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Posts Tagged ‘Sacraments’

Pope Benedict making the Sign of the Cross

 

Over at Catholic Answers, I came across this this link on a forum posting.  The minister at a very large Methodist Church in Texas has a series of sermons about different Christian faith traditions, in very charitable and ecumenical presentations. 

The series started with his appreciation of Roman Catholicism.  I listened to it and was very moved.  Not only would Protestants brothers and sisters benefit from it, but we Catholics as well.  Overall, the pastor gave a very fair presentation.  (A couple of his historical dates seem influenced by his Protestant background, e.g. the date of the establishment of Roman papal authority.)  But his historical overview is generally acceptable.  It’s what he has to say about the things he appreciates in Catholics where this sermon gets going, and surprising.  I’ve never known any Protestant to admire our Purgatory beliefs, for instance.   What else does our Methodist brother appreciate?  Not surprising: our commitment to life issues, our steadfastness against cultural attacks, and our work with the poor.  Oh, and of course, Authority.  Surprising: Sacramentals, liturgy, reverent ritualized prayer, candles, and the Sign of the Cross.  He even tackles the sex abuse scandal.

I got a bit choked up listening to it.

Here is the minister, Dr. Ed Robb, preaching on “Why I appreciate the Roman Catholics“.  (there is a video option as well).  Take time to listen to it; it just may make you appreciate your faith more.

The Woodlands UMC

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 In today’s liturgy we read Paul in 1 Corinthians.

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea,  

and all of them were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  
All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink,
for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them,  and the rock was the Christ.  
Yet God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert.  
 These things happened as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things, as they did.  
 
Do not grumble as some of them did, and suffered death by the destroyer.  
These things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come. 
Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall. 1 cor 10:1-6, 10-12

Paul draws the comparison between the disobediant Israelites under Moses to those present Christians in Corinth.  God sent the Israelites a savior from their bondage in Egypt (Moses) as He would send the “new Moses” Christ Jesus to lead mankind from its bondage in sin.  The Israelites passed through cloud (Spirit) and sea (water) just as we are now baptized.  God provided real and spiritual food and drink for their sustenance, just as Jesus now provides His real body and blood which we eat and drink for our spiritual wellness.  As the Israelites participated as a community, so do we. 

Yet, with all that God had done for the Israelites, most fell into grumbling, idol-worshipping, and disobedience and were “struck down in the desert.”  They did not complete the forty years wanderings to make it to the promised land.

Paul warns us that just like them, we may suffer (eternal) death, though we too have been chosen by God, saved through baptism of water and spirit, and have eaten and drunk from the communal cup.  At any time, we may fall back into idolatrous behavior, in other words, Sin! 

The doctrine of Once Saved, Always Saved is a false assurance.  Though God fills our lives with blessings and provides the grace necessary to sustain and save us, at any time any of us might fall into temptation, a fall that may take us away from salvation, just as the Israelites – for whom God sent Moses, performed miraculous deeds and parted the sea – were eventually struck down in the desert.

In today’s Gospel (Luke 13:1-9) , we see that the owner of the fig tree is disgusted that so much time has passed, yet his tree has not born fruit.  Why should he not cut it down?  But the vine dresser offers to provide a year’s worth of extra nurturing.  One more chance for the fig tree to show its worth and do credit to the owner. 

God is patient with us as we find our way to Him…and back to Him.  But remember that despite His infinite patience, a time will come when we will be called to account and on that day, we will pass the test, or we will be cut down.  Some people might think this is unfair.  Why?  hasn’t God provided Jesus Christ for our salvation?  the words of life in the Gospels and in the other books of the Scripture?  the apostolic priesthood to be reconciled to Him and from which to receive the sacraments?  the holy Church to teach and guide us?  grace to sustain us?  the Holy Spirit to lead us?  Some say a loving God would not abandon us because of our sinful ways, because we are doomed to fall to temptation.  I say, our God loves us as any good father does, and therefore, expects us to do our best.

If today you observe yourself and you are doing the modern equivalent of dancing around a golden calf, then today is the day to repent.

