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Eucharist Priest

Image by Robert Cheaib from Pixabay

Full disclosure: If I was as handsome as Fr. Mike Schmitz (and I’m not) I don’t think I would have ever thought about becoming a priest (and I did).   Let’s face it, he’s the Brad Pitt of Catholicism.

He’s so good-looking, my wife recently admitted to me that she can only listen to his podcasts because his good looks are too distracting.

For Catholic answers, my go-to-guys were always Patrick Madrid, Scott Hahn, Brant Pitre and alike.   Because of this, Fr. Mike’s face kept on popping up in my queue.

I kept ignoring them because, well, he was just too handsome.  

Because of his looks, I just thought that he was just a silly front man for some kind of watered-down ecumenical theological program.  So, for the longest time, I simply ignored him.

One day, I was scrolling through a series of YouTube videos from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, I came across a panel discussion for the “Defending the Faith Conference” with Patrick Madrid — and Fr. Mike Schmitz.

Father-Mike-Schmitz-Dating-Project

So, I listened — and discovered that I was dead wrong about the handsome dude in the Roman collar.  The next time he appeared in my queue, I took the bait. Eventually, I began regularly watching his short vlogs for Ascension Presents.  

Not only did I find Fr. Mike Schmitz entertaining, I also found his vlogs informative, spiritually enlightening and, above all, in line with Church teachings.

A few weeks ago, while going forth from Mass, my boys and I stopped to preview the Catholic Lighthouse Media display at the back of our church for something new.  On the rack, I spotted Fr. Mike Schmitz’s Jesus is… CD.

“I think you might enjoy this one,” I told my boys.

My five-year-old protested when I put it in the CD player in our car as we drove home.  (Yes, our car still has a CD player.)   Fr. Mike, however, immediately grabbed my five-year-old jokester’s attention.

“Let’s start off with a prayer, Amen?”

The crowd replies, “Amen!”

“Alright, that was it.”

That’s all it took! 

Since we’ve listened to that CD so many times that my boys cannot only tell you that a lack of Caribou Coffee causes a headache, they also know the difference between an Objective argument and a Subjective one.

Above all, no pun intended, they can not just tell you who Jesus [truly] is…, they can also tell you who He truly is not!

Once my boys discovered Fr. Mike Schmitz was a YouTuber, his status catapulted him into a totally new sphere of awesomeness. He’s now up there with Zach King, EvanTube HD, Dude Perfect, and Halfway Memes.

Listening to theological podcasts went from something I do to something we do together!  To be more precise, its something my boys want to do together with me.  For that, I am forever grateful. That is why I say …

“Thank you, Fr. Mike Schmitz!”

James Henry is also the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, James DobkowskiTwasHail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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My blog this week was to mark the 40th year of my Dad’s premature passing from cancer.  It started sadly like this…

It always begins around the end of April.

Right around the time the snow melts and the trees begin to bud, the itch begins.  It’s hardly noticeable at first, then it begins to intensify.  Over time, an abrasion shows.  Soon, it becomes sore and finally, it opens into a small wound.

It’s been going on like this for years — 40 years exactly this week.

The more I try not to notice it, the harder it is to ignore.  Soon, I am reminded of the scar it left behind.

I stopped there — at a loss for words.  The plan was to write about the sadness of losing a loved one.  The continual pain it causes; its lasting side-effects, especially when a child loses a parent.

But I just could not find the words or the strength to continue. Then it happened…

On the anniversary of my dad’s death, I received a text from a close childhood friend, whose wife, also a dear friend, has been in her own grudge-match with cancer.   

In short, it read:

We went to the doctor on Monday and … the tumor has disappeared!

Coincidence?  There are no coincidences with God.

The day that has been marked by sadness for decades now has been transformed into a day of celebration; and like that, the words came to me:

A song of praise rose from the silence, gliding on the wind, capturing my full attention.  and these words were whispered into my ear.

“Rejoice!  Your Dad is up here with Me!”

 

James Henry is also the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, James DobkowskiTwasHail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

 

 

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Image by Oleg Ilyushin from Pixabay

Every now and then, I get into a religious chat.

And, every now and then, the person I’m talking to will pause in the middle of the conversation, lean forward, and politely ask me, “You really don’t believe the Catholic Church is the One, True Faith, do you?”

The first time that it happened I was caught off guard.

I found it odd that the person thought that under a shroud of secrecy I would come clean and denounce the faith I dutifully promote publicly.

Today, I’m better prepared for the question then I was that day.  However, my response remains the same:

Don’t you believe the church you attend is the One, True Faith? … If not, then why do you belong to it?”

