May 24, 2017

Baptist Holy Days of (Guilt and) Obligation

My wife sent me an email this morning.

I keep forgetting to tell you that there’s an obligatory Mass this week (for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.) St. Ann is celebrating Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and St. William Friday at 6:00 p.m. Assuming we are going to the waterpark Thursday, I’ll go to church Friday.

Now if you don’t know what this is all about, you should stop by Wikipedia and get educated.

For our Roman Catholic friends, here are the Days of Obligation:

* 1 January: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
* 6 January: the Epiphany
* 19 March: Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
* Thursday of the sixth week of Easter: the Ascension
* Thursday after Trinity Sunday: the Body and Blood of Christ
* 29 June: Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles
* 15 August: the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
* 1 November: All Saints
* 8 December: the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
* 25 December: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ (Christmas)

Easter isn’t on the list. Who knew?

With some help from the Internet Monk Research Division, I’ve found a list of Baptist Holy Days of Guilt and Obligation.

Now these aren’t necessarily days where we must go to church or risk a major sin. No, these are days that we are, as a matter of being Baptist, obligated to do something, which may include church. Or not.

Here they are:

* Opening night/day of high school/college football season. (Depends on proximity of school, relationships to players, etc. Should include tailgating if possible.)
* Mother’s Day. Obligated to go to church with mom and then take her out to a restaurant, which means standing in line at Cracker Barrel for about 2 hours.
* Any church potluck or meal.
* Any Sunday that starts a revival (or any Sunday that begins a 40 Days of Purpose if your church dumped revivals.)
* Any wedding of anyone in your family within 250 miles.
* Any funeral of anyone in your family within 70 miles.
* The opening of any “Christian Film” in a theater, especially if the movie is produced by a church using their actors and cameras, or stars Kirk Cameron.
* The opening and any 5 subsequent showings of “The Passion of the Christ II.”
* Any school board meeting where creationism will be discussed.
* Homecomings at any church you’ve ever attended, even once, within 300 miles.
* Opening week of any buffet or Barbecue restaurant.
* Any Christian music festival held in an open field in August when the temperature is over 105 degrees.
* You must go vote if any conservative is running for anything.
* You must vote if your town is having a “wet/dry” election.
* Ladies: Any Christian Women’s Conference within 500 miles.
* Men: Any Promise Keeper’s Meeting within 500 miles.
* Christmas and Easter.
* Any church sponsored Super Bowl event.
* Any meeting related to voting on a building.
* Any Vacation Bible School “Family Night.”
* Any event involving Bill Gaither Homecomings.
* Any event involving Rick Warren.
* Any Upward Championship game involving your kids.
* Any Olin Mills Church Directory photoshoot.
* Any church softball game against another Baptist church.
* Any youth group fundraisers for the mission trip.
* Any open question/answer with prospective pastors.
* Any church business meeting where there’s a chance of a big fight or someone getting fired.
* Any Billy Graham Crusade within 1000 miles.

Maybe I missed some. Feel free to add a few in the comments.

Comments

  1. Memphis Aggie says:

    Concretely you might dispute the Assumption of Mary for example because its extra Biblical. It comes via oral tradition from St John to Polycarp to others. There is historical circumstantial evidence for this belief among the Early Christians, but you know better than I do that what Early Christians believed is a subject for debate. If you honestly did not hold this belief as a Catholic you would seek guidance from a priest, most properly in confession and He would likely tell you to pray for faith and to continue as you are as best you can. I had a similar experience on another topic.

    Of course if the Authority of the Church is the barrier issue all straightforward methods forward are much much harder. You might think about obedience to the Church as training in humility and that the imperfect authorities God places over us are there to teach us and to be endured as crosses. That has to sound like a recommendation to swallow cod liver oil but it’s the best I got.

  2. Memphis Aggie says:

    “So what’s up with that God? Worthy of Worship? He’s one “gamey” deity. Am I some kind of lab experiment or amusement?”

    No way – He loves you have no doubt, but if you lament like Job why am I being punished when I’m honestly seeking you? I would never blame nor would He. I can not explain it, but I have a guess. Not that this is to teach and train you necessarily, although that might be part of it, but rather in that your struggle, your honest heartfelt search for God teaches and benefits ALL of us. Reading daily of the real desire to touch the face of Christ and to love Him as He loves us is sweet, beautiful and inspiring. I can not explain why it also so hard.

  3. Shalendar says:

    Yes, iMonk. You are. We all are children of God, here to serve, obey, and worship. We are here for thoses purposes alone. God has chosen you to lead this life in which, “God who has SCREWED with my head, my heart and my life for 33 freakin’ years. A God who has made me financially dependent on teaching damning errors. A God who has allowed me to have spiritual and emotional experiences that confirm my Protestantism”.

    Know your purpose, and know that God has set you on this path for a reason. Serve, Obey, and Worship.

  4. Memphis Aggie says:

    Do not seek to understand His will, just to submit to it. He is the superior being full of love for you. He knows whats best for us, we only guess and may never know. So it’s perfectly fine to be like Christ and say in effect if there’s another way, less painful way I’d rather take that. No matter how confusing and unfair it is that the perfect spotless lamb must suffer and die He accepted out of obedience and in the humility we must also emulate. Pray for discernment of His will in your life and for your submission to His will. I try to pray like that regularly, it’s an especially hard prayer because it’s scary and untethered. Also persist in that prayer knock, knock and knock again. Help me guide me, help me grow in trust and love for you, etc over and over every day. That’s my advice (worth what you paid for it) I can not see how it is objectionable to any Christian.

  5. I appreciate the respectful and thoughtful responses.

    None of this really creates an “RCC” problem for me. I expect every denomination to act consistent with its own claims.

    But it creates a big God problem. Big. Really big, and I am always surprised when others don’t see it.

    Christian experience is where the rubber meets the road for most of us. It’s not some book or text. It’s what we deeply believe is happening to us and what we are experiencing.

    The RC position- in contrast, btw, to much (not all) of the general Protestant and evangelical position- is that my experience of God is ONLY genuine when congruent with the RCC’s claims.

