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Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

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Image by Picography from Pixabay

About five years ago, I had hip-resurfacing surgery.  Though my condition was congenital, I lived a fairly active life until my mid-thirties.

I tried everything possible to heal myself, but could not.  I was nearly crippled by the time I decided to put my fate in someone else’s hands and go under the knife.

My post-surgical transformation has been nothing but miraculous; there’s really no activity I cannot do with my kids.

You can say that I have been physically reborn!

A day doesn’t go by that I’m not thankful to this man who healed me.  Today, I continue to go out of my way to talk to anyone I see on crutches or with a limp, to tell them about this miracle worker and the hospital where he practices.

It made me start to think: Isn’t this how the earlier Christians acted; those who saw Jesus perform His miracles?

Maybe that’s why they were so fearless in their praise and worship?

So, what about us?  Why are so many of us not talking to everybody about the miraculous transformation Jesus’ has had on our life?

Well, maybe you haven’t experienced a miracle in your life?

Okay…

Instead, imagine that this miracle worker just saved a life?   Maybe it’s your life? Or a life of a loved one?

What would you do FIRST?

In the initial moment, I would guess that you would be beyond grateful. Most likely, you’d be thankful to that person for the rest of your life.

I’d suspect that you wouldn’t be afraid to go around telling everybody you could about this person.  You’d most likely tell anyone who would listen how he or she saved you — and not worry if some people weren’t interest in what you had to say or were even put off by it.

It wouldn’t surprise anyone if you set aside a day to give that person thanks.  Maybe you might even ask the local government to honor him or her?

Eventually, however, you’ll come to realize that there’s really no way to pay this person back; or anyway to even pay forward on something like this.

Besides the honor and praise, you might start to evaluate your own life.  You might even change your habits.  Eat better.  Exercise.

Love deeper.  Speak sweeter.  Give forgiveness to those you’ve been denying.

You know how the song goes…

But the reality is: beside giving this person the honor and praise they rightfully deserve, there’s nothing you can do to express your gratitude except, maybe, to start valuing life over all other things.

But being human, you may finally feel a need to do something.  So, you might ask that person what they need? Or ask one or two of his or her friends?

These desires are all innate, given to us by the God who created us, as is the natural order of this process that begins with thanksgiving and followed by continuous honor and praise, and ends with the action to please.

As a Catholic Christian, when catechizing our children, I feel that we are no longer properly fostering the natural order of  desire when it comes to the One who saved us.

Instead, we have moved the need to do something, first and foremost, and with that, we have placed the teaching and practice of social justice before the praise and honor of the Savior.

Unlike the Social Justice teachings given to us by Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum and expanded upon by Pius XI in Quadragesimo anno, today’s social justice catechism perpetuates the gross misunderstanding that our Christian life and salvation starts and ends with acts of good works, a teaching supported and promoted by the “good feelings” such acts of kindness bring.

The Church does not teach this — nor has it ever!

In fact, the Church teaches that “[w]e cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved” [Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1533-1534]. CCC 2005

We are saved solely by the Grace of God; the God who so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Much like our poorly catechized 16th century brothers and sisters, this present-day catechism, taught in many of our parishes across the United States, has appeared to repackaged “good works” under the guise of true social justice.

In today’s social justice catechism, however, there’s little talk about the Son as the Christ who saved us, and therefore, even less discussion on why He deserves our daily devotion, let alone a day of Thanksgiving (Eucharist) during the week where we put aside all things  to honor and praise Him.

When discussing this, I can’t stop thinking about the last scene of Saving Private Ryan.   

After watching Captain John H. Miller, played by Tom Hanks, take his last breath, Matt Damon’s character morphs on screen to the present.   We discover that citizen Ryan has brought his entire family to pay homage — not because they were commanded to come, but because they wanted to join their father in this moment of honor and praise.

As he kneels in front of the stone-carved ivory cross that bears the name of the man who saved him, he humbly states, “Every day, I think of about what you said to me….”  Finally, he turns to his beloved wife and says, “Tell me I’m a good man”.