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I know I’ve been posting alot of news stories as of late.  I’m sorry about that.  But here is another gem that you may have missed, and is a good Year of the Priest story.  It’s a tale of a false accusation, leading to a conviction for rape, four years of prison for an innocent man, and finally, the truth emerges when the accuser admits that she made the whole thing up to stop her friends from beating her.  After reading the story, it sounds to me like this woman was in some sort of woman’s gang because they were slapping her around.  Years later she does the right thing, with the help of a good confessor and the prodding of DNA evidence.  The truth will set you free, and though this woman will be spending time in prison, I can’t help thinking that she feels somewhat liberated after carrying the knowledge of her guilt.  I’m praying that this goes a long way toward the salvation of this woman.

Again, keep all of those involved in your prayers, especially the unnamed priest who is the real hero of the story.  (note to self: I really need to finish my post on Reconciliation.)

From the New York Post:

A young mother who falsely cried rape, sending an innocent man to prison for nearly four years, will experience firsthand what he suffered — she’ll spend one to three years behind bars for perjury.

“I wish her the best of luck,” said William McCaffrey last night of Biurny Peguero Gonzalez.

“Jail isn’t easy.”

McCaffrey, 33, of The Bronx, was locked up after Gonzalez accused him of raping her at knifepoint on a Bronx street back in 2005.

It was a lie she repeated to doctors, cops, prosecutors, a grand jury and the jury that convicted McCaffrey.

***

Gonzalez was taken away after making a tearful apology to McCaffrey, who was not in court.

She also begged for mercy on behalf of her two sons, ages 3 months and 7 years.

“To Mr. McCaffrey, I am aware that nothing I do or say to him can bring back the years he spent in jail,” she said. “I want him to know I will carry this guilt for the rest of my life.”

Gonzalez, 27, had recanted her story last year after new DNA evidence proved she’d been lying and a priest to whom she’d confessed urged her to come clean.

God, bless your servant in the Bronx.

full story here.

UPDATE

I found another article on this story from WPIX which names the priest, the parish and specifically mentions that the accuser had returned to her faith.  The reporter, Stephanie Barash does a good job of covering this.

A woman – who accused a man of sexually attacking her more than four years ago – has confessed to her priest, that the attack never happened, police said.

Biurny Peguero Gonzalez, 26, who recently tied the knot and has a baby on the way, said she found renewed faith in the Catholic Church and couldn’t go on living with the burden of the lie.

She admitted to her priest, Rev. Zelijko Guverovic of St. Anthony’s in Union City, that she had not been raped by William McCafferey, despite what she told her friends, law enforcement officials, and even a jury.

McCafferey, who was later convicted of the crime, is currently in prison and has already completed 4 years of a 20-year sentence.Guberovic urged Gonzalez to speak with her lawyer, Paul Callen, who then brought her to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where she reportedly recanted her testimony.

During the trial, Gonzalez told jurors she had met McCaffrey after a night of heavy drinking in September 2005. She said she had been in a car parked in front of an upper Manhattan eatery on Dyckman Street when he picked her up to go to a party. Some of her friends remained inside the restaurant when she left.

Realizing they were both too intoxicated to get behind the wheel, Gonzalez said they parked in a garage and got a ride with his friends to the party. When they realized the party was over, McCaffrey took her back to the garage. When he left, she told her friends – who were still inside the restaurant – that she had been raped.

Gonzalez said she went to Christ Hospital in Jersey City the following morning and showed nurses bite marks on her shoulder and arm, apparently from McCaffrey. The nurses, however, found no physical evidence that showed that she had been raped.

Gonzalez said she concocted the outrageous story because her friend became infuriated with her after she abandoned them without a ride from the restaurant – and said they even began physically abusing her.

According to the New York Post, the District Attorney’s office is now considering charging Gonzalez with perjury.

An attorney for McCafferey asked a judge Wednesday to vacate his conviction and to release his client.

Pray for Mr. McCaffery as he rebuilds his life, Mrs. Gonzalez who is taking the fearful road of following the Lord despite personal suffering, and the faithful servant Fr. Zelijko Guberovic.  This story highlights the importance of Reconciliation, and how God acts through his priest to enact His will. 

It’s Lent.  Go to confession.  Go tomorrow.  (for more reasons to go Confession)

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My friend,

Although you haven’t asked me any follow-up questions about Baptism, it is still on my mind.  And still important.  Here is a good article on it, not heavily loaded with Scripture, but a good overview of why we do it.  Why we *should* do it.

The objective dimension is the grace received, which begins working in an invisible and mysterious way immediately; the subjective dimension depends on how we cooperate with this grace. (italics mine)

(Note:  I got there by way of the wonderful New Advent front page.)

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