limbo. If you haven't read it yet please do before reading the rest of this post.

Well shortly after reading the "real" release I came across a plethara of other news releases. Nearly everyone of them had the following quote from Mr. Heresy himself.

"If there's no limbo and we're not going to revert to St. Augustine's teaching that unbaptized infants go to hell, we're left with only one option, namely, that everyone is born in the state of grace," said the Rev. Richard McBrien, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.

I know is must be a sin to call a priest "slow" but I can't help it. This guy just doesn't have a clue and my kids will never attend Notre Dame so long as he roams the campus.

Here is the "typical" news release about the Vatican's finding. Be sure to read the real release though as shown in my previous post.

Vatican speaks on Limbo

Breaking News

Who Needs Confession - Part 1

The sacrament of Reconciliation is an amazing gift from our Lord. Sadly, many Catholics and non Catholics are confused as to why we tell our sins to another human. I mean can’t we just go straight to God?

I will break this series up into 3 parts. Here is how I will approach things.

  1. First I am going to talk about sin. Specifically, I want to discuss the differences between mortal sin and venial sin.

  2. Secondly, I am going to cover the reason we Catholics go to confession. Scott Hahn once said that when he is asked why Catholic’s go to confession he explains, “Because the instruction manual God left me tells me too!”

  3. Finally, I am going to discuss the rubrics of the sacrament. What do you need to do before going to confession, during confession, and after confession?


To understand sin we need to head straight to the Bible. Specifically, let’s start with the words of the beloved Disciple himself.

If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly (1 John 5:16, 17).

St. John is telling us that not all sin is created equal. There is such a thing as “deadly” or what we refer to as “mortal” sin. Patrick Madrid wrote in his book, “Where is that in the Bible” that mortal sins, by their very nature, literally kill the soul by purposefully eradicating sanctifying grace. In other words, mortal sin kills grace. Grace has been taken away.

OK, so let’s talk in a little more detail about the difference between a venial sin and mortal sin.

For a sin to mortal (deadly) three conditions must be met.

  1. The sin must be “grave matter” meaning serious. God’s top ten (10 commandments) are great for helping discern whether sin is grave.

  2. The sin must be made with full knowledge. In other words we know something is sinful and do it anyway.

  3. The sin must be committed with deliberate consent. This means I was not forced to commit this sin against my free will.

Paragraphs 1857-1859 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church offer more insight if you want to read more.

I have actually seen lists of sins… in this column are the venial sins and in this column are the mortal sins. And those lists are all fine and dandy. The thing is, besides God, only you know your heart. So my recommendation is to simply do a thorough examination of your conscious and bring all your sins – venial and mortal to the confessional.

Venial sins do not need to be confessed but I personally confess them anyhow. I heard a very troubling story once explaining how venial sin can lead to deadly sin. It went something like this.
A hunter was trying to catch a wild animal so he took some bloody water and froze it. Embedded in the frozen ice were razor blades. Once the wild animal tasted the bloody water it couldn’t stop licking even though it would soon mean its death. So it licked and licked and eventually fell over to its death. The hunter succeeded.

This is what venial sin can become. First it starts with a young boy looking at his Dad's swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated. Then the young man graduates to another magazine that is even more provocative. Eventually the young man is addicted to Internet pornography which ruins his marriage and if left alone will likely send him to hell.

So confess all sins, venial and mortal, and fight them with all your might. But realize you cannot defeat Satan alone. You need the grace dispensed from confession and all the sacraments in order to defeat the dark one.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Letter to my Son's Guardian Angel

My daughter had her first soccer practice today. After some crying and sitting to the side she finally got into the swing of things and I think we may have the next Mia Hamm in the making.

After soccer we treated the kids to McDonalds.

During the drive home we noticed the sky growing dark. A few moments later we were in the midst of a massive, with a capital m, rainstorm. I mean it was coming down sideways.