Absent such honor and praise, Religion becomes nothing more than a venue for service projects that anyone can do anywhere turning our service to  God into a mode of self-gratification — feelings and works — absent of a true reason or holy cause.

This is why, I believe, so many of our young people are leaving the Church in droves.

You cannot proclaim the nature of your service. You cannot say: This is what I will do!  This is how! and when! and why!  [As if] you are trying to match your will with God’s and call it service. [1]

Such service lacks Truth.  You know it and the Nones certainly know it.  And, that’s the  betrayal of the social justice catechism.

The only Truth is that there’s no possible way to pay back the One who has saved you — especially the One Who gave His life while trying to save yours.

All you can do is act like someone who truly believes that your life has been saved.

 

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul,and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL

 

1.  Taken from The Staircase (1998) about the Miraculous Staircase of the Loretto Chapel in New Mexico, USA.

 

 

 

 

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Image by PixArc from Pixabay

It was kind of an amazing sight — if anything about being part of a funeral procession could be amazing.

Minutes before, we had just viewed the wake of a close friend for the last time.

For me, she was a friend, a sister, someone I knew since high school.  To my wife, she was a close confidant.  To my boys, she was an aunt-figure who lavished them with love, gifts, and hand-me-downs — bags and bags of hand-me-downs.

She was the stand-in for our first-born’s Godmother, who couldn’t make it north from Nashville — a role that she would voluntarily play on a permanent basis.

After saying goodbye, we left the funeral home with heavy hearts, gathered in our minivan, and joined a long line of cars that followed her hearse from the funeral home down Montauk Highway to Wellwood Avenue, the main street of my home town of Lindenhurst, Long Island.

As we pulled up to the Church, our cars were stopped in the middle of the road by a traffic officer.   Second in this seemingly mile-long procession, we quietly watched and waited as the officer spoke to the driver of the car in front of us.

Shortly after, he slowly approached.

“Good morning,” I greeted him, believing that he was going to point us to an area set-aside to park.

“Just leave your keys in the car,” he politely commanded, seemingly in disbelief.  Then added, “… just in case we have to move your car.”

Park here?  In the middle of Wellwood Avenue? 

Wellwood Avenue is the main artery in and out of my hometown.  When our parents asked where we were heading after school, we would often say “Into town” which meant we were going to Wellwood Avenue.

It’s where we got pizza, ate ice cream, saw a movie.  It was the home to our restaurants, our Church, our local theater.

Only one street went from the shore line of our community to the very end of our town, and that was Wellwood Avenue!  It was, in more ways than one, our main street.

We did as he asked, as did the rest of us in the procession, and slowly exited, leaving our vehicles parked along the double yellow line.

That’s when it hit us all — and we moved forward, like zombies, in perpetual disbelief.

The streets were lined with bystanders.  Elected officials and police officers in dress uniforms stood at attention.  There wasn’t a parking — or standing — spot in sight.

Wellwood Avenue — Main Street — was shut down!

“You only see something like this if a President dies,” I whispered in the ear of my eldest.

My knees weakened as the bagpipes waled, seemingly guiding us all inside Our Lady of Perpetual Church, my childhood parish.

Like outside, the Church was adorned, wall-to-wall, with people from all walks of life.  Elected officials.  Teachers. Parents. Loved ones.  Relatives and friends.

Every parish priest and every deacon was present.  In fact, the officiant of the Mass came all the way from Virginia to serve and honor the deceased.

Absent, however, were news reporters.

You see, on paper, my dear friend wasn’t someone “special”.  She was just a mom, a housewife, and a friend.

She never sought higher office beyond the PTA.  She never sought fame or riches.

All she did was love and love large; so much so, that at news of her passing, a multitude came to pay homage. So many, in fact, that they had to shut down Main Street.

Seeing all this, I struggled, as a Christian, how someone so faithful to Our Lord could be taken so early and so painfully?

