The Cleansing of the Temple

In yesterday’s Gospel, we read Luke 19:45-48. It states: “And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.”

As we can see above, this is a very short Gospel reading. So you may be asking: “What gives, how can I apply this to my life?” When reading 1 Cor 3:16-17 & 1 Cor 6:19-20, both scriptures make it very clear that our bodies are temples of God Himself: the Holy Spirit. Being that we are temples made in God’s image (Gen 1:26-27) and are of even more value than the animals (Matt 6:26), how much more do we offend God when we do not keep guard of our hearts? Especially when we allow sinful passions to fill it by not fighting them off with prayer?

Jesus shows in Matthew 15:18-20, in addition to many other scripture passages, that the heart can cause us to sin when we do not guard it. Not guarding it causes us to defile the Image of God that we are made in. “But the things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart, and those things defile a man. For from the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man.”

St. Makarios says that: “The heart is but a small vessel: and yet dragons and lions are there, and there, poisonous creatures and all treasures of wickedness …” (Homily XLIII). I.E.; the sins and passions of Pride, Greed, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth.

With these words in mind, we must not be afraid to ask Christ to come within our hearts to drag out the passions of our soul. Being that the temple – in the words of Christ – “is a house of prayer”, so shall it be with our bodies and souls. This is why St. Paul commands us to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess 5:17). This can be done with the Jesus Prayer by allowing the Cleansing Breath of The Holy Spirit to fill our hearts and souls. But first, we must call upon the Holy Spirit to give us that desire. “The Name of Jesus cannot really enter a heart that is not being filled with the cleansing breath and flame of The Spirit. The Spirit Himself will breath and light in us the Name of The Son.” – Archimandrite Lev Gillet.

In the Book of Steps by St. Ephrem the Syrian, it states: “The body is a hidden temple, and the heart a hidden altar.” Just like the altar is the center of a church in where sacrifice takes place, so is the heart for our bodies and souls. Every action that we do as a result of it offers up to God either a spiritual perfume of incense or a gross odor.

Psalms 50:19 says “A sacrifice unto God is a contrite spirit, a contrite and humbled heart, Oh God, will not despise.” This is why as followers of Christ we must keep guard of our hearts, since the heart and the spirit cannot be separated in the spiritual sense. St. John Cassian states: “It is not so much the corruptible flesh as the clean heart, which is made a shrine for God, and a temple of the Holy Ghost.”

In light of all these words of wisdom from the Holy Scriptures and the Church Fathers, let us remember to keep guard of our hearts. Just as we would not defile our beautiful churches and blaspheme the Holy Icons, Liturgy etc; so must we also not blaspheme God by mocking Him by defiling ourselves, the living images (Ikons) of Christ.

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Hardness of the heart and forgiveness of neighbor

The coldness of the heart is a dangerous self destructing weapon and vice that can keep us enslaved. It is the cause of destruction, pride, apostasy, blasphemy, hatred, and rebellion against God’s Holy Law.

It was the hardness of heart that caused Lucifer to fall into pride and rebel against God. It is what caused the Pharisees and the Scribes to persecute Jesus Christ. It is what caused Judas to betray Jesus for the riches of this world. It is what caused the Rich man to be condemned to Hell for refusing to show mercy to the poor man Lazarus. We must ask ourselves, where do we stand?

Jesus says to love your neighbor as yourself after God. (Matthew 22:37-39) Yet, our sin stained flesh and it’s passions can easily cause us to ignore this commandment and go astray as a result of our spiritual wounds that need cleansing and healing, something that we cannot do on our own strength; but only by God’s life giving and nature restoring Grace.

This can be hard, especially if we are having a hard time forgiving those that have hurt us. However, let us examine the 5th petition of the 7 that’s within the Our Father. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this about the 5th petition:

“Here we’re begging for God’s mercy. This is the one line that causes many to stumble praying the Lord’s Prayer. If it just contained the first part no one would ever stumble with it (forgive us our trespasses) but the second past is there too: forgive us our trespasses As we forgive those who trespass against us (cf. CCC 2862).