We pull into the driveway and I open the garage door hoping to be able to pull the minivan in thus avoiding the rain. No luck since some knuckle head (me) left the riding lawn mower in the middle of the garage along with a bunch of other junk.

So my wife and I decide to make a run for it. We climbed through the back of the minivan and unbuckled the kids. My wife took the two girls and they had a blast running through the rain. I mean they were laughing it up big time!

I had baby duty and finally managed to get my 8 month old son out of his car seat. Here is where my son's Guardian Angel got busy.

I opened the door of the minivan and sprinted for the garage. Unlike my two girls, my son didn't enjoy the rain and began to cry (he never cries). This made me run faster.

The minute I stepped foot inside the garage, 8 month old baby in my arms, my feet went out from under me due to the slippery surface. Normally this would be something you would see on America's Funniest Video. But it is not so funny when your 8 month old son goes flying through the air landing face first on some shovels and inches away from the safety sensor for the garage door.

My wife sprinted for my son who lay motionless facedown. A second later he begins to cry. I am still on my back in serious pain. I finally get to my knees and look over to my wife and son expecting the worst. Guess what was wrong with my boy?

Nothing. There was not a single scratch or bruise on him. He literally flew several feet through the air landing on shovels and nothing was wrong with him.

I don't care if you are Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, or Aetheist. You need to believe Guardian Angels exist because they do. One particular Angel worked overtime tonight in Keller, Texas. And I thank them, and Our Lord and Lady, from the bottom of my heart for keeping my son safe when his Daddy couldn't.

Photo Credit: 1

Monday, April 16, 2007

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Explaining Purgatory


Purgatory is one of the most difficult Dogmas for many Catholics and non-Catholics to understand. This tract will attempt to explain what Purgatory is and more importantly explain what Purgatory is not. It will also provide Biblical evidence for Purgatory. Finally, a few "simplistic" analogies will be presented in an effort to explain how we as humans might better understand one of these "Last Things."

Disposing of the Myth

First of all, it must be stated that Purgatory is a GOOD place. While no one knows exactly what will happen there, we do know that if we end up in Purgatory we should be extremely happy since we are most definitely headed for heaven. No one in Purgatory is sent to hell.

What is Purgatory?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines Purgatory as follows:

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire: As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come (St. Gregory the Great, Dial. 4,39:PL 77,396; cf. Mt 12:31).

Two of the key words in the above definition are purification and elect. In Purgatory the elect are purified and made completely clean. Scripture tells us... that nothing unclean shall enter the presence of God in heaven (Rev. 21:27). To put this into simpler terms, we need to be cleaned up and in our "Sunday Best" before we meet God face to face.

Some might argue that the "unclean" St. John was speaking about in Revelation is the sinful man or woman. This is false and has never been the teaching of the Church. Now it is a very true statement that mankind owes a debt we can't pay; and Jesus paid a debt He didn't owe. Purgatory is NOT a place that we pay a debt for sin. The sin has been laid at the Cross of Calvary.

Purgatory is where we work out the "consequences" of our sin that have not been paid during our lifetime. St. Paul speaks of this in his first letter to the Corinthians, "If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (1 Cor. 3:15). Similarly, our Lord refers to the sinner who "will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come" (Matt. 12:32), suggesting that one can be freed after death of the consequences of one's sins.

Purgatory Analogies

There are a few analogies that are often used to explain what Purgatory is. The first involves a young 12-year-old boy named Bobby. Bobby is a vibrant young man who sometimes has a bit too much vinegar in his blood. One day, Bobby was playing baseball at Grandma's house and after striking out threw his baseball through Gram's kitchen window in anger. A split second later, Bobby realizes what he has done is wrong and is completely devastated and extremely sorry. Bobby then asks his Grandma for forgiveness. This request for forgiveness is similar to what you or I might make to God or our Priest during the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession)... but back to the story. So, here is poor Bobby and Grandma. While Grandma is upset, she loves Bobby with all her heart and can tell he is truly sorry (Bobby is truly contrite) for what he has done. So, Grandma forgives Bobby. The weight that was on Bobby's shoulders has been lifted as he hugs Grandma and says he is sorry for the 100th time. All is good, right? Bobby is forgiven; and Grandma knows her grandson is a good kid who, like all kids, makes mistakes. Well, all is good except for the fact that the broken window still needs to be repaired! This broken window is the "consequence" of Bobby's actions. It is these "consequences" that must be made clean before we enter heaven.