    For 30+ years I’ve ministered, prayed, taught, led worship, served, married, buried, and so on. ALL of this was accompanied by the experience of the Holy Spirit and the experience of God. NOT telling me I was the only Christian or my church was the only real church, but confirming in me what I read in scripture and NOT confirming in me what is not in scripture (hence many of my quarrels with my own tradition.)

    This is a profound matter, and I shudder to think of my reaction if a priest looked at me and said that God has led you all this way so that at age 51 you could become a Roman Catholic.

    When I am told to “submit” and be “obedient” to the church, you are asking me to 1) overlook at least 5 major issues, some of which I would give my life rather than compromise. 2) Repudiate all means of supporting my family based on my training, education and experience. I get Catholicism and a new career as a Wal-Mart greeter. 3) Membership in a church whose flaws are every bit as deep as my own’s and which appears to be producing nothing more impressive in the way of Jesus shaped people than my own tradition and 4) subjective trust of a God whose approach tends to indicate one never knows what is behind the door.

    But it is a quandry, gentlemen. My wife has converted and I have lost all emotion and energy to do what I am gifted to do. I will pray that the Holy SPirit will fill me, I’ll ask for forgiveness for excessive self-centeredness, and I’ll go back to my classes and my preaching. But I’m really wrestling with GOD, not some “Journey Home” scenario.

  6. Shalendar says:

    I was not suggesting you be obedient to any church. We all struggle to be obedient to God. I do not believe that the Catholic Church is the ONLY church (much to the disdain of my priest), I believe the Catholic Church is the best option out there. We do not know that one church is held higher than another in God’s eyes. I believe we (humans) are heading towards another stage of enlightenment when we can all come together and realize that there is only one God; not a Catholic God, or a Baptist God, or a Mormon God, or an Islamic God, or a Jewish God. But one God, all of us are obedient to in our own way, based on our own limited understandings (cultural and otherwise) and stop all of the nit-picking about who is more correct in their interpertation of what God wants for us.
    God will take care of you. That kind of trust and faith is not unique to any religious group. God takes care of the birds, the incects, the other beasts of this world thru the instincts they have for their survival. Our physcial needs are met, when we wrestle with God, it is a higher instinct we must trust in order to lead us thru. Quiet your self, your mind and body, trust that the Holy Spirit will fill you and lead you to the path that God wants you to take. In my experience, sometimes the answer is immediate, sometimes it takes years. Follow your instinct until the path is clear. ‘Trust the force’ 🙂

  7. I’ve followed my instincts and my Bible for 30+ years, and here I am. Now I have hundreds of converts to the RCC telling me I really need to get to the real church and the real eucharist for the real deal….

    What the _____ has been going of for 30 years? I need to take a step of faith? What do you think I’ve been doing for all this time?

    Seriously, from the RC point of view, it’s all just a road into Rome. So I see entirely why the constant appeal is “keep walking to Rome and it will all be clear.”

    Rome’s claims haven’t made anything clear about my life.

    peace

    MS

  8. Maggie, you said:

    Concretely you might dispute the Assumption of Mary for example because its extra Biblical. It comes via oral tradition from St John to Polycarp to others.

    No, it doesn’t. Not even Roman Catholic historians teach this. You really need to read some RCC theological journal articles. They’re quite interesting. The 15th century is very much over in the RCC.

  9. Memphis Aggie says:

    So forget about Rome (5 major issues!) and concentrate on what’s right in front of you. Focus on doing the best you can with what you have in front of you and defining and living a Jesus Shaped life. Keep doing those acts of charity in His name and go day by day on the personal issues and pray and pray and pray. Make it a road to Christ, imitating him as best you can and walk it as best you can in the faith you hold dear. I guess you’ve already been doing all this for 30 + years, just keep at, if it’s the right road stay on it.

    Because I believe in the RCC claims, to use your terms, I believe you are missing the great consolations inherent in the Eucharist that sustain and strengthen. I’ve seen the light of love in the eyes of long time daily recipients and I believe in it. But faith can not be picked out of the air at will and I have to respect your honest expression of faith. Clearly you sincerely don’t believe in the Church and did not arrive at that conclusion lightly, but you do believe in Christ as read Biblically and the Holy Spirit as guide. I’m happy to travel whatever part of the road to Christ we can together.

  10. Memphis Aggie says:

    Josh,

    As I said all of this is controversial and the term “RCC theologist” covers a scandalously wide range of opinion. Moreover I do not expect to an article of faith to be accepted on what little forensic evidence can be found; rather it’s a leap of faith made in trust. You make my point for me.

    To what does your reference to the 15th century refer? Coincidently I have a book on my desk from the 15th century “The Imitation of Christ” by Kempis. I’d say it matches up pretty favorably with 21st century sages like Osteen or Warren.

  11. “you are asking me to 1) overlook at least 5 major issues, some of which I would give my life rather than compromise.”

    Good! Excellent! Glad to hear it!

    If you seriously, genuinely have reservations and doubts and truly believe that these are non-negotiable, make-or-break, issues that are keeping you from being a Roman Catholic (or a Zorastrinian or a Lubavitcher or whatever), then stay out.

    You neither can nor should shrug your shoulders, say “Paris is worth a Mass” and do a nod-and-a-wink ‘conversion’ in order to keep the peace at home, then quietly revert to attending your local Baptist or wherever church after about six months because that’s where you really belong.

    Unless you actually feel that God is dragging you irresistably by the hair of the head all the way over to this side of the Tiber, it is better to be where you are and serve Him there.

    I’m not going to say that maybe some of your issues are less important than you think them to be or only loom so large in your mind because of your upbringing and current mindset, because that would be glib, impertinent, and how the hell do I know what is troubling you anyway?

    I see, from the little I have read, that your wife’s conversion has sorely grieved you and that you are being harrowed in all areas of your conception of ministry alongside this upheaval.

