Are Some People’s Prayers More Valuable Than Others?

Julio Romero de Torres, La Saeta (1918)
Julio Romero de Torres, La Saeta (1918)

When Catholics talk about praying to Mary, a classic Protestant objection is “but I can go directly to Jesus!” To that, I’d say, “True, you could go to Jesus alone… but if you pray to Mary, you and the Virgin Mary can go directly to Jesus!” The “why not just go directly to Jesus” objection points to one of the real differences between Catholics and Protestants on this question: we Catholics believe that some prayers are more efficacious than others, and some people’s prayers are more efficacious than others. That teaching might sound shocking, but it’s solidly Biblical. Let’s consider it in two parts.

1. The Prayers of the Righteous Are Worth More than Those of the Unrighteous

James 5:16 says “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.” That’s not an extraneous adjective, either. The holiness of the person praying matters. Hebrews 5:7 even says of Jesus that, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear.” In contrast, Proverbs 28:9 says that “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” And the Psalmist says “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the voice of my prayer” (Psalm 66:18-19).  The blind man of John 9:31 says it simply: “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if any one is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.”

This is powerfully illustrated at the end of the Book of Job (Job 42:7-10), in which God instructs Job’s friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar) to have Job intercede for them that they might avoid punishment:

After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eli′phaz the Te′manite: “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” So Eli′phaz the Te′manite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Na′amathite went and did what the Lord had told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer. And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends; and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Notice: Job’s friends still pray directly to God, but it’s Job’s intercession that is efficacious. And in fact, Job’s prayers for his friends are efficacious both for his friends and for himself.

2. The Prayers of Some Christians Are Worth More than Others

So what about when it’s two righteous people praying? Is one Christian’s prayer worth more than another’s?

I’ve found multiple Protestant writers raise this question and then avoid answering it, and I suspect that there may be a reason for that. On the one hand, their theological leanings are such that they want to avoid anything that sounds like individuals merit or that there’s anything like a spiritual hierarchy. Plus, many Protestants think of righteousness as something you either have or don’t, rather than something that admits of degrees.

On the other hand, it’s hard to ignore the Scriptural data suggesting that certain individuals’ prayers are particularly efficacious, even compared with other believers. The clearest instance of this is Abraham’s intercession for Lot and his family when the city of Sodom is destroyed. God is going to punish the city of Sodom for its sinfulness, but He says (Genesis 18:17-19),

Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by him? No, for I have chosen him, that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice; so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.

By this point, God had chosen Abraham due to his faithfulness. And now, God is using that to invite Abraham to intercede for the city of Sodom. Abraham does so, saying ““Wilt thou indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt thou then destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?” (Gen. 18:23-24). He then continues to plead for Sodom until God agrees not to destroy the city if there are even ten righteous people in it (Gen. 18:32). The problem is, there aren’t. The only righteous people left in the city are Lot and his family. And yet God still shows mercy upon these few by saving them… and it’s all due to Abraham’s intercessory prayer. That’s not my assumption, the text actually says: “So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt” (Genesis 19:29).

Why does that matter? Because unlike Job’s friends, there’s no question that Lot is righteous. If he weren’t, he would have be destroyed along with the rest of the city. And yet his deliverance is explicitly due to Abraham’s prayerful intervention. And there’s a reason that God goes to Abraham rather than to Lot directly, just as there’s a reason that we’re repeatedly told to pray for one another, and to have others pray for us. The Bible is very clear about the fact that we should pray, but also about the fact that we should get other people — especially holy people — to pray for us. So there you go: that’s the Biblical foundation of why we go to the righteous, whether on earth or in Heaven.


  1. Are Some People’s Prayers More Valuable Than Others?

    Is it not the very definition of a prophet, or a priest, that he is chosen by God particularly for this purpose of having a closer relationship with him than others, and therefore his prayers are more effective than others who are not called to be prophets or priests? Isn’t this what we find throughout the Old Testament, with Moses in particular, wherein it is amply told of all of his many labors and miracles and pleadings to God for the chosen people of Israel? Moreover, wasn’t it Israel itself, that as a nation as a whole was called to be ‘set apart’ from all other nations, and being so, that their prayers would be more effective before God than all of the other nations that were not so particularly called by God?

    How could anyone who reads the Bible think to the contrary?

    1. Hi Al and All,

      Al mentioned prophecy, but it seems we then neglected to talk about the charisms–the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to some but for the benefit of all. (1 Corinthians 12:7ff). These gifts may be as ordinary as administration, guidance, helping or as rare as healing and prophecy.

      For instance, my friends know that I am a lousy record-keeper and failure at administration, but I can teach a little bit (it runs in the family), so anyone who asks for my gift is sure to get it (unless they ask for the gift I’ve not been given!)

      And we don’t have to be holy to get those gifts. But if we do use them to help others, we thereby help ourselves. Great economy of salvation there!

    2. This idea of the prophet ‘chosen’ by God and the Jewish people ‘chosen’ by God made me ask how we are ‘chosen.’ We are ‘chosen’ to achieve salvation. We are taught to pray, as the Lord did, in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done.”

      When people wonder why their prayers are not answered, we are told that it is not God’s will, or not God’s time to grant the object of our prayer. Since God gives only what is for our good, if we pray for what He wants instead of what we want, it seems those prayers would be most efficacious.

      1. Finally, we are to intercede (pray for) each other. Jesus teaches this through the words he chose in giving us the Lord’s Prayer. We are to pray to “Our” Father. And the pronouns “we” and “us” and “our” continue throughout the prayer. It is never, “me, my, I.”

  2. Hi Joe,

    So, I don’t disagree that God hears the prayers of the righteous more clearly than the unrighteous. Abraham was a follower of God in a way those around him were not, and God dealt with Abraham unusually as a result.

    But per Matthew 11:11, John the Baptist is greater than Abraham – and by that same verse, the least of us is greater than John the Baptist, for we have a gift that none of those preceding Christ had: the indwelling of his Spirit. We’re his brothers and his priests, who can enter directly into the Holy of Holies through the passage of his blood. I think part of the Protestant objection is with the implication that this just isn’t close enough – that, sure, God will probably listen to his adopted priests, but man, if only we had Mary on our side-!

    I think the author of Hebrews would be… well, horrified at that suggestion. It cuts against the theme of the whole book, from 1:2 (In the past, God spoke only to select men and prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us!) to 2:11 (which hails us as the brothers of Christ, coming from the Father as he does), through the promise in chapters 7-10 of our participation as priests in a new and better covenant, through the declaration in chapter 12 that we have a better and more perfect connection to God than even the heroes of the past. Throughout, the emphasis is on our closeness to God, in contrast with the distance of days gone by, and on the perfection of our approach – a perfection rooted not in ourselves, but in the perfect work of our High Priest.

    Indeed, I think it can’t be overstressed that Hebrews directs us explicitly on how we are to relate to God – and when it does, it tells us to approach Him directly, and not through any mere human’s mediation. So, in 3:16: “Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace.” And again, in 10:19-21: “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, his flesh, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…” If prayers to the saints is more efficacious than our own “drawing near,” how is it that the author tells us only of the lesser option? How is it that the whole of the New Testament says nothing of this better and more effective way?

    I could continue on to Romans 8:15 or Galatians 4:6, and the closeness they describe; I could go most prominently, perhaps, to Matthew 12, and to Christ’s claiming us, his followers, as his mother and brothers and sisters, over and above Mary and his biological siblings. But I think that’s enough to show the primary Protestant objection: the Catholic position suggests that there is a closer approach, when the thesis of entire books of the New Testament is that we have an approach unrivaled in the history of God’s working with His people. From that perspective, the Catholic view casts aspersions on one of the greatest gifts we’ve been given: the right to call out, “Abba! Daddy!” and to be heard as the desperate cry of a child for his loving Father. It of logical necessity makes that only a second-rate access – lesser than another kind of access of which Scripture says nothing.


    All of that aside, I think there’s another practical argument that says, “Not only do we not think prayer to the saints is superior; we’re not sure it does any good at all.” We simply do not know much about the status of dead Christians right now. We don’t know, for instance, how Mary perceives time, now that she’s dead. We don’t know how much attention she pays (or is able to pay) to this world. We don’t know her ability to perceive many Christians praying in may different places; we are not told, for instance, that the dead are omnipresent or omniscient. We do not know, not to put too fine a point on it, that Mary understands English.

