KNOWLEDGE OF GOD

KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
Reflections on the Word of God

There is no substitute for a thorough knowledge of God. Proverbs 19:2 says: “Without knowledge, even zeal is not good.” Since love is a God-graced decision based on God-graced knowledge, then, knowledge of God and knowledge of His will for us are to be considered fuel for our spirituality; for any personal relationship with Jesus. Because we are here to love God, and since one cannot love what one does not know, it follows that the more we come to know God, who is the Ultimate Good, the more will our love for Him increase. So, knowledge of God is a primary quest for us Christians, and is food for our spirituality.

Now, among the important things Peter has said, two complementary things stand out concerning Scripture:

2 Peter 3: 15 And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, 16 speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.

2 Peter 1: 20 Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, 21 for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.

So, Peter said ‘No’ to Personal Interpretation (which is a Protestant doctrine contrary to Scripture). The mention of ‘prophecy’ in the above quote does not help those who try to defend Personal Interpretation, because all Scripture is ‘prophecy,’ relying on its definition, as adapted from the Catholic Encyclopedia: Understood in its strict sense, prophesy means the foreknowledge of future events. It may also apply to past events of which there is no memory, and to present hidden things which cannot be known by the natural light of reason. As an example, St. Paul, speaking of prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14, does not confine its meaning to predictions of future events, but includes under it Divine inspirations concerning what is secret, whether future or not.

So, Scripture in many instances cannot be explained correctly by the reader himself. True, that the Holy Spirit that is in us is our Teacher, but, who says that we are trained to differentiate between the three main prompts that are in us, the prompts of the Holy Spirit who has been given us as a first installment (Romans 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14; CCC 851); the prompts of the flesh, our selfish fleshly desires (Matthew 26:41); and, the prompts of the Devil (John 13:2; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9)?

Not being trained to differentiate between these three main prompts that are in us, we are like a ship without a rudder. Actually, living the Christian life is learning to discern the inner voice of the Holy Spirit and learning to abide by His commands. For that, we need knowledge, and, we have no recourse but to go to “the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). There, stored within her, is all the Truth and all the Revelations of God. For, the Sacred Oral Word within her was before the Bible and the Bible was extracted from the Sacred Oral Word. The Sacred Oral Word ruled the Church throughout the first five centuries of her history. The Sacred Oral Word, nowadays, is called Sacred Tradition or Oral Tradition or just Tradition, with a Capital ‘T’ (2 Thessalonians 2:15; and, CCC 78, 79, and, 126).

The following paragraphs point out some difficult passages that cannot be explained correctly through one, two, or more readings. Even 10 readings are not sufficient to connect these passages with other passages and their footnotes to give ingredients that the Holy Spirit may use to give us understanding. This is why Peter and Paul, each hammered on us the words: ‘Knowledge of God’ and ‘Knowledge of His will for us.’ Actually, there are more than 30 Bible verses that specifically mention ‘knowledge of God,’ ‘knowledge of His will,’ or ‘knowledge of the truth’ (Romans 11:33, 12:2, 15:14; 1 Corinthians 1:5, 15:34; 2 Corinthians 2:14, 4:6, 8:7, 10:5; 11:6; Ephesians 1:17, 4:13, 5:17; Philippians 1:9; Colossians 1:9, 10, 2:2; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Timothy 2:25, 3:7; Hebrews 10:26; 2 Peter 1:2, 3, 5, 8, 2:20, 3:18; 1 John 2:3-6+12-17+20+their Footnotes). Best of all is Paul’s: “For some have no knowledge of God; I say this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:34). Also, Ephesians 5:17: “Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord.”

Reading the Scriptures from Catholic Bibles and referring to the footnotes and the cross references will definitely help the building blocks of knowledge and prepare and train the reader to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit and to be receptive to His guidance. So will the reading of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, especially through the use of its semi-interactive subject index. Just Google: catechism index and select the Vatican index and the St. Charles Borromeo Church index. Each has its own specific application. Thumbnail them among your ‘Favorites.’

In this endeavor of getting to know God better, here below are some explications of a few difficult Bible passages based on the wordings and the Footnotes of the New American Bible:

Difficult Passage No. 1
It is appropriate to start difficult passages with this one, as the concept is basic and can be utilized hereafter:

Matthew 13: 12 To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

And you thought that this passage was about money and business! Well, think again! Now, read the footnote:

Footnote: In the New Testament use of this axiom of practical “wisdom” (see Matthew 25:29; Mark 4:25; Luke 8:18); the reference transcends the original level [money, possessions – YT]. God gives further understanding to one who accepts the revealed mystery; from the one who does not, he will take it away (note the “theological passive,” more will be given, what he has will be taken away).

Therefore, in our quest to know God more (so we can love Him more, because love is a God-graced decision based on God-graced knowledge), if we accept His revealed truths, more truths will be revealed, because Jesus promised to reveal Himself to those who love Him:

John 14: 21 Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.

In one way, you got this one wrong, didn’t you? See what you miss when you try to interpret Scripture without the Church!

Difficult Passage No. 2
Matthew 18: 1 At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a child over, placed it in their midst, 3 and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

You have read this before and you thought that the presumed innocence of children is the passport to eternal life. Well, think again! And now, read the footnote:

Footnote: Become like children: the child is held up as a model for the disciples not because of any supposed innocence of children but because of their complete dependence on, and trust in, their parents. So must the disciples be, in respect to God

You got this one wrong too, didn’t you? See what you miss when you try to interpret Scripture without the Church!