    I’m sorry for that. I don’t intend this to sound patronising or a quick fix or not taking your pain seriously, but I would recommend – well, I don’t know your view on ‘praying to the saints’ but maybe meditating on St. Joseph and asking his help and intercession. He too was a husband and father who had great upheaval in his life (having to flee with your wife and infant son to a foreign land to escape the real threat of death was no picnic).

    God bless and keep you.

  12. Christopher Lake says:

    Michael, when I read your words that you have lost emotion and energy to do what you are gifted to do, I was deeply saddened. Brother, God still loves you, and He can still most definitely use you for His glory. He does so all the time on this blog.

    I went from agnostic to Catholic convert in college. Then, I became skeptical of certain Catholic claims and actually moved back to agnosticism. In the last four years, I have discovered Reformational Christianity, which I now believe to be the most Biblical Christianity. I can only imagine how you must struggle about your wife’s conversion to Catholicism.

    Please know this though– you are loved by God, and He can and does use you. His love often doesn’t work itself out in our lives in the neat, clean, little ways that some would have us believe. I think one reason for that is that His love is so much bigger than the lives that we desire for ourselves– and which might, in and of themselves, be very legitimately “good.” God wants much more for us than we usually want for ourselves though. This “more” doesn’t feel good, many times, but it *is* good. I only say that because God Himself is good. Having said that, what He wants, in my life, sometimes is very painful for me to understand and endure.

    I am a physically disabled 35-year-old man whose mother committed suicide when I was nine. Is God good? Does He provide for my true, Biblically defined needs? YES! Do I understand His ways at all times? NO. Being able to answer “yes” to the first two questions helps me with the “NO” of the last one. It doesn’t take away all of the pain, not at all, but it truly helps.

  13. Christopher Lake says:

    Also, the most important thing that I should have said and forgot to say: I am praying for you.

  14. Michael,

    Seen from another angle, your complaint against God works for devout Muslims, Hindus or Jews when confronted with the truth claims of Christianity. Could not the Mullah, Pundit or Rabbi ask why, if God was good, He had let them be born into a society that indoctrinated them in false religion? There are many who have felt validated in their beliefs who were not Christians, and that God was with them. Claims to exclusive truth aren’t an issue limited to Catholic teaching.

    My father tells me quite frequently that he doesn’t believe a Catholic priest can even be a Christian, because he doesn’t feel that God would allow someone leading others into error to be saved. The Catholic teaching would not be that you are irreversibly damned as a Baptist minister. Indeed, from reading your writings I can tell that your vocation as a teacher is a true one, and that you are good at it. You are a talented writer, with a lifetime of experience to lend depth to your points. No matter what happens, always keep in mind that you are good at what you do.

    In the end, whatever happens, remember that Jesus loves you and has a plan for you. He who started a good work in you will bring it to completion on the day of Jesus Christ. May you find peace and grace in your walk.

  15. Moreover I do not expect to an article of faith to be accepted on what little forensic evidence can be found

    The passing on of the story of the Assumption from John to Polycarp to whomever in an unwritten, unrecorded oral transmission is not a Catholic article of faith. The Assumption is an article of faith. How it came to be known is not. Few Catholic theologians I’ve read hold to the old oral transmission theory, instead going for the idea of a Spirit-inspired liturgical trend, in part because the word leitourgia has more theological gravitas than traditio these days.

    To what does your reference to the 15th century refer?

    In the 15th century, the “oral history” theory of Tradition came to full dominance. Prior to then, you had varying degrees of belief on just to what extent Tradition was derived from Scripture. In the late 15th C, the view that Tradtion consisted entirely of a parallel source of dogma handed down in unbroken, unchanged form since the apostles came to dominance.

    This is no longer the dominating theory of Tradition. Better textual and historical studies were the cause of its ascendancy, as it became impossible to assert that all widely accepted Catholic doctrine was taught somehow by Scripture…and even better studies became its downfall, as it has now become impossible to claim that certain doctrines were taught in the first century. That’s why various incarnations of Newman’s “doctrinal development” theory now dominate Catholic discourse about Tradition.

  16. Memphis Aggie says:

    “as it became impossible to assert that all widely accepted Catholic doctrine was taught somehow by Scripture…” ”

    “as it has now become impossible to claim that certain doctrines were taught in the first century.”

    Impossible, that’s nonsense you’re being dogmatic. That’s an assertion made without reference to evidence and as I said the evidence is weak for any position. These are competing theories what constitutes “better” is subjective in this context.

    Also you’re misreading me. Here’s my evidence:

    “The passing on of the story of the Assumption from John to Polycarp to whomever in an unwritten, unrecorded oral transmission is not a Catholic article of faith. The Assumption is an article of faith.” Well no kidding – that’s exactly what I meant to say – if you look at my comment you’ll see I mention the weakness of the evidence.
    I’m arguing against a forensic approach at all and for a leap of faith. I have no interest in the detailed nitpicking of each point or whatever fashion there is among intellectuals – nothing could be more deadly to faith.

    I already believe in the Creation, the parting of the Red Sea, the Resurrection, the Ascension of Christ, the Redemption, eternal life of the soul, and an immeasurable unseen infinite God who loves even me, entirely without serious evidence. By comparison, the Assumption of Mary is a tiny pebble to stub your toe on. Or as the Word says: you swallow a camel yet strain on a gnat. The point of my comment is that some things are taken as axiomatic and you reason from them. I added the St. John to Polycarp bit to illustrate how weak the trail of evidence is. When a faithful Catholic accepts the Authority of the Church he or she also accepts the dogma uncritically and doesn’t ask for a an original carbon dated sermon from Polycarp.

