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Today is The 5th Saturday of Lent
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Jesus reaching out
Friday, August 6th

Daily Reflection on Scripture

I'm running short on time but I just wanted to write a quick note on the Transfiguration.

Only a couple times in scripture does the Father speak from heaven to those with Christ, but each time He has the same thing to tell those witnessing the event: "This is my Son." When someone doesn't speak often, we should be careful to listen intently to the words He says.

May we all have the Faith to truly know and fully understand that Jesus is indeed the Son of God.

kencraw on 08.06.04 @ 06:05 PM PST [link]

Scripture Quote of the Day

'Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up a mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep,
but becoming fully awake,
they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus,
"Master, it is good that we are here;
let us make three tents,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
But he did not know what he was saying.
While he was still speaking,
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
"This is my chosen Son; listen to him."
After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.'

Luke 9:28-35 from today's Gospel reading

kencraw on 08.06.04 @ 06:01 PM PST [link]

Question of the Day: Why is Elijah who is with Moses during the Transfiguration?

NOTE: If you'd like to submit a question, either post it as a comment in this entry or e-mail me at questions at thecrawfordfamily dot net.

Most people know who Moses is, but they don't know a whole lot about Elijah. As such they are confused as to why, of all the possible people from the history of the Jewish people it is him who is with Jesus and Moses at the tranfiguration. After all, he doesn't even get a book of the Old Testament named after him! hehe All joking aside (which of course isn't very funny since neither does Moses get a book named after him, (although most of us can say what books of the Bible Moses is referenced in, but I doubt know what books of the Bible Elijah is referenced in) but I digress), Elijah doesn't figure in very prominently, in fact not at all, in any of the bible stories we grew up knowing.

The simple answer to the question is that Moses represents the Jewish Law and that Elijah represents the Prophets. By conversing with Christ in His transfigured state they are witnesses to the fact that Christ is the fulfillment of the law AND the prophets.

So, why is Elijah representative of the prophets? Well, first of all, he never "died". He was "translated" into the afterlife so that he would not have to taste death. As stated in the Second Book of Kings "a fiery chariot, and fiery horses parted them both asunder, and Elias went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (2:11). Also, unlike many prophets who weren't appreciated as prophets until after their lives, Elijah's prophecies immediately came true.

He came to announce to the Israelites that there would be a long drought because of the apostasy of Israel. For three years there was no rain or dew. During that time Elijah went to the desert to live off food that raven's brought him. He returned at the end of three years to have a "showdown" between his God and the pagan god of the fallen away Jews. Both he and the king set up altars and called to their gods. Nothing happened for the pagans but "the fire of the Lord" fell on Elijah's altar and the nation of Israel worshipped God. The drought ended that very evening.

Much else transpired but eventually by the guidance of the Lord, Elijah brought a new Jewish King to power in Israel un-seating the pagan king, setting Israel back on the path of righteousness.

Later in the Old Testament there are numerous references to Elijah, particularly strongly in Malachi but also in Sirach, Ezra, Judith, 1st Maccabees and 1st and 2nd Chronicles, that Elijah would be sent back to the people. (Malachi 3:23)

As you can see, Elijah had a very significant role in the history of Israel and in prophesy. It is therefore no surprise that Elijah shows up again with Christ at the Transfiguration.

kencraw on 08.06.04 @ 06:00 PM PST [link]

Thursday, August 5th

Daily Reflection on Scripture

There's a tendency in the Catholic Church to think of St. Peter as being perfect all the time. After all, he is the rock on which the Church is built on, he must be perfect, right?

Well today's scripture should put to rest that thought. Although I've quoted in the scripture quote of the day the part where Christ tells him He's going to build His Church on him. But if you continue on, Peter immediately makes a mistake and Christ chastizes him.

We must always remember that to be human is to sin. What made Peter the rock of the Church was not that he was error free but that his faith always brought him back to the Lord.

May we always have the strength to continue to turn back to the Lord in our failings.

kencraw on 08.05.04 @ 04:59 PM PST [link]

Scripture Quote of the Day

'Simon Peter said in reply,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."'

Matthew 16:16-19 from today's Gospel reading.

kencraw on 08.05.04 @ 03:53 PM PST [link]

Question of the Day: Was St. Peter really in Rome? Why isn't that in scripture?

NOTE: If you'd like to submit a question, either post it as a comment in this entry or e-mail me at questions at thecrawfordfamily dot net.