Difficult Passage No. 3
John 5: 25 Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

John 5: 28 Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.

While reading this before, you dismissed the matter as being repetition by Jesus, did you not? Well, think again!
And now, read the footnote:

Footnote: While John 5:19-27 present realized eschatology, John 5:28-29 are future eschatology; cf Daniel 12:2
(Eschatology is that branch of systematic theology which deals with the doctrines of the last things – Catholic Encyclopedia).

So, it is not repetition. You got that one wrong as well, didn’t you? See what you miss when you try to interpret Scripture without the Church!

Difficult Passage No. 4
Ephesians 4: 10 The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. 11 And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

You found nothing extraordinary in verse 11, above, have you? Well there is, and it is a big deal: If you count the tasks, you will find them to be five, but, if you take the grammar into account, you will discover that the persons are four. St. Augustine made an exhortation some 1,600 years ago concerning this, explaining that Paul put pastors and teachers together as one entity to indicate that the pastor has a double duty of pastoring and teaching! The words ‘others as’ joins the two together into one person. Check the footnote below:

Footnote: 4 [11] Concerning this list of ministers, cf 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Romans 12:6-8. Evangelists: missionary preachers (cf Acts 21:8; 2 Timothy 4:5), not those who wrote gospels. Pastors and teachers: a single group in the Greek, shepherding congregations.

So, it is not business as usual for that sentence. You got that one wrong as well, didn’t you? See what you miss when you try to interpret Scripture without the Church!

So have millions who have subscribed to Personal Interpretation. NO TO PERSONAL INTERPRETATION!!! And, that makes the Church a necessity, which is not what our Separated Brethren want. They have the Bible Alone, as doctrine, and have no need for the Church, they say. The Bible Alone, as doctrine, is erroneous, and we can prove it. That makes the Church a necessity!

She provides us with Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. And, she provides us with more knowledge of God and knowledge of His will for us through Sacred Tradition (2 Thessalonians 2:15; 1 Timothy 3:15; CCC 77, 78, 83, 126) and Sacred Scripture, i.e., the Deposit of Faith, which has been guarded zealously by the (Catholic) Church through 2,000 years to bring it to us, unadulterated and protected from change, just as Paul described in Galatians 2:4-5. Both, the Church, with the Sacred Real Presence of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, and the Deposit of Faith are necessary to keep us on track. In fact, such knowledge is the fuel for any personal – as well as any communal – relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Let St. Vincent explain it to you, again:

St. Vincent of Lerins (d. after 434 A.D.) “Guard” says St. Paul, “what has been committed”. What does it mean? It is what has been faithfully entrusted to you, not what has been discovered by you; what you have received, not what you have thought up; be not the leader but the follower!

What has been entrusted to Timothy, the bishop, is guarded by the Church, in the Church! The Catholic Church is necessary for salvation. Refer to CCC 837 (http://www.catholicdoors.com/catechis/cat0781.htm#836).

God bless.

LOVE IS A DECISION

LOVE IS A DECISION
Love is a God graced Decision based on God Graced Knowledge

The world would have you believe that love is a feeling. Well, the world would have you believe many things that are not true. Why? Because, we Christians, are not of this world (John 17:14) and the world is in the grip of the evil one, the prince of darkness (John 14:30; and 1 John 5:19). And, the prince of darkness is at war with God, knowing that he has but little time left (Revelation 12:12). He tries to use us as his pawns, only to discard us, after we have done his wish unknowingly (or knowingly, when we are deluded). However, his plans are not unknown to us (2 Corinthians 2:5). Satan will even try to kill us, as soon as possible after having us commit mortal sin in order to guarantee us hell, not unless he can trust us to stay with him to do other evil chores; then, he will postpone his attempt at murder for later; but, sooner or later he will want to do it. However, we are not afraid:

James 4: 7 So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

1 Peter 5: 7 Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you. 8 Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.

Now, we know that love and knowledge go together; for, love is a decision and not a feeling, as the world would want us to believe. Love is accompanied by feelings, but, it is not a feeling. It is a God graced decision based on God graced knowledge. One loves what one knows, not what one does not know. Anyway, both love and knowledge are bestowed on us through the grace of God. Here are some Bible and Church insinuations concerning love and knowledge. Notice how knowledge and love keep coming together, whether in the Bible or in the Catechism:

Philippians 1: 9 And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception

This is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church – CCC (www.vatican.va/archive/index.htm) starts off (the heading and the first and the third paragraphs). Notice how love and knowledge come together also in other paragraphs (the underlined bold fonts are added for accentuation):