When we sin, consequences are created. God forgives the sin, if we ask Him to with a contrite heart, but He does not clean up the consequences. We need to take care of those ourselves, and if we are not completely successful in cleaning them up before our death, Purgatory will take care of the rest. Of course, the assumption here is that the person did not die in the state of mortal sin. Because, if they do die in the state of mortal sin, Purgatory is not the place they will end up in. Unfortunately, eternal separation from God is where this person more than likely will end up in. This place is Hell.

Another analogy is much better demonstrated in person. However, an attempt will be done here also. Picture a man holding a small piece of wood. Also, picture a nail and a hammer. Now, picture the man pounding the nail into the wood. This pounding action is what happens when we sin. Now, picture the man pulling the nail from the wood. This is what happens when God forgives us of our sins. The only thing different is the fact that there is a hole in the wood. This hole is the consequence of the sin. This consequence must be made clean before we enter heaven.

Not in Scripture

Some "fundamentalists" argue that nowhere in the Bible does the word "Purgatory" exist. This is a very true statement. However, nowhere in the Bible can one find the word "Trinity" either. Does this mean we throw out the idea that we have a Triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Of course it doesn't. While the word Trinity is not explicitly stated in Scripture, the idea of "Trinity" is most definitely implicitly stated throughout Scripture. The same thing goes for Purgatory.


In summary, Purgatory is a good place to end up in as it means we are headed for eternal salvation with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our Blessed Mother Mary, and all the Angels and Saints in heaven. Purgatory is a place where the consequences of our forgiven sins are cleaned up. As nothing unclean shall enter heaven (Rev. 21:27), we need to be completely clean.

One final analogy is this. Imagine you are going to meet the President of the United States. Wouldn't you want to be in your best suit or outfit? Wouldn't you make sure everything about your appearance, attitude, and entire being were as perfect as could be? I know I would. With all due respect to our President, how much more significant is the Lord of Lord's, King of King's, the Great I AM? Therefore, I know I for one want to be perfect before meeting Jesus face to face.

Photo Credit: 1

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Full of Mercy!

Today’s Gospel is some of my favorite scripture. I especially love the following two verses:

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (John 20, 22-23).

It is at this very moment our Lord instituted the sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). If you were not sure why it is we Catholics confess our sins to a Priest, who actually sits “in the person of Christ,” this verse goes a long way to explain things.

I will blog more extensively on confession in the future… but for now let us just meditate on these awesome words from our Lord.

Photo Credit: 1

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Our Blessed Mother - Part 2

Last night, in part 1 of this series on Mary we discussed typology. Additionally, we discussed why it is we as Catholics refer to Mary as Theotokas, or the Mother of God. Today we will complete this series with a discussion of Our Lady’s sinless nature.

Mary is Sinless

As St. Luke’s gospel explains, the Angel Gabriel came to Mary and said, "Hail, Full of Grace." In Greek, this is translated as "Chaire, kecharitomene" (KIY-RAY, KAY-Car-E-TOE-Ma-NAY). Now that is a mouthful, eh? Say it 5 times really fast if you don’t believe me.