    Let me give you a relevant example of reasoning from axioms of faith. Christ is both perfect man and the divine Son of God. Hence He perfectly fulfills Gods law in the most exemplary fashion. Pretty elementary so far. Through His great generous condescension to us Jesus took Mary as is His Mother. Gods eternal law states “Honor thy father and thy Mother”. Christ honors His Father by His Glorious submission unto death. How does He honor his Mother? Recall He is the ideal example of humanity and perfectly faithful to the law, yet He has power beyond measure. Therefore He must honor her in some manner. In that context, the Assumption of Mary is a small example of Christs fidelity to His Fathers law. Certainly it does not appear in the Bible: it is revealed to us through other means. Since the Assumption of Mary glorifies both God the Father and Christ her son, there is no serious reason not to accept it, provided you have already accepted the Authority of the Church that promotes the doctrine. It’s an argument about the internal consistency of Catholic belief; one teaching naturally flows from the others.

    As for basing all proof on the Bible, that’s a Protestant pursuit. If Catholics take up that thread they do so to convince Protestants or to quiet their own doubt. We don’t even agree on which books constitutes the Bible how could we expect to agree on how to interpret it?

    The Newman concept of developmental doctrine means that our understanding of God deepens and develops over time. But it must always be understood that God is unchanging and eternal and that what is true is likewise fixed. So doctrine is not created but revealed.

  17. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    In fact I think your interest in the emerging Church and your “spiritual wanderlust” exists because you haven’t come home yet but that God is urging you on. I’m Catholic for a reason and I believe everyone should be Catholic. — Memphis Aggie

    Of the Order of St Borg? (“Prepare to be Assimilated! Resistance is Futile! We’re Gonna Getcha! We’re Gonna Getcha! We’re Gonna Getcha!”)

    You really want to see someone run away FAST, just put one of St Borg’s Hounds of Heaven on their tail. It’s the Romish version of “Wretched Urgency (TM)”.

  18. I think we seem to be coming across as Job’s comforters. Not that I picture you ensconced on a dungheap, scratching your boils with a potsherd 😉 but that we seem to be telling you “If only you did X, Y, or Z, you’d be a lot better off.”

    Whatever it is that God is doing in your life, He knows what He purposes for you.

    So, what do I recommend? (Seeing as how this started out as a humorous post on Baptist versus Catholic days of obligation)…

    Jesuit jokes! Everyone loves Jesuit jokes!

    (1) One day a parish priest was visiting the home of some parishioners who had a teenage son. The parents were worried about what career their son would choose, so the priest said he had a simple test that could predict what would become of him.

    He would put three objects on a table and let the young man choose whichever one he wanted to have: a Bible, a wallet, and a bottle of scotch. If the boy chose the Bible, he would probably become a priest; if he chose the wallet, he’d be a banker; and if he chose the bottle, he’d become a worthless bum.

    So the parents called their son into the room, and the priest told him he could have whichever object he wished. When the boy promptly picked up all three, the priest cried out, “Heaven forbid! He’s going to be a Jesuit!”

    (2) A Jesuit out for a drive crashed into another car, only to discover that the other driver was a Franciscan. “It was my fault,” each of them insisted — as is only right and proper with religious men. The Jesuit in his concern for the other said, “You look badly shaken up. You could probably use a good stiff drink right now to calm down.” So he produced a flask. The Franciscan drank and said, “Thank you; I feel much better now.” The Jesuit said, “You still look a little rattled, have another drink.” And the Frannie did. “One more,” said the Jesuit,” and you’ll be feeling fine again.” The Franciscan, after taking a drink, said, “But Father, you’re probably shaken up too. Why don’t you have a drink.” “I will,” the Jesuit replied, “but I think I’ll wait until after the police have come.”

    (3) A man walked up to a Franciscan and a Jesuit and asked, “How many novenas must you say to get a Mercedes Benz?”
    The Franciscan asked, “What’s a Mercedes Benz?” The Jesuit asked, “What’s a novena?”

    (4) A Franciscan gets a haircut, and then asks how much he owes. The barber says he never charges clergy. The Franciscan thanks the barber and goes home. The next morning the barber finds a big basket of fresh bread from the Franciscans’ kitchens.

    An Augustinian gets his hair cut by the same barber. The barber also tells him than he never charges clergy. So, the next day the barber receives a nice bottle of wine from the Augustinians’ wine cellar.

    A Jesuit gets his haircut, and the barber again says that he never charges clergy. The next day, when the barber gets to work, there are twelve other Jesuits already waiting for him.

    (5) A Franciscan and a Dominican were debating about whose order was the greater. After months of arguing, they decided to ask for an answer from God when they died. Years later, they met in heaven and decided to go to the throne of God to resolve their old disagreement. God seemed a bit puzzled about the question and told them he would reply in writing a few days later. After much deliberation, God sent the following letter:

    My beloved children,

    Please stop bickering about such trivial matters. Both of your orders are equally great and good in my eyes.

    Sincerely yours,

    God, S.J.

    (6) A mother goes to her pastor and explains that her son seems very interested in becoming a priest. She would like to know what this would require. So the priest begins to explain: “If he wants to become a diocesan priest, he’ll have to study for eight years. If he wants to become a Franciscan, he’ll have to study for ten years. If he wants to become a Jesuit, he’ll have to study for fourteen years.” The mother listens carefully, and as the priest concludes, her eyes brighten. “Sign him up for that last one, Father — he’s a little slow!”

    (7) A Jesuit, a Dominican, and a Franciscan were walking along an old road, debating the greatness of their orders. Suddenly, an apparition of the Holy Family appeared in front of them, with Jesus in a manger and Mary and Joseph praying over him.

    The Franciscan fell on his face, overcome with awe at the sight of God born in such poverty.
    The Dominican fell to his knees, adoring the beautiful reflection of the Trinity and the Holy Family.
    The Jesuit walked up to Joseph, put his arm around his shoulder, and said, “So, have you thought about where to send the boy to school?”

    (8) A Jesuit and a Franciscan sat down to dinner, and pie was served for dessert. There were two pieces of pie, one cut smaller than the other. The Jesuit reached over and took the larger piece for himself. The Franciscan remonstrated, “St. Francis always taught us to take the meaner piece.” So the Jesuit replied, “And so you have it!”

    (9) When their ship sank a Benedictine, a Dominican, a Franciscan, and a Jesuit were crowded into a small lifeboat. It had a small leak and was in ever greater danger of sinking. Unfortunately, the boat was also surrounded by sharks.