I. The life of man – to know and love God
CCC 1 God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.
CCC 3 Those who with God’s help have welcomed Christ’s call and freely responded to it are urged on by love of Christ to proclaim the Good News everywhere in the world. This treasure, received from the apostles, has been faithfully guarded by their successors. All Christ’s faithful are called to hand it on from generation to generation, by professing the faith, by living it in fraternal sharing, and by celebrating it in liturgy and prayer.
CCC 158 “Faith seeks understanding”: it is intrinsic to faith that a believer desires to know better the One in whom he has put his faith, and to understand better what He has revealed; a more penetrating knowledge will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love.
CCC 356 Of all visible creatures only man is “able to know and love his creator”. He is “the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake”, and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity:
CCC 429 From this loving knowledge of Christ springs the desire to proclaim him, to “evangelize”, and to lead others to the “yes” of faith in Jesus Christ.
CCC 477 At the same time the Church has always acknowledged that in the body of Jesus “we see our God made visible and so are caught up in love of the God we cannot see.”
CCC 2614 When Jesus openly entrusts to his disciples the mystery of prayer to the Father, he reveals to them what their prayer and ours must be, once he has returned to the Father in his glorified humanity. What is new is to “ask in his name.” Faith in the Son introduces the disciples into the knowledge of the Father, because Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life.” Faith bears its fruit in love.
CCC 2715 Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. “I look at him and he looks at me”: this is what a certain peasant of Ars in the time of his holy curé used to say while praying before the tabernacle. This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self. His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men. Contemplation also turns its gaze on the mysteries of the life of Christ. Thus it learns the “interior knowledge of our Lord,” the more to love him and follow him.

Notice the sequence in the paragraphs above, (we are here assuming initial reception of faith by God’s grace): Increase in knowledge increases faith, and this in turn increases love. This is most prominent in the last phrase of CCC 158; also, in CCC 2614.

Now, behold. The Catechism even gives us the opposite case:

CCC 1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.

Are we now convinced that we love what we know, not what we do not know? The more we know about someone, the more we are able to love that person, if the qualities we come to know about in him/her are likeable.

THROUGH KNOWLEDGE FROM THE SCRIPTURES, WE KNOW OUR GOD, THE ONE AND ONLY GOD! HE IS OUR:

Awesome God: Luke 1:36-37 Romans 4:17; 1 Corinthians 1:19 + 27-28; Hebrews 11:3; 2 Peter 3:5-7 Revelation 2:23
Who makes the Impossible Possible: Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 1:37 + 18:27; John 15:5; Hebrews 11:6
He is the Searcher of Hearts and Minds: Matthew 6:18; Luke 16:15; Act 1:24-25; Romans 8:27; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 John 3:19-20; Revelation 2:23
The Omnipotent (The Almighty, the only One infinite in power): Romans 1:20; 2 Corinthians 6:18; Revelation 1:8
The Omnipresent (The only One present everywhere at the same time): Acts 17:27; Hebrew 4:13; Revelation 2:23
The Omniscient (The only One with infinite knowledge): Matthew 12:25; 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Timothy 2:7; Revelation 2:23
And the Omnificent (The only One having all powers of creation): John 1:3; Romans 4:17; Hebrews 11:3; 2 Peter 3:5-7

If we get to know all these attributes of God, we would come to realize that there can be no one better than Him. There is no way we can come to love anyone or anything more than Him. God is the All Loving, the All Compassionate, the All Merciful and the All Just and Impartial God that He is. He is our Awesome God; the Searcher of hearts and minds; our Creator; our Sustainer!

Now, because we have come to know that God is the Ultimate Good, we have the potential to love Him above all else, depending on our knowledge of Him. The more we know Him, the more will our love for Him be. And this is what we must do: realize that potential and get to know Him well. Knowing that through the grace of God, love is a decision based on knowledge, the Apostles repeatedly urge us to get to know God and know His will for us:

1 Corinthians 15: 34 Become sober as you ought and stop sinning. For some have no knowledge of God; I say this to your shame.

Ephesians 1: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him.

Colossians 1: 9 Therefore, from the day we heard this, we do not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding

1 Timothy 2: 3 This is good and pleasing to God our savior, 4 who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.

2 Peter 1: …2 may grace and peace be yours in abundance through knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

2 Peter 3: 18 But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory now and to the day of eternity. (Amen.)

So, why are these things being said?! Because, if we think we love God a lot and yet know very little about Him, we are deceiving ourselves. If we want to love God more, we need to get to know Him better.

It was revealed to us that conversion is a daily process (2 Corinthians 4:16; Philippians 1:6+2:13; and 1 Thessalonians 5:24, all together). So, let us give this process a chance, and let us get to know God better. How do we get to know God more and better? We read the Scriptures regularly; we read Church teachings regularly; we pray constantly (CCC 2742-2745); we meditate; we contemplate; we fast; we ask for wisdom (James 1:5). The more we look for God, the more He reveals Himself to us (Luke 10:22; and, John 14:21). Have you not come across Matthew 13:12 “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away?” This is explained in the New American Bible thus: ‘The reference’ here ‘transcends the original level’ [money, possessions]. ‘God gives further understanding to one who accepts the revealed mystery; from the one who does not, he will take it away.’ Therefore, let us get to know all about God, that we may love Him above all things (Luke 14:26).

Therefore, let us get into the habit of daily Scripture reading starting with the New Testament and with the four Gospels. We are to study utilizing a Catholic Bible. We are not against our Separated Brethren, but, they have chosen to remove seven books from the Old Testament of their Bibles (Refer to 5 Myths about 7 Books in Chapter Twelve), and this is not acceptable under any circumstance. Additionally, since there is copyright involved, and a translator needs to choose other words, some of their Bibles have words chosen to reflect their understanding of the meaning of Scripture, which follows Personal Interpretation; which in turn produces errors. Peter warned us of this in 2 Peter 1:20-21.

