Were the Apostles Buffoons before Pentecost?

I must admit that there is something attractive and even accurate to the thesis that the Apostles were buffoons before they had the full transformation that happened at Pentecost.  First, Mother Angelica points out that they never seemed to catch anything on their own even as fishermen!  “Jesus chose a bunch of stinky fishermen” she reminds us as to why God chose someone like her to be a cloistered-evangelist to the nations in founding EWTN.

We have Christ’s disciples’ obvious sins, like Peter’s threefold denial of Jesus.  And yet, after the Resurrection, Jesus does not say “Peter, about denying me three nights ago…You can still remain my disciple, but I’m going to have to pass-along this whole first-Pope thing.”   No.  After the threefold denial, Jesus gives Peter on that Sunday beach of the resurrection a full three attempts to move from simply liking Him (φιλεῖς με)  to actually loving him (ἀγαπᾷς με.)  Peter is embarrassed that he can’t honestly answer that he had any form of unconditional love for his friend who just died for him.

Jesus sees Peter’s humility and is not worried.  Our Lord simply says: “Tend my sheep” and “Feed my sheep.”  He knows that Peter will live up to the task.  Peter had trusted in himself and fallen hard.  But now, Peter is humbled enough to lead the Church…and Peter himself would be led to a cross where he would one day die, believing he was not worthy to die in the same shape as the Son of God.  His executors agreed, and turned him upside down.

But it wasn’t just their bad fishing skills or their sins that made the Apostles look like buffoons.  Without any blasphemy to the saints (and yes, the saints can be blasphemed) the evangelists made it clear that the Apostles occasionally answered as buffoons: 

Jesus said:  “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died.—John 4:11-14

Come on.  Really.  They thought that Jesus Himself didn’t actually know that asleep people wake up?  Apparently not.  No other explanation suffices.

or consider how obtuse they are later on the boat:

And [Jesus] cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread.—Mark 8:14

I can hear Homer Simpson saying to Chief Wiggum “I understaaaaand.”   Yes, they were apparently thinking about food when Jesus said something as spiritual as “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.”  This paints a picture of men astoundingly obtuse to the spiritual sense of things.

But now I want to consider some evidence that the Apostles were not buffoons.  First of all, of all Ancient Near-East nations, very few tribes were as literate as the Jews in the first century.  Children began memorizing the torah with honey on the letters at very tender ages.  In fact, they had a large part of the Hebrew Scriptures memorized by the time they were 12 years old.  We live in a time when most priests can not even name the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, so we tend to project our poor catechesis on the Apostles.  But the Apostles would have know the Jewish faith, salvation history and the Hebrew Scriptures through and through and through, long before they met the Son of God face-to-face.  This is a historical reality, not a pious hope.  Just ask any well-read Israeli about first century life out there.

The Apostles were fishermen by trade.  But originally they had “tried out”(like all 12 year old Hebrew boys at one point) to become a rabbi.  This happens by being chosen at the age of 12 or so by a rabbi to be one who learns from him for years.  Many years earlier, the Apostles had probably tried out but failed.  But they had failed only compared to the real brainiacs of the day.  This means that the Apostles would have had a large chunk of the entire Old Testament memorized long before they took their consolation prize of fishing (irony of ironies, considering which rabbi ended up choosing them as adults.)

But we must get rid of this idea that the Apostles were blue-collar morons if we really want to understand 1st century rabbinical Judaism.  In fact, the parents of the Apostles expected them to be religious warriors to liberate Israel from Rome!  How do we know this?  Because half of the Apostles reflect the names found only in the family of Judas Maccabeus, the last family and book of the Old Testament.  Notice that half of the Apostles come from Maccabees in the Old Testament (Simon x 2, Judas x 2, John x 1.)  In fact, only the latter is found anywhere besides Maccabees in the whole Old Testament!  1

But now let’s fast forward to some grown Apostles:  Peter’s brother is Andrew, and today is the feast of St. Andrew (30 November).  The above picture is him instructing one of his early disciples, assumedly in modern-day Turkey.  Similarly, it was Andrew who first introduced his brother Peter to Jesus Christ:

One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus.—John 1:40-42b

What was Andrew doing before he brought Peter to Jesus?  Although Andrew may not have gone to sit from a rabbi in one of the main yeshivas (schools,  ישיבה, literally meaning “sitting,” as  you sit at the foot of a rabbi) we often forget that he was already following the greatest prophet of the old and new Testaments:  John the Baptist.  John the Baptist was not Jesus’ schizophrenic cousin in the forest like some movies portray him to be.  John the Baptist is he of whom Jesus said “No man born of woman is greater than him.”—Matthew 11:11.