    So the Dominican, confident in the preaching prowess of his order, stood on the prow and begin to preach to the sharks about Christian charity and the virtues of vegetarianism; but his sermon was cut short by a leaping shark who consumed him in one gulp.

    Then the Benedictine stood on the prow and began to charm the sharks with a stupendous rendition of the Exsultet, but just when he got to the part about the mother bee (mater apis) another shark dispatched him with a single gulp.

    Shortly thereafter the Franciscan, climbing onto the prow, began to pray, “Blessed are you, Lord my God, for brother shark,…” when one of the sister sharks cut him off in mid-benediction.

    Soon the lifeboat sank, leaving the Jesuit in the water with the sharks. But instead of eating him, several sharks towed him to shore and cast him up on the dry land. Stunned, he turned to ask them why they had not devoured him. They replied, “Professional courtesy!”

    (10) A Franciscan and Jesuit were walking in a forest, and the Jesuit noticed that there was an echo.

    Thinking to play a prank on his companion, the Jesuit shouted out in Latin:
    “Quod est Franciscanorum regula?” (What is the rule of the Franciscans?)
    And the echo replied: “…gula, gula, gula.” (Gluttony, gluttony, gluttony)

    In a heartbeat the Franciscan shouted out: “Fuitne Judas Jesuita?” (Was Judas a Jesuit?)
    And the echo replied: “…ita, ita, ita.” (Yes, yes, yes.)

    And finally, one for all the orders:

    The lights go out in the church as the priests are about to celebrate the Divine Office.

    ~The Carthusians (silently) go out in search of candles.
    ~The Franciscans sit and pray for a miracle.
    ~The Benedictines don’t care, because they can say the whole thing by heart.
    ~The Redemptorists go to the Jesuits for help.
    ~The Jesuits think that this must be an exception, and that they must not have to celebrate the Divine Office in this case.
    ~The Dominicans decide that the time is ripe for a discourse upon the nature of light.
    ~The diocesan priest goes and changes the light bulb.

    Hope these cheered you up a bit 🙂

  19. Martha,

    That was delightful. May your tribe increase, and laughter covers the earth.

  20. Memphis Aggie says:

    St. Borg – very funny Resistance is Futile!

  21. St. Borg? That was actually a suggestion for the photo caption on the American Papist blog:

    “Macharski, emboldened by the felicitous election of Ratzinger, jumps the gun and announces, ‘Gaudium magnum annuntio urbi, orbi et universo:

    CATHOLICI SUMUS … PECCATUM FUTILIS … BAPTIZARI PARATE.'”

    (will it work with the Borg?)”

    So, Headless Unicorn Guy, how did you stumble upon the Sooper Sekrit Plan and should we be sending the albino assassin monks after you? 🙂

  22. Impossible, that’s nonsense you’re being dogmatic.

    No, I’m just being well-informed. That’s the current state of early church historical scholarship. Most of the information I get about the early church is from Catholic-published books, by the way. I read a fascinating book by a Jesuit on the development of the cult of the saints. He was quite candid about the practice not being taught or observed in the first 1 or 2 centuries and its progenitors being stamped out by bishops. Newman came to his rescue of course. The fact is that the more historically aware Catholic theologians become, the more they revise their theory of “Tradition.” The “oral history” theory was a response to the influx of texts from the Crusades and humanist research. The “doctrinal development” hypothesis and its V2 version are largely due to the explosion of patristic studies, most of which were done by Protestants prior to Newman. That’s just historical fact, and the modern Magisterium is very positive toward historical research and historical criticism. So how am I being “dogmatic” if I use information from Catholic sources?

    I’m arguing against a forensic approach at all and for a leap of faith.

    You initially claimed that the Assumption was passed on by John to Polycarp. I am arguing against that specific claim. If you look closely, you’ll see that I never actually argued against the Assumption.

    I already believe in the Creation

    Do you mean the six-day Creation? That’s not a Catholic article of faith. The only necessary Catholic affirmations on Creation are very scant and not particularly scandalous to anyone. I think the only immediate, special creation the Church teaches is man’s immortal soul.

    by comparison, the Assumption of Mary is a tiny pebble to stub your toe on. Or as the Word says: you swallow a camel yet strain on a gnat.

    Given that Munificentissimus Deus and Ineffabilis Deus are the only two bulls universally accepted by Catholics as ex cathedra, I would suggest that it is no mere gnat or pebble.

    Let me give you a relevant example of reasoning from axioms of faith.

    I’m very aware of the rationale, “It was fitting for God to do so, God was capable of doing so, therefore God did so.” I think it’s a highly flawed line of reasoning because it devolves into perpetual theodicy.

    provided you have already accepted the Authority of the Church that promotes the doctrine.

    If I accept the Authority of the Pope, then none of your prior reasoning is necessary. And if I need to accept the Authority of the Pope as laid out in the Dogmatic Constitutions of Vatican I in order to believe, then your reasoning is invalid as well. “You’ll see that my logic is correct once you accept a priori that everything I say is true” does not really commend one’s logic and turns the whole discipline into a shell game.

    As for basing all proof on the Bible, that’s a Protestant pursuit.

    Since the 15th century, yes. Before about 1400, as I said, there were varying competing theories of Scripture and Tradition. Martin Chemnitz’s exposition of tradition drew heavily on pre-15th C medieval thought. Saying it’s a “Protestant pursuit” is sort of like saying predestination is a “Protestant idea.”

    The Newman concept of developmental doctrine means that our understanding of God deepens and develops over time.

    It means a great deal more than that after Vatican II. Doctrinal development is an Enlightenment Protestant concept anyway, which should not be too shocking given Newman’s background in the C of E. Before then, you had the theory of incorruptible, unchanging oral tradition, which was pretty much the only theory alive at the time of Trent.