Finally, the priest approached the podium to give his homily.  He shared with us all an event that only he and her husband knew:  After being diagnosed with brain cancer, the doctor asked this couple if they had any questions.

“Can you give me three years?” she asked.

“One of my patients lived 20 years,” the doctor professed. “Most live four to 15 months.”

After leaving the doctor’s office, her husband turned to her and asked. “Why did you ask for three years?”

“You and the kids aren’t ready now, but you’ll be ready in three years,” she answered, and three years was the time she was granted.

Jesus, the priest reminded us, only had three years to prepare His family, the world.  Comparing my friend’s mission to that of The Christ, the priest defined Jesus’ mission as Love.

The priest then spoke directly to her husband, “Your marriage presented that Love to all who witnessed it.”

I was a groomsman in their wedding. I witnessed that Love first hand.   In fact, I wanted that same Love in my life, in my relationship with my wife.

I also knew that my dear friend had slipped into a coma only days after her wedding anniversary.

Suddenly, the yoke of my sadness was lifted.

You see, she knew, as the priest explained, that God didn’t make her sick.  She also knew that He can take a tragedy and use it to send a clear message of his Real Presence — and often He uses His most loyal followers to communicate this message of His Love.

Take the death of His Son, for example!

Soon, everyone in the Church and all the people lining the streets, would know what I had just realized…

“And like Jesus’ life,” the priest added, “your marriage, your Love-on-display, lasted 33 years.”

Of course, I’m paraphrasing.  An Irish funeral followed the Catholic funeral at the cemetery, so things might not be exactly as I remember them.

But for all those listening on that day, in that holy place, the veil was lifted and His message was clearly received.

therese-giganteTherese M. Gigante, beloved wife of Gerard; cherished mother of Christina, Gerard, Joseph, Annemarie, and Matthew; loving daughter of Margaret and the late Vincent Moran, caring sister of Ann Massetti, Vincent Moran, Mary Cramer, Margaret Cronin, Elizabeth Lovizio, Bernadette Haffner and Joseph Moran; adoring aunt to many nieces, nephews and, endearing friend to many more, died on November 15, 2019 exactly as she lived her life, sharing the gift of Christ’s Love to everyone she encountered.

Always a giver, she only asked for three things:

  • A Church funeral where we could all pray together.
  • An after-party where we could all drink, love, and laugh together.
  • And for us all to move on.

Well, we did our best and gave her two out of three!  Enjoy the video of her life.  You’ll quickly understand why it won’t be that easy for many of us to move on.

In the end, keeping true to herself, she gave us all a very clear and lasting message:  The only road that matters is the road you take to Heaven!

Rest in Peace, Reese, and may the perpetual light shine upon you!

#ThreeThirtyThree

 

ON A PERSONAL NOTE:  There will soon be a scholarship in Theresa’s name.  To honor Reese’s life in a special way, all my profits from the 2020 sales of my book:  Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, an inspirational novella, will go to that scholarship.  You can find the book on Amazon. com.  God bless.

    ++++++++++++++

James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul,and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL
James Dobkowski
Today, James lives in UpState New York where he continues to teach.

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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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Recently, I started following an admitted atheist on Twitter after s/he challenged me because I put a #Faith in one of my tweets. @[anonymous] Atheist showed an almost Christian brand of kindness when I revealed my #Faith became unshakeable after I felt the physical presence of God lift a major burden off of me.

Nota bene: I respectfully changed the person’s Twitter handle @[anonymous] Atheist.

Things were amicable and soon, we started following each other.  From time-to-time, I would respond to a tweet that I disagreed with. And s/he would respond in kind.

It all appeared cordial.

For the proof of God, I introduced [anonymous] Atheist to Fr. Robert Spitzer S.J. PhD, President of Gonzaga University from 1998 to 2009.  Fr. Spitzer had a series on EWTN titled ‘Finding God Through Faith and Reason’.  Today, he is the President of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith and President of the Spitzer Center.

He’s pretty deep and science-based, which speaks to my science background.  For the repliability of the Gospels, I posted this lecture by Dr. Brant Pitre.