    We do not know, in other words, that prayers to her are noticed, heard, or understood. That being the case, it’s entirely possible – from what we know in Scripture – that any particular Christian’s prayers to Mary accomplish… nothing.

    On the other hand, let’s suppose that it is efficacious to have a righteous man intercede on our behalf. Is anyone more righteous than Christ? Is anyone more fond of us than Christ? Does anyone hear us more plainly than he can, or watch us more closely, or know us better? Is anyone more willing and tireless in his intercessions for us than Christ? Is any prayer closer to the ear of the Father than Christ’s, who sits at His very right hand? Why, then – if we pray to someone for intercession – would we direct those pleas to anyone other than him?

    1. Hi Irked,
      Thank you for your civility, like a breath of fresh air.

      It could be, in Matthew 11:11, that John the Baptist is least in the kingdom of heaven because John has died before the gates of heaven had been opened and before the Holy Spirit’s profusion of grace is poured out upon the earth, as you suggest. But how do we know that we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? How can we know that one has Him and another does not? John the Baptist did recognize the Lamb of God and professed him; he did jump in his mother’s womb at the in-womb presence of Jesus; he suggested he was unworthy to baptize the Lord–he definitely recognized Jesus as God’s anointed. How do these show that John lacks the Spirit indwelling?

      1. Hi Margo,

        It seems like “How can we know we have the Spirit?” might take us into a totally different topic – is it okay if we mostly pause on that to see if there’s any discussion on Joe’s main thesis? For the moment, I’d like to restrict myself to what John says on the matter, in 1 John 5, echoing John 20: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” It’s by the testimony recorded in the Bible as to what is required to have eternal life – and so the Spirit – that we know we have these things.

        How do these show that John lacks the Spirit indwelling?

        Those things, specifically, don’t – and indeed John is filled with the Spirit. But Christ says plainly in Acts 1 that he’s providing a baptism with the Spirit that is unlike that given before, and indeed in John 16 says that if he does not leave, the Spirit will not come. It’s by no means my contention that the Spirit is not present in the world prior to that point; I think we see Him even at its creation. But there’s clearly a way in which the Spirit relates men to the Father after Acts 1 that is unlike (and superior to) anything that’s happened before, and I think all of these verses argue for that fact. I’m not sure my wording conveyed that distinction well, though; sorry about that!

        But to turn the question around: what do you understand Jesus to mean, when he says that the least of those in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist, and so greater than all men before John?

        1. Hi Irked,

          You ask: “…what do you understand Jesus to mean, when he says that the least of those in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist, and so greater than all men before John?

          They are greater because they ‘know God the Father better’ through the teaching of Jesus : ” If you have seen me you have seen the Father”. John did not have this intimate teaching, He had limited time spent with Jesus and His Gospel message.

          On the night before He died, Jesus taught the importance of learning and putting His gospel message into practice when in John 17:5, He says:

          “NOW THIS IS ETERNAL LIFE: That they may KNOW THEE, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth; I have FINISHED THE WORK which thou gavest me to do. And now glorify thou me, O Father, with thyself, with the glory which I had, before the world was, with thee. I have MANIFESTED THY NAME to the men whom thou hast given me out of the world. Thine they were, and to me thou gavest them; and THEY HAVE KEPT THY WORD. Now they have known, that all things which thou hast given me, are from thee: Because the words which thou gavest me, I have given to them; and they have received them, and have known in very deed that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.”

          Relating this to praying for others? Even as Jesus prayed for St. Peter that His faith fail not, those who are stronger in keeping the words of Christ, who are stronger in faith, must pray for those who are weaker. It is always the case that Christians will be ministering to weaker brothers who are new to the Gospel of Christ, the ones that St. Paul teaches need to be fed on ‘milk and honey’. And these need the prayers of those who are stronger in faith, also. Likewise, Christians who have fallen back and denied the Gospel due to any reason, any temptation, mortal sin, persecution, etc..also need the prayers and instruction of those who remain faithful. This is demonstrated when Jesus said to Peter,

          “And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren. Who said to him: Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said: I say to thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, till thou thrice deniest that thou knowest me.” (Luke 22:31)

          So we see, that one Christian helps another, and especially in the way that Jesus helped Peter, by prayer. However, when Jesus says ‘confirm’ they brother, this might be done in a number of ways, by encouragement, teaching, leadership, and maybe even in recounting his own failures which occurred on that very day, after the ‘cock crowed’.

          Other examples of Christian correction can be found in the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation.

          So, when any Christian is strong in the faith, they must do the same as Jesus tells Peter…”firm up they Brothers’ faith. And this includes by means of prayer.

          1. Al,

            It seems to me your basic point in the above post is that stronger Christians should support the weaker, including via prayer. And amen! Absolutely they should.

            But Joe’s premise seems to be that Mary’s prayers are more efficacious, which is a different claim altogether – and one we’re given no particular reason to believe is true. We have, again, the closest possible approach to God, who desires as a loving Father to grant our requests; there is no closer human approach.

            That said, it may very well be that the dead saints pray for us, the living – again, we know very little of their state right now, and so I’m hesitant to deny possibilities. But, again, I think there’s no particular reason to believe that my prayers to anyone but God are even perceptible by their targets; the only prayers we know to be effective are those to the Trinity.

          2. Hi Irked,

            You say: “we know very little of their state right now,”

            Yet in the Gospels we indeed know something of the state of dead saints, as it is recorded regarding the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus. Therein, we learn that Moses and Elias conversed with Jesus, in the presence of three apostles also, about His upcoming passion and death. So, it is certain that these OT prophets knew something about Christ’s future passion, even though they were not resurrected from their graves yet. And, this was a lesson not only for Jesus, but also for the apostles as well, so, we might conclude that the Transfiguration event was designed to be ‘public’ from it’s very inception. It is related that Jesus took the apostles to the singular ‘Mt. Tabor’ in a very determined way, as a demonstration for the apostles to witness some of ‘His glory’. It was not just an ‘ad hoc’ appearance wherein Moses and Elias just ‘showed up one day’. Christ planned this lesson for a reason.

            If we look eight days back, we find the dialog between Jesus and the apostles which tells the reason. Jesus said:

            “For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; for he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, and cast away himself? For he that shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him the Son of man shall be ashamed, when he shall come in his majesty, and that of his Father, and of the holy angels. But I tell you of a truth: There are some standing here that shall not taste death, till they see the kingdom of God. And it came to pass about eight days after these words, that he took Peter, and James, and John, and went up into a mountain to pray.” (Luke 9:24)

            So, we learn here that what Jesus is demonstrating what it is like to ‘come in his majesty’ to his disciples. And so, we now know through this lesson that 1. Their truly is ‘life after death’. 2. Saints of the Old Testament can indeed talk and interact with others on Earth after death. 3. These OT saints also are aware of things occurring on Earth, such as the upcoming passion and death. 4. These saints act even as Jesus said they would, as messengers of God…like the angels also are…when He discussed ‘life after death’ with the Sadducees. He said to them:

            ‘ And Jesus answering, saith to them: Do ye not therefore err, because you know not the scriptures, nor the power of God? For when they shall rise again from the dead, they shall neither marry, nor be married, but are as the angels in heaven.” (Mark 12:24)

            So, in consideration of all these things, and also in consideration that New Testament saints are greater than the old, as you mentioned in scripture and your comment, is it really a stretch to think that the Blessed Mother of God has less power then Moses and Elias regarding these same ‘after death’ capabilities? Even as Moses and Elias were informed about future events (being ‘after death prophets’ even as Samuel was also), would it not be reasonable that Mary was similar. She also was a prophet also. She said to Elisabet her cousin “From this day all generations will call me blessed”. And this is true to this day, 2017 years later. Catholics every day say “Hail Mary ‘Full of Grace’ the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and Blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.

            I say this prayer at least 53 times a day, on average. Some Catholics pray it 153 times a day. It’s part of the great prayer called the ‘Holy Rosary’, and it fulfills the magnificent prophesy that Mary spoke to Elizabeth.

            So, herein, the scriptures provide a lot of information on the capabilities and powers granted by God to His saints in the afterlife. Mary should be at least as capable as Moses and Elias, being the beloved Mother and most caring disciple of Jesus Christ.

            Best to you.

          3. Hi Al,

            Yet in the Gospels we indeed know something of the state of dead saints, as it is recorded regarding the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus. Therein, we learn that Moses and Elias conversed with Jesus, in the presence of three apostles also, about His upcoming passion and death. So, it is certain that these OT prophets knew something about Christ’s future passion, even though they were not resurrected from their graves yet.