Notice two paragraphs above that Andrew introduces Peter to Jesus very very early in John’s Gospel.  In fact, it happened in chapter one!  How do we know that St. Andrew was already following St. John the Baptist before meeting Jesus?  Because just a few verses before that, Andrew follows Jesus at the very referral and command of John the Baptist (Andrew’s first own master and rabbi) to do so.  Notice that this happens just before what I described two paragraphs above:

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.—John 1:35-37.

Can you imagine those three years of walking next to Jesus under a tree and eleven annoying-but-beloved friends?  They must have wondered:  What would Jesus say next?  Where would He lead them?  What miracle would come next?  Which Pharisee would He anger today?  Life would have been pure adventure.  And yet, and yet…after the crucifixion, they are left with little faith.  Those Apostles are hiding out for fear that they will be the next crucified Galileans, after their master and rabbi was mercilessly tortured and laid in the earth.  Some messiah to liberate Israel from Rome!

But after they experience the Risen Christ, everything changes.  They now believe.  I believe that the greatest proof of the Resurrection is that 11 fearful men, literally hiding from the authorities on the first Holy Saturday, are the same men that traverse the globe and are now responsible for the fact that there are 2 billion Christians on the earth.  How else could Galilean fishermen have gone from as far West as Spain (St. James) and as far East as India (St. Thomas) if they had not stuck their fingers into the nails of the Risen Jesus or the fist into His side?  They were truly transformed.  (Oh, and some say that Thomas made it all the way to China, but I won’t weigh in on that here.)

They have perfect knowledge of Christ at the resurrection, but the perfection of charity comes at Pentecost with Mary at their side, giving them all boldness and miracles to begin the full transformation of the world!  So, yes, I do believe that there was a transformation in the lives and hearts at the Resurrection and even more at Pentecost.  Perhaps even the personalities of the Apostles after the Resurrection and Pentecost are a bit changed.  Either way, grace perfects nature without destroying it.

Because of this, we can be encouraged by the many falls of the personalities of the Bible when we consider how faithful God is to us, even when we are not faithful.  Not that we want this to lead to presumption on God’s mercy, but St. Therese said:  “It doesn’t matter how many times you fall.  Only how many times you get back up.”  In fact, this is truly exemplified in the many stupid decisions of the Apostles before Pentecost, and how Jesus does not only refrain from retracting His love, but He doesn’t retract His friendship, either.  In fact, even their leadership as bishops and Pope of the early Church remains untouched despite all their personality flaws (impetuous, hungry, sleepy, dull, angry, etc) much like what you encounter in priests today, even in the confessional!  As long as they kept the true faith and transmitted it as Christ gave it, falls among the first bishops and pope could be endured.

But we also have to put together the facts to see that the Apostles were not buffoons before Pentecost. They came from arguably the most literate culture ever on the fact of the globe (the Jews, even under occupation) and had memorized more books of the Bible by the age of 12 than most American Catholics will even read in the Bible their whole life.  They were following the second greatest prophet to walk the earth, St. John the Baptist, before they were instructed on the beach by Yahweh Himself for three years, long before Pentecost.  So, yes, the Apostles made some stupid comments in the Gospels and even some serious sins, but they were the most highly-educated fishermen that you ever did meet.

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Burial spot of St. Andrew's body that I snapped off the Amalfi coast, Pascha 2016.

  1. This should show any Protestant why it was wrong to take Maccabees out of the Bible, and that first century Jews surely considered it canonical if half of the parents of the Apostles would name their kids after names found only in Maccabees.  

Abortion and Penance

Reserved sins are the sins that ordinary Catholic priests can not forgive in the confessional because they are reserved to either the bishop or the Apostolic Penitentiary in the Vatican to forgive the penitent. The reason they are “reserved” is because they are so serious that they incur an excommunication that is immediate (ex latæ sententiæ) by their very deed. Examples of “reserved sins” include the desecration of the Most Holy Eucharist, a priest breaking the seal of confession, or a couple having an abortion. Some bishops have extended their own hand of absolution and recommunication (which comes from Jesus Christ Himself via Apostolic Succession in John 20:18-20) to their priests in regards to only one of these sins: abortion. This is perhaps because of how common it is. In fact, I have never heard of a bishop who has not extended his hand of recommunication to all of his priests on the reserved sin of abortion.