The New American Bible is a good choice. It is the English Language Bible of the Catholic Church in America. It is what is being read at Mass every day throughout America. It is the Bible on the Vatican website!!

We are to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church regularly, and to read only Catholic books; those with a NIHIL OBSTAT and IMPRIMATOR in the copyright page. Do not read non-Catholic literature as there will always be errors within, and something crucial is always missing in them. We are people of the Whole Truth. So, do not settle for anything less. Besides, with Personal Interpretation, error is bound to find its way in (2 Peter 1:20-21; and, 3:15-18). The explanation here is that not everyone who examines the prompts that are in him is able to distinguish the prompts of the flesh or those of the Evil One, from those of the Holy Spirit (CCC 851). Why would I want to read books by other Christian thinkers and theologians? They are all deficient, because their authors have not researched enough to qualify them to address us, the laity. Had they researched enough, they would have been able to discover that the Catholic Church is the one and only Church instituted by Christ. Behold, Matthew 16:18-19, is in the singular!!! So, listen not to the learned who have not researched enough to discover that the Catholic Church is the one and only Church instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord!!!

The Church teaches us that “Salvation is found in the truth” (CCC 851). And the Catholic Church, being the one and only Church instituted by Christ, has all the Truth (1 Timothy 3:15). Consequently, salvation is found only in the Catholic Church for those who know this. If one does not know, it is a different matter and is subject to God’s will and mercy, and His Word (John 15:22; 1 Timothy 1:13). But, now, you know this. I have told you. Therefore, your salvation is through the Catholic Church. That’s the common sense given us by God. I say all this with love for all of God’s people. There is no animosity or ill feeling toward anyone. We are all entitled to all of God’s Truth.

So, do not stay in ignorance (Acts 17:30; and, Ephesians 5:17). St. Jerome, who in 400 A.D. translated the Bible into Latin said: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”! So, let us delve into the Truth. We have plenty of catching up to do, and plenty of love to give God and His people; His creation. If we start the process, we are on holy ground and we are safe, because: “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24), and, another insight: “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus” 5 (Philippians 1:6).

Keep it up and never give up, and salvation is yours! Remember, conversion is a daily, life long process (2 Corinthians 4:16) of employing our God given free will, to gradually give up our will, for that of the Father. That is the definition of the Road to Salvation! Let us all walk it!

EXCERPTS FROM PORTA FIDEI
The following are just a few paragraphs to show the importance of knowledge of the Faith, as depicted by this Encyclical of two Popes: Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus:

1. From Paragraph 4:
My venerable Predecessor the Servant of God Paul VI announced one in 1967, to commemorate the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul on the 19th centenary of their supreme act of witness. He thought of it as a solemn moment for the whole Church to make “an authentic and sincere profession of the same faith”; moreover, he wanted this to be confirmed in a way that was “individual and collective, free and conscious, inward and outward, humble and frank”. [5] He thought that in this way the whole Church could reappropriate “exact knowledge of the faith, so as to reinvigorate it, purify it, confirm it, and confess it.”

2. From Paragraph 10e:
Evidently, knowledge of the content of faith is essential for giving one’s own assent, that is to say, for adhering fully with intellect and will to what the Church proposes. Knowledge of faith opens a door into the fullness of the saving mystery revealed by God. The giving of assent implies that, when we believe, we freely accept the whole mystery of faith, because the guarantor of its truth is God who reveals himself and allows us to know his mystery of love.[18]

3. From Paragraph 11a:
In order to arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith, all can find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a precious and indispensable tool. It is one of the most important fruits of the Second Vatican Council. In the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, signed, not by accident, on the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, Blessed John Paul II wrote: “this catechism will make a very important contribution to that work of renewing the whole life of the Church … I declare it to be a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion and a sure norm for teaching the faith.”

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/motu_proprio/documents/hf_ben-xvi_motu-proprio_20111011_porta-fidei_en.html

SAINT IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH

SAINT IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH
GUIDING SOULS TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Our Most Important Link to the Early Church

Do you want to know what the Apostles taught? Then read the writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch!

One cannot underestimate the importance of St. Ignatius of Antioch as a vital historical link in the fabric of the Early Church. He was the very first person on record to call the Church the ‘catholic Church’ (catholic=katholikos=universal). His special status and the fact that his writings survived are key to his importance as that vital historical link. With respect to present day Christian evangelization, St. Ignatius of Antioch (50-107 A.D.) is the most important saint in the Church. This is because some claim that our Church became corrupt early on, and St. Ignatius proves them wrong! This is where his importance lies.

A staunch Non-Denominational Christian friend of mine gave me a lot of trouble in my efforts to present the Catholic Christian Truth to him. Nothing seemed to register with him until I came to speak of St. Ignatius. After a pensive pause and with an altered non-combative tone (how sincere was that stance, I do not know), he said to me, “How is the Church of our Lord linked to the Catholic Church of St. Ignatius?” I told him, “She is one and the same!” It is just that the name ‘Catholic’ came afterwards. And, I proceeded to illustrate my point, basing my information (today) mostly on data provided by the Catholic Encyclopedia, under ‘Ignatius of Antioch, Saint’ (newadvent.org), on the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and on his writings:

Saint Ignatius was born in Syria around 50 A.D. and died a martyr in Rome in 107 A.D. He was appointed to the See of Antioch by St. Peter, the Head Apostle, and, along with his friend St. Polycarp (martyred in 155 A.D.), Bishop of Smyrna, were disciples of St. John, the Apostle, the Beloved Disciple, who reclined his head on the Lord’s chest at the Last Supper (John 13:23-25). St. Ignatius was Bishop of Antioch for some 40 years, and he and St. John knew each other for a third of a century!