            Yes. That’s one of the very few things we do know: that these men continued to commune with God regarding God. But it does not follow from this that they know anything about you or me specifically.

            3. These OT saints also are aware of things occurring on Earth, such as the upcoming passion and death.

            “Such as,” however, exhausts the list of what we’re sure they’re aware of. I don’t think it’s a marvel that they should know of God’s plan in Christ, that being the singular central event of His dealing with men. I don’t think it follows from there that they’re deeply aware of you and I.

            Hebrews 12 tells us the fallen saints are “witnesses.” I think it’s plausible they observe in some capacity what God is doing on earth. Does that mean David is aware, if I try to speak to him directly? We have no answer to that, and it’s unwise to ground our behavior on the assumption that the answer is “Yes.”

            4. These saints act even as Jesus said they would, as messengers of God…like the angels also are…when He discussed ‘life after death’ with the Sadducees.

            Christ says that the risen shall be like the angels in that they do not marry, yes. It’s not a general pronouncement of similarity; we will judge angels, and so we cannot be like them in all regards.

            More to the point, we know precious little of what life is like for the angels, either. And still more to the point, the dead are not yet risen; the righteous still wait in Abraham’s Bosom for their new bodies. Whatever we take those words to mean, they do not apply yet.

            is it really a stretch to think that the Blessed Mother of God has less power then Moses and Elias regarding these same ‘after death’ capabilities?

            And here we move to full speculation. It is possible Mary is aware of us as specific individuals. It is possible she is not. It is possible she is aware of spiritual communion addressed to her specifically; it is possible she is not. We do not know her focus; we do not know her capabilities; we do not know that she stands nearer to the heart of Christ than we do. All we have are conflicting guesses – and the only reasonable answer to those guesses is, “We do not know, because God did not think we needed to know.”

            We do not ground doctrine on guesses.

            As Protestants, our concern is precisely with the devotion you describe: that these are dozens or hundreds of prayers a day that – rather than going to the living God, whom we know stands ready to hear us as a Father does his sons – that may truly reach no further than the air. As well, we question the entire notion of so much praise going to anyone other than God Himself – and it seems to me that the testimony of the saints is universally the same: that there should be less focus on their greatness, and more on Christ.

          4. Hi Irked,

            I posted my response without linking it to the correct ‘reply’ button, by mistake. It can be found after Margo’s June 15th comment, and after a few of Phil’s comments as well.

            Best to you

        2. Hi Irked,

          Yes, fine. Let’s digress another day.

          My best (fairly uneducated and unmeditated) guess on Matthew 11:11 is: John died prior to Jesus. What happened to him upon his death? Scripture does not say, but Scripture does tell us that John, from prison, sent the question to Jesus, asking if Jesus were the one or should the world wait. John doubted, perhaps despaired. Just like the other disciples, he had no understanding of a spiritual kingdom and no understanding of the spiritual salvation Jesus wrought by his death and proved by his resurrection. As did the other disciples, John expected a material, earthly the kingdom.

          Because John did not receive the grace of God’s salvific act prior to his death, he had no Savior to atone for him, no advocate on his behalf, and probably there was no place prepared for him as Jesus, near his ascension, told the other disciples he had to do. And of course there was that glorious and overflowing outpouring of the Holy Spirit of which John (and other OT prophets) could not partake.

          How do you read Matthew 11:11?

          1. Hi Margo,

            Regarding John’s state after his death, remember that the graves were opened at the time that Jesus descended to the dead before His resurrection. So, John’s salvation is certain. But this is not to say that his knowledge of God the Father is as great as the least of the disciples of Christ. But never the less, like Moses and Elias, he’s still a great Saint and friend of God.

          2. Hi Margo,

            I read it as indicating that John is greatest under the old covenant – the only covenant in effect at the time Christ is speaking (since he hasn’t yet died). That’s a powerful thing!

            But by his own words, it’s a lesser thing than the least effect of the new covenant: a covenant that perfects forever, that makes men the brothers of Christ, that replaces ceaseless sacrifice with conformance over time to his character. Again, I think the entire book of Hebrews is about the superiority of the new covenant to the old, and about the closeness that it gives us to God that supersedes even the heroes of the faith – again, not by our merit, but by the work of Christ. I focused on the giving of the Spirit, but that’s only one aspect by which we have a better covenant.

            I think you’re right that John didn’t understand the nature of Christ’s kingdom, but I don’t think that’s the reason for the limitation given. And I think we do have faith that John has a place in that final kingdom: that, as with all the Old Testament saints, his sacrifices were only a covering over of his sin until it could be truly forgiven by Christ, and that when (as Revelation 20 says) “Death and Hades [give] up the dead that are in them,” he and all the other faithful dead will be given up to life eternal alongside us.

          3. Good morning, Awlms,

            It’s been a while. Thank you, as always, for your posts. Yes, as you say. The graves were opened and resurrection of the old testament prophets occurred. John, I believe, then was given a share in God’s kingdom. But at the time of his death he gained a lesser thing. The fulfillment of the Trinity and the saving of Jesus is the key. We have the knowledge and the ability to ‘possess’ the spiritual gifts of atonement and salvation before we die. We can climb the ladder of sanctity, but John had only the Law to help him. It’s the idea of to whom more has been given. Now there is that great sense of obligation since more will be asked…but we have those heavenly aids, don’t we?

            I’m offline today. God bless.

        3. Good morning Irked,

          I’m gone most all day, just a quick note. Your post about the blood of Christ making us all brothers enables us to enter the Holy of Holies brought to mind the concept of spiritual brotherhood. If we all share the same Holy Spirit which indwells in each, we are all related, and moreover that is through the blood of Christ. Then spiritually we are all related to each other. The Spirit is not bound by material. Therefore, we have connections to each other which we cannot see. Therefore, it we ask someone to keep us in prayer (in thought, mind, and spirit), they indicate that desire and movement to the Holy spirit. Other’s prayers for us then are little whiffs of hope from us to the Holy Spirit. Multiply this by however many pray for us. Our praying and their praying makes the knocking at the door louder and more persistent. Is it not possible that some are more close to the door of our Lord’s heart, just like the disciple John was at the Last Supper? Can some people be closer to His heart spiritually?

          1. Good morning Margo!

            So there’s a trivial answer that yes, certainly some people are closer to his heart – we call those people Christians.

            But that some Christians’ prayers are inherently more effective than others – that’s something of which Scripture knows nothing. If the most effective way to present our case to God is through a fallen brother or sister, then why is the universal testimony of Scripture that we should approach Him directly, ourselves? That Christ – that Jesus, who died to claim us as brothers and priests, as his truest family – would fail to hear you or I as clearly as he does another… that seems like a drastic alteration of the way our appeal to him is universally presented.

    2. “We do not know, not to put too fine a point on it, that Mary understands English.”

      The very first miracle in the Church was the ability to speak in a way that people of any nation could understand. The idea that there is a language barrier in Heaven is, to put it mildly, implausible.

      1. Hi Jarrod,

        Maybe so! I’d still maintain that we don’t ground doctrine on how likely it seems to us that she does or doesn’t understand a particular language – especially when that’s only one link in a chain of suppositions required.

        1. This is certainly true, though I would note that I was not attempting to support Church teaching with that comment (though I do support it), merely rebutting your specific objection contained in the citation.

  3. Good article, again, Joe. Thanks.

    John 14:23 suggests that God will ‘abide’ with one who loves Christ and who follows the Father’s will: “If any one love me, he will keep my word and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him.”

    The Catholic Church requires objective proof of at least two miracles before declaration of “sainthood.” Miracles often result from prayer to that person, asking for his/her intercession with God. The Creed teaches the “communion of saints.” Do Protestant denominations profess this in their Creed? What does this mean to a Protestant?

    When a sinner repents and is converted, the converted sinner will often experience an overwhelming sensible grace or a sign of ” heaven’s rejoicing,” supporting the notion of reward for the righteous (vs. non-reward for the non-righteous).

    I have been extremely fortunate to have known a few holy people. A very wonderful priest brings contemplation every time he is near, and owing primarily to his help and prayers for me through the sacrament of confession, my faith life has developed and strengthened.

    When Mary asks Jesus for a miracle at Cana, at first he appears hesitant, “Woman, what is that to me?” But she acts with assurance that He will comply, and He does. We do well to seek her as our mother; she will bring us to our brother or bring him to us.

