Archives For July 2013

Caritas: On Love

July 16, 2013 — 3 Comments

“Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love,” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

1 Cor. 13:13 is by far my favorite verse from the Bible. It shows that love is the greatest of all the virtues–greater than faith and greater than hope. It is my opinion that many Christians live with a faith-centered mindset. Don’t get me wrong; faith is important. However, love is greater!

Yet how often do we reflect on the meaning of the word love? What is love? The following biblical verse comes to mind immediately: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” (John 15:13). This quote from Jesus nearly moves me to tears every time that I read it. Our Lord clearly teaches that love requires an ultimate self-gift, a fatal sacrifice. Though it may seem that we are incapable of such an act, I believe wholeheartedly that we can and must spiritually and literally “die” for our friends as Jesus died for us. We–the baptized–have the power of the Holy Spirit within us so that we may live as Christ lived. Equally, the Spirit gives us the fortitude to die as Christ died. We cannot take away the sin of the world in the same way that Christ did thorough his death and resurrection, but we can benefit from the fruits of the Holy Spirit in order to do our part in reducing sin and spreading love.

If you have a free moment, I ask you to reflect on the following questions:

1) Are you ready to give your life for your friends?

2) In the coming week what actions can you take to initiate or continue the process of sanctification through self-gift?

3) What might giving your life for your friends look like in this day and age?

May the Holy Spirit fill you with the strength of God. May He bless you with many opportunities to give to others by sacrificing yourself.

With love,

David Inczauskis

Iudicare

July 11, 2013 — Leave a comment

“On Tolerance and Intolerance”

A few days ago I was teaching the natural sciences to a sixth grade class in Honduras. The subject of the lesson was human development. The textbook enumerated a few different areas of human development including physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual. Under the “spiritual” heading, the textbook authors wrote that one develops spiritually by acquiring certain universal virtues, among which are love, respect, solidarity, and tolerance. Upon reading that section, I reflected for a moment on the “virtue” of tolerance. Fulton Sheen once wrote, “Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to principles. Intolerance applies only to principles, but never to persons.” This distinction is wise, yet infrequently recognized in today’s world. I should be tolerant of another person because that person espouses an inherent human dignity, but that personal tolerance does not necessarily entail an implicit acceptance of the other person’s ideas and/or principles.

Where, then, do I think many of us–including myself–have gone wrong in the recent past? Let me pose the following question to illustrate my point: how often have you heard a friend say, “I believe such-and-such, yet I would never want to impose that belief on others.”? I certainly encounter it frequently, and I am guilty of employing it from time to time, too. The result of this mindset is a vast and dangerous indifference that prefers political correctness over the truth. Let’s be honest. Where would Christians be today if our forerunners failed to ruffle some feathers back in the 1st century Roman Empire? What would Black America look like now if brave souls from the past had decided not to put forth an agenda of equal opportunity because that agenda might step on some toes? These revolutionaries certainly did not give way to permissibility simply for the sake of permissibility. They fought for what they believed deep inside. They refused to yield to the game of polite politics because their cause was great. We don’t have to be tolerant of ideas. When it comes to the realm of principles, intolerance is to be encouraged.

In the voting booth tolerance does not have to be the default position, especially if we think that we hold the correct position. Let’s debate the difficult topics not with reluctance but with passion, logic, and truth. We don’t have to bow down to negative historical trends when we have every opportunity to shape them anew towards the greater good.

I pray for the reemergence of the recognition of the dignity of every human person alongside the reemergence of the recognition that not every opinion is equally valid. Though there may have been several positives that came out of the Protestant Reformation, there is at least one negative that has spawned the evil of moral relativism: individualistic thinking. Don’t get me wrong. We should think for ourselves. However, we should not think only for ourselves. Our choices have implications, so we have the duty to think through what those implications might be. If we reflect carefully and research rigorously, then we should not be afraid to act by voicing our opinions in public. We may encounter resistance, but that resistance might be the first step towards building a better world.

May God bring you explosive and numerous blessings.

–David Inczauskis

“On Scripture and Tradition”

What are the sources of teaching authority in the Catholic Church? What are the sources of teaching authority in the Protestant church?  The image below demonstrates the difference. This difference is a key reason why I choose the Catholic faith over the evangelical/Protestant faith. During this article I will attempt to justify my belief on this issue while allowing the reader to discover for him or herself which option is best.

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First, I will outline the Protestant or evangelical belief to the best of my knowledge, which is based on light research. If you notice any mistakes or would like to clarify a point, then please make a comment below. I’m more than happy to change what I write if it is incorrect.

Let’s take a look at a few biblical verses that appear to support sola Scriptura, or Scripture alone as a basis for teaching authority and doctrine.