  23. Memphis Aggie says:

    Fine Josh – I’ll accept your superior scholarship in total. Seriously I rely a great deal on trust and faith. I defer all serious scholarship on all points to the Pope and I fully admit to deficits in understanding the faith. You could spend a life time and only scratch the surface. However I’ve only been Catholic 6 years and my reading had been sporadic.

    So rather than argue the finer points of detail lets talk about Christian practice. What does Christian practice look like in the context of blogposts? How would the serene St Kolbe post? Perhaps the best examples would be St. Frances De Sales or St Therese Little Flower, both Doctors of the Church and experts in charity in all things.

    As I write this I can not help but look back on my own posts and recall the sarcasm that I let slip in. I’ll admit to skimming lightly over some replies, especially the longer ones and not really entertaining the ideas of all the bloggers. I pick them up only to see if there’s an obvious flaw to object to, or a point to be made for the Church, I’m not really engaged in an open minded way. I’m not really reading them as charitably as could. Although I know not to infer too much of the state of mind of the other posters, snap judgments can slip in any way.

    So is this the way a Christian should post? Obviously not. Why do I fail to show the basic courtesy and respect on a blog when I’m generally better in person? Probably because this is pretty anonymous. I don’t expect I’ll ever meet any of you face to face before the End.

    So let me propose that we try to do this better.

    Let me engage a couple of points so you can see why I said what I said. When you said the oral tradition for the Assumption was “impossible” I said you were being dogmatic. The use of the categorical absolute is a dogmatic assertion by definition. All other theories are thereby prohibited, thus the closure to new ideas defines a dogma. Now what would be a better way to say that? I knew it was combative to lay it out in the original way, my apologies. The better way to say would be: “I think impossible is too strong an constraint, do you not admit the oral tradition is at least possible? If not why not? etc.” Please don’t bother to answer that by the way. I’m honestly not interested in the details here, although if you feel compelled to write something I guess someone else will read it. The right thing to do might have been to let it drop all together.

    This bit is another example:

    From me: “As for basing all proof on the Bible, that’s a Protestant pursuit.”

    This was sharper than in needed to be “a Protestant Pursuit” could be more accurately replaced with “more commonly seen among modern Protestants”. No wonder the Popes writings are so careful. He knows he how he will be read.

    From you: Since the 15th century, yes. Before about 1400, as I said, there were varying competing theories of Scripture and Tradition. Martin Chemnitz’s exposition of tradition drew heavily on pre-15th C medieval thought. Saying it’s a “Protestant pursuit” is sort of like saying predestination is a “Protestant idea.”

    I almost laughed here because I do think of predestination as a Calvinist fetish. Like I said I’m not as charitable as I should be, “fetish” is inflammatory while “thesis” would be more neutral, but because I’m trying to give you an insight into my thoughts I ‘ll let that slip. Of course, I do remember here and there references to predestination in relation to writings of several Saints and especially in connection to certain devotions. Of course it’s very de-emphasized in Catholicism and treated as something of a mysterious paradox and has, in my experience, appeared only in passing a single homily. It would be way too easy for me to let sarcasm reign in a reply on this subject. I’m tempted, but then I fall right back into the trap I’m seeking to avoid.

    Clearly it would be fair to say that Protestants and Catholics not only vary in the doctrines they hold but on the emphasis of doctrines that are shared. I imagine the Pope would be able to find the best way of expressing the difference and degree of historical overlap. Although I think in his heart B XVI’s more of a Pentecostal.

    I’m being as honest as I can here – I hope it helps. I want to diffuse the situation and talk more from the heart than from the text, if that makes sense. Now excuse me while I Google Martin Chemnitz.

  24. If we are going to argue about the Assumption (and I really, really hope we are not), then what about

    “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” and “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”?

    “If you look closely, you’ll see that I never actually argued against the Assumption.”

    Clearly, we are not arguing that it is impossible for humans to be assumed into heaven – are we? Our dispute is whether or not it happened in the instance of Mary. Catholics and Orthodox affirm that it did; Protestants that it did not. So, is your argument that it did not happen; that it may or may not have happened, but we don’t know either way; or that you think it happened but you don’t accept the argument from Tradition?

    So what is your opinion on Enoch and Elijah (which is fascinating because were they really taken into Heaven – or into the Limbo of the Patriarchs? If Heaven, does this mean salvation was possible before the coming of Christ? Or by the merits of Christ applied to them beforehand? Oh, no – we’re heading towards the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception!)

  25. Martha: That’s a typical Catholic way of using the Bible. I understand it, and it truly amazes me.

    I mean, a cult could use the same reasoning about the disappearance of their leader. A prior precedent of the taking of Enoch is used by dispys to support the Rapture. That’s taking the text as precedent and type, but minimizing the fact that scripture says NOTHING about what you are asserting. (God could tell us that Elijah ascended, but couldn’t get a word in about Mary?)

    The two most recent Marian dogmas are about submitting to the teaching of the church. Not the Bible. That’s how RCs do it, and that’s fine with me. I just couldn’t stand in a pulpit and handle scripture like that. I’d have to say “Forget scripture. The church teaches it.”

    Peace

    MS

  26. Memphis Aggie says:

    Martha,

    I have to agree with Michael here. The Assumption of Mary is not directly Biblical, it’s only hinted at here and there, but then the high degree of importance placed on scriptural evidence is not as common among Catholics as it is among Protestants because we have faith in Tradition and Authority. The Queenship of Mary is better supported Biblically (Rev 12:1-6) but I fully expect a serious argument can be offered in rebuttal. Interpretation of the Bible is almost as controversial extra-Biblical claims.
    Arguments on Biblical grounds against current practices are Evangelical home turf. Most of Michaels issues with Osteen et al are made on those grounds. However when we get to Catholicism belief has more than one base – Tradition as taught by Authority and the Scripture are held to be mutually supporting, both are indispensable parts of the whole. They are complimentary like reason and faith should be. When Protestants reject Catholic Authority (actually that is the effective definition of Protestant) it’s not really reasonable for them to be expected to take up what was made clear by Tradition.