The Catholic Encyclopedia says this about St. Ignatius: “All the sterling qualities of ideal pastor and a true soldier of Christ were possessed by the Bishop of Antioch in a preeminent degree. Accordingly, when the storm of the persecution of Domitian broke in its full fury upon the Christians of Syria, it found their faithful leader prepared and watchful. He was unremitting in his vigilance and tireless in his efforts to inspire hope and to strengthen the weaklings of his flock against the terrors of the persecution.”

Later on, Emperor Trajan, upon his victory over the Scythians and Dacians, decreed while sojourning in Antioch that Christians are to offer sacrifice to the gods, along with all the rest of the people, and threatened persecution. Bishop Ignatius was alert and tried by all means to thwart the Emperor’s plans. His success did not remain a secret for long and the Emperor ordered him to be chained and taken to Rome to be fed to the wild beasts.

Of the great trials he endured, Ignatius writes, “From Syria even to Rome I fight with wild beasts, by land and sea, by night and by day, being bound amidst ten leopards, even a company of soldiers, who only grow worse when they are kindly treated.”

His trajectory on this long trek was by sea to Southern Asia Minor (Turkey), and then by land. “At Laodicea, on the River Lycus, where a choice of routes presented itself, his guards selected the more northerly, which brought the prospective martyr through Philadelphia and Sardis, and finally to Smyrna, where Polycarp, his fellow-disciple in the school of St. John, was bishop. The stay at Smyrna, which was a protracted one, gave the representatives of the various Christian communities in Asia Minor an opportunity of greeting the illustrious prisoner, and offering him the homage of the Churches they represented. From the congregations of Ephesus, Magnesia, and Tralles, deputations came to comfort him. To each of these Christian communities he addressed letters from Smyrna, exhorting them to obedience to their respective bishops, and warning them to avoid the contamination of heresy. These letters are redolent with the spirit of Christian charity, apostolic zeal, and pastoral solicitude. While still there he wrote also to the Christians of Rome, begging them to do nothing to deprive him of the opportunity of martyrdom.” He reached Rome after a protracted voyage by land and sea, and was promptly martyred in 107 A.D.

Of course, this biography is very interesting. Providence would have it that the soldiers at one point in their trek, while in present day Asia Minor (Turkey), came across a fork in the road and decided to travel the northern route, thus taking St. Ignatius through the territory previously traveled by Paul. He stayed with his friend, St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, for a good while and all the churches sent delegates to honor him and bid him farewell on his journey to martyrdom and on to eternal life with the Lord. It was a journey of courage and love and of enlightenment for all.

“The occasion of St. Ignatius’ trip to Rome proved to be a unifying event for all of the early Churches. Through his letters, he confirmed the hierarchy of bishop, priest, and deacon for the early Churches, the pattern which still exists today [The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1593, quotes St. Ignatius in his Letter to Tralles 3:1, as saying: without the bishop, presbyters, and deacons, one cannot speak of the Church]. His letters are treasures of the Christian faith.” (www.maryourmother.net/Ignatius.html ).

On his way, St. Ignatius wrote a total of seven letters: one each to the churches at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, Smyrna, and one to his friend St. Polycarp (d. 155 A.D.), Bishop of Smyrna. These letters remind us of the seven letters to the seven churches which the Lord revealed to St. John in Revelation 2, and 3.

All is well and good, but, the prime importance of St. Ignatius lies in six factors, no doubt engineered by God:
1. St. Ignatius was the disciple of John, the beloved of Jesus, our Lord;
2. St. Ignatius was ordained Bishop of Antioch by Peter, the Rock on which our Lord built His Church;
3. St. Ignatius was Bishop of Antioch for some 40 years and lived concurrently with the Apostle John for more than a third of a century;
4. Therefore, due to his proximity to the Apostles, we can say that he knew what he was talking about. This is why we say that his words are, in effect, the Gospel Truth!
5. St. Ignatius wrote seven letters on his journey to martyrdom; and,
6. These seven letters survived! They are Apologetics masterpieces. He explained things where they needed to be explained. So, now we have a microscope or a telescope into the Early Church.

To recapitulate, in his writings, St. Ignatius:
1. Was the first on record to call the Church the catholic Church;
2. Spoke of the virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary;
3. Spoke of the hierarchal structure of the Church;
4. Spoke of the status and esteem that the faithful are to have for their bishop;
5. Spoke about schisms and those who produce them;
6. Spoke about the return to the unity of the faith by those who follow perpetrators of schisms; and,
7. Spoke about the Eucharist.

This is where things become interesting; getting a glimpse of the dawn of Christianity, and how the Apostles understood things explained to them by the Holy Spirit as per the Lord’s instructions:

John 16: 12 “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. 13 But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.”

