The Problem of Moral Relativism

As many of you know, I was once part of the denomination, the United Church of Christ (UCC).  This denomination is a perfect example of acceptance of moral relativism.  They proclaimed to be the denomination of “Christian firsts,” a liberal Christian mecca.  They had the first ordained woman, first ordained gay man, first ordained transgender minister, and descended from the Pilgrims that landed on the American east coast.  They loudly proclaimed they were ahead of their time in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Now, as a converted Roman Catholic, I see how wrong they are, and realized I lived in moral relativistic and erroneous way of living.  If we want to know the Truth: simply consult our Catechism (a large book set down establishing the rules, rites, established dogmas and doctrines of the Catholic Church as established by Jesus Christ and the Apostles two millennia ago), a Catholic Bible, and handing down of decrees of the Holy Father on matters of faith and morality.  This is the only area in which the Pope is infallible (faith and morals).

For example, as Catholics, Pope Saint John Paul II set down the Theology of the Body while he was alive in the late 1970s and early 1980s over a series of sermons.  It states we must accept our biological gender at birth (changing it is only acceptable in only exceptional occasions, such as being born a hermaphrodite or having a genetic disorder (for example, XXY, X only, Y only, XYY).  If a person feels homosexual, he or she must remain chaste in accordance with the Scriptures and Church teachings.  Marriage is only possible between one man and one woman as God ordained.  Veering away from these Truths because of moral relativism (saying the Truth is relative to a particular person or group) is leaping into heresy and away from the Truth of the Church.

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O Dry Bones

Ezekiel 37:1-15 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Valley of Dry Bones

37 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley;[a] it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath[b] to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling,[c] and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel.13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

 

The above cited Scripture reading is an important reading.  While New Age and neo-Gnostic “Christians” believe in reincarnation, that is clearly a heresy.  The book of Revelation (also called the Apocalypse of John) and prophet Ezekiel point to a future resurrection of the dead and restoration of Israel – a new Jerusalem will come about in the future when Jesus comes again as we Catholics cite in our Nicene Creed.

Dry bones are given flesh and the Lord breathes upon them.  At the end of time, it will be a Resurrection of Christ’s people, the elect of God.  Jesus took the first step in His Resurrection as a future promise for His people: just as He and His Mother were glorified, so our bodies will be glorified and we will live in a new Israel; a new Jerusalem on a new Earth.  His resurrection was not needed to prove this concept.  His resurrection proved that Christ had power over death itself.

His Resurrection is not symbolic for Jesus Christ in the Second Person of the threefold  – the mystery of three-in-one divine being.  Therefore, we who are the elect of God, Catholics, will have our bodies resurrect on the Last Day and be joined with our King and Savior, Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The Holy Eucharist

John 6:52-59
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
“How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my Flesh is true food,
and my Blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

In the Roman Catholic Church, of which I am a member, we take the Eucharist which is described in the passage above and shown on the picture of this article.  The Eucharist is the mystical body and blood, soul and divinity, of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ clearly states that if you do not partake of his body and blood, you will not enter His Kingdom.  During the consecration by the priest, who is persona Christi, when he prays over the wine and bread; the Holy Spirit comes over it and it becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

I know it is difficult subject to commentate, but the above passage is not the only instance of this description of the Eucharist.  During the Last Supper, the night before the passion and death of Our Lord, He clearly stated to His disciples that the bread and wine are His body and blood.  This is found in all 4 Gospels.  Clearly, Jesus Christ found it important.

Indeed, the common word for the Eucharist is communion because we take it as a valid Sacrament as a Christian community together.  I am about to state something that will make many people angry, but the Truth hurts sometimes.  Protestant communions are not the Eucharist.  It is simply a symbolic holy meal to Protestants and they simply state the Scriptural reading of the Last Supper and share bread and wine or grape juice together.  It is not the body and blood for them, which is why non-Catholics cannot partake of the Eucharist.

Once a person is a converted through the Rites of Initiation and receive the Sacraments of a valid baptism, Confirmation, and then one may take the Eucharist as a Roman Catholic.  I had to wait 6 months as I was in RCIA as I described in previous articles to become Roman Catholic, and now I am allowed to take the Eucharist as I am Catholic.

God Bless!

My Journey to the Roman Catholic Church

My Catholic Conversion                                                                Joshua Spencer

 

My initial experience of church was very small and seemed to have more to do with the wrath and judgment of God rather than His great love for humanity.  I grew up in a Christian Union denomination (during the Civil War, it divided from the Churches of Christ in Christian Union and became simply known and organized as Christian Union).  My dad is still a minister in that denomination.  I was “saved” at the age of 8 when I went to the alter and repented of my sins and asked Jesus to come into my heart.  This church continually preached that the End Times were near and could happen at any moment so best to be saved or go to Hell, literally.

I was always afraid growing up that any minor sin would leave me behind after the imminent Rapture where all of God’s chosen few (that only a minority of people would be saved was emphatically preached) would be taken up in the air to be Jesus and everyone else would suffer in the Tribulation period (7 years) when the Anti-Christ reigned and if you didn’t take his mark, you would be beheaded and obviously killed.  This theme would be additionally emphasized through low budget fundamentalist films that were shown at church and plays performed by the youth group.