    Just as in our natural lives, we have a mutual give-and-take with friends, and we have natural affinities for some people more than others, it makes sense that Jesus and God would have as friends those with whom they share affinity.

  4. The assumption behind Joe’s article is that God is something else someplace else that we can/should pray to from where we are. That is, it assumes God is one thing, and we are another. Please observe how this assumption ignores the Catholic doctrine that God is ever present everywhere at all times.

    Ever present – EVERYWHERE.

    Everywhere means God is in every molecule, every atom, every electron, every quantum fluctuation. Every tiniest corner of reality is infused with God. In other words, all of reality _IS_ God.

    Thus, there is no separate “you” which can direct comments and requests to a separate “God”. An APPARENT division between “me” and “God” is an illusion created by how thought works. Anyone can confirm this for themselves by exploring meditation, so there’s no need to take my word for it.

    “Me” is made of thought. It can not exist without thought. As you reduce the volume of thought “me” gradually melts away. And to the degree it recedes it is replaced by experience of the single unified reality often called God. Indeed, to the degree one proceeds in this direction there is no one having the experience, there is only the experience. Another more concise way to say this is…

    “Me” has died and been reborn.

    Please read the New Testament again and note that Jesus tells us to “die and be reborn”. Note the word “die”. It’s a verb. It references an action.

    Note that Jesus doesn’t say…

    “Create a doctrine about dying to be reborn, write a book about it, have an opinion about it, hold a ceremony about it, pray for it, debate it, etc” All of this is not action, but instad talk about an action, something else entirely.

    Praying to God as described by Joe actually reinforces a perceived illusory distance between “me” and “God”. Such praying fuels the illusion which is the source of all the problems we are attempting to solve through religion. And of course, a concept that some people’s prayers are better than others does nothing but fuel the typical social competition agendas which so distract us.

    NOTE: We shouldn’t be praying to God, we should be dying to the person doing the praying.

    And once “me” is dead, to the degree that is so, God is there. God is always there. Thus, there’s no need to petition God with all our petty concerns. If God thinks you should have whatever you’re praying for, you’ll have it. There’s nothing for you to do except….

    Get out of the way.

    All of us are absolutely obsessed by the conversations we are having with ourselves inside our own minds. We love ruling like petty gods over that tiny symbolic kingdom. God is a polite fellow who doesn’t want to intrude on that conversation we’re having with ourselves, so he patiently waits for an opening before speaking. Want to hear from God? Then shut up, stop endlessly blabbing to yourself and hogging the conversation. Let God get a word in. Or as Jesus put it…

    Die to be reborn.

    1. If “me” is dead, I am God, which is everywhere, therefore I am everywhere, therefore God is dead, therefore prayer has no meaning.

  5. Now listen up peeps, before this thread turns in to a big debate it’s important that the conversation be based on documented facts. Thus, I have referenced the Catholic Prayer Value Database so there will be no confusion about whose prayers are the most worthy. The Catholic Prayer Value is based on a 0-10 scale, with 10 being the highest value prayer. I looked us up in the database, so we can all be clear about how well our own prayers rank compared to other members.

    Joe = 7
    Al = 6
    Margo = 3
    AK = 1
    Phil = -147
    Mathew = 0
    Barry Bulldog = 23,974

    So there you have the official results, published here to prevent any imposters from trying to falsely claim prayer value they don’t actually have.

    1. Barry the Bull dog, will you please put in a good word for me when you get the chance? And if Barry’s ranking is so high, Irked’s must be in the 6 or 7 digits! Oh, and I’m going to study Einsteins ‘theory of relativity’ to get a handle on how a scale of 1 to 10 can includes a ranking of 23,974. But I’m confident I’ll figure it out. It all has to do with the speed of time divided by matter multiplied by the square of energy… and a few other things. It’s pretty easy to understand, actually.

      1. Einsteins ‘theory of relativity’”

        Actually, it’s easier than that. Just apply the Inverse Square Law. The effect of a small miracle – or a prayer warrior ranking – on earth reflects the unimaginable power of the Source.

        Aren’t we blessed – all of us – to have a written record of that Source’s interaction with us, and the Source’s loving plan for us to remain in His Beatific Vision, forever…..

  6. Why would we pray to an all knowing ever present God with infinite power? Wouldn’t such a God already know every single thing about us and our situation, and what is best for us? What is it that we think we can add that will improve the situation? Isn’t such a conversation a bit like an amoeba trying to weigh in on federal tax policy?

    Why not just gratefully accept each moment of life that God gives us, as it was given, and try to find the teaching in it?

  7. “these are dozens or hundreds of prayers a day”

    These prayers were designed to give the poor and illiterate a means of praying the 153 psalms as the more educated Christians, monks and ecclesiatics were capable of due to their higher literacy levels throughout Christian history. And who would complain about reciting the psalter of the Old Testament, as it was the daily practice of the early Jewish Christians in the first century of the Church? And who would deny that the great institution of monasticism of the 3rd century, and beyond, was built around the recitation of the Psalms, as well as the memorization of the Gospels…wherein the monks would pray at set times every day for this purpose? And some of these monks were St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Basil of Caesarea, St. Anthony of Egypt, St. John Climicus, etc…all of whom have had an immense impact on the history and growth on the Church of Christ Church.

    So, to replace the psalms with the meditation on the mysteries of the Gospel, and supported by the Angelic Salutation found there in “Hail, Full of Grace, the Lord is with you”… is to promote the contemplation of the greatest event in human history, the incarnation of God, Our Savior Jesus Christ into this world. And these were the very first words spoken of by the angel, effecting this eternal event.

    So, instead of criticizing this daily meditation, every Christian should be praising it, as a memorial of the incarnation of Christ. And should anyone fear saying ‘Hail Full of Grace’…it is only a repetition of these first glorious words of the angel Gabriel, and bringing back these happy memories wherein the angel himself said: “the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” [Luke 1:28] who can complain if an angel of God says such happy words to the Blessed Virgin….”the Lord is with you”? And if He is ‘with her’, who can be ‘against her’?? So, to honor Mary as the Mother of Jesus, and therefore the mother of the Church, whom her Son is the ‘head’ and ‘body’, is a very pious honor towards her and acknowledging this truth of her dignity before God. So, Catholics are in no way ashamed at saying ‘thank you ‘ to our blessed Lady, be it a thousand times a day, it would still be too little. And Jesus understands our hearts in this, that we thank her because she has brought Himself, Jesus the Lord ( by her ‘fiat’), TO US. That is, without Mary, we would not have Jesus. So, we praise her and thank her for this (mind you, we do NOT adore her!). So, even as we praise St. Paul for all of his labors for the holy faith, for ‘running the good race’, so-to-say, we honor Mary also. And again, this is very pious for us to do, as Jesus said, ‘they are not dead..but living’.

    So, prayer to Jesus and Mary, and especially through the Holy Rosary, includes many things…remembering Jesus and Mary in the stories found in the Gospels, praising Jesus through the words “blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus”; and asking also that Mary ‘pray for us sinners to Jesus her Son… “now and at the hour of our death”. While all of this is being said, there are meditations on the Gospel stories…The annunciation, the visitation to Elisabeth, The birth of Jesus, the purification of Mary in the temple, the finding of Jesus in the temple. And then also, the agony in the Garden, the scourging at the pillar, the crowning of thorns, the carrying of the cross, and the agony of Jesus upon the Cross. The glorious aspects of the Gospel are also remembered: The resurrection of Jesus, His ascension into Heaven, the desecration of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, the assumption of Mary into Heaven (derived from tradition) and the Crowning of Mary queen of Heaven (derived from the Book of Revelation, and tradition).

    So, this is to say, there is much more to those hundreds of prayers than Protestants might think. Much is meditation on the Gospel events. And other prayers such as ‘Lord’s prayer’ are included.

    It is truly a great way to pray… and is a treasure of Christian devotion and piety.

    1. Hi Al,

      It seems like several of the things you’re raising here are distractions from our primary topic. Obviously I don’t object to the reciting of the Psalms – but we’re discussing prayer to dead Christians, and not whatever practice such prayer grew out of. Obviously I don’t object to memorializing Christ – but we’re discussing attempts to commune with dead Christians, and not whatever laudable behavior may accompany such attempts. I can declare that, while washing my garbage before throwing it out, I also meditate on the whole of Leviticus – but while the latter may be praiseworthy behavior, it does not suggest that washing my garbage qua washing my garbage has any merit. “Are their prayers more valuable than ours, such that we should pray to them?” was the topic Joe originally raised, and I’d like to stick to that.