I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Pitre and often refer to him as the “new Scott Hahn.”  (If you’re into Catholic Christian apologetics, you know what I mean.)

However, after I responded to these two response tweets — where [anonymous] Atheist asked someone in the twittersphere to present proof that God existed — s/he blocked me.

I didn’t realize it at first. I’m not very twitter-savvy.  I only discovered that I was blocked after I searched for the [anonymous] Atheist.

[anonymous] Atheist posted often and when I didn’t see any recent tweets, I grew concerned.  When I discovered that I was blocked for seeing his/her tweets, I tweeted:

Blocked? Really? I really enjoyed your tweets.

Soon after that, I couldn’t even find the [anonymous] Atheist on Twitter, altogether.  So, I thought, either there’s a nuclear blocking option or s/he has left the twitter world completely.

So, I used another Twitter account — and that’s when I discovered I was nuked!

Again, I’m not Twitter-savvy, so forgive me if these are not the proper Twitter-terms.

For a moment, I was sad. Did I say something offensive? I don’t believe I did.

Finally, I had to chuckle.

Wouldn’t that be ironic, I thought, offending someone who makes it a daily ritual trying to offend people — particularly people of #Faith?

Then it hit me: Isn’t that what is happening across this nation?

Social media has given everyone a soapbox to stand on.  [anonymous] Atheist is probably still out there, and still challenging people of #Faith.

Today, we are all truly globally connecting, yet sadly no one is really communicating.

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.

 

Suggested Reading:

Atheism Is Inconsistent with the Scientific Method, Prizewinning Physicist Says. Lee Billings.  Scientific America.  2019.

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Wednesday night, my wife and I had a very rare opportunity.

We were finally able to get out of the house, without our boys, for a date night.  We spent our evening together, with friends, at a preview of the faith-based film Unplanned.

The film is based on the true-life story of Abby Johnson, who went from Planned Parenthood clinic director to Pro-life advocate.  

Kleenex were handed out before the movie for what was expected to be a tear-jerker.  

Shortly after, a local pastor had us all, a private audience, bow our heads to pray for the end of abortion in the United States.

Though personally Pro-Life, I attended the film to support my wife, who was gifted tickets through our Parish’s RCIA program.  

To be honest, I would’ve enjoyed seeing A Star is Born with my wife rather than Unplanned.  My wife, however, is not a chick-flick kind of gal.  Since she cried when watching the trailer, I wanted to be there for her just in case she needed a shoulder to cry on.

You see, we lost our middle child, Jimmy, who was stillborn at 19-weeks.   

It’s difficult to lose a child at any age.  However, it’s even more difficult to openly express grief for a child most people don’t accept as a child — especially people who believe that life begins with “viability” outside the womb or don’t believe life begins at conception, as we do.

The loss affected my wife, more than me. 

She had a greater connection to our boy simply by the nature of carrying and nurturing  him for almost five months.  She also had to go through the pains of childbirth only to say “hello” and “goodbye” in the same breath. 

Don’t get me wrong; I mourn Jimmy, but for a completely different reason. 

Sadly, I never saw him alive.  

I was “too busy” with work.  The first time I accompanied my wife to the doctor’s during the pregnancy was the first time I saw the image of our baby on the sonogram.  He was oddly still.  His heartbeat was silent.

This unplanned loss, oddly enough, would soon become my greatest moment of Faith.

On the evening of the scheduled delivery, I not only felt the heavy cross of sorrow spiritually lifted off my shoulder as my wife and I prayed together before we entered the hospital;  I also felt the physical presence of the Almighty at our side.

In that time of pain and anguish, God lent me His strength to be the husband I was called to be at a time I needed to be a strong husband!

It’s amazing how such a sad and tragic event in my life is also my most evidential God-moment.  The still birth of our son, at 19-weeks, also gave me a greater awareness of the development of the fetus in a woman’s womb.

You can say this was a turning-point in my life, on many levels. 