Disagreements, like this, among Christians are not new.

In his Commentary on Galatians, the prolific St. Jerome wrote about a minor squabble between some early Christians in Ephesus and St. John the Apostle.

The blessed John the Evangelist lived in Ephesus until extreme old age. His disciples could barely carry him to church and he could not muster the voice to speak many words. During individual gatherings he usually said nothing but, “Little children, love one another.” The disciples and brothers in attendance, annoyed because they always heard the same words, finally said, “Teacher, why do you always say this?” He replied with a line worthy of John: “Because it is the Lord’s commandment and if it alone is kept, it is sufficient.”

This example of St. John should remind us that we must let our conversations always be full of grace.   As apocryphal as it may be, this lesson taught by St. John is applicable even today.

Simply put, it doesn’t matter what you believe — be it Faith Alone, Grace Alone, Scripture Alone or any other dogma de Fide.   You are only truly of the One, True Faith when your daily practice starts and ends with the simple commandment to Love Alone!

Sola Caritas!  Blessed Pascha!

 

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

 

 

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Image by Célio Silveira from Pixabay

Recently, I changed faith communities.

At my first “new”parish meeting, I discovered that the congregation has been trying to build a parish center for years.  By the end of the meeting, the battle cry for building a parish center sounded — again!

And like most parishes, it came in the form of a massive fund drive.

This hasn’t been the first time that I witnessed something like this. When I lived on the other coast, the parish I belonged not only started to raise funds, they also looked to outside sources for financing, in the form of a loan, to build their new parish center.

But … that’s not how it was done in the past.

In the past, Church-projects began with Faith. The building started, and then the work went on — sometimes for decades — until all the entire project was completed.

Take a look at Our Lady of the Assumption in Kentucky. Known as the “Little Notre Dame”, work on this wonder spanned more than 10 decades.

Today, however, we expect projects to be fully-financed and completed in 2-3 years.

What kind of example of faith is that?

Why do we build churches this way?  Like modernists?

Why don’t we build churches the way we use to?

Such a system of civil engineering diminishes the potential contributions of the poor in the parish while elevating those with higher means.  Also, what participation do the children have in such as “quick scheme” system? What sense of ownership?

Over the course of four scores, a multi-generational community formed at Our Lady of the Assumption in Kentucky; a spiritual house built with a sense of an eternal God.

With such long-term construction efforts, faith grows as the project grows — over time.

The young learn the lesson: rewards come to those who wait; and with it comes an understanding that we are placed here on this very rare Earth to take strides, both large and small, that will make this oikos we all share, a better place, for all who follow.

So, we have to stop building churches like we build our modern homes, structures and public works; churches that solely fit the needs of a present-day community.

We have to again start building churches like we once did: Brick-by-brick, with the eternal in mind, until we have a house of worship built around the cornerstone complete of living stones.

Blessed Pascha!

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

Judas Shiling

Lunaria (Judas Shilling) Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Few realize that the Passion narrative listed two Judases among the attendees of the Last Supper.  

Judas Thaddeus, became a saint. The other, Judas Iscariot …  well, most people know what famously happened to him.

Most know Judas Thaddeus by the popular name St. Jude, the Patron Saint of lost causes.  He is also the namesake of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the author of the Epistle of St. Jude.

Catholic writer Michal Hunt suggests that Judas Thaddaeus became known as Jude after early translators of the New Testament, in English, sought to distinguish the saintly Judas from the not-so-saintly Judas Iscariot, abbreviating his forename to Jude.[1]  

Both Jude and Judas are translations of the name Ὶούδας in the Koine Greek language original text of the New Testament, which in turn is a Greek variant of Judah (Y’hudah), a name which was common among Jews at the time.  

Most versions of the New Testament in languages other than English and French refer to Judas and Jude by the same name.[2]

According to the Catholic Catechism, [i]n Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.

According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two “senses” of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.

Literally, there were two apostles with the name Judas.  Coincidence? Maybe? But with God, there is no real coincidences.

When we take a look at the two Judases in the spiritual sense, we not only see the unity of God’s plan in scripture, but we can [also] acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance. [3]

Judas Iscariot sold Jesus for 30 silver pieces, the cost of a slave, much like Judah did in the Old Testament, when he sold his brother Joseph into slavery. 

The robe Joseph wore at the time was drenched in blood.  He was thought by Israel (his father) to be dead.  Sound familiar? 

However, Joseph was not dead!

Joseph rose in the ranks in Egypt, to the right hand of Pharaoh, symbolically rising from the dead in the eyes of his brothers, only to save the people of Egypt and of Israel (Jacob) with wheat.