      In light of that, my core thesis is that there is no evidence prayer to dead Christians in itself is efficacious; indeed, it runs against the pattern of every description of prayer in the New Testament. I’d like to return to that point, rather than divert to whatever other meritorious actions may be taken alongside prayer to dead Christians.

      (Surely, if prayer to dead Christians is ineffective, it would be better for us to take the meritorious actions you describe while also doing something effective!)

      And if He is ‘with her’, who can be ‘against her’??

      Nobody in this conversation is “against” Mary. I’m against a particular practice, which I do not believe to be effective or appropriate action towards a sister in Christ.

      So, to honor Mary as the Mother of Jesus, and therefore the mother of the Church,

      Lacking some argument beyond “therefore,” I do not accept that Mary is the mother of the church. Without this, I don’t believe your paragraph supports itself.

      That is, without Mary, we would not have Jesus.

      Sure. You also wouldn’t have Jesus without Moses, David, or Adam – or Pharaoh, or the king of Jericho, or King Saul, or a thousand others. This does not justify ritual praise of these people, nor does it render such praise effectual.

      1. Irked,

        I’m on my phone so bear with me. You keep saying “dead Christians.” Stop it lol. Jesus was not impressed with that kind of language. God is not a God of the dead but of the living. “Whoever believes in me, even though he dies, yet shall he LIVE!”

        The Saints of God have power. God did not make His saints to be wimps lol. They are incredibly powerful prayer warriors and you would do well to avail yourself of them.

        There is absolutely nothing in scripture that contradicts requesting the prayers of glorified Saints. Even if you were right that scripture is completely silent on the matter, which it isn’t, then all you would be left is an invalid argument from silence which begs the question of Sola Scriptura.

        The Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of the Church is actually a simple matter of deduction.

        1. Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ
        2. The Church of the Body of Christ
        3. Jesus Christ’s Body is Jesus.
        Therefore 4. Mary is the Mother of the Church.

        QED lol.

        And finally, come on dude. Jesus gets His flesh not from Moses, not from Saul, not from David, but from Mary. Jesus gets His human nature, His body which hung on the cross for our salvation, from Mary. He was made flesh in HER womb, NOT Moses lol. If that doesn’t happen, no one goes to Heaven. That’s why St. Irenaeus called Mary “the cause of our salvation.”

        May God be with you.


        1. Hi Matthew,

          ’m on my phone so bear with me. You keep saying “dead Christians.”

          Okay. Give me another accurate, pithy phrase that catches what we’re talking about. “Dead saints” doesn’t work, because Catholics and Protestants are going to mean something very different by those words. “Christians” doesn’t work, because we’re talking about people who, in the immortal words of Monty Python, have rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. What phrase can I use that accurately describes them, that won’t have dual meanings?

          I mean, yes, certainly they are spiritually alive. They’ve also died. I’m not denying their resurrection, or their continued existence now, but they are in the most literal sense “dead Christians.”

          Even if you were right that scripture is completely silent on the matter, which it isn’t, then all you would be left is an invalid argument from silence which begs the question of Sola Scriptura.

          Heh. So I was actually waiting to see if you, specifically, would claim argument from silence here, Matthew.

          This isn’t argument from silence, because Scripture isn’t silent on this issue. It actively tells us how to approach God, and this isn’t it. It actively tells us what our nearness to God is – and “somewhere behind Mary” isn’t what it says. If Alice tells Bob, “Here’s how to bake a cake,” and Bob decides in the middle to mix in a shovelful of sand, it’s not an argument from silence to say, “Um, that’s not how Alice said to do it.”

          Moreover, I haven’t argued that it is impossible for the saints in glory to be aware of our actions, or that they know when we pray to them, or that they speak English. Rather, I’ve argued that there is no particular reason to believe that these things are true – that to claim an affirmative position, that such prayer is effective, is unjustified. To assert that it works, on the basis of Scripture’s failure to discuss it at all – that is an argument from silence. Likewise, to assert that Mary more closely has the ear of Christ than we do, when Christ himself claims us as his true mother and brothers and sisters – that’s not only an argument from silence, it’s an argument over the volume of the text.

          which begs the question of Sola Scriptura.

          I think material sufficiency alone would be sufficient here, to be honest. Scripture does not even imply this practice.

          The Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of the Church is actually a simple matter of deduction.

          1. Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ
          2. The Church of the Body of Christ
          3. Jesus Christ’s Body is Jesus.
          Therefore 4. Mary is the Mother of the Church.

          (1) is true. (2) is true. (3) is a category error; I am not my body. (3) is also an equivocation on the physicality of “body” in (2); Paul does not suggest that any of us is, in the normal physical sense, Christ’s eye or ear or spleen.

          (If read as true, (2) and (3) together imply “Jesus is, entirely literally, the church.” We could argue from that equivocation to any number of absurd conclusions – the sinless church was crucified to forgive the church’s sin, after the church pre-existed as a member of the Trinity as the only begotten of the Father; then the church humbled itself to take on human form, and so on. It doesn’t work, because it isn’t true.)

          The Saints of God have power.

          Yes. And we are those saints. We are the brother-priests of Christ; what nearness there is to be had, he has given it (all undeserved!) to us.

      2. Hi Irked,

        The Book of Revelation Chapter 5: 6-10 provides verses concerning saints in Heaven receiving and offering prayers from us below to God. It says:

        “And I saw: and behold in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the ancients, a Lamb standing as it were slain, having seven horns and seven eyes: which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne. And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures, and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, WHICH ARE THE PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS: And they sung a new canticle, saying: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; because thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God, in thy blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation. And hast made us to our God a kingdom and priests, AND WE SHALL REIGN ON THE EARTH.

        This is, of course, a passage filled with metaphor, but never the less conveys some interesting items regarding prayer and deceased saints. The parts in ‘caps.’, above, are pertinent to the discussion, and that the “four and twenty ancients” will ‘reign on the Earth’ signifies an active participation between them and what is passing below.

        1. Al,

          So, a couple of things.

          1) Let’s look at the identity of the folks being described in this passage. The four living creatures are the same angelic beings that are described in Ezekiel; the twenty-four elders are… well, actually, we don’t really know who the twenty-four elders are. They may be angels, they may be metaphorical personifications of the church, they may be specific people – we are not told. It is not clear, however, that anyone in this scene is a Christian after death – and certainly we don’t know that any singular, particular Christian is present in this scene.

          2) These beings present the prayers of the saints, yes. Are those prayers directed at the four living beings, or the twenty-four elders, as would fit with our topic? Surely not; we do not pray (and it would be wholly inappropriate for us to pray!) to mere angels; however exalted they may be, they pale before the Holy One of Israel. To read that in would in any event contradict the overwhelming thrust of Revelation: the repeated, unceasing focus on the glory and praise of God. (Indeed, if we were to read in some other object of that prayer, we could read in literally anything. Either John doesn’t intend us to know its object, or John assumes we’ll get that its object is the same as the being who is always its object for faithful Christians in the New Testament – that is, God.) It is our prayers to Him that they offer, then.

          What does that mean? What does that entail? Beyond the obvious significance – that it acts to further the magnification and glorification of God, and most particularly in this scene of Christ – we are not told. But there is no ground here for praying to any of these figures, as is our topic today.

          that the “four and twenty ancients” will ‘reign on the Earth’ signifies an active participation between them and what is passing below.

          Even at the beginning of the Lamb’s final victory and judgment of the earth, this expression is in the future tense – will reign, not are reigning. It’s also not at all clear that the ancients are the ones reigning – the NASB, NIV, and NRSV render this “they will reign.” (At a glance, there appears to have been better manuscript evidence on this found since the KJV, which you cite.)

          I certainly agree that the people God has bought in His blood – that is, us – will reign on the earth in Christ’s final kingdom. But that day isn’t here yet, and the passage doesn’t seem to lend anything to your position regarding praying to beings other than God.

  8. Irked,

    Your point seems to be that we have no evidence that attempted communications with dead Christians is effective. I have no complaint with that, other than to point out that I doubt readers here are really that interested in the concept of evidence, unless it should take them towards where they’ve already decided they want to go. Evidence that supports their existing conclusions will be embraced, and evidence that contradicts those conclusions will simply be ignored. Is it logical to speak logic to such an audience I ask you, and myself, and guess most likely not.

    More to the point, it seems we should be questioning whether prayer by any means is really an act of faith. Isn’t any attempt to effect change through prayer really a way of saying that we feel God messed up and our intervention is necessary to fix it?