In the words of Father Miguel Marie Soeherman: “In other words, we’re telling the Father: Father, please forgive all my offenses to you and to my neighbor, but do me a favor Father, forgive me only as I forgive others. If I don’t forgive even one person, then don’t forgive even one of my sins.”

So what are we to get out of this? That we should work on overcoming our hardness of heart, for we will have to answer for it when it’s time for our judgement. Let us not puff ourselves with pride and flatter ourselves because of the talents and gifts that we have, for all good things comes from God and God alone. Let us not refuse to forgive those that hurt us and even pray for them, though it may hurt. Let us, rather, Ask God to warm us with the presence of the Holy Spirit so that the cold passions of our heart may melt by His Divine Power, trampling over the wickedness of our hearts.

From the Byzantine Akathist Hymn to our Sweetest Lord Jesus: “Teach me to pray with faith and love. Pray in me, that with you I may love my enemies and pray for them.”

Apologetics 2.4: The Perpetual Virginity of Mary the Theotokos

(1). The “brothers and sisters” of the Lord in scripture are not Jesus’ biological siblings, but cousins and close relatives considering that the word cousin was not used in the ancient Aramaic spoken by the Jews in the ancient world.

(2). Being that Jesus Christ is the First – Born of the Theotokos (Matt 1:25), it would obviously mean that He is the oldest of all His “siblings”. Had this been the case, it would be against the ancient Palestinian tradition for the younger to correct and rebuke one’s elders, as we see His “brothers” do in John 7:3-5.

(3). In John 19:26, Jesus gives His Mother to the Apostle John. Had Jesus had siblings, He would have passed that care to the next oldest sibling. This was the ancient law of the Jews.

(4). Protestants and other heterodox sects use Matt 13:55 as one of the scripture verses to argue against Mary’s virginity considering that there is a list of “brothers” of Jesus by name; that being James, Joseph, Simon, and Jude. This was an argument used by the ancient Helvidius and Antidicomarianite heretics.

Yet, it must be taken into account that James, the “brother of the Lord” in Acts 9:27 is the Son of Alphesus, whereas the Martyred James of Acts 15:6 was the son of Zebedee. (See Matt 10:3, Mark 3:18). Jude, being the brother of James the Less (Luke 6:16, Acts 1:13) would have to also be the son of Alphesus.

St. Simon (not to be confused with Simon Peter), was known by the early church to be Simon, Son of Cleopas, in whom succeeded James the Apostle as Bishop of Jerusalem. On comparing John 19:25 with Matthew 27:56, and Mark 15:40 (cf. Mark 15:47; 16:1), we find that Mary of Cleophas, or more correctly Clopas (Klopas), the sister of Mary the Mother of Christ, is the same as Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joseph (Joses). That being said, St. Simon of Jerusalem was also the son of Mary of Cleopas, along with Joseph. (Not to be confused with the adoptive earthly father of Jesus).

Note: Cleopas and Alphaeus are the same person. Papias of Hierapolis, who lived c. 70–163 AD, teaches: “Mary the wife of Cleophas or Alphaeus, who was the mother of James the bishop and apostle, and of Simon and Thaddeus, and of one Joseph.”

(5). “Until” in Matt 1:24-25 is a idiomatic expression not to be taken literal, as 1 Sam 6:23 also expresses that Saul’s daughter didn’t have children until her death. Does that mean that she had children after her death? Of course not! In 1 Cor 15:25, it states that Jesus must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. Would that mean that His reign would eventually end? Absolutely not. (Luke 1:33).

Hilary of Poitiers: “If they [the brethren of the Lord] had been Mary’s sons and not those taken from Joseph’s former marriage, she would never have been given over in the moment of the passion [crucifixion] to the apostle John as his mother, the Lord saying to each, ‘Woman, behold your son,’ and to John, ‘Behold your mother’ [John 19:26–27), as he bequeathed filial love to a disciple as a consolation to the one desolate” (Commentary on Matthew 1:4 [A.D. 354]).

Athanasius: “Let those, therefore, who deny that the Son is by nature from the Father and proper to his essence deny also that he took true human flesh from the ever-virgin Mary” (Discourses Against the Arians 2:70 [A.D. 360]).