Recently, Pope Francis gave the power of absolution and recommunication to all the priests of the world who deal with men or women committing abortion. (Of course, this hand of recommunication is extended only to priests who have faculties to hear confessions and are a state of good-standing with either their bishop or religious superior.) In any case, I think this was a good decision of Pope Francis. Why? I have heard confessions on five continents and I never heard of a bishop who has not extended his hand of recommunication to all of his priests on the reserved sin of abortion. Thus, Pope Francis removed a formality that may have carried a weight in the realm of moral theology, but carried little practical weight. It was a good decision.

However, there are rumors that abortion will be removed from the list of sins that make Canon Law’s short list of immediate ex-communication. Would this be a good decision?

Instead of discussing that, I want us to back way up and so I ask you to consider the four parts of confession:   Contrition, Confession, Absolution and Penance (or satisfaction.) Contrition is sorrow. Absolution is when Jesus Christ forgives the penitent through the priest who says “I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Penance is not a cherry on the cake but a necessary part of a valid confession. It is usually a few Hail Marys, but theologically it is a command to ensure “new life” as the Council of Trent says. For example, a person who gossips may have the penance of repairing someone’s good name. Notice the similarity between the word “repair” and “reparation.” Reparation is a synonym of penance.

None of the rest of this blog post will be on the news from Pope Francis.  The rest of this post will simply be to consider the penance or satisfaction side that must follow a good confession when abortion is confessed.

If a soul is a piece of wood, and a nail is a mortal sin, absolution is the tool that pulls out the nail. But a hole remains. This is filled in by the penance or satisfaction. Nowadays, this is little more than three Hail Marys. However, for serious sins the early Church usually prescribed a year on bread and water while walking in pilgrimage or in exile.

Was it just that the early Church was mean and legalistic on heavy penances? No. The early Church understood the penance had to be the medicinal remedy in the hole of the person being reformed. The Church took upon her shoulders the responsibility to make the soul so strong wood again. Why? First, because this is a requisite part of new life, but secondly because they had the hopes that no similar nail would ever enter that soul again. For example, if someone had an abortion, they often had to go on bread and water for a year. No Christian would have a second abortion after a penance like that. Even if you doubt this claim, you should only find such a prescribed penance to be rigorous if you don’t understand the gravity of abortion.

Let me pause here and say that any sin confessed is forgiven immediately upon baptism or the words of absolution in confession (“I absolve you from your sins…”)  Furhermore, we priests are called to be 100% compassion, mercy and love to any man or woman who has participated in abortion. St. John Vianney probably never dealt with as many abortions as even the average parish priest nowadays, but his advice for any priest holds true: St. John Vianney gave such easy penances because he himself did penance for his penitents. (This is part of why he lived on a potato a day.)

So, I believe we priests need to be the very living reflection of the Father to the prodigal sons and daughters who come (usually with tears) to confess this grave sin of abortion. Consider also how gentle Jesus was in the Gospel with women who came to him in sexual sin, versus how harsh Our Lord was to those who acted with spiritual pride. Thus, we should not scare people away from the Catholic Church with early-Church penances. The Post-modern, post-abortive man and woman would never come back to confession or the Catholic Church if we gave early-Church penances of a year on bread and water, so that is clearly not the goal.

But Pope John Paul II knew that confession was not the end—but the beginning—of the healing of a woman who has had abortion, as he alludes to this in his encyclical on life:

I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.—Evangelium Vitae 99

In my years of praying and counseling in front of American death camps, I personally find that the man is the main reason that the woman is entering the abortion mill is that her man is forcing her. Not always, but often.  Or, she feels too abandoned by him to raise a child without him.  The men of the world need to repent for abortion.  So, everything that I write on mercy, confession, reparation, hell and purgatory in this blog post is directed to men just as much as it is towards women. In fact, perhaps we as a collective Church will have to answer for a long time in in Purgatory for the sin of abortion, simply because of our nonchalant and mild opposition to the greatest holocaust in history. Arm chair pro-lifers are the main reason that abortion continues in this country. God repeatedly tells the mystics that He has compensated for the evil people on the planet, but it is actually chosen souls that re-crucify his heart through lack of gratitude and generosity. So yes, arm-chair pro-lifers are why abortion continues in this country.