Likewise, the movie Unplanned began almost immediately with the turning point in Abby Johnson’s life: Her witnessing a 13-week baby, on a sonogram, fighting off the attack of a surgical vacuum and eventually losing its life at the hands of an abortionist, who she was assisting.

The film quickly jump-cut, from that dramatic moment, back to Abby Johnson’s college years and her initial introduction to Planned Parenthood on her university’s campus.

From there, Unplanned chronicled the events in Abby Johnson’s life from naive Planned Parenthood volunteer to dedicated Abortion Clinic director.  Unplanned continues forward, showcasing her rising in the ranks, until the film returns to the first turning- point of the story, when she watched the sonogram of that 13-week baby whose struggle and death changed Abby into the defender of Life she is this day!

Though there was no cursing or nudity, the film received an R-rated.  Oddly, I think the controversy behind the film’s MPAA rating gave Unplanned a publicity boost, awaking a sleeping giant, an audience of Pro-Lifers across America.

A letter from Abby Johnson was read before the film began, pointing out the two scenes reportedly responsible for the film’s R-rated: a CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) sonogram re-creation of the initial abortion and the re-creation of an awful experience Abby had after using the abortion pill. 

Even though Unplanned had an obvious Pro-Life message, I had a problem with some of the film’s possible mixed messages. 

Christian and the Pro-Life most likely would not agree with Abby Johnson’s early life choices, however, others may see the life of Abby Johnson improving after being freed from the having a child — not once, but twice — with her loser boyfriend who later became her unfaithful first husband! 

Film is powerful.  These scenes, I feel, as they are portrayed, sadly play right into the hand of the pro-choice movement.

I thought it strange, as well, how observing the dissected body parts of an aborted fetus in a petri-dish had no impact on the film’s protagonist.  In fact, it appeared to only made her a stronger Pro-Choice advocate. 

Yet, after witnessing a two-dimensional sonogram of an abortion, the film’s protagonist became Pro-Life?

I couldn’t help but thinking that the short film Silent Scream, which has been out since 1984, could have been found online at that time.  Wasn’t she, or anyone she knew, aware of it? Or even curious?

I’m not questioning Abby Johnson’s character.  I’m just questioning the motion picture’s story-line and imagery.

There was one scene, for me, that favorably stood out.   It was a brief, yet it portrayed the true power and patience of our Heavenly Father

Pregnant with their first child, Abby was offered a promotion at Planned Parenthood.  If promoted, she would become one of the youngest clinic directors in the non-profit organization’s history.   So, she prayed and placed the promotion in God’s hands.

Her husband, in the film, as well as many around me in the theater, chuckled at the perceived irony of a Pro-Choice advocate believing that a promotion, from abortion clinic health counselor to abortion over-seer would involve God’s Will?

It may not be a part of God’s Will, but her promotion was certainly part of God’s Plan!

Think about it: If Abby never received her promotion, she may have never witnessed the sonogram of the abortion — and today, we’re discussing a movie about the conversion of Abby Johnson because of tha ultra-sound.

God, in His infinite wisdom, knew how and when Abby would see it — and He knew what would happen to Abby’s heart once she did!

As a film, Unplanned was good.  It just wasn’t great.  The highlight of the film was the performance of Ashley Bratcher, the actress who played Abby Johnson.

I prayed for Ashley, after the film, because knowing Hollywood as I do, I fear that her career may be negatively impacted by the success of Unplanned just as Jim Cavievel’s career suffered after playing Jesus in The Passion of The Christ.

The actress who stars in Unplanned, appears to be less fearful and believes the film is going to change history.  Not to be a negative Nellie, but I sadly don’t agree with her.

Do I think Unplanned will have an impact on our culture?  Yes, it will … with some folks! 

However, as I told my wife on the ride home, “Schindler’s List was so much more of a movie — and sadly anti-Semitism is at an all-time high today.” 

Likewise, the 1980’s short film Silent Scream can now be found on YouTube for all to see.