    Some things you take on faith and others you can argue. Michael may be able to agree that the Assumption is internally consistent within the teachings of Catholicism and that’s about as much a concession as anyone can fairly be expected to make.
    Actually at today’s mass our priest offered an explanation of the Assumption based on the Immaculate Conception in how Mary’s Immaculate nature already made her incorrupt and thus especially amenable for this rare grace, but that it was only after Pius XII elevated the teaching to doctrine that Catholic Theologians closed the subject. I can’t imagine that any Protestant would accept that explanation – it’s too foreign and presumes too much.

  27. Aggie:

    That, sir, is an A+ comment.

    Thank you.

  28. Memphis Aggie says:

    So Michael, let me ask how to you make a theological argument for or against contraception. Considered an serious area of moral debate and once all Christian faiths agreed it was against God. Now pretty much only catholics do. The Biblical support is very scant “be fruitful and multiply” and Onan’s sin can be interpreted to apply but I’d be hard pressed to argue that’s the only reasonable read of the passages.

    Catholics would then reason from faith arguing a line of thought on the nature of God , love, marriage and respect for the body that culminated in Humanae Vitae by Paul VI and the Theology of the Body by JPII. I imagine Protestants must do the same thing only no single figure has the same authority to define the faith. When a Catholic uses scripture in the manner Martha did she’ using it to set the ground circumstantially not as definitive court room proof. The Assumption of Elijah, validated by the Transfiguration simple points out that such an event is possible – not that the particular person in question was Assumed. That’s how I read it.

    Also the Bible has quite a bit to say about Mary, especially in the Gospel of Luke. I would suggest that many of the differences between Baptists and Catholics on Mary are derived from disparate views of the Wedding at Cana (this has nothing to do with wine but rather with Mary’s intercession). In any case we can certainly agree that all generations will call Her blessed.

  29. Memphis Aggie says:

    You’re very welcome – you’re a very patient host

  30. If you consult a good Protestant assessment on Mary, you’ll see that the problem is the assertion of two dogmas as necessary and essential beliefs, and asserting those beliefs so late in Christian history and on the foundation of “developing doctrine” that there is no halfway point. No compromise. These were assertions designed to alienate Protestants and to make unity an “all or nothing” proposition from the Catholic side. They assert the actual real issues that matter: papal infallibility and the denial of anything that places scripture over tradition.

    On contraception, I’ve never given it 2 minutes thought. It’s simply an area where I do not believe the Bible speaks or the church has the right to speak.

  31. Aggie:

    >….that such an event is possible…

    It’s possible we should be venerating donkeys because Christ rode one.

    It’s possible I should attempt to raise the dead at every funeral.

    It’s possible I could pray to stop the sun 🙂

    When I teach on how cults use the Bible, this is the open door they tend to go through.

    Some things are better left to tradition rather than using the Bible at all to assert them.

  32. Memphis Aggie says:

    “They assert the actual real issues that matter: papal infallibility and the denial of anything that places scripture over tradition.” That makes sense, under papal infallibility the case is closed, without room for friendly disagreement. I can see how that must seem like another wall between us.

    I’m a little surprised that you don’t think the Church has any “right” to speak on contraception. They certainly speak on chastity, marriage, children divorce, money matters and all sorts of personal issues. I’m open to the concept that there are things that Church is better off avoiding when it can (read politics), but it’s not so clear cut where to draw the line. God is with us always and everywhere and we are ideally expected to be doing all things prayerfully in accordance with His will. So in some sense nothing is off limits, although you could argue somethings are left open ended.

  33. Memphis Aggie says:

    “It’s possible I could pray to stop the sun”
    Now that would be handy 🙂

    I see your point – using a few lines of scripture that hint at something can be taken way out of context like the famous “he who loves his life will loose it” can be dangerous.

    Until you pointed out the barrier created by Marian dogma (or really by Papal infallibility) it was not clear to me that the doctrine of the Assumption had any significant consequences. It hardly changes Catholicism at all, but it does influence Catholicisms relationship to other faiths.

  34. Memphis Aggie says:

    Catholicism lately is closer to Eastern Orthodox teaching and farther from C of E, at least that’s the trend as I see it. The gap between Baptist and Catholic is wide enough that I’m not sure there is even much dialog at all.

  35. The use of the categorical absolute is a dogmatic assertion by definition.

    No, it’s not. Dogmas, in the conventional religious use of the term, are fellowship-defining teachings of an ecclesiastical communion. For example, I say it’s impossible for anyone who is well-informed about the physical world to believe the Earth is six thousand years old. However, I would unequivocally deny that anyone who said otherwise should be excommunicated. I don’t think the Church should divide over anything that isn’t in Scripture.

    Similarly, it is impossible for anyone well-informed about early church history to assert that John passed the Assumption story to Polycarp, and it from there made its way into wider faith and practice. There’s no basis to assume that, and that includes Church authority, because it’s not something your Magisterium teaches. That’s why most Catholic scholars don’t.

    I personally don’t care if someone believes in the Assumption or not. I think there’s no historical evidence for it, and that the available evidence suggests it’s a myth that originated at least a century or two after the apostles all died. However, and this is what makes me different than a pope, is that I’m not going to excommunicate or damn anyone who disagrees with me.

    Sola Scriptura has another side–it means we don’t anathematize each other over things with a shaky basis. The main question this Lutheran has is not whether the Assumption happened (there are quite a few Lutherans who believe in it), but whether it’s really worth throwing people out of the fellowship of the Church and into the outer darkness over it when your very own scholars acknowledge there’s no historical record or explicit evidence of this event ever happening.

    No wonder the Popes writings are so careful. He knows he how he will be read.

    It sounds like you’re suggesting the pope writes more carefully than the Spirit-inspired authors of Scripture. In any case, I think Boniface VIII had no idea how Unam Sanctam would be treated in the 20th century.

  36. There’s zero dialog in my house. After 29 years of discussing all things Christian, we can now talk about NOTHING Christian. I might as well be a Muslim. We read the scriptures and then its silence. My best friend and I can no longer talk about what we built our lives on.