And, of course, we all know what we make with wheat?  Bread!  And what is the Eucharist, the bread of eternal life, made from?  Yes, bread — made from wheat!

Interesting, yes?

Much like the betrayal of Judas Iscariot, we tend to focus on the betrayal of Joseph more so than on the redemption story of his brothers, more specifically the redemption of brother Judah.  

Remember, Judah was not the oldest son of Jacob.  However, he stepped forward to defend Benjamin and offer his life in exchange for the life of his youngest brother. 

From the beginning of the story to the end, Judah grew spiritually, as Rabbi Loevinger states, in empathy, compassion, forgiveness and self-sacrifice.

In the midrash, it says that it was  Judah who, first, convinced Jacob, the father, that Joseph, his favorite son, was dead because he did not know the “pain of children.”   Then, Judah married and had sons.  

Becoming a parent profoundly changes a person.  You can say, with the birth of a child, one becomes reborn.

Likewise, Rabbi Loevinger continues, Judah became a new man after the birth of his children.  His empathy as a father, accordingly, lead to his compassion, and it seems that Judah’s compassion was so great that he could not let his father again lose a favored son. [4]

Though the New Testament narrative literally gives us two apostles named Judas, in an allegorical sense, it also presents us with the two Judahs of the Old Testament; the one who betrayed the love of the Father and the one who compassionately and willingly prepared to forfeit his own life for the Father’s Son.

In the spiritual sense, scripture anagogically presents, to the readers of the Gospel accounts of the Passion, this question: Which Judas are you?

At face value, it might appear to be an easy question to morallanswer.  

But is it really?

Blessed Pascha!

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

 

He has Risen!

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

And on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared.

And they found the stone rolled back from the sepulchre.

And going in, they found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

And it came to pass, as they were astonished in their mind at this, behold, two men stood by them, in shining apparel.

And as they were afraid, and bowed down their countenance towards the ground, they said unto them: Why seek you the living with the dead?

He is not here, but is risen. Remember how he spoke unto you, when he was in Galilee,

Saying: The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

And they remembered his words.

And going back from the sepulchre, they told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest.

And it was Mary Magdalen, and Joanna, and Mary of James, and the other women that were with them, who told these things to the apostles.

And these words seemed to them as idle tales; and they did not believe them.

But Peter rising up, ran to the sepulchre, and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths laid by themselves; and went away wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

— Saint Luke

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

 

Lamb

Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay

Recently, I stumbled across an email I sent in 2010!

Have you ever read something you wrote in the past and thought, “Wow, I wrote that?”

That’s exactly what I did when I read this email so many years later.

It appears that it was a written response to an email sent to me by very close friend.  His email contained the blog article posted in  Biblical Archaeology Society’s Bible History Daily titled “Was Jesus’ Last Supper A Seder?”  The link in the email no longer works.  However, I googled the article and found the new link HERE.

After I completed the email, I Cc’ed it to many of my close friends.  Today, I am sharing it with you.  Enjoy!

Thank you for the link to the interesting article.  I enjoyed reading different perspectives on a tradition that has been celebrated in the Church for almost 2000 years.  With that, I am Bcc’ing it to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for their enjoyment.  But before I do, I’d like to make a few points where I believe the author erred.  

Like many Christians, the author makes the grand mistake in believing that the synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John do not match. Therefore, his judgment that the Last Supper cannot be a Passover meal is sadly incorrect. 

Though not a Seder, which he correctly mentions was a tradition created after the fall of Jerusalem, all four Gospels do place the Last Supper on the same day,  Holy Thursday, … let me explain.

In Jewish tradition, if Passover (Nisan 14) lands on the Sabbath, Friday night, which the Gospels dictates was Good Friday, the pascal lamb slaughter occurs on Nisan 13, since slaughtering lambs is “work,” and the Passover feast takes place immediately following the slaughter, that night, which would be Nisan 13; or it is moved to Saturday night, Nisan 15, which is why Mark writes, “The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were to take place in two days’ time.” 14:1

With that, Luke 22:7 mentions that the Passover meal takes place on “day of sacrificing the lamb”, which was Nisan 13; Matthew 26:17 “on the first day” — again Nisan 13 — because, as Mark tells us, Passover (or the night of Passover meal) is now taking place over two days [Nisan 13 or Nisan 15]; and John 13:1 confirms this by stating that the meal took place on Nisan 13 “before the feast of Passover” (Nisan 14.)  [NOTE: St. John’s use of this term will make more sense when the Quartodecimen Controversy is discussed below.] 