In writing the prominent quotes cited further below, St. Ignatius was confirming the truths God taught, which the Apostles handed down to their disciples parallel to the rules Paul set forth before Timothy:

2 Timothy 1: 13 Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard this rich trust with the help of the holy Spirit

2 Timothy 2: 2 And what you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well.

In the first quote, in verse 14, notice that the Holy Spirit is the One who guards this rich trust in the minds of those who are to teach. This is how Tradition (with a capital ‘T’), or the Sacred Oral Word, which was before the Written Word, was preserved from error, supernaturally, then as now. Now, on to St. Ignatius. This is what he had to say from what he was taught by John:

St. Ignatius of Antioch: “Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop, or by one whom he appoints. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there, just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic Church.”
Letter to the Smyrnians (8:1-2)

St. Ignatius of Antioch: “They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, Flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His goodness, raised up again,”
Letter to the Smyrnians (7:1)

St. Ignatius of Antioch: “For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop, and as many as shall, in the exercise of repentance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ.
Do not err, my brethren. If any man follows him that makes a schism in the Church, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If any one walks according to a strange opinion, he agrees not with the Passion of Christ.” Letter to the Philadelphians (3:2)

St. Ignatius of Antioch: “Mary’s virginity and giving birth, and even the Lord’s death escaped the notice of the prince of this world: these three mysteries worthy of proclamation were accomplished in God’s silence.” Letter to the Ephesians (19:1)

John Henry Cardinal Newman, himself a convert to Catholicism, said something quite true: “To become deep in history is to cease to be Protestant, and, to cease to be deep in history is to become Protestant.” Had Martin Luther been versed in history and versed on the unique status of St. Ignatius, he would not have started the Reformation (from without)! He would have realized that as an Augustinian monk in the Catholic Church, he was in the Church that Jesus Christ instituted, and his obedience is therefore required. He would never have left.

So, to my friend, I explained (not as clearly as now) that since Ignatius was in the Catholic Church, saying what he said in the foregoing, and since he was appointed to this position in the Church by Peter, and since he had many years in common with his mentor John (a third of a century!), then, he knew what he was talking about, and his words are part of the Truth of the Gospel as he learned it from St. John!

Since St. Ignatius knew what he was talking about, read his sayings above and believe in the Eucharist, that it is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Believe what he wrote about those who cause schisms in the Church and believe about those who return to the unity of the Church and act on those beliefs. Believe what he says about the Virgin birth and about the Blessed Virgin Mary and about hierarchy in the Church, as depicted in these paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

CCC 496: From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived “by the Holy Spirit without human seed”. The Fathers see in the virginal conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God who came in a humanity like our own. Thus St. Ignatius of Antioch at the beginning of the second century says:

You are firmly convinced about our Lord, who is truly of the race of David according to the flesh, Son of God according to the will and power of God, truly born of a virgin,. . . he was truly nailed to a tree for us in his flesh under Pontius Pilate. . . he truly suffered, as he is also truly risen.

CCC 498: People are sometimes troubled by the silence of St. Mark’s Gospel and the New Testament Epistles about Jesus’ virginal conception. Some might wonder if we were merely dealing with legends or theological constructs not claiming to be history. To this we must respond: Faith in the virginal conception of Jesus met with the lively opposition, mockery or incomprehension of non-believers, Jews and pagans alike; so it could hardly have been motivated by pagan mythology or by some adaptation to the ideas of the age. The meaning of this event is accessible only to faith, which understands in it the “connection of these mysteries with one another” in the totality of Christ’s mysteries, from his Incarnation to his Passover. St. Ignatius of Antioch already bears witness to this connection: “Mary’s virginity and giving birth, and even the Lord’s death escaped the notice of the prince of this world: these three mysteries worthy of proclamation were accomplished in God’s silence.”

CCC 1549: Through the ordained ministry, especially that of bishops and priests, the presence of Christ as head of the Church is made visible in the midst of the community of believers. In the beautiful expression of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the bishop is typos tou Patros: he is like the living image of God the Father.

CCC 1593: Since the beginning, the ordained ministry has been conferred and exercised in three degrees: that of bishops, that of presbyters, and that of deacons. The ministries conferred by ordination are irreplaceable for the organic structure of the Church: without the bishop, presbyters, and deacons, one cannot speak of the Church (cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Trall. 3, 1).

He pretty well covered it all. Do you want to know more about the Church? Then, read all his seven letters. They survived, through God’s providential election! A good address for you would be the website of the renowned historical theologian, author and TV personality, Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio:
http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_author/45/St._Ignatius_of_Antioch.html.

So now, we can say that as Catholics, we are in the Church that Jesus Christ our Lord instituted. We can also say that both Peter and John were in the Catholic Church, even before it was called so; as similarly, Peter was the first Pope, even before the term had been put into use later for his successors; as similarly Stephen, who was martyred very early on (Acts 7:60), is considered Christian, even though the term was first put into use in Antioch after his death (Acts 11:26). By the same token, Christ is both Christian and Catholic! The Very First!!

Now, all that Catholics need to do is behave as people worthy of this privilege, and all other Christians need to do is drop everything and come home and help rejuvenate Catholics!

In conclusion, we can say that the Catholic Church is not a denomination, and we are not a sect. We are the Church that Jesus Christ instituted and He instituted no other Church (Matthew 16:18 is in the singular)! We are not boasting here, rather, stating a fact. We have no reason to boast. In fact, humility is the order of the day, since we are not living up to our calling as we should.