    Wouldn’t real faith in God involve embracing each moment as it is and trying to find the gift in it? Wouldn’t real prayer be more a process of sitting down and shutting up so God can get a word in?

    1. Your Eminent Gladulent:

      Congratulations! Your entry has been selected as a potential prize-winner in the truthometer contest, but FIRST, you must meet the correct theological requirement. You are almost there. Please try again. You can do it. What we specifically are looking for is theological truth. Please strive to convey this idea: “Trustful surrender and confidence in the goodness of the Lord may be demonstrated by seeking and embracing Him in each moment as He wills to send it, seeing and thanking Him in that gift as it has been given. Amen.” You are very, very close. Good luck with your next entry.

  9. Are Some People’s Prayers (such as deceased saints) More Valuable Than Others?

    Here are opinions from both St. John the Apostle, as well as various ‘Fathers of the Church’. If one ignores the citations of these particular Fathers, why would that person accept their authority regarding the ‘canon of scripture’ that Protestants accept? :


    “St. John the Evangelist (+101)
    And another angel came, and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel. (Apoc., viii, 3, 4)

    St. Cyprian of Carthage (+258), writing to Pope Cornelius of Rome
    Let us be mutually mindful of each other, let us ever pray for each other, and if one of us shall, by the speediness of the Divine vouchsafement, depart hence first, let our love continue in the presence of the Lord, let not prayer for our brethren and sisters cease in the presence of the mercy of the Father.[iv]

    St. Hilary of Poitiers (+368)
    To those who would fain stand, neither the guardianship of saints nor the defences of angels are wanting.[v]

    St. Ephraim the Syrian (+373)
    Remember me, ye heirs of God, ye brethren of Christ, supplicate the Saviour earnestly for me, that I may be freed though Christ from him that fights against me day by day.[vi]

    Ye victorious martyrs who endured torments gladly for the sake of the God and Saviour; ye who have boldness of speech towards the Lord Himself; ye saints, intercede for us who are timid and sinful men, full of sloth, that the grace of Christ may come upon us, and enlighten the hearts of all of us that so we may love him.[vii]

    St. Athanasius the Great, Patriarch of Alexandria (+373)
    Christ became man that men might become gods[viii]

    “In one of his letters, St. Basil [the Great] explicitly writes that he accepts the intercession of the apostles, prophets and martyrs, and he seeks their prayers to God. (Letter 360) Then, speaking about the Forty Martyrs, who suffered martyrdom for Christ, he emphasizes that they are common friends of the human race, strong ambassadors and collaborators in fervent prayers. (Chapter 8)

    “St. Gregory of Nyssa asks St. Theodore the Martyr …to fervently pray to our Common King, our God, for the country and the people (Encomium to Martyr Theodore).

    “The same language is used by St. Gregory the Theologian in his encomium to St. Cyprian. St. John Chrysostom says that we should seek the intercession and the fervent prayers of the saints, because they have special “boldness” (parresia), before God. (Gen. 44: 2 and Encomium to Julian, Iuventinus and Maximinus, 3).”[ix]

    St. Basil the Great, of Caesarea in Asia Minor (+379)
    According to the blameless faith of the Christians which we have obtained from God, I confess and agree that I believe in one God the Father Almighty; God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost; I adore and worship one God, the Three. I confess to the oeconomy of the Son in the flesh, and that the holy Mary, who gave birth to Him according to the flesh, was Mother of God. I acknowledge also the holy apostles, prophets, and martyrs; and I invoke them to supplication to God, that through them, that is, through their mediation, the merciful God may be propitious to me, and that a ransom may be made and given me for my sins. Wherefore also I honour and kiss the features of their images, inasmuch as they have been handed down from the holy apostles, and are not forbidden, but are in all our churches.[x]

    We beseech you, O most holy martyrs, who cheerfully suffered torments and death for his love, and are now more familiarly united to him, that you intercede with God for us slothful and wretched sinners, that he bestow on us the grace of Christ, by which we may be enlightened and enabled to love him.[xi]

    O holy choir! O sacred band! O unbroken host of warriors! O common guardians of the human race! Ye gracious sharers of our cares! Ye co-operators in our prayer! Most powerful intercessors![xii]

    Liturgy of St. Basil the Great
    By the command of Thine only-begotten Son we communicate with the memory of Thy saints . . . by whose prayers and supplications have mercy upon us all, and deliver us for the sake of Thy holy name which is invoked upon us.[xiii]

    St. Cyril of Jerusalem (+386)
    We then commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, that God, by their prayers and intercessions, may receive our petitions.[xiv]

    St. Gregory the Theologian, Patriarch of Constantinople; of Nazianzus in Asia Minor (+389)
    Mayest thou [Cyprian] look down from above propitiously upon us, and guide our word and life; and shepherd [or shepherd with me] this sacred flock . . . gladdening us with a more perfect and clear illumination of the Holy Trinity, before Which thou standest.[xv]

    St. Gregory of Nyssa in Lower Armenia (+395-400)
    …I wish to commemorate one person who spoke of their noble testimony because I am close to Ibora, the village and resting place of these forty martyrs’ remains. Here the Romans keep a register of soldiers, one of whom was a guard ordered by his commander to protect against invasions, a practice common to soldiers in such remote areas. This man suffered from an injured foot which was later amputated. Being in the martyrs’ resting place, he earnestly beseeched God and the intercession of the saints. One night there appeared a man of venerable appearance in the company of others who said, “Oh soldier, do you want to be healed [J.167] of your infirmity? Give me your foot that I may touch it.” When he awoke from the dream, his foot was completely healed. Once he awoke from this vision, his foot was restored to health. He roused the other sleeping men because he was immediately cured and made whole. This men then began to proclaim the miracle performed by the martyrs and acknowledged the kindness bestowed by these fellow soldiers…. We who freely and boldly enter paradise are strengthened by the [martyrs’] intercession through a noble confession in our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.[xvii]

    Do thou, [St. Ephraim the Syrian] that art standing at the Divine altar, and art ministering with angels to the life-giving and most Holy Trinity, bear us all in remembrance, petitioning for us the remission of sins, and the fruition of an everlasting kingdom.[xviii]

    St. Ambrose of Milan (+397)
    May Peter, who wept so efficaciously for himself, weep for us and turn towards us Christ’s benignant countenance.[xix]

    St. Jerome, b. Dalmatia, d. Palestine (+419)
    If the Apostles and Martyrs, while still in the body, can pray for others, at a time when they must still be anxious for themselves, how much more after their crowns, victories, and triumphs are won! One man, Moses, obtains from God pardon for six hundred thousand men in arms; and Stephen, the imitator of the Lord, and the first martyr in Christ, begs forgiveness for his persecutors; and shall their power be less after having begun to be with Christ? The Apostle Paul declares that two hundred three score and sixteen souls, sailing with him, were freely given him; and, after he is dissolved and has begun to be with Christ, shall he close his lips, and not be able to utter a word in behalf of those who throughout the whole world believed at his preaching of the Gospel? And shall the living dog Vigilantius be better than that dead lion?[xx]

    St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople; b. Antioch, Syria (+407)
    When thou perceivest that God is chastening thee, fly not to His enemies . . . but to His friends, the martyrs, the saints, and those who were pleasing to Him, and who have great power [parresian, “boldness of speech”].[xxi]

    He that wears the purple, laying aside his pomp, stands begging of the saints to be his patrons with God; and he that wears the diadem begs the Tent-maker and the Fisherman as patrons, even though they be dead.[xxii]

    St. Augustine of Hippo, in North Africa (+430)
    At the Lord’s table we do not commemorate martyrs in the same way that we do others who rest in peace so as to pray for them, but rather that they may pray for us that we may follow in their footsteps.[xxiii]


    * Derived from this web source:

      1. And, remember Matthew, that we are fundamentally an ‘APOSTOLIC’ Church, as defined by the Nicaean Council I. That is, we rely not only on ‘scripture’, but MORE SO the WITNESS OF THE EARLY CHURCH ITESLF, in all of it’s catechesis, traditions, canon laws, synodal decrees, letters and opinions of the Fathers, judgments against heresies and heretics, monastic and moral sayings (Desert Fathers teachings and rules of monastic life), etc… This is to say, we value the Early Church that Christ established, and wherein He actually NEVER told any of his disciples to write ANYTHING down by either word or example. So, actually, the writings of the apostles/disciples are a PRODUCT of the APOSTOLIC TRADITION, and NOT THE SOURCE OF IT. The source of it are the verbal teachings, and instituted sacraments of the Apostles and early disciples( and as related by Eusebius), in conjunction with the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

        That is to say, first Christ established the Apostolic Church upon the leadership of Peter. And after this, the same authorities decided to collect these Gospel teachings in written form. Thus, the scriptures are a product of the ‘apostolic tradition’. However, it was TO THE CHURCH that Christ made His promises to guide and protect, and not to the scriptures. IT was the Church and apostolic Tradition which was to produce, transmit, bless/canonize and interpret any scriptures produced by it’s members. The Church is a living body, the scriptures only a DESCRIPTION of that living body (I’m starting to sound like Phil now! :) the era of the apostles. The scriptures were never designed to supplant the Living Church, filled with the Holy Spirit as the ultimate religious authority. This would result in IT taking the place of the early Bishops regarding ecclesiastical authority. And actually, the Early Fathers of the Church would consider this idea completely absurd, as even the scriptures themselves were the source of so many heresies, all of whom were started by bishops of the Church, who were well familiar with approved Church writings; and also familiar during their era of the various wide spread in the Church back then (and this is why these men were ordained by the Church ‘bishops’, in the first place) .