Augustine: “In being born of a Virgin who chose to remain a Virgin even before she knew who was to be born of her, Christ wanted to approve virginity rather than to impose it. And he wanted virginity to be of free choice even in that woman in whom he took upon himself the form of a slave” (Holy Virginity 4:4 [A.D. 401]).

Cyril of Alexandria: “[T]he Word himself, coming into the Blessed Virgin herself, assumed for himself his own temple from the substance of the Virgin and came forth from her a man in all that could be externally discerned, while interiorly he was true God. Therefore he kept his Mother a virgin even after her childbearing” (Against Those Who Do Not Wish to Confess That the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God 4 [A.D. 430]).

Pope Leo I: “His [Christ’s] origin is different, but his [human] nature is the same. Human usage and custom were lacking, but by divine power a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and Virgin she remained” (Sermons 22:2 [A.D. 450]).

Therefore, being that Mary was the spouse of the Holy Spirit, it is clear by scripture and by the teachings of the Early Christians that Mary remained a Virgin all the days of her life.

Apologetics 2.3: Iconography Pt.2

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In the words of my priest: “If you deny the use of icons, you deny the Incarnation of Christ.” How is this so? Because Jesus Christ, in the flesh, is the perfect Icon of the Father. 

Proof:
John 12:45 – “He who sees Me sees Him who sent Me”
John 14:6-10 – “‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?’”

Hebrews 1:3 – “the brightness of His glory and the express image [eikon] of His person, upholding all things by the word of His power” 


Collisions 1:15 – “He is the image [eikon] of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”

The holy father St. John of Damascus teaches the following: “If the Word of God truly took flesh, He could be depicted in images … In the old days, the incorporeal and infinite God was never depicted. Now, however, when God has been seen clothed in flesh and talking with mortals, I make an image of the God whom I see. I do not worship matter; I worship the God of matter, who became matter for my sake, and deigned to inhabit matter, who worked out my salvation through matter. I will not cease from honoring that matter which works my salvation.”

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The following Anathemas are taken from an 1111 edition of the Synodikon by a monk of the Monastery of Oleni in Moroea. “On every innovation and action contrary to the tradition of the Church, and the teaching and pattern of the holy and celebrated Fathers, or anything that shall be done after this: Anathema!… On those who accept with their reason the incarnate economy of God the Word, but will not allow that this can be beheld through images, and therefore affect to receive our salvation in words, but deny it in reality: Anathema!

Those who apply the sayings of the divine Scripture that are directed against idols to the august icons of Christ our God and his saints: Anathema!

Those who share the opinion of those who mock and dishonor the august icons: Anathema!

Those who say that Christians treat the icons like gods: Anathema!

Those who dare to say that the Catholic Church has accepted idols, thus over-throwing the whole mystery and mocking the faith of Christians: Anathema!”

Thus, one cannot be a Christian and reject iconography, otherwise, one would have to reject the Incarnation in which is a heretical conclusion.

Do you love your neighbor?

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How can we say that we truly have the love of God within our hearts if we hate our neighbor? (See 1 John 4:20). Your neighbor extends to not only those in your community, nation, church, race, religion etc; but to all humanity. This is why Jesus gives a parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. Do take note that Jews and Samaritan’s had been enemies for hundreds of years (1 King’s 15:6, John 4:9) yet the Samaritan had mercy on the Jew that was beaten, robbed, and poor. Christ, being the Prince of Peace, used this parable to give us an example of how we are to live as Christians. This is because by our actions, we preach the Gospel. (James 1:22, James 3:13, Matt 5:16).

Therefore, we must struggle to do what is right, even if it hurts. Christ commands us to love our enemies and to not curse them. (Matt 5:43, Luke 6:27-28). Doing so is to live up to the virtue of humility. To conclude, let us reflect on the words of St. Peter, Chief of the Apostles: “Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “He that would love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile; let him turn away from evil and do right; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (He’s quoting Psalms 34:12-16). Now, who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? But even if you do suffer righteousness sake, you will be blessed.” (1 Peter 3:9-14).