Actually, the Catholic Church is composed of 23 Churches: One Roman Catholic and 22 Eastern Catholic Churches. These 23 Churches can be either patriarchal or metropolitan or independent with a head. For every Eastern Catholic Church, there is an Orthodox counterpart, except for the Maronite Church. It never split with Rome. There are some differences between all of them where it pertains to the Liturgy itself. There are more prayers in the Eastern Liturgy, because, for instructional purposes, there is more theology in the Liturgy. Odd things for Roman Catholics are that in the Eastern Churches, the posture of reverence is standing. There is no kneeling, throughout. Communion is by intinction; never by hand. Whatever Rite the Mass belongs to, follow its rules; in Eastern Masses, stand or sit as the Liturgy specifies; in a Roman Catholic Mass, sit, stand, kneel, as specified in the Missal.

CATHOLIC FAITH TENNETS

ABRIDGED CATHOLIC FAITH TENETS
That People are Mostly Ignorant of

GOD
1. GOD IS LOVE (1 John 4:16). Love is a Decision. Love is a God-graced Decision based on God-graced Knowledge. Knowledge and Love go together (Philippians 1:9; and CCC 1, 3, 158, 356, 2614, and 2715). One cannot love what one does not know (Logic). We are not talking here about the exaltation of knowledge and Gnosticism. “Without knowledge even zeal is not good” (Proverbs 19:2). There are at least 30 mentions of knowledge of God, of His will, of the Truth, etc…in the Bible. Because God is the Ultimate Good, the more you know about Him and His attributes, the more you will love Him. So, get to know God.

2. GOD KNEW US AND CHOSE US BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD (Jeremiah 1:4; Ephesians 1:3-4); and He called us (Romans 8:30, 1 Thessalonians 5:24, and CCC 2567). Man was created to serve and love God (CCC 358, 1721).

3. GOD GAVE US FREE WILL (Deuteronomy 30:19; Sirach 15:14-20; CCC 1711, and 1730).

4. WE MUST ACCEPT ALL OF GOD’S REVELATIONS. We cannot pick and choose. In not accepting any one revelation, we would be committing the Unpardonable Sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, thus, attributing to Satan what is the work of the Spirit of God. Ref: Matthew 12:31-32 and its footnote in the New American Bible (NAB): http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/__PVL.HTM#-31B.

5. GOD GIVES FURTHER UNDERSTANDING TO ONE WHO ACCEPTS THE REVEALED MYSTERY. “To anyone who has, more will be given 5 and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Ref: Matthew 13:12 and its footnote in the New American Bible (NAB): http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/__PVM.HTM#-31R.

6. GOD REVEALS HIMSELF TO THOSE WHO LOVE HIM. “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him” (John 14:21).

THE CHURCH
7. GOD MADE HIS APOTLES PRIESTS, when, at the Last Supper, He said to them, “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24 & 25). Then, again, He confirmed it when 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).

8. THE CHURCH IS NECESSARY FOR SALVATION for those who know that fact. “Salvation is found in the truth,” for those who have knowledge of that fact. Therefore, from among those who have faith, there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church, for those who know that fact (CCC 846).

9. OUR FAITH COMES FROM THE FAITH OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. The Catholic Church believed and so we did: “No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother” – St. Cyprian (d. 258 A.D.) (CCC 119). “But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me” – St. Augustine (354-430) (CCC 119).

10. THE WORD ‘CHURCH’ IN THE BIBLE IS ALWAYS REFERRING TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: St. Ignatius of Antioch (d. 107A.D.) was the first on record to call her the ‘catholic Church.’ He was the disciple of John and lived concurrently with him for a third of a century. He was ordained to the See of Antioch by Peter. So, he was an Apostolic Man. Therefore, Peter and John were Catholic and Jesus was the First Catholic. If anybody does not like the present day Capital ‘C’ in Catholic, as opposed to the small ‘c’ that is in the Creed, let it be known that the rules of grammar demand it, because for one thousand years, there was no other church in existence. The Letters and Gospels were written between 48 and 95 A.D. and compiled into the Canon of the New Testament in 382, 393, and 397 A.D., then, exactly as they are in the Catholic Bible today, at 27 Books. Similarly and simultaneously for the Old Testament Canon, all the 46 Books present in the Septuagint at the time of Jesus are as they are now in the Catholic Bible.
The point is that all these events took place during the first one thousand years, when there was no other church in existence, except, the Catholic Church. Hence, the ‘church’ in the Bible is the Catholic Church!

11. Throughout, there was one church, one Gospel and one Bible, as things are now in the Catholic Church.

The Holy Bible is a divinely inspired document that the Catholic Church was entrusted with.

NO OTHER ENTITY CAN HAVE CLAIM TO IT AND NO ENTITY, INCLUDING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, IS ALLOWED TO DELETE FROM IT OR ADD TO IT BOOKS OR PARTS OF BOOKS OR WORD/S SO AS TO CHOOSE WORDS TO REFLECT DIFFERENT BELIEFS.