Chaire is best translated as "Rejoice" or as the notable apologist Tim Staples explains it to younger folks; it might be translated in today's language as "Whoaaa" or "Awesome." This is very important as it shows how this powerful Angel, who does battle with Satan himself, approaches this little 15-year-old girl and says, "Whoaaa." In other places throughout scripture when men meet Angels they usually fall to the ground in veneration since they are in the presence of such Holiness. St. John does this "nose dive" a few times to this same Angel, Gabriel, in the book of Revelation.

Kecharitomene is a perfect passive participle of the verb charitoo, which when translated means, “one who has been perfected in grace.” This means there has been a past action that has resulted in a present perfect state. The Blessed Virgin Mary was in this perfect state of sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence, demonstrating her sinlessness.

You and I are struggling to become perfected in grace. Sin is the absence, rejection, or lack of grace, and since Mary had already obtained this level of perfection, she began and continued her life sinless. Some non Catholics argue that since the Bible states in Romans 3:23 “all have sinned,” this includes Our Blessed Mother. But we know this “all” is not actually “all” since Jesus Christ didn’t sin, nor do infants or the severely mentally challenged. A non Catholic may claim that Jesus didn’t sin because He is God. To that, the Catholic should respond, “Amen, and Mary is the Mother of God – which is why she did not sin either.” A text taken out of context is pretext, and this is precisely what non Catholics attempt to do with this “all have sinned” verse.

An important note is that even though Mary was sinless, she still needed a Savior as she clearly stated in the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).

Mary – Immaculately Conceived

To understand how Mary was perfected in grace due to a past action, Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant, must be discussed.

God instructed Moses to build the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was to be constructed in an exact manner. Everything from the type of wood (acasia) to the pristine gold covering was explained to him. To put it into today’s context, God gave Moses the Bill of Materials as well as the architectural instructions.

Once the Ark of the Covenant was constructed, three things were placed inside it: 1) the tablets of the Decalogue, 2) a gomor of manna, and 3) the rod of Aron. In summary, the Ark of the Covenant contained some serious things! Subsequently, sinful men (or women) could not touch the Ark. If they did, they were killed. This was demonstrated when Uzzah, the son of Abinadab, was killed for touching the Ark after the oxen carrying it slipped causing the Ark to nearly fall to the ground. Uzzah was simply trying to steady the Ark so it wouldn’t fall. Unfortunately, there were two primary issues this particular day. The first was the Ark of the Covenant was to be carried in a certain way (using a pole which was to be placed through two circular rings); and second, sinful men were not to touch the Ark of the Covenant at any time – no exceptions. This demonstrates how Holy and sacred the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant was.

The Old Testament Ark of the Covenant was a type of the New Testament Ark of the Covenant – Our Blessed Mother Mary. The Old Testament Ark carried three types of Jesus Christ, while the Blessed Virgin carried in her womb the Word made Flesh – Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Word. Jesus Christ is God.

In St. Luke’s Gospel, the image of Mary being the New Ark of the Covenant becomes crystal clear. The Angel Gabriel proclaims to Mary, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow (Greek: EPISKIADZO) you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Similarly, in Exodus 40:34 and 35 it reads, “Then the cloud covered (Greek: EPISKIADZO) the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”

Further, the parallels showing Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant continue when St. Luke’s Gospel is compared to the Old Testament Book of 2 Samuel.

2 Samuel 6:2 - Then David and all the people who were with him set out for Baala of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which bears the name of the LORD of hosts enthroned above the cherubim.
Luke 1:39 - In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

2 Samuel 6:9 - And David was afraid of the LORD that day; and said, "How can the ark of the LORD come to me?"
Luke 1:43 - And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

2 Samuel 6:11 - And the ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months; and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and his whole house.
Luke 1:56 - And Mary remained with her (Elizabeth) about three months, and then returned to her home.

2 Samuel 6:16 - As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Saul's daughter Michal looked down through the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD.
Luke 1:41 - And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe (John the Baptist) leaped in her womb

The parallels and similarities of the above passages are clear and to claim they do not foreshadow Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant is both unbiblical and naive.