Do not despise the poor!

A new gospel is being taught in this capitalist and materialist society we live in: “The rich are not obliged to help the poor.” As Catholics, we cannot hold such views since these contradict the Church’s teaching on the Corporal Works of Mercy. (Matt 25:34-45).

Scripture teaches: 

1 John 3:17 – “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

Proverbs 14:31 – “He that oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker: but he that honors him has mercy on the poor.”

Proverbs 28:27 – “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.”
Proverbs 31:8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

(Note: To refuse helping the poor willingly can lead to damnation: See – Luke 16:22-24, Matt 25:41-46).

Church Fathers: 

St. Ambrose: “You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his. For what has been given in common for the use of all, you have arrogated to yourself. The world is given to all, and not only to the rich.”

St. John Chrysostom – “The rich are in possession of the goods of the poor, even if they have acquired them honestly or inherited them legally.”

The Didache – “Share everything with your brother. Do not say, “It is private property.” If you share what is everlasting, you should be that much more willing to share things which do not last.”

Pope Pius X – “I was born poor, I lived in poverty, I wish to die poor.”

Apologetics 2:2 – Matthew 6:5-8 and Prayer.

Disclaimer: The commentary below was inspired by the Orthodox Study Bible.

When examining this scripture verse, here are some things that must be taken into account.

1. The Hypocrites miss the spirit of prayer, which is an intimate, personal communion with God that leads to the vision of His Glory. ( 1 Co 2:9).

2. Christ does not condemn the use of many words per se, but teaches that the words must express desire for communion with God. Therefore, it is vain repetition (pointless prayers without with the intention of having true communion with God) that are useless. Had repetition of prayer been condemned itself, Jesus would have not instructed us to repeat the Lord’s Prayer, nor would Luke 18:1 suggest to pray always; in addition to 1 Thess 5:17 demanding that we must “pray without ceasing.” In fact, the Book of psalms has many phrases in which we’re very repetitious! For example:

In Psalm 108 (109) King David continuously asks God for mercy. Verse 21: “Bless You, O Lord, O Lord, deal mercifully with me for your name’s sake, For Your Mercy is good.” He continues in verse 26: “Help me, O Lord my God; save me according to Your Mercy!” These are just a couple verses of the many examples of true repetitious prayer! (In fact, the continuous calling upon God’s mercy is exactly what we do when we pray the Jesus Prayer in the Eastern Churches).

3. True prayer is not telling God what He already knows and then telling Him what to do about it (a common practice we all unfortunately have done or continue to do), nor is it praying in-front of others to look pious. (I.E. worldly praise, the “reward” that the Pharisees got.) Rather, true prayer is (1) Humble. (I.E. “Go into your room” in Verse 6), (2) Personal. (“Pray to your Father”, Verse 6.) (3) Sincere. (“Do not use vain repetitions, Verse 7).

Apologetics 2:1 – Biblical Proof for the Liturgy

The Divine Liturgy of the Church is absolutely identical to the liturgy celebrated by the Old Testament Jews. Considering that the Old Testament was a prefiguration of the Church, it shouldn’t be surprising to see many corresponding elements.

For example, when comparing the Divine Liturgy to the Liturgy of the ancient Hebrews, it is evident by its nature that both liturgies have a Priest to celebrate a sacrifice for the remission of sins. In Leviticus 5, the Bible says:

“And he shall give them to the priest: who shall offer the first for sin, and twist back the head of it to the little pinions, so that it stick to the neck, and be not altogether broken off. And of its blood he shall sprinkle the side of the altar, and whatsoever is left, he shall let it drop at the bottom thereof, because it is for sin. And the other he shall burn for a holocaust, as is wont to be done: and the priest shall pray for him, and for his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.”

As stated above, the Old Testament was a prefiguration of the New Testament since Christ the Messiah has not yet come. This is why St Augustine, in his holy wisdom, explained it best when he stated: “The New Testament is hidden in the old, and the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New.”