    🙁

  37. Memphis Aggie says:

    “There’s zero dialog in my house. After 29 years of discussing all things Christian, we can now talk about NOTHING Christian. I might as well be a Muslim. We read the scriptures and then its silence. My best friend and I can no longer talk about what we built our lives on.”

    That’s very sad, and frankly not very Catholic. You should not be made to suffer for her decision. It’s her responsibility to be especially charitable and not to endanger the marriage, but I certainly understand how zealous converts can be and sometimes silence is the best you can do. My marriage went the other way from only one believer to two – now we are much closer. My wife was very very careful about religion never pushing and we didn’t talk much about it. Now it’s the main topic. It’s inherantly worse for you because of your profession. Hopefully that’ll change in time, not your profession, but the silence.

    Josh
    This is like a bad joke:
    “The use of the categorical absolute is a dogmatic assertion by definition.

    No, it’s not. Dogmas, in the conventional religious use of the term …”

    Actually it’s an error of word usage. I’m a Scientist by trade and in that context dogma (lower case) is used in the simple sense of a closed mind. This is a religious venue so it makes sense to use your interpretation of the word, my error.

    As for the Pope’s careful writing I was referring to Benedict the XVI, not all Popes throughout time and nothing was intended with respect to the care other authors might take. Here the lack of an apostrophe (Pope’s should have been used instead of Popes) is the cause of the misunderstanding but it certainly makes my point well.

  38. iMonk, I used those examples because one of the objections I’ve seen to the Marian doctrines is that they are unBiblical, i.e. there are no precedents, archetypes, or forerunners for those dogmas.

    It’s also a way of looking at Tradition – did Elisha immediately sit down with a pen and parchment and write down an account of what happened, or did he tell the people and it was written down at a later date?

    I’m not too worried about “But it wasn’t explicitly written down in Scripture!” On a completely unrelated site, we’re having a discussion about an article written by an atheist regarding an interview done with Jesuit priest and astronomer Jose Gabriel Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, in which he said that it is not impossible that God created other intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe. Apparently, according to our friend the atheist, this is all part of a sinister Vatican plot to explain away the E.T.s when eventually the flying saucers land, because it was a big embarrassment to Christianity when America was discovered.

    No, I don’t get the logic either, but it would seem that “The discovery of the Americas was hugely embarrassing to Western Christianity. Here was this vast and utterly unexpected landmass, and Scripture said nothing about it! Rationalists made great sport of that failure; in time, the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith undertook to remedy it, weaving America and its native peoples into the Christian salvation narrative. Smith’s handmade faith, now a fast-growing world religion, grew primarily by drawing converts from Catholic and Protestant ranks.”

    I don’t think that either you or I would consider that, Holy Scripture having nothing to say about America (nor Ireland, comes it to that), this meant that (1) America did not exist (2) What? America exists? Then Scripture is completely false!

    A Catholic way of using the Bible? I don’t at all mind you saying that. I’m a Catholic – yes, that’s how I’ll approach it.

    Just as half-a-dozen Protestant denominations can interpret the same verse half-a-dozen different ways 🙂

  39. “After 29 years of discussing all things Christian, we can now talk about NOTHING Christian.”

    I’m very sad to hear that. But truly absolutely nothing? Not the Incarnation? The Resurrection?

    Then again, this is more Job’s Comforters stuff. And you are a courteous host to put up with the guests rummaging through the cutlery drawer and being sniffy about the quality of the silverware

    🙂

  40. Christopher Lake says:

    Michael, I agree with Memphis Aggie and Martha. If you and your wife cannot talk about ANYTHING related to the Christian faith, then something is out of balance somewhere. I mean, I’m a Reformed Christian who left the Catholic Church, and even I will concede that Protestants and Catholics have many areas of agreement! I am praying for you and your wife, brother– and I truly mean it. I’m not just offering empty words here.

  41. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I don’t think that either you or I would consider that, Holy Scripture having nothing to say about America (nor Ireland, comes it to that), this meant that (1) America did not exist (2) What? America exists? Then Scripture is completely false! — Martha

    Trust me, Martha, you’ll hear exactly the same uproar and knock-down-drag-out Jihad if we do find microbes on Mars, Venus, or Europa that are unrelated to Earth life. (Substitute “ET life” for “America” in your two examples and add the corollary to (1) that “It’s all demons in disguise”.)

    Just as you’re hearing the uproar over Evolution vs Creation, going strong a century and a half after Darwin. (Substitute “Evolution” for “America” in your two examples and check out IMonk’s “To Be or Not To Be”.)

  42. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    St. Borg – very funny Resistance is Futile! — Memphis Aggie

    And then there’s the Baptist and Evangelical equivalent, the First Church of Borg. I was mixed up in a splinter “fellowship” like that back in the mid-Seventies; it takes its name from the total conformity required of all members.

    St. Borg? That was actually a suggestion for the photo caption on the American Papist blog:

    “Macharski, emboldened by the felicitous election of Ratzinger, jumps the gun and announces, ‘Gaudium magnum annuntio urbi, orbi et universo:

    CATHOLICI SUMUS … PECCATUM FUTILIS … BAPTIZARI PARATE.’”

    (will it work with the Borg?)”

    So, Headless Unicorn Guy, how did you stumble upon the Sooper Sekrit Plan and should we be sending the albino assassin monks after you? — Martha

    Nah, I’ve already got too many hunted crocks after me as-is.

    I stumbled upon the Sooper Sekrit Plan by seeing the Order of St Borg in action — “You WILL Become Catholic! Resistance is Futile! We’re Gonna Getcha! We’re Gonna Getcha! We’re Gonna Getcha!” One of my mentors in Catholicism was like that, and it got stale really really FAST.

    It results in the same response as Wretched Urgency-driven Witnessing; the determination to get as far away from the Borg (Prot or Cath) as possible.

  43. Easter is automatically a Holy Day of Obligation, because it’s a Sunday.

  44. (Oops, two other people already pointed it out.) 🙂