Christian Union had 7 principles for their Christian philosophy and each church had to follow those principles or be ejected by the Christian Union Council in Greenfield, Ohio.  I went to a church about 2 hours from there in Givens, Ohio called Givens Chapel Christian Union, which still exists today with a small membership of people.  Baptism was taught as not being required, but symbolic of our fellowship with Jesus Christ.  Thus, I didn’t get baptized.  When baptisms were performed, it was quite the spectacle as people were baptized in local creeks or rivers, literally; full body immersion in the Trinitarian formula.  One day on vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC, I was in the room after being on the beach, and I was channel surfing until I came on a program where people were singing beautifully.  I sang along with the group.  It was the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  {https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUtqwdaSzx0} It really touched me and I started crying.  I felt blessed and that God loved me.  However, I turned the channel after it was over, and it would later surface that I was watching a Catholic channel.  I knew little about the Catholic Church and so did not anything because I was taught Christian Union and similar denominations were the only gateway to Jesus Christ and eternal salvation.

I remained in that church until the age of 18 or 19 when my parents divorced.  People treated my mother horribly even though both parents were responsible in the divorce.  I always had a close relationship with my mother and still do; my dad really wasn’t part of my life growing up.  Anyway, being an adult and now in college, majoring in Psychology and then changing to a BA in History; I resigned from the church.  Although I attended a Baptist university, the instruction was very secular, and I started to lose faith in God.  In fact, for a few years, I became rather agnostic/atheistic concerning God.  In my 20’s, after graduating with my BA, I became interested in a nature-centered religion that is known as Wicca.  I practiced it for a few years, but to be honest, I didn’t feel any connection to God.  Something else was brewing that was worse:  I had an attraction towards men.

I told my parents and they told me not to act on my feelings.  I wish I had listened.  I identified as gay and was proudly proclaiming it.  I had gay pride.  I lost friends and even family members disassociated from me.  Now, I am no longer gay; God cured me of that affliction in 2017.  Anyway, getting back to that part of my life when I was gay.  I still felt a need for God, so I sought a gay affirming church.  I found one: The United Church of Christ.  The people are very friendly and very welcoming, but they didn’t talk much about salvation, sin, or exclusion.  They said, “Jesus loved everybody and so do we.”  For about 10 years, I thought it was great, but I was living a sinful lifestyle and the church praised me for it.  I marched in gay pride parades with my church.

I was lost in lust and sin, and I felt shallow and empty.  I needed God.  I was in several short-term relationships with men.  I had safe casual sex with men.  It was wrong.  One day, early last year, my homosexuality just went away.  I can’t explain it.  It just went away.  I told my divorced parents and they were happy for me.  I regained family and friends, but I needed direction: good, moral direction.  No longer gay, I started looking for morally good churches.  I watched a lot of religious TV.  I watched televangelists, but their preaching seemed so fake.  I explored Mormonism for a very short time: 2 weeks.  The Mormon missionaries told me to pray to God and ask Him to show me proof that Joseph Smith was a true prophet from God and that Mormonism was the one, true way.  I prayed it.  I didn’t get a feeling or sense that it was true.

I started watching EWTN – the “global, Catholic channel.”  I like the rituals in the Mass and the style of worship: it seemed like authentic worship.  I watched and prayed the rosary.  I felt a holy presence when I prayed the rosary.  I didn’t yet understand it, but I couldn’t deny it felt truly sacred and right.  Then, unexpectedly, I found that prayer again – the one I prayed as a teenager on vacation – the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  I prayed and sang it again and cried.  However, I wasn’t committed to becoming Catholic yet.  I needed a push and got it.  While my mom went to her Southern Baptist church, I stayed home and watched Mass and always watched and prayed the rosary before it.  I did this for months and then came the push I needed – my mom said, “Josh, if you want to go to a local church, just find one.”  I did just that.  I looked for Catholic churches in Waverly, Ohio, and found one – St. Mary’s Queen of the Missions.  Right away, I knew I had to become Catholic.  I felt called to live a chaste life and remain so to this day.  I felt a closeness to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  I prayed for her intercession several times and my prayers were answered.  Each time.  I asked St. Mary’s church in late October (I had been attending for a month, I think, about that time) how I do become Catholic and when could I do it.  One of the kind women there told me I needed to go through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) and I needed to talk to a priest.

I spoke with a Father Dooley and they immediately recommended me to RCIA.  I was approved on my birthday (11/13) of 2017.  It was the best present of the day.  Now, back to the present time, I have been through the Rite of Acceptance, Rite of Election, completed all my Scrutinizes.  I will conclude this after that last Rites of Initiation have completed.  My mom has noticed how becoming Catholic has changed me.  I am a better person, a loving person.