Given that Jesus Christ has come to fulfill the law, (Matt 5:17) the sacrifice of animals are no longer necessary. Instead, we celebrate the sacrifice that Jesus has done for us on the Cross for the remission of our sins (Hebrews 9:12), in addition to also celebrating His Resurrection. This explains why we have an altar in our churches. The sacrifice is done when the priest says the words of consecration to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus; also known as the Holy Eucharist. (John 6:52 , Luke 22:19-20). This was celebrated every Sunday in the early Christian Church. (Acts 20:7).

Not only do we see the continuation of a sacrifice in the New Testament Church, but we also see the continuation of the use of Incense. The use of incense symbolizes both the presence of the Holy Spirit and the rising of our prayers to heaven. (Rev 5:8, Rev 8:1-5, Psalms 141:2). This can be seen within ancient Jewish worship as well.

Leviticus 2: 1-13 mentions how one must properly make a grain offering when it says: “Now if a soul should offer a gift for a grain offering to the Lord, his gift shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil on it, and put frankincense of it. He shall bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests, one of whom shall take it from his handful of fine flour and oil with all the frankincense. Then the priest shall put it on the altar as a memorial (emphasis added), a sacrifice of sweet aroma to the Lord … and when it is presented to the priest, he shall bring it to the altar …”

Other examples of this can be seen in Num 17:3-15, Tobit 8:2-4 , Songs of Solomon 4:6, WSir 39:14, Mal 1:11, & Isiah 6:1-6. Being that Jesus Christ, our Lord, is also a priest (Hebrews 4:14-16), this explains why the Magi have offered Jesus Incense as a symbol of His Divine Priesthood. (Matt 2:11).

In conclusion, we can see that the New Testament Church is the continuation of the ancient Jewish religion since Christ the Messiah has come! May Christ our Lord be Glorified unto ages of ages, amen!

Apologetics 2:2 – Apostolic Succession

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Minor Mysteries (or sacramentals to Latin Catholics) are known to be outward signs of inward graces. Being that vestments express these graces in different degrees depending on the rank of the individual cleric, it’s quite evident why these Apostolic Crowns are worn by Popes, Patriarchs, & Bishops; in addition to also being decorated the way that they are – to show the importance of the role that Bishop has; that being the authority to guide the church and to teach the flock.

 

Catholic Teaching on Apostolic succession:

 

CCC 77: “In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority. Indeed, the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.”

 

Biblical proof for Apostolic Succession:

 

• 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.”

 

• Acts 14:23: “They [the Apostles] appointed presbyters for them in each church.”

 

• Acts 1:16- 20: “My brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was numbered among us and was allotted a share in this ministry.  He bought a parcel of land with the wages of his iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out. This became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem, so that the parcel of land was called in their language ‘Akeldama,’ that is, Field of Blood. For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his encampment become desolate, and may no one dwell in it.’ And: ‘May another take his office.'(Emphasis)

 

Acts 1:25-26 Concerning the replacement of Judas:

 

To take the place of this ministry and apostleship , from which Judas hath by transgression fallen, that he might go to his own place. And they gave them lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”

 

Paul is succeeded by Timothy, who will be succeeded by “faithful people”, who will be succeeded by “others as well’.

 

Titus 1:5: “For this reason I left you in Crete so that you might set right what remains to be done and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you.”

Note: Titus is instructed to guide the flock, to teach, and to silence heresies from those outside of the true church that lack Apostolic Succession. (See Titus 1:10-11)

 

• Titus 1-10-11 “For there are also many rebels, idle talkers and deceivers, especially the Jewish Christians. It is imperative to silence them, as they are upsetting whole families by teaching for sordid gain what they should not.”

 

Note: the silencing of heretics is what you find within the Catholic Church by the magisterium, that being the Apostolic Tradition to anathematize heresies and individual heretics that do not recant their heterodoxy.

 

•2 Peter 1:3-4 bares witness to the teaching that Jesus Christ has promised the apostles and their successors guidance to teach truth by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

“His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power. Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.”

Early Church Fathers on Apostolic Succession:

 

Pope Clement I

“Through countryside and city [the apostles] preached, and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this a novelty, for bishops and deacons had been written about a long time earlier. . . . Our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry” (Letter to the Corinthians 42:4–5, 44:1–3 [A.D. 80]).