12. THE SACRED ORAL WORD (THE GOSPEL) WAS THERE FIRST, BEFORE THE WRITTEN WORD. The Bible was extracted from the Sacred Oral Word that we call Tradition or Sacred Tradition, with a capital ‘T.’ One proof is in history showing that nothing was written between the Ascension (33 A.D.) and the year 48 A.D., the year of the first Letter to have ever been written. This is pursuant of the Lord’s promise to the Apostles: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth” (John 16:12-13). And the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost and taught the Apostles, supernaturally.

13. THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ALONE HAS ALL THE TRUTH: “…the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). We have already established that the word ‘church’ in the Bible always refers to the Catholic Church.

THE FAITHFUL
14. WE ARE BUILT IN THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD (Genesis 1:26). When we sin, we are no longer in His likeness, but, we remain in His image.

15. CONVERSION IS A DAILY, LIFELONG PROCESS (2 Corinthians 4:16; Philippians 1:6; CCC 1435; 1436; 1439; 1490; 1888; and 2784). Never fail to remember that! “To live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often” (Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman). Conversion is renewal (CCC 1989). Time of conversion: NOW! (2 Corinthians 6:2; CCC 1041). There might be no other opportunity available later on.

16. END OF THE WORLD AND TIME OF OUR PERSONAL PARTICULAR JUDGMENT OCCURS AT OUR DEATH. “Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27; CCC 1021-2; 1051).

17. AT THE ONSET OF CONVERSION, WE MUST PROGRESS TO STRONG FAITH ASAP that we may not remain in the bracket of weak faith and fall back into apostasy. This requires and entails acquiring more knowledge of God, His precepts and His will for each one of us. Studying Scriptures daily, praying and referring to the Catechism of the Catholic Church are the constants. So are any combination of the following, as the day dictates: Conversion is accomplished in daily life by: a) gestures of reconciliation; b) concern for the poor; c) the exercise and defense of justice and right; d) by the admission of faults to one’s brethren; e) fraternal correction; f) revision of life; g) examination of conscience; h) spiritual direction; i) acceptance of suffering; and, j) endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness. Taking up one’s cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance (CCC 1435).

Thereafter, perseverance is the required mode of operation throughout life (Hebrews 7:11-12).

18. We have 3 main prompts working in us: THE PROMPTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, who has been given us as a first installment (Romans 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14; CCC 851); THOSE OF THE FLESH; our selfish desires (Matthew 26:41); and, THOSE OF THE DEVIL (John 13:2; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9). The Christian life is a matter of learning to distinguish between these three types of prompts, discarding the other two and following the prompts of the Holy Spirit, our Teacher (CCC 2766). “Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation” (CCC 851).

19. IF WE FAIL TO MEET THE SERIOUS NEEDS OF THE POOR AND THE LITTLE ONES WHO ARE HIS BRETHREN, AND WE DIE UNREPENTANT, WE GO TO HELL. “…He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Matthew 25:45-46; CCC 1033).

20. A WORD OF CAUTION: For those who claim that the Catholic Church was corrupt early on, let it be known that Jesus Christ Himself gave her the promise that she will never die (Matthew 16:18). These are unfounded allegations based on the disjointed actions of ignorant/insincere Catholics, whom popes had difficulty in controlling due to geographical disparity and lengthy, time consuming communication channels. Of course, reform was needed, but, from within and not by leaving and protesting from outside. Reform then took place and is ongoing!

The fact of the matter is that the Catholic Church is Holy (as the Creed states), composed of sinners, and this includes the clergy. When we pray for the deceased who are in Purgatory (2 Maccabees 12:46), we realize we are praying for some popes, bishops, priests, monks and nuns, who are sure to be there. Some were false brothers and the ravenous wolves that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7:15. And some are the injected savage wolves and the men from our own group who “will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them,” which Paul spoke of in his dramatic farewell speech in Asia Minor in Acts 20:29-30.

All of these had no effect on the Deposit of Faith throughout history; we know that from the structure of the Catholic Church and the Apostolic Succession she possessed and abided by as per the directions and guidance of the Holy Spirit, initially and thereafter. Thus, the Deposit of Faith “remained intact for you” (Galatians 2:5).

AN IMPORTANT AXIOM: We do not join the Church because the choir is good, or because the pastor preaches well, or because the service is neat and orderly and well coordinated, or because there is fellowship, or because the church is nearby and is heated and air conditioned. We do want all these things, but, they are hardly the criteria for joining the Church.

We do join the Church because she has the whole Truth, including, most importantly, the Real Presence of the Lord: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. The whole Truth is the only consideration. Nothing else matters. Never mind if, for example, we are given the cold shoulder or we are left out from some activity, or our ego is not being soothed. One can always find a way out, or, in irreconcilable situations, look for another Catholic church nearby to fit into. The important thing is to be in the Church that Jesus Christ founded, which the forces of the netherworld can never prevail against (Matthew 16:18); in which the Deposit of Faith can be found in its entirety.

Here’s the link to the whole DEPOSIT OF FAITH: http://www.vatican.va/archive/index.htm.

The Deposit of Faith is the only consideration (refer to #12 above)! It was guarded zealously through 2,000 years of uninterrupted Apostolic Succession by the Laying on of Hands of the Apostles/bishops, just as Paul described in Galatians 2:5, where he was speaking of the false brothers: “…to them we did not submit even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain intact for you.”

The Laying on of Hands: Numbers 27:18-23; Deuteronomy 34:9; 2 Timothy 1:6; Hebrews 6:1-2.