        Regarding the scriptures, this is to say, the early Church bishops were familiar with the scriptures available to them during their times. Yet, some of these ordained bishops used these same scriptures to promote their own heresies, ie.. Arianism, Donatism, Montanism, Apollinarism, etc.. So, to claim that ‘scriptures’ are an the ultimate authority for the Church, and by-passing the ‘living Church’ …made visible in the multitudes of Bishops ordained throughout the ancient world, would be ludicrous…as the scriptures alone could not resolve one single heresy. Heresies are interpretations of the scriptures, which demands a ‘living Church’ to give the correct interpretations and judgements, even as Christ said…in the case of scandal “bring them to the Church”. So, to deny the authority of the apostolic Church, led by the Holy Spirit and protected by Christ Himself, and to allow private interpretation to flourish wherein any meaning at all is permitted to a Christian….is to endorse and promote error, heresy and evil, as there would be no defense against clear attacks against the truths taught by Jesus. This is to say, it is Christ’s body, the apostolic Church…the Catholic Church… that actually wrote the scriptures, who are the ‘ultimate authority’ on their significance, ultimate meaning and interpretation. And, as ‘the gates of Hell have been promised not to be able to overcome the Church, Christians should put their ultimate trust in this ‘One Holy Catholic And Apostolic’ Church that has converted nearly the entirety of the Western world over the last 1900+ years.

        Thanks be to God!

        1. “Yes, that is what you call evidence, which is why nobody listens to you.”

          More radioactive irony, at the 1,000 Roentgen level. Kim must’ve snuck one in, hidden on a boatload of kim-chee.

          This is what one gets when one feeds the tribbles.

    1. Sure, let’s look at some fathers.

      Let’s begin by dividing these folks up by what they’re saying. Cyprian, for instance, says that we can/should continue to pray (to God, presumably – or at least, there is no indication that he has another target in mind) after our deaths, even for those still living. That seems fair enough; are we going to stop talking to God at that point? But Cyprian does not suggest that we should pray either to the fallen saints, or that those saints have some sort of supernatural power of universal awareness that would let them receive such prayers. Jerome, as well, fits this category.

      Similarly, others offer “May this happen!” statements: “May the martyrs pray for us!” That’s closer to our topic, but still a step removed – it’s not a wish directed to the martyrs in any meaningful way, so much as it is a hope regarding them. In this category we could put Gregory the Theologian and Ambrose.

      Others seem simply off topic; we aren’t talking about divinization, whatever Athanasius may have thought on the subject.

      Others are either dead links, or are sub-citations of citations. Most of what’s listed under “Athanasius” doesn’t appear to be the words of Athanasius at all.

      Others are ambiguous enough that I can’t tell whether they’re speaking to our topic at all. When Hilary speaks of the “guardianship of the saints,” is that in the sense of their active ministration, of the wisdom they’ve left behind, or something else altogether? When Ephraim says “Remember me, ye heirs of God,” is he speaking to the living or those who have died?

      I’m not saying all of these are read in my way rather than yours, but if you want to offer these folks as evidence, give me enough of a citation that I can tell what they’re actually talking about.


      So what does that leave? Basil invokes the martyrs to pray for him. So does some of Ephraim, and John Chrysostom. Cyril “commemorates” the saints, as does Augustine. That’s five people – maybe, if what they mean by invoking and commemorating is the same as what you mean today.

      But sure, there are fathers who agree with your position. Are we taking the fathers in your list as authoritative? Surely not – they contradict your own doctrines too often. When Athanasius says that the Apocrypha is not canon, is that evidence to dismiss it? When Cyprian says that there is no bishop of bishops, is that reason to abandon the pope?

      Or, here: when Cyril says that no doctrine can be taught without the backing of Scripture – “not from capricious reasonings but from what may be proved out of the Bible” – shouldn’t I take him at his word on this point? Wouldn’t Cyril himself tell me not to accept your position on the evidence you’ve provided?

      Is there evidence that the early church, under horrific persecution, reached for whatever comfort it could, growing into a tradition unfounded in Scripture? Absolutely there is, and we can find fathers who attest to the result. We can find fathers who assert all sorts of things, in some cases contrary to Scripture, and in a great many cases contrary to some other father. But where you think a father is wrong, you reject that part of his teaching as error; on this point, I think these fathers are wrong, and I follow your example.

      If this is a legitimate teaching of God, and not something growing up over more than three hundred years – something for which your earliest citation is… nearly 400 AD? – then let me offer Cyril’s appeal: give me Scripture on the subject.

  10. Scripture, scripture, scripture, blah, blah, blah…. Honestly Al, what a waste of time.

    You’re investing all your energy in to some guys who have been dead for 2,000 years, who MIGHT have said this, or MIGHT have said that, and who MIGHT have meant this, or MIGHT have meant that. Yes, “MIGHT” Al, because if scripture could be nailed down we wouldn’t need either clergy or theologians and all these debates would have been resolved many centuries ago. The whole scripture game you and Joe like to play depends completely on the fact that scripture can’t be nailed down. If it could be nailed down, these matters would be long settled, and there’d be nothing for either of you to type.

    You’re putting all your focus on what some long dead guys might have said, while ignoring any discussion of how we could experience God right now today. This is why I keep saying that you aren’t a Jesus worshiper, but a clergy worshiper.

    And, while you focus on scripture, like most scripture chanters, you simply ignore any doctrines which you find inconvenient. As example, Catholic doctrine says that God is ever present everywhere in all times and places. So why do we need books about God?

    It’s the simplest thing Al. The most beautiful woman on Earth is sitting in your lap. So why do you need a photo of her, a book about her, a theory of her? Why do you need to read what some old fart said about her 1900 years ago????

    Oh well, my posts to you are a complete waste of time too. You’ll just reply with another wall of copy and paste scripture. Both of us, you and me together, brothers in thoroughly illogical typoholic sillyness.

    1. Pope Phil,

      You must have driven your parents crazy as a child, as you don’t think learning from others has any value.

      As D. Trump would say: “sad”.

      1. My parents drove me crazy! Who do you think taught me this question everything procedure? No matter what opinion I brought home from school they’d always jump to the other side of the question and present those arguments. If I said X, they’d argue Y. If I said Y, they’d argue X. It was maddening! Until I realized they were teaching me how to think.

        I might think learning from you had value Al, but you don’t give me you. You give me endless walls of copy and paste memorized scripture. You give me somebody else. Your inquiry method appears to be obedience and memorization, processes which basically erase you from the conversation.

        1. That’s a glimmer of hope for me, Phil. Because to attain eternity we don’t need ourselves, we need the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Only God can satisfy us for all eternity. (But I doubt that you even believe in eternal life…as it was taught 2000 years ago and you don’t believe things from back then?) If we don’t have God, we will be eternally bored and miserable with our own selves, as we cannot even tolerate ourselves for 6 months alone, much less for 25 Trillion years, which is only the introduction to eternal life.

          So, “Al” doesn’t need “Al”…He needs The Father, Son and Holy Spirit to live IN him, and occupy his whole focus and existence, to be happy. He needs to be transformed and purified in God, to be satisfied for the long, long, exceedingly long, length of time that is ‘eternity’.