Hegesippus

“When I had come to Rome, I [visited] Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. And after Anicetus [died], Soter succeeded, and after him Eleutherus. In each succession and in each city there is a continuance of that which is proclaimed by the law, the prophets, and the Lord” (Memoirs, cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4:22 [A.D. 180]).

Irenaeus

“It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known to us throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors down to our own times, men who neither knew nor taught anything like what these heretics rave about” (Against Heresies 3:3:1 [A.D. 189]).

“[T]he Church is one, and as she is one, cannot be both within and without. For if she is with [the heretic] Novatian, she was not with [Pope] Cornelius. But if she was with Cornelius, who succeeded the bishop [of Rome], Fabian, by lawful ordination, and whom, beside the honor of the priesthood the Lord glorified also with martyrdom, Novatian is not in the Church; nor can he be reckoned as a bishop, who, succeeding to no one, and despising the evangelical and apostolic tradition, sprang from himself. For he who has not been ordained in the Church can neither have nor hold to the Church in any way” (Letters 69[75]:3 [A.D. 253]).

St. Jerome

“Far be it from me to speak adversely of any of these clergy who, in succession from the apostles, confect by their sacred word the Body of Christ and through whose efforts also it is that we are Christians” (Letters 14:8 [A.D. 396]).

A common question by non Catholics: “Who and how does one gain Apostolic Succession?”

Answer: Apostolic Succession is given to men alone. These are men that were given formation in the faith and have been ordained via the Mystery (Sacrament) of Holy Orders. These apply to deacons, priests, and Bishops.

In laymen terms, these are clerics that were ordained by a Bishop in whom passes on this Apostolic Succession through the laying on of hands (Ordination) . Ordination must come from Bishops in whom were ordained validly and can trace their succession back to the apostles. This can be found only in the Catholic Church – with the exception of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and the Assyrian Church of the East.

CCC 1536 – Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.

Biblical Support for Holy Orders:

•Acts 13:2-3 – “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them off.”

•Acts 14:23 – They appointed presbyters for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith.

Paul and Barnabas appointed presbyters (priests).

• 2 Tim 1:6,9 – For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. … He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began.

Apologetics 1.8: Call no man ‘Father’?

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If you have ever come across a Protestant, one common argument that you may have heard is “The Bible says to not call anyone father.” The scripture passage that they are  referencing is Matthew 23:9 in where Jesus says to not call anybody on earth your father. However, this must be taken in its proper context from the understanding of that time period and from Jewish lenses. In that time period, the Roman kings would identify themselves as “Father God” to replace the True Creator. Considering that this is blasphemy and outright idolatrous, Christ warned to not identify anybody on earth as “Father” in the context of “Father God”, for such would be idolatrous.

If Christ implied to not use the term “father” within itself, then we’d have to conclude that He and the scriptures have contradicted itself. Since Christ is God and cannot do so, nor can scripture since its inerrant and inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself, that’s impossible. All throughout scripture, the term Father is used by God Himself or His disciples.
Luke 14:26 – “If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, and yes, even his own life, he is not able to be my disciple.” Note, Christ clearly used the word father to refer to the earthly male parents of our life on earth. Christ is clearly not against the use of the term, for even the fourth commandment says to “honor your father and your mother.” Would this mean that God is contradicting Himself? Absolutely not. Again, context needs to be considered.

Later, in the book of Luke chapter 16:24, Jesus says the following when giving a parable: “And crying out, he said: ‘Father Abraham, take pity on me and send Lazarus, so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water to refresh my tongue. For I am tortured in this fire.’ ” This is also why in the book of Romans, Paul calls Abraham the “Father of us all.” (Romans 4:16-17)

Therefore, the reason we identify deacons and priests as ‘Father’ is because of their pastoral role as spiritual fathers in whom tend the flock, us as the spiritual children. This is the very continuation of how the ancient Jews identified the priests of their time period, thus St. Stephen the martyred deacon’s identification of the Jewish elders and priests as “fathers.” (See Acts 6:14)