To conclude, Moses was given explicit instructions of how to build the Ark. It was also explained that sinful men were not to touch the Ark. It had to be so meticulously made because it was to carry a TYPE of Jesus. Since Our Blessed Mother carried Jesus Christ in her womb, God prepares her meticulously in St. Ann’s womb. If we are to say that Mary was born with original sin, then we must conclude she is inferior to her Old Testament type which is simply not tenable - if you understand typology.

In addition to the Ark of the Covenant explanation, there is yet another topic that should be addressed as it relates to Mary’s Immaculate Conception.

In John 2:4, we see Mary explaining to Jesus that the wine was failing at the wedding feast of Cana. Jesus replied to His Mother, “What to me, and to you, woman?” Or as the current translations state, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come." Some claim that Jesus is demeaning His Mother here since he calls her “woman.” However, the Greek word for woman used by Jesus here was gunê (goo-nay). Jesus followed the commandments; therefore, he would never put his Mother down in public since in those days that type of treatment was punishable by death. Interestingly enough, Jesus also refers to Mary as gunê (woman) as he is dieing on the cross and hands her over to St. John. No, Jesus is not putting his Mother down here. Quite the contrary, Jesus is actually exalting her as he names her the New Eve. In Genesis 3:15, after the fall of Adam and Eve, God promises a Messiah will be born when he states, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman (gunê), and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The gunê (woman) is Mary. After understanding the whole picture, it becomes clear that Jesus intended to name His Mother the New Eve. This was known and explained by many of the early Church Fathers. St. Irenaeus, for example, refers to Mary as the New Eve in 180 AD.

By identifying Mary as the New Eve, we can now offer even more evidence to her Immaculate Conception. This is possible since we know that both Adam and Eve were immaculately conceived. They were perfect. It wasn’t until Eve chose death over life, by giving into Satan’s temptation, that this perfection was corrupted. If Eve was immaculately conceived, and all New Testament types are immeasurably superior to their Old Testament type, it is obvious that Mary had to have been Immaculately Conceived.

If you enjoyed this series on Mary I kindly request, as I am just starting this blog, you forward this link to as many friends and loved one as possible. I deeply appreciate it.

God bless you!

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Our Blessed Mother - Part 1

Tonight I will start a 2-part series about our Most Blessed Mother, Mary. In this series we will discuss:

  • Typology, the study of types
  • Why we call Mary Theotokos (Mother of God)
  • Mary’s Immaculate Conception and Sinless Nature


Typology, the study of types, must be understood in order to fully understand scripture. St. Augustine said that the New Testament lies hidden in the Old Testament, while the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament. In other words, it is possible for the reader to find Christ in the Old Testament; however, without an understanding of the Old Testament it is difficult to have a complete understanding of the New Testament.

An example of typology is the way Jesus is often referred to as the Second Adam. Additionally, the Old Testament sacraments of the manna and circumcision are types of the New Testament sacraments of the Eucharist and Baptism. Arguably the most obvious use of typology is when Abraham is told to sacrifice his “only son,” which is an obvious prefigurment of the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

An important rule of typology is that all New Testament types are superior to their Old Testament type. For example, Jesus Christ is obviously superior to Adam, just as the Eucharist is superior to the manna.

Mother of God

The most important title Our Blessed Mother has is Theotokos, which means “Mother of God.” After Mary conceives Jesus in her womb she travels to her cousin’s, Elizabeth, home. Upon arriving, Elizabeth says, “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:43 emphasis added). The “Lord” Elizabeth is speaking of is Jesus Christ, who is God. Thus, Mary is the Mother of God.

Some will say that because our God is Triune, claiming Mary is the Mother of God is to say she is the Mother of the Trinity. This (claiming Mary is the Mother of Trinity) is heresy, and the Catholic Church has never claimed Mary to be the Mother of the Trinity. Instead, the Church has always taught that Mary is the Mother of the second person of the Trinity Incarnate - Jesus Christ, who is God. Therefore, again we conclude Mary is the Mother of God.