Now to Holy Week:  The Holy Thursday service was beautiful, and I had to miss Good Friday service due to my car breaking down.  The day I long awaited had finally come: the Easter Vigil.  It was a beautiful experience.  We processed in the dark church with the Easter Candle and then lit our candles from it.  Readings from the Old Testament (4) were read and then 1 epistle (lights turned on) and then the Gospel.  After the Gospel, the Father said his wonderful homily.  Then, my Rite of Baptism began.  My head was really wet lol Then I had the Rite of Confirmation.  Finally, I received the Holy Eucharist, and how I had awaited this moment:  it went so well.  I had such a feeling of joy and peace throughout the service, which lasted 3 hours.  I received 2 Confirmation gifts: a rosary and a Sacred Heart of Jesus medal necklace.  Everyone was very friendly, and it went well.

My initiation into the Church was completed with the Neophyte Mass.  Neophyte, which means “newly enlightened,” which is what I have become – enlightened with the light of Christ.  I am not perfect nor pretend to be, but becoming Catholic has made me a better person.  The picture embedded is myself standing by the Bishop of the Diocese of Columbus with the other Neophytes from my parish and our RCIA teacher.

I am finally Roman Catholic and so glad to be home.  I will make a habit of going to the Sacrament of Confession or Reconciliation.  I feel a calling, but I am not sure as to what vocation: lay apologist, deacon, or priest.  Christ has done so much for me and I will give back to the Church that has given me so much.  The Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, have answered my prayers through Christ.  This is my story.  I hope it can be used to help others.  Hallelujah.

Resurrection and Easter

Matthew 28 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Resurrection

28 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

The Report of the Guard

11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

The Great Commission

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 

Easter week is about to end.   My last article was about the sacrifice of love Jesus Christ paid for us on the cross to die for our sins, but for our sins to be forgiven, we have to first be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Then, be confirmed by a priest, and receive the Eucharist – the miraculous mystery as the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus Christ – at every Mass wherever and whenever it is held.

We are to be resurrected too – at the last day or Judgment Day when the world ends and Jesus comes again.  We must be absolved of our sins or we go to Purgatory.  If we have unforgivable mortal sins, we may go to Hell.  All the more reason to go to your parish priest and confess you sins sincerely.

Peace be with you and Happy Easter!

Lent and the Sacrifice of Love

This year’s Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the liturgical celebration of Lent, is on St. Valentine’s Day.  Initially, I found this to be odd, but upon contemplation, I found it to be the perfect day for both days.  St. Valentine was a Christian priest who performed Christian marriages against the decrees of the pagan Roman Emperor in the 3rd century CE/AD.  He was martyred for it and later declared to be a saint by the Church.

Lent marks the mourning of the death of Christ by crucifixion of the Romans believed to have happened around 30-33 AD as Jesus was 33 when he was crucified (Good Friday).  Of course, he arose from the dead on the Sunday morning, which we celebrate as Easter, which is when Lent stops and we can stop mourning and start celebrating with great amounts of light in the church for Mass that Easter Vigil night and Easter morning.

To mark this mourning period (40 days excluding Sundays), we take an ashen cross upon our heads as a sign that we are faithful Christians and remember the sacrifice of love that Jesus made for us.  You see, love is the key.  Love is why Jesus Christ chose to die for humanity’s sins so that when we are baptized (first cleansing of our sins) in the Trinitarian formula; we are born into eternal life.  Since we are human, we are likely to sin again; hence, the need for confession to the priest for what we must do for absolution.  Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on that Easter morning gives us hope for a hopeful place in Heaven with him, the Blessed Mother, and all the saints.  Jesus loved us so much that he suffered humiliation, mockery, torture, and cruel pain by being nailed to a cross.

For Lent, we aren’t asked to sacrifice much: simply no meat on Fridays (in honor of Good Friday) and we go through the 14 Stations of the Cross.  These are the key 14 moments in the horrible events of Jesus Christ’s passion (in Latin, passion means suffering) and death.  Normally, we fast by eating either one big meal and two smaller meals or 2 small meals during Lent.  Fish is usually consumed on Friday’s as an act of this mourning period since meat is forbidden (except on Sunday’s).  Typically, one is also asked to sacrifice something else too, such as not eating something we enjoy and substitute it for something else.  One may, as Pope Francis recently suggested, we give up bad attitudes and start living with good attitudes, such as having compassion and forgiveness.

I hope this article helped you understand Lent.  I will become Roman Catholic on March 31st during the Easter Vigil this year, but before that I must go through the period of Lent.

God bless!

 

 

Divine Mercy

In 1935, St. Faustina of Poland received visions from God, which is published in her diary and her own work about Divine Mercy.  These visions state that mercy exists for everyone, if they ask and pray for it.  A special rosary prayer is recited from the words of her vision that God to her known as the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  Roman Catholic and some Anglican churches celebrate this mystery the first Sunday after Easter.

This is from the following link:  http://www.thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/praythechaplet.php

1. Make the Sign of the Cross

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

2. Optional Opening Prayers

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.

(Repeat three times)
O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!

3. Our Father

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.

4. Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.

5. The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

6. The Eternal Father

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

7. On the Ten Small Beads of Each Decade

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

8. Repeat for the remaining decades

Saying the “Eternal Father” (6) on the “Our Father” bead and then 10 “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion” (7) on the following “Hail Mary” beads.

9. Conclude with Holy God (Repeat three times)

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

10. Optional Closing Prayer

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.