1) “All scripture is inspired by God and isuseful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work,” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

2) “I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters,so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, ‘Nothing beyond what is written,’ so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another,” (1 Cor. 4:6).

3) “These Jews were more receptive than those in Thessalonica, for they welcomed the message very eagerly and examined the scriptures every day to see whether these things were so,” (Acts 17:11).

For Protestants, these verses are convincing. Apparently, they show that Scripture is the only standard in Christianity. Why, then, do I disagree with the Protestant reading of these passages? In the first quote from Timothy, note that Paul says that Scripture is useful, not that Scripture is the only authority in the Church. There is a difference between usefulness and unique power. In the second quote from 1 Corinthians, Paul is quoting a common saying from Jewish schools around the Roman Empire. The instructors would teach their students to write by exactly copying the instructor’s letters. In the context of this passage, then, Paul is asserting that the Corinthians should follow Apollos and him exactly. They should not part from Paul’s arguments and Paul’s doctrine. Furthermore, the New Testament had not been fully written or compiled when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians.  He could not possibly be telling his friends in Corinth to follow books that had not yet been redacted! In the third quote from Acts, we find that Scriptures help to support the Christian message, which they do. However, we find no comment about sola Scriptura in this verse. Clearly, these verses demonstrate that Scripture is important and necessary; however, they do not in any way suggest that the Bible is the only source of Christian teaching.

Now, let’s consider a few biblical verses that support the Catholic understanding of the sources of Christian doctrine.

1. “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter,” (2 Thess. 2:15).

2. “What you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well,” (2 Tim. 2:2).

3. “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).

4. “’But the word of the Lord abides for ever.’ That word is the good news which was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:25).

5. “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me,” (Luke 10:16).

These verses make the following obvious: not only what is written is essential, but also what is spoken. Additionally, Paul commands his followers to entrust the truth to “faithful people.” These faithful people, in Catholic understanding, make up the Church. They pass on the fundamentals of the faith throughout the ages. The faithful do not contradict Scripture in the slightest; they fortify it and complement it.

The Catholic Church is apostolic and universal. She follows the teachings of the apostles who built the Church founded by Jesus in Matthew 16. These apostles and their successors shaped what we know today as the early Church. These men and women called their church “catholic” as early as the late 1st century and the early 2nd century. We cannot reject the apostolic Church, for in doing so we reject the Church of Christ. Jesus says, “Whoever rejects you [the apostles], rejects me.”

For more information on this subject, I suggest the following web page: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/scripture-and-tradition

Please leave a comment if you have a question or a statement to add. May the Lord bless you in abundance. May He unite you with the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church founded by Himself.

–David

Lumen de Lumine

July 5, 2013 — 1 Comment

“A Brief Commentary on Pope Francis’ Encyclical Lumen Fidei

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20130629_enciclica-lumen-fidei_en.html

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Today the Vatican made public Pope Francis’ first encyclical letter, which is entitled Lumen Fidei or “The Light of Faith.” It is the final product of a document that Benedict XVI started during his pontificate. The title of the work corresponds to one of the three theological virtues–faith, hope, and love. Benedict issued two encyclicals on love and hope, and now Francis is finishing the series by promulgating a letter about faith. I must say that Lumen Fidei is a Christian masterpiece.

My favorite line from the letter is the following: “It is characteristic of the divine light to brighten our eyes whenever we walk towards the fullness of love.” Francis repeatedly uses the metaphor of a light in a mirror to describe the relationship between God and humankind. As we move closer to the mirror by the grace of God, the light grows stronger and stronger. The sacraments, prayer, revelation, and the Church are gifts from God that enable us to achieve union with Him over time. We can walk in the light because of God’s grace and mercy as expressed in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Jesus is the only light that satisfies our thirst for truth; only through Him can we achieve full communion with the Father.

The encyclical also covers the blessing of apostolic succession. The Church that God founded continues to survive because the good news is passed on from generation to generation just as a language moves through history via tradition. It is because of the communion of the apostles and their successors with God that we have the Holy Scripture and the sacraments as Christ ordained them. The Church is the Body of Our Lord, and each member has a vital role to play in service of God and the common good. Only in community–only in the Church–can we find the fulfillment of God’s promises of faithfulness. While salvation is personal, it is communal, as well. The Lord chooses to share the gospel message through the Church. After all, who has come to know Christ by living in a vacuum?

I encourage you to take a look at the encyclical. Undoubtedly, it will help you find your way along the path of holiness. It will encourage you, and it will give you a number of memorable lines for prayer and reflection.

May the Lord provide you with the gift of faith, which reaches its perfection in love.

–David