If that sounds extreme, you must understand that the repair made after abortion is nearly impossible. Whose life truly changed with that abortion? The most common answer is that abortion leaves one dead and one wounded. This is true:  There is a child who is physically dead and a woman spiritually dead.

But who else is affected after abortion?
First, God had a full life planned for that child. That child killed was not a “wart on the uterus.” God had already “seen” in His eternity that child’s first birthday, first pony-ride, first heartbreak, first child-born to that unborn child. All her grandchildren and the millions (literally millions) of people affected by that one unborn boy or girl (who one day might have a lot of children) are wiped out, especially as seen in God’s eternal vision of human relationships in time. In that one touch of a vacuum in a Planned Parenthood, it is not an embryo that is wiped out. It is an entire life of joys, sorrows, sacraments and eternal glory wiped out by one suction button. Yes, each of us affects the lives of thousands if not millions of people. Think how many people have been affected by the 58 million surgical abortions that have happened in this country, not to mention all the chemical abortions worldwide. The number is as great as the living population of the whole world. We live in a different world than the one God had actually planned, all because of Planned Parenthood and their racist agenda.  So, yes, God’s will can be thwarted.  This is God’s will from the point of conception:

But God has a plan for redemption even when His will for life is thwarted by murder.  Gloria Polo was a Columbian woman who was struck by lightning in 1995. The lightning blew her IUD out of her uterus. Her sentence upon death by Jesus Christ was originally hell, and sins associated with her IUD were a large part of her sentence to hell. But Jesus gave her life back to her on earth, since she received the prayers of a poor man in the mountains of Columbia who was praying for her resuscitation. (He saw her on the news while they were working on getting her out of Cardiac Arrest.)

Since then, she has told her story to millions of people with the approbation of South American bishops. This is truly successful reparation for her sins! In the private revelation of her particular judgment, Jesus revealed the following to her:

Every time that the blood of a baby is scattered, it is a holocaust to Satan, who acquires in this way still more power. And this soul cries out. I repeat, we are dealing with a mature adult soul, even though it does not yet have eyes, nor flesh, nor a formed body… It is already completely adult. And this his cry so great, while they kill him, devastates all of Heaven. On the contrary, it is a cry of jubilation and of triumph in hell. The only comparison that comes to my mind is the finals of a world soccer championship: imagine all that euphoria, but in an enormous stadium, so immense so as to loose sight of the boundaries, full of devils who cry out like crazy beings their triumph. They, the devils, threw on me the blood of those babies that I aborted or that I contributed in killing, and my soul became black, completely black. After the abortions, I thought by now that I no longer had sins… The saddest thing was, instead, to see that Jesus showed me how, also in my family planning, I was killing… Do you know why? I was using the IUD (intrauterine device) as a contraceptive. From 16 years old, up to the day that the lightning bolt struck me! I took it out only when I wanted to get pregnant, (once married), to then put it immediately back afterwards. I want to say to all the women who use these intrauterine devices: yes, they provoke abortions! I know that it happens to many women, – because it happened also to me – , to see often clots of blood rather large during the menstrual period, and to feel pain much stronger than normal. We go to the doctor, who does not give much importance to the fact: he prescribes a painkiller, an injection if the pains are too strong, telling us to not worry, that it is normal, because we are dealing with a foreign body, but there is no problem. Do you know what it is, instead? It is a micro abortion!!! Yes! Micro-abortion! The intrauterine devices provoke micro-abortions, because as soon as the ovum and the sperm unite, as I already told you, right from that moment is formed a soul, that does not need to grow, being already adult: these devices do not let the fertilized ovum to implant itself into the uterus, which thus dies. That soul is expulsed! For this we are dealing with a micro-abortion. A micro-abortion is an adult soul, completely formed, which was not permitted to live. It was very painful to see how many babies were fertilized, but then expulsed. These little suns, originating from the Sun of God the Father, these divine sparks, could not grab on to the uterus due to the IUD. How they cried out, while they were torn out from the hands of God the Father because they could not implant themselves!!! It was a dreadful scene…! And the worst is that I could not say that I did not know! When I would go to Mass, I would not pay attention to what the priest said. I did not even listen, and if they might had asked me which verses of the Gospel had been read, I would not have known what to respond. You must know in fact that the devils are present even at the Mass, in order to distract us, to make us fall asleep, to impede us to listen. Well, in one of these Masses during which I was totally distracted, my Guardian Angel gave me a jolt and she uncorked my ears, so that I might listen to what the priest was saying in that moment: I heard him precisely speaking about intrauterine devices! He said that they provoked abortion, and that all the women who used them to control the births, actually were aborting; that the Church defends life, and that anyone who does not defend life cannot receive Communion! Hence, all the women who are using this method, cannot take Communion! How I heard those words, I became infuriated with the priest! But what kind of things do these priests have in their heads? With what right?! For this the Church does not go forward! It is for this and for that, that the churches are empty! Of course, because it is not with science! But who do they think they are, these priests? Do they think that they will give food to eat to all of these children that we might have?… I left the church infuriated! The bad thing was that, while I was being judged before God, I could not say that I did not know! In fact, notwithstanding the words of the priest, I did not give heed, and I continued to use the IUD! How many babies I had killed? … Here is the motive for which I was living so depressed! Because my womb, instead of being a font of life, it was transformed into a cemetery, in a “slaughterhouse” of babies! Think about it: a mother, who God conceded the immense gift of giving life, to take care of her own baby, to protect it from everything and everyone, precisely that mother, with all these gifts, kills her little child…! The devil, with his malefic strategy, has brought humanity to the point of killing their own children. Now I understand the reason why I lived in continual bitterness, depression, always ill tempered, ill-mannered, with ugly ways of doing things, with a bad face, frustrated with everything and with everyone. Of course! I had transformed myself, without knowing it, into a machine to kill babies, and for this reason I was sinking ever more into the abyss. Abortion is the worst of all the sins (those provoked, not when it is spontaneous), because to kill the children still in the womb of the mother, to kill a little innocent and defenseless creature, is to give power to Satan. The devil commands from the depths of the abyss, because we are scattering innocent blood! A baby is like an innocent lamb and without stain… And Who is the Lamb without stain? It is Jesus! In that moment, the baby is the image and likeness of Jesus! The fact that it might be the mother herself to kill her own child, determines a profound bond with the darkness, permitting that more devils from hell might come out to destroy and strangle humanity. It is as if one might open the seals… Seals that God has put to impede evil to come out, but that, for every abortion, it opens… And so horrible larvae come out, so that there are more and more devils… They come out to chase and persecute humanity, and then make us slaves of the flesh, of sin, of all the bad things that we see, and we will see always more. It is as if we might give the key of hell to the devils, to let them escape. And so escape more devils, of prostitution, of sexual aberrations, of Satanism, of atheism, of suicide, of indifference… Of all the evils that we see around us. And the world is getting worse every day… Think how many babies are killed every day: it is all a triumph of the evil one! That you might know that for the price of this innocent blood, the number of devils outside of hell grows; they circulate freely in our midst! Let us take shelter! … We sin without even realizing it! And our life transforms itself into an inferno, with problems of every type, with sicknesses, with so many evils that afflict us; all of this is the pure and simple action of the devil in our life. But it is we, we alone, that open the gates of evil, with our sin, and we permit him to freely circulate in our life. It is not only with abortion that we sin! … But it is among the worst sins. And then we have the nerve to blame God for so much misery, so much disgrace, so much sicknesses and so much suffering!… But God, in His infinite Goodness, still gives us the sacrament of Reconciliation, and we have the opportunity to repent and to wash our sin in confession, breaking in this way the strings that tie us to Satan, and his influence in our life. In this way we can wash our soul. … But in my case, I did not do it!

Now Gloria has confessed her sins. She is not only a forgiven woman, but a very holy woman who is leading thousands of people to Christ like a saint of yore. This may replace her purgatory time.