Yet, of 198 world nations, the United States is one of only seven countries that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks. Canada, China, the Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam are the other.  The Netherlands and Singapore allow abortions after 20 weeks, but ban it after 24 weeks.  (Astounding, isn’t it?  Almost unbelievable.  You can fact check it all here.)

So, I have my doubts that a computer-generated ultra-sound assisted abortion with have a stronger impact.

I am, however, praying for the hope that I’m wrong.  

I’m also praying that the faithful show up in droves and support Unplanned. 

Support, however, also needs to shared with the upcoming anti-abortion film Roe v. Wade when it is released.  And while we wait for its opening day, we need to go back  out, purchase the 2011 Christian-themed film October Baby, and show it to friends, as well.

Overwhelming support for Unplanned, and films like it, would simultaneously send a message to Hollywood and to our State and Federally elected officials that we have the heart to save lives, but the ways and means to change the hearts and minds of Americans.

 But Unplanned can only be a start!  

LIFE MATTERS. TEXT “HOPE” TO “73075”

 

 

 

 

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.  He also co-wrote and directed the play Faith Ties: A Christmas Drama.  His screenplay, based on the play, has garnered much attention.

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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St, Patrick

Image by Geraldine Dukes from Pixabay

The Feast of Saint Patrick, or simply, St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday held on March 17th, the traditional day of Saint Patrick’s death.  

Since the 9th century, Irish Catholics have historically gathered two days past the ides of March to venerate the priestly spirit of this saintly man named Patrick, who challenged a pagan people to embrace the one true God — and won!

To my surprise, I discovered that Saint Patrick’s Day is not only an official feast day in the Catholic Church, but also in the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church.

Surprising since St. Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day by the Church in the 17th century, almost a century after the Protestant divide and almost 700 years after the Great Schism, showing the impact Patrick had on the entire Christian community.

I understand the significance of this day for the Irish diaspora.  However, as grand St. Patrick’s accomplishments might have been, the day we celebrate his legacy has become an amateur drinking festival, hijacked by politicians and corporate sponsors.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with eating too much Corned Beef and knocking back a few pints to celebrate your Irish heritage.  I do!

I somewhat agree with John Waters that “Drinking in Ireland is not simply a convivial pastime, it is a ritualistic alternative to real life, a spiritual placebo, a fumble for eternity, a longing for heaven, a thirst for return to the embrace of the Almighty.”

Even Saint John Paul the Great thought it necessary for Catholics to have an intimate connection between faith and culture (Walsh, pg 15).

In the past, however, the majority of us who have had a wee’bit too much of the Shamrock never lost the thirst of the Almighty.

More and more, Irish Americans self-identify with beer drinking and bar-hopping than then we do with the Faith handed to us by St. Patrick.

The Celtic spirit burns in all of us – and sometimes, its a’bit hard to control.  (Trust me, I know).

So, on St. Patrick’s Day let your Celtic light shine!    But let’s  not forget why it shines!   It shines because our Patron Saint gave us the gift of the True Light!

As always, the Irish say it best.

Saint Patrick was a gentleman,
Who through strategy and stealth,
Drove all the snakes from Ireland,
Here’s a toasting to his health.
But not too many toastings
Lest you lose yourself and then
Forget the good Saint Patrick
And see all those snakes again.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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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Icon of Peter and Andrew

Icon of Sts. Peter and Andrew that Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras gave to Pope Paul

Most American Christians believe that all Christians celebrate Easter on the same day. In fact, 2016, one of the U.S. presidential candidates, wrote this:

This weekend, Christians of every denomination remember the most transformative event in history – Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection – the ultimate sacrifice that redeemed the whole world.

The fact is not every Christian denomination remembers Christ’s resurrection on the same Sunday.  In fact, this year, for the majority of Americans, we will celebrate Easter on April 21.  However, this year, our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters, will celebrate the resurrection a week later on April 28.

So, why are there two Easters?

Historically, the early Church did not have a set date for Easter.  In fact, not every Christian remembered Christ’s resurrection on Sunday.