The Catholic Church's believes that Christ ordained St. Peter as the first leader (Pope) of the Church and that the Papacy is the unbroken lineage of St. Peter's successors. One of the accusations made to try and contradict that claim is that St. Peter was never in Rome, the home of Papacy.

Before I go in the specifics of St. Peter being in Rome, it is important to remember that there is nothing special about the city of Rome. It is in truth not critical to prove that St. Peter was in Rome, only that the Pope's that followed him were indeed his successors. The Papacy has not always been centered in Rome. Most notably is that it was in Avignon, France for a couple hundred years during the middle ages when it wasn't safe for the Pope to be in Rome.

Now that I've made it clear that there's nothing special about Rome inherently, there is plenty of evidence that St. Peter was indeed in Rome. I'll start with the most convincing, the words of St. Peter himself in scripture (1st letter of St. Peter, chapter 5, verses 12-14):

"I write you this briefly through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it.
The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son.
Greet one another with a loving kiss. Peace to all of you who are in Christ."

"Huh?" You say. Well, this is Peter's ending to the letter, his signature so to speak. When he says "The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting" he's speaking of himself. "OK, that's fine, where's the part about Rome?" you continue. Well, when Peter was writing this, Christians were heavily persecuted. They had to assume that their letters would be intercepted by Romans who were intent on capturing them. Throughout the new testament, and most notably in Revelation (written by St. John), the term Babylon is used to refer to Rome. So, to translate this line to modern english without the code-language, St. Peter says "I, the Pope, send you my greeting from Rome."

Although I could do more to defend this point, since I have more points to make, I'll leave it at that: St. Peter says in his letter that he was writing from Rome.

The second piece of evidence is that no other city claims to be the burial site of St. Peter. While that may not seem very convincing at first, this argument is quite compelling and is similarly used in the case of St. Mary's assumption (no city claims to be her burial site). With most significant early Christians, there are usually multiple places that claim to be the burial site of the person. The problem is never that no one knows where they were buried but that who is right in claiming they know where they're buried. This is not the case with St. Peter as no other location claims to be the burial site of him.

Not convinced by that either? Well it's time to pick up the book "The Bones of St. Peter" by John E. Walsh. In 1940 Pope Pius XII organized an excavation of the catecombs beneath St. Peter's bascilica. During that excavation, the credible Archeologists found what can only be believed to be St. Peter's tomb.

These few arguments are only a few of numerous including writings of other early Church fathers. Particularly considering the lack of evidence placing him anywhere else, there really is no good argument to be made that Peter wasn't the Bishop of Rome at the end of his life and ended it in Marytrdom at the hands of Emperor Nero.

kencraw on 08.05.04 @ 03:52 PM PST [link]

Wednesday, August 4th

Daily Reflection on Scripture

OK, it's supposed to be daily blush

There are a number of times in scripture when I'm surprised by what seems like indecisiveness by God. A couple weeks ago at Sunday Mass we heard the story of God deciding to spare Sodom because of Abraham's insistence that God not do so if he could find any righteous people in the town. It seems from that story that God was convinced that He was going to destroy the town but changed his mind only because of Abraham's persistence.

Today in the Gospel the Canaanite woman also seems to change God's mind. While Jesus seemed determined not to respond to her request, her persistence eventually pays off and Christ grants her wish.

So what are we to make of this. Is our God not Omnipotent and All Powerful? An indecisive God who can be swayed by the logic of a human doesn't seem to fit that bill from my opinion.

But maybe we are missing the point entirely when we think this way. It seems to me that God fully knows what He's going to do: I'm going to destroy this town unless Abraham speaks up for them in a Holy way. Or: I'm going to ignore the Canaanite woman unless she willing to be humble enough to be willing to take the scraps from the table.

What it seems to say to me is that God wants us to be persistent. He wants us to pray. He wants us to bring our petitions to Him over and over and over again. He wants us to ask for forgiveness and pray for His mercy over and over and over again.

May we all have the determination to never give up our Faith in Our Lord and to constantly be reaching to Him with the request: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.

kencraw on 08.04.04 @ 04:49 PM PST [link]

Scripture Quote of the Day

'The woman came and did him homage, saying, "Lord, help me."
He said in reply,
"It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs."
She said, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters."
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
"O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish."
And her daughter was healed from that hour.'