Therefore, the Last Supper took place in all four Gospels on Thursday, Nisan 13.

What does this mean?  It means that the only lamb slaughtered on Nisan 14, the only sacrifice that took place on Nisan 14, the true Passover, was the sacrifice of the true Pascal Lamb, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, Whose Blood washed away our sins. 

Truthfully, that’s all that really matters. 

[Spiritually,] the following does not really matter.  However, I promised to mention the Quartodecimen Controversy, so for you DieHards, I’ll continue.  And, I’m on Spring Break….  

The placement of the Last Supper on conflicting days leads the author [of the article] into more error.  For example, he twists the Quartodecimen Controversy as a “Semitic plot” when he writes “… to encourage Christians to celebrate Easter on Passover would it not make sense to emphasize the fact that Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples just before he died?”

The writings of the Church Fathers, however, tell us that it was the followers of the author of the Gospel of John, St. John the Apostle — especially St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrma — who celebrated Easter after Passover (Nisan 14), not the followers of the synoptic authors, Matthew, Mark, & Luke, which would put in question that author’s belief that ‘John gets the Post-Passover date of the Last Supper correct.’ 

[Quartodecimen stands for 14 — as Nisan 14.  This practice caused “controversy” because the early Christians who followed this practice (e.g. the early followers of St. John the Apostle) celebrated the Resurrection of the Lord on the third DAY after Nisan 14 not the SUNDAY following Nisan 14.]

On a side note, Easter, like Passover, is still “lunar” based.  Easter ALWAYS falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon that follows the first day of Spring.

Finally, and even less important, the author continues to error when he writes, “The Orthodox churches preserve the earlier custom of using leavened bread.”

The Maronites (Syrian and Palestinian Christians), the Churches of Jerusalem and Alexandria, and the Armenians, all use unleavened bread.  

According to St Thomas Aquinas, in the beginning, both in the East and West, unleavened bread was used.  When the sect of the Ebionites arose, who wished that the Mosaic Law should be obligatory on all converts, so leavened bread was used [to combat the heresy]; and when this heresy ceased, the Latins again used unleavened bread, but the Greeks retained the use of leavened bread.  In short, leaven bread was used to break the heresy!

With that, the Latin rite can use leaven bread if no unleavened bread is available and vice versa; which means that it is a strongly held tradition (small t) that Jesus used unleavened bread at the Last Supper.  Latin-rite Catholics follow this tradition because of the belief that a “good Jew,” which Jesus undoubtedly was, would NOT have “leaven” in their house during the days of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, which begins on Nisan 14 and continues until Nisan 21…  [However, the Last Supper took place on Nisan 13.]

I’m not a theologian, but like I tell my wife “If I can figure this stuff out….”

Maybe much of the connection between Christ and the Passover lamb is lost on us English-speakers because we use term Easter to refer to the feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord.  Most of Christian world uses a variant of the word Pascha (Greek: Πάσχα).

  • Latin – Pascha or Festa Paschalia
  • Greek – Paskha
  • Bulgarian – Paskha
  • Danish – Paaske
  • Dutch – Pasen
  • Finnish – Pääsiäinen
  • French – Pâques
  • Indonesian – Paskah
  • Italian – Pasqua
  • Lower Rhine German – Paisken
  • Norwegian – Påske
  • Portuguese – Páscoa
  • Romanian – Pasti
  • Russian – Paskha
  • Spanish – Pascua
  • Swedish – Påsk
  • Welsh – Pasg

Pascha is a transliteration of the Greek word, which is itself a transliteration of the Hebrew Pesach, both meaning Passover.

Recently, I discovered an interesting tidbit about the pascal lambs and the shepherds who visited the Infant Jesus at the time of his birth.  Some evidence points to the fact that the sheep that these shepherds tended to, in the fields outside of Bethlehem, where the Temple lambs raised to serve in Temple sacrifices, including Passover.  These lambs were believed to be “wrapped in swaddling clothes” (Luke 2:12) to protect them and keep them “without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:19)

According to tradition, these “unblemished” lambs were sacrificed on Nisan 14 between noon and 3pm — the same time Christ hung on the cross.

The Passover “lamb in which was commanded to be wholly roasted,” wrote Justin Martyr,, a second century Christian, “was a symbol of the suffering of the cross which Christ would undergo. For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross. For one spit is transfixed right through from the lower parts up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb.”

In short, Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes of way the sin of the world.”

And, isn’t it beautiful that this year’s Triduum takes place during the start of Passover.

Blessed Pascha! Chag Peasach Semeach!

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

 

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