A final, and extremely heretical argument, that some bring forward is that Mary is the Mother of the man Jesus Christ, but not Mother of the divine Jesus Christ. This heresy is known as Nestorianism, which attempts to say that Jesus Christ is actually two different people, a divine person and a human person. We know that Jesus Christ is one person who had both a divine and human nature. Jesus Christ was not schizophrenic!

Tomorrow we will discuss Mary’s Immaculate Conception and Sinless Nature.

Photo Credit: 1

Monday, April 9, 2007

How I met Tim Staples

The Holy Spirit moves in amazing ways… 4 years ago I learned this first hand via some interesting AM radio activity.

During my time in RCIA I was on a mission to learn as much as I could. I was attending the Monday RCIA meetings which were great… but I needed more. So I read lots of books, listened to CD’s, and scanned the Internet nightly. Sadly there was one big hole… the radio! I spent lots of time in my car and I wanted to listen to Catholic radio.

Well, one Monday evening on my way to RCIA I decided to find a Catholic radio station. With one hand on the wheel and one hand on the scan button I began my search. While I did find many good Protestant radio stations I could not find a Catholic station.

After a short drive, I made it to the church and had to stop my search. That night at RCIA we spoke about justification and the differences between the Catholic belief and non Catholic belief. We spent some time studying many scripture verses that explained the Catholic belief on justification and before I knew it the meeting was over and it was time to continue my Catholic radio station search!

As I was driving home I happened upon a station where I heard the following, “See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” I remembered talking about this verse (James 2:24) and figured that this must be a Catholic station! The signal was not too strong so I actually pulled over to the side of the road to listen. The program was ending and I heard some words that changed my life forever, “… and I am Tim Staples.”

So for the rest of the ride home that night I repeated “Tim Staples” so I wouldn’t forget the name. When I got home I kissed my wife and dashed to my office where I did a quick Google search of Tim Staples. Well needless to say I didn’t get much sleep that night as I began listening to Tim’s conversion story, reading some of his articles, etc. The fire for this awesome Catholic faith of ours was lit before this night. But to be sure, listening to several hours of Tim Staples was like pouring gasoline onto the flame!

The next day I turned my car back on and guess what I heard? Pure static. I figured that the signal must be stronger at night so I waited. No luck. The signal never came in ever again.

I know it was the Holy Spirit introducing Tim to me that night. Luckily today I, along with millions of others in the DFW area, am able to listen to people like Tim Staples and Jimmy Akin all day long on radio 910 AM.

But, I always like to say that Catholic radio actually came to DFW several years ago… if only for a night.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Wecome to Catholic Reply!

As I sit here watching the Easter Vigil Mass in Washington, DC on EWTN I cannot help but remember where I was 4 years ago. I was being confirmed and receiving my first Holy Communion at my amazing parish - St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church - in Keller, TX.

Lots of things have happened since that amazing night. God has blessed me with 2 more children, I have seen major changes (most great) in my professional life, and most importantly my walk with Christ has continued.

Prior to coming into the church my life was quite different. I suppose I was not a horrible person. But I definitely wasn't what one would call a man of God if you know what I mean.

I have been deeply touched by Catholic apologists such as Tim Staples, Dr. Scott Hahn, and Patrick Madrid to name a few. The best Catholic website in the world, Catholic Answers, also deserves my kudos as I have spent many late nights reading and reading and reading.

I also owe so much to my fellow brothers in Christ from the St. Joseph's Covenant Keepers of Tarrant County. Men like Scott (Almir) Cook and Frank Laux have shown me how men of Christ live their lives. I owe so much to these guys.

In any event, Easter bunny duty calls so I will say farewell for now. Please drop me a line and say hello if you happen to come about my little blog.

Friday, April 6, 2007

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