-Matthew 15:25-28 from today's Gospel reading

kencraw on 08.04.04 @ 04:19 PM PST [link]

Question of the Day: Why is there so many congregation recited prayers during Mass?

NOTE: If you'd like to submit a question, either post it as a comment in this entry or e-mail me at questions at thecrawfordfamily dot net.

Many people who come the Catholic Church are taken back by the numerous prayers that are recited by the entire congregation in addition to the numerous "conversations" between the presiding priest/bishop and the congregation. "Protestant's never have this kind of stuff at their Sunday services. It feels like a cult to me!"

I can see why they'd feel that way. It is unusual from an American Protestant perspective which is what most Americans are familiar with, even those who never attend church. What limited church services that are seen in the movies and on television, even Catholic masses, never highlight that point of the Catholic Mass.

So why do we do this if it feels awkward to American culture?

As an initial point, we always must remember that the Catholic Church is truly an international and universal Church. As per Christ's command, we've spread the Gospel to ALL nations. Because of this, we must be careful to remember this. Maybe Church is one place we should put our normal American pride aside and be willing to adapt to cultures outside of our own.

Beyond that, we have very good reasons for having the entire congregation recite the prayers. One of the most important things to remember about Mass is that it is not a presentation or show, it is a more like a dinner party. It is for everyone to participate in. It is not about the Priest's actions on the altar, but about the congregations actions.

Just about everything in the Catholic Mass reflects this mindset. As some examples:
-We don't distribute communion to the congregation in the pews, everyone comes forward to participate in it.
-The collection plate and the bread and wine are brought forward by members of the congregation to the altar.
-No songs are sung without the chorus of the congregation.

Similarly, the prayers and professions of the Church include the entire congregation. When we profess that we believe in Jesus Christ, we ALL profess that belief. When we pray for forgiveness, we ALL pray for forgiveness. When our petition prays are brought forth, we ALL pray for those things.

The challenge for Catholics is to make sure we remember this and to really believe and participate in the Mass as opposed to just repeating what we're told to. However, this is a challenge for all of us, and a challenge that the Catholic Church calls all of us to answer. When we all strive for this goal the work of the Church becomes the work of the entire Church.

kencraw on 08.04.04 @ 04:17 PM PST [link]

While we're on the topic of me asking for forgiveness

I was talking to a friend who was telling me of a time when, for very good reasons, she was unable to be there for her sister in a time of need. Much later her sister told her how disappointed she was that she wasn't there in her time of need. My friend, not wanting to dismiss her sisters concerns, decided not to explain her good reasons for being unable to be available for her but instead just told her how sorry she was that she wasn't there for her.

The point of this entry is the sister's reaction. Instead of taking the apology as a sign of my friends honest and humble desire to be a good sister, she felt indignant. "What a horrible sister I have, she didn't even have an excuse for her actions!"

It occured to me just how much that incident reflects our 'modern' American culture. We actually don't care about forgiveness on average. We want answers. We want explanations. We'd much rather here, "I'm sorry but I have a very good reason." than "I'm sorry, will you forgive me." The first item of course means "I'm not really sorry. I feel justified in my actions." The second is the only one that truly reflects the humility and repentence that Christ calls us to. It is distressing to me that we, as a society, don't even understand what asking for forgiveness is, much less the values it reflects.

kencraw on 08.04.04 @ 04:15 PM PST [link]

Sorry for missing Fri., Mon, & Tues.

Things have gotten really busy on the work front again. Yesterday I had an interview for a promotion and I was scrambling Friday and Monday to be in a position where I felt confortable interviewing for a promotion.

Back on track today.

By the way, if you want the secret to frequent updates, it's asking questions. I'm REALLY motivated to have answering questions about the faith as a ministry. I'll answer them ask quickly as I can, including blowing off preparing for interviews. So ask away, tell your friends and post it on your blogs/websites to come here and ask questions.

kencraw on 08.04.04 @ 12:37 PM PST [link]


Other blogs I read:
Jimmy Akin
Crowhill's blog
Amy Welborn's 'open book' blog
Secondhand Smoke-Wesley Smith
Envoy Encore
Dale Price's blog
Mark Shea (On sabatical)

The Church I participate in:
Official Vatican Site
US Conference of Bishops
Sacramento Diocese
SS Peter and Paul Parish

Good Catholic Websites:
NewAdvent-Encyclopedia, Bible, Etc.
Zenit Catholic News
EWTN: Catholic TV and radio
Mass times for US travelers

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