On the topic of the spiritual price of abortion, we are now going to continue to look at two saints of the 20th century. St. Faustina was a 20th century saint who had received the approbation of Pope John Paul II and the Vatican with her Divine Mercy Diary. On 16 September, 1937, she wrote:

I wanted very much to make a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament today, but God’s will was otherwise. At eight o’clock I was seized with such violent pains that I had to go to bed at once. I was convulsed with pain for three hours; that is, until eleven o’clock at night. No medicine had any effect on me, and whatever I swallowed I threw up. At times, the pains caused me to lose consciousness. Jesus had me realize that in this way I took part in His Agony in the Garden, and that He Himself allowed these sufferings in order to make reparation to God for the souls murdered in the wombs of wicked mothers. I have gone through these sufferings three times now. They always start at eight o’clock in the evening and last until eleven. No medicine can lessen these sufferings. When eleven o’clock comes, they cease by themselves, and I fall asleep at that moment. The following day, I feel very weak. —Divine Mercy Diary 1276

Padre Pio often delayed absolution for post-abortive women until they moved from guilt to sorrow in this story originally found in Latin Mass magazine:

When he was still living I visited Dónal at his home in County Cork, I asked [this friend of Padre Pio] pointedly if he had known a woman who had been refused absolution [by Padre Pio] because of having had an abortion. Dónal told me of one such post-abortion woman who gave him permission to re-tell her story. Dónal first met her mere minutes after she had left Padre Pio’s confessional. She was in great emotional distress having been refused absolution. She was, however, receptive to meeting Dónal who greeted her calmly with his soft Irish lilt. Dónal offered her the chance to talk things over with him and she agreed. Dónal did not pry – and did not ask prying questions – an atypical Irishman one might say. But the lady felt at ease in his company and volunteered the information that she had suffered much following her abortion, and knowing it was a sin, she took it with her to Padre Pio’s confessional, but Padre Pio had refused her absolution by saying to her, “you are not truly sorry for your sin”. This is the key: Padre Pio could see her soul and could see that she was not sufficiently contrite or “truly sorry” to use Pio’s exact words… True contrition did not come easily to the lady in question. She struggled for months: she was firmly of the mind that her post-abortion guilt was the same thing as contrition for her sin. Dónal (and I’m sure Padre Pio) prayed very much for the lady. It took her one whole year – but she developed true contrition which entailed sorry to God for arranging the death of her little one who had not asked to be conceived. When the searing ache of true contrition pierced her soul, she returned to Padre Pio’s confessional and once again confessed to having had an abortion. On this occasion, Pio did not refrain from granting her absolution, and said, “now you are truly sorry, I can give you absolution”.

To move from guilt to sorrow is probably necessary to fulfill the first words of John the Baptist and Jesus in the Gospel: “Repent and believe.” We also must remember that although the blood on the cross of Jesus Christ is the only thing that can save us, and although that grace is totally free, it is not cheap. The eternal weight of hell being wiped out by baptism or confession is a free gift, but that does not mean the earthly consequences of sin are eradicated.

This is why the single-best penance a woman or man can do after confessing the sin of abortion is to name the children who have been killed.  This might sound to the inexperienced reader like salt in the wound, but it is not.  The recognition of a full person planned by God to live is the only possible way to begin healing.  Naming the child connects the parents to the dead child (in some state of bliss, be that with or without the beatific vision, something that remains theologically undefined.)

All penance brings life, not death. In the movie The Mission,  Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro play 16th century Spanish Jesuits who have come to the New World. The latter is a slave trader on the upper Amazon who has an enormous conversion. He moves from slave-trader to celibate working for the salvation of souls of the indigenous people. De Niro joins the Jesuits and decides to bring the Gospel to the highest parts of the Amazon. But, to get there, he must carry himself, not only his own body, but the very tools, mail and armor of his days as a slave-trader all the way up the waterfall, with the items strapped to his back. One good Jesuit counters his superior and looks at the excessive penance, whispering “I think he has had enough.” The wise and compassionate Jesuit superior responds “Yes, but he doesn’t.” Let us realize that there is new life in a life of penance and reparation.

The Last Sunday and the Last Day on Earth

This podcast is not based on private revelation but rather the things that the Bible and the Catechism say must come at the end of time:  The Great Tribulation and Apostasy, the Anti-Christ versus the Restrainer.   At the final end we see the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Final Judgment, the destruction of earth and the Resurrection of the Body.  Finally, we will see the New Heavens and the New Earth.

 

Why Did Jesus Really Have to Die For Us?

Why did Jesus really have to die for us?  Many Catholics with a PhD in theology would not be able to say more than a 9 year old:  “To die for our sins.”  We look to St. Catherine of Siena for an explanation that is simple enough for a child, but complex enough to [hopefully] satisfy the 12 families who gathered in Louisiana to hear about this central tenant of Our Faith.