The Catholic Encyclopedia informs us, that according to Irenaeus, “St. Polycarp, who like the other Asiatics, kept Easter on the fourteenth day of the moon, whatever day of the week that might be, following therein the tradition which he claimed to have derived from St. John the Apostle, came to Rome c. 150 about this very question, but could not be persuaded by Pope Anicetus to relinquish his Quartodeciman observance.”[1]

Interesting!

After that controversy ended, the Catholic Encyclopedia states that:

“…the second stage in the Easter controversy centers round the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325). Granted that the great Easter festival was always to be held on a Sunday, and was not to coincide with a particular phase of the moon, which might occur on any day of the week, a new dispute arose as to the determination of the Sunday itself. The text of the decree of the Council of Nicaea which settled, or at least indicated a final settlement of, the difficulty has not been preserved to us, but we have an important document inserted in Eusebius’s “Life of Constantine” (III, xviii sq.). The emperor himself, writing to the Churches after the Council of Nicaea, exhorts them to adopt its conclusions and says among other things: “At this meeting the question concerning the most holy day of Easter was discussed, and it was resolved by the united judgment of all present that this feast ought to be kept by all and in every place on one and the same day. . . in the city of Rome and in Africa, throughout Italy and in Egypt. . . with entire unity of judgment.” [2]

As already stated, we don’t have the exact words of the great council, but we may safely infer from scattered notes that the council ruled:

  • that Easter must be celebrated by all throughout the world on the same Sunday;
  • that this Sunday must follow the fourteenth day of the paschal moon;
  • that that moon was to be accounted the paschal moon whose fourteenth day followed the spring equinox;
  • that some provision should be made, probably by the Church of Alexandria as best skilled in astronomical calculations, for determining the proper date of Easter and communicating it to the rest of the world.

This was not a perfect solution. But it appears, by 525 AD all the Christian communities of the world were celebrating the Resurrection of Our Lord on the same Sunday.

So, what happened?

Why do Russian and Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter or Pascha, on one Sunday and everybody else celebrates the Resurrection of Our Lord on another Sunday?

Well, the Gregorian calendar happened — kinda.

According to Wiki: The Gregorian calendar, also called the Western calendar and the Christian calendar, is internationally the most widely used civil calendar. It is named for Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582.

Wiki states: The calendar was a refinement to the Julian calendar amounting to a 0.002% correction in the length of the year. The motivation for the reform was to bring the date for the celebration of Easter to the time of the year in which it was celebrated when it was introduced by the early Church. Because the celebration of Easter was tied to the spring equinox, the Roman Catholic Church considered the steady drift in the date of Easter caused by the year being slightly too long to be undesirable. The reform was adopted initially by the Catholic countries of Europe. Protestants and Eastern Orthodox countries continued to use the traditional Julian calendar and adopted the Gregorian reform after a time, for the sake of convenience in international trade. The last European country to adopt the reform was Greece, in 1923.

Blah, blah, blah-blah, blaaaah!

However, the Orthodox Church vigorously opposes the use of the Gregorian calendar, writes Fr. Jon Magoulias, a Greek-Orthodox priest at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Modesto, California.

This, he informs us, resulted in the West and East celebrating all Church feast days on different dates, the Orthodox celebrations always falling thirteen days behind the Western. [3]

In 1923, Fr. Jon Magoulias continued, an inter-Orthodox congress was held in Constantinople attended by representatives of some, but not all, Orthodox churches. This congress made the very controversial decision to follow a revised calendar that was essentially the same as the Gregorian calendar, for all things except the celebration of Pascha, which continued to be calculated according to the original Julian calendar.

The result being that today the Orthodox celebrate most feast days, like Christmas, Epiphany and the rest, at the same time as Western Christians and only Pascha and the feast days that are connected with it like Pentecost and the Ascension, are dated according to the Julian calendar and celebrated on different dates. [4]

Fr. Magoulias stated that for Orthodox, it is important to maintain the teachings and traditions of the Church intact and pure [5] — and I would argue, for Catholics, this applies as well.

But remember, I said the problem was that “the Gregorian calendar happened — kinda.” Well, the kinda is kinda important.

Catholics under the See of Peter believe Easter Sunday formula handed down by the First Ecumenical Council, held in Nicea in 325 AD is:

The first Sunday which occurs after the first full moon (or more accurately after the first fourteenth day of the moon) following the vernal equinox.

For Orthodox Christians, who no longer recognized the Pontiff as first among equals, the formula is this:

Pascha is to be celebrated on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, following the first day of Spring (March 21 on the Julian calendar), but always after Jewish Passover.  (This year, Passover or Pesach begins at sundown on April 19th (Nisan 14)  and will continue for 7 days until Friday, the 26th of April.)

And, that’s the kinda that makes all the difference!

Because of this difference, Christians celebrate the most Holiest of our Holy days on different days. By doing this, it appears to me, that we are acting more like they who divided His garments by casting lots than those followers who near the cross of Jesus stood.

Personally, I think holding on to the tradition of the Julian calendar is a bit like cutting off your nose to spite your face. We know it was an inaccurate measuring tool. It’s definitely not Divine. So, why continue to use it?

I understand that Orthodoxy can also point to Canon VII of the Holy Apostles to counter any argument against the Julian calendar.

For those unfamiliar, Canon VII states:

If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon celebrate the holy day of Easter before the vernal equinox with the Jews, let him be deposed. However, in the same breath, Canons XLV and LVX of the Holy Apostles respectively state: “Let any Bishop, or Presbyter, or deacon that merely joins in prayer with heretics be suspended, but if he had permitted them” and “If any clergymen, or laymen, enter a synagogue of Jews, or of heretics, to pray, let him be both deposed and excommunicated.

To that I ask: “How close are these Canons adhered to today by Orthodox clergymen or laymen alike today?” (For the record: My Lutheran wife and I often hold hands in prayer and my kid’s dojo is held in the hall of a synagogue. Just saying.)

Now, I would never ask anyone to compromise their beliefs, but there has to be some wiggle room here. It’s also not my intent is to pick only on our Orthodox brothers and sisters.

To Catholics, I ask you to answer this: Is there 100% certainty that you got the Easter formula correct?

It appears that the formula was never written down. Heck, even the Colonel’s fried chicken recipe and the secret recipe for Coca Cola are written down somewhere.

And since even the followers of the Apostle John got the formula wrong and later adjusted their practice, maybe we can conclude our date formula for Easter does not meet the standard of “an infallible Church teaching”?

Maybe?

Since sharing the same Pascha in 2017, Christians will not celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ on the same day and at the same time throughout the world until 2034.

We need this to change — and there’s only two people who can truly make this happen: Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartolomaios.

Francis-Bartholomew-1

Catholic News Service photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters


Here’s several ways you can address a letter to Pope Francis.

  • His Holiness, Pope Francis PP. / 00120 Via del Pellegrino / Citta del Vaticano
  • His Holiness Pope Francis / Apostolic Palace / Vatican City
  • His Holiness Pope Francis / Vatican City State, 00120

Do not write “Italy” or “Rome” on the envelop as the country. The Vatican is considered its own independent nation.

Since, unlike previous popes, Pope Francis is living in Casa Santa Martha instead of the papal apartment, another address you can try is this:

His Holiness, Pope Francis
Saint Martha House
00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City

Contact information for Patriarch Bartholomew His All-Holiness Bartholomew
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch:

Mailing Address of the Ecumenical Patriarchate:
Rum Patrikliği, Dr. Sadık Ahmet Cad. No. 19, 34083 Fatih-İstanbul, TURKEY
Tel:  +90 (212) 531.9670 – 6
Fax: +90 (212) 531.6533
E-mail: patriarchate@ec-patr.org

 

 

 

It’s time to call on the successors of Peter and Andrew to start acting more like brethren, and not children  (Cor 14:20).

 

Kalo Pascha! Festa Paschalia!

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James 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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