          Those who don’t have this focus might be given what they desire. They can be granted their desire to adore themselves for all eternity, in all of their coolness, wisdom and virtue. Yet, how soon will they get tired of this, and their deficiencies become a fire of misery, and they plead for some relief from their very own selves. But they have made their choice for all eternity. They have thrown away the eternally good God, and chosen themselves in His place. And so they can’t enjoy this eternally good God, and are left with their own miserable God that they chose..themselves.

          So, if I am giving you ‘someone else’, and not “Al”…. that is very good news for me. That is, at least I’m not giving you ‘myself’ which would be the height of vanity, evil and egoism. If I give you Christ, it is because He is worthy of being given. Myself? …just a miserable piece of slime, out of which I was created. So, I’m very glad that you perceive I am giving Christ, and also His words, because at least I am giving less of my own miserable self.

          In doing all of this, in making Al to be lesser, and Christ and God the Father to be Greater….I actually grow a little closer to the Kingdom of Heaven, I start to walk towards the ‘narrow gate’ of ‘life’ that Jesus talked about. My only problem now is how to get rid of Al to an even a greater degree? As Jesus said, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”

          So, I’m very happy that you have stated that I might be on my way towards this goal. It’s much better than not having started on this journey of ‘dying to myself so that Christ can live in me”. Maybe you should try to do the same, too, as Christ will relieve you of the boredom of having to listen to yourself. Rather, you can occupy yourself with Him, ‘the way the truth and the life’….now and forever.


          1. You yourself, if you remember, talked about ‘dying to self’ many times…and now you call it ‘memorized from the clergy’. So why should you want some wisdom from ‘Al’, when Al is really worth nothing in comparison with God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Are you saying that you really want to learn the “Gospel of Al”…without reference to Jesus Christ, or God the Father or the Holy Spirit? I’m a Catholic Christian and you’re on a Catholic Christian website. What do you expect… to find a bunch of atheist, Bible hating, anti-Christians here? You should be more intelligent than that. We believe in, and follow the detailed Gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, here. Sorry if it’s new news for you.

  11. Before we have a big debate about who we should pray to that goes on inconclusively for another 2,000 years, shouldn’t we set aside some time to ask whether we should be praying to anybody including God?

    If we should be praying, then the question of who to pray to becomes relevant. On the other hand, if prayer is really an expression of a lack of faith which reinforces the division which we seek to overcome, then the question of who to pray to becomes a big waste of time. Thus, I would argue that backing up to examine the underlying assumption (prayer is good) of this thread is on topic.

    Imagine the group that assumes that the Beatles are god, and then proceeds to have a lengthy debate about which one of the Beatles is the highest god. In such a case, wouldn’t the price tag for not examining the underlying premise be to waste a lot of time on a pointless discussion?

    What if the thoughts our minds are attending to when we pray are not the path to God, but rather a key obstacle standing between us and experience of God?

    What if praying is not really a form of surrender after all, but rather an act of reinforcing the “me”? Me and my salvation, me and my family, me and my church, me and my pain, me and my situation, me and my holiness, me and my good works, me and my religion, me and my God etc. Aren’t these the kinds of things we pray about, and don’t our prayers typically contain a heavy dose of “me” in some form or another?

    What if real prayer is not us doing something, but instead us stopping doing so much? What if we don’t hear God in our prayers because we’re too busy talking?

    It seems there’s rather a lot of questions that should be attended to before we debate who to pray to.

  12. Al said, ” We believe in, and follow the detailed Gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, here.”

    Please point us to the part of the New Testament where Jesus talks about the construction of a global real estate empire which funnels a trillion dollars away from serving the desperately needy and in to the creation of a fancy stage for the clergy to perform on.

    Please point us to the part of the New Testament where Jesus talks about the importance of clerical ranks, titles, positions and of course, the fancy costumes.

    Please point us to the part of the New Testament where Jesus talks about why it’s important to write an endless series of doctrinal documents which are endlessly fiddled with. Please list the times Jesus bothered to write anything down himself.

    Please point us to the part of the New Testament where Jesus explains why it’s necessary to invade the Holy Land, burn Protestants at the stake, and bugger little boys behind the altar and then cover it up.

    You aren’t a follower of Jesus Al.

    You’re a follower of the clergy.

    I do realize (finally!) that you are incapable of grasping the difference between those two things, and are doing the best you can with what you’ve got. In respect of that, I’ll hereafter leave you in peace to do that which you have to do.

    1. Regarding realty, the New Testament says:

      ” Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. [2] In my Father’s house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you..” (John 14:1)

      Regarding ranks and titles and fancy costumes? Read these:

      “When thou art invited to a wedding, sit not down in the first place, lest perhaps one more honourable than thou be invited by him:”
      [Luke 14:8]


      “…and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment. And he saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? But he was silent. Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen. Then the Pharisees going, consulted among themselves how to insnare him in his speech.” (Matt. 22:11)

      And Regarding ‘perverts behind the altar? Read this:

      ” And whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me; it were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck, and he were cast into the sea. And if thy hand scandalize thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life, maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into unquenchable fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished.” (Mark 9:41)

      Phil. The best thing you can do, is to stop commenting for 3 days, and go and read one Gospel every day, for about 2 hours of reading each day. And then you will know at least a little of what you are talking about. You are like a guy who calls himself a mechanic but doesn’t know how to take off a radiator cap. His last lesson was how to fill the tank with gas and insert his credit card into the gasoline pump. But, he still thinks he’s qualified to work on Ferrari’s and Lambroginis.

      There is no one on this site more ignorant than you in the New Testament. Even if you reject it, you really shouldn’t discuss it because you are like that mechanic, who doesn’t even know how to fill the car tires with air yet. Just go and read the manual and come back with a little knowledge on the subject matter being discussed. Your only real argument so far is: “Hey everyone, I’m a funny guy named Phil, I call myself Pope Flatulence, and my Gospel is superior to Jesus’ gospel in almost every way. And Pope Flatulence’s gospel is this: The epitome of Christian wisdom is to do nothing religious except look at dirt to find your God. Every time you are tempted to listen to the words of Jesus, just shut your ears and open your eyes to the dust beneath your feet, because ‘this is all you really need’ …not the words of Christ but Earth only. And, if you have sins on your conscience, such as robbing people and torturing them, or drug trafficking… again, look at the dirt…it will forgive those sins for you. Heck iguanas that look at dirt all day long have more wisdom than all the theologians in the world!

      So, this seems to be your Gospel, after posting about 100,000 words on the subject so far. And, all you really needed was to sum it up in these 100 short words, above, and everyone would have understood you from the beginning.

      But all of this does not mean that people here don’t love you, or pity you, also. They do. Any Christian would. So, just go out and study the words of Christ before coming on a Christian blog dedicated to Christ’s words. And then, maybe, what you say will at least make a little sense to others? You don’t even understand your own writings ….as you have confessed multiple times. So why should anyone else understand better than you?

      Follow Christ and you will find peace.

  13. Being of very Protestant background, I remember years ago thinking, ‘Imagine if my children went through my neighbours when they wanted to ask me for food, how offended and hurt I would be. Of course they should come to me directly! This is how it is when Christians ask for the intercession of the saints.’ What I perhaps forgot was how much God wants His people to establish networks of love, support and help, the strong bearing the burdens of the weak. A better scenario might be to imagine if I were a superwealthy and powerful figure who had adopted all my neighbours into my own family, and was glad to see all these people, all my children, supporting and helping each other. (Just an analogy, and not appropriate at all points, obviously).

    1. Hi Thursday,

      What’s not being addressed by anyone above is the question of whether we should be making requests of God. Wouldn’t making such requests presume we know better what ought to be happening than him? Why not gratefully accept whatever situation we’ve been given, good or bad, and look for the teaching in it. This approach presumes God knows what he’s doing. Which is the richer act of faith, presuming God needs our advice, or presuming he knows what he’s doing?

      Then there is the question of whether filling our head with prayer words, however well-intentioned, is really the best way to connect with God. If we want to have a conversation with a hyper-intelligent being who created all of reality, might it be wiser to empty our mind of our own words and focus on listening instead of speaking? If Jesus knocked on our door would we begin pummeling him with comments and requests, or would we be wise enough to shut up and let Jesus steer the conversation where he thinks it ought to go?

      If you can accept the above logic as being reasonable, let’s keep going.

      It seems safe to assume that readers of this blog believe God is real. And so, the obvious place to look for God would be in the real world, yes? A no brainer, right? God is real = look for God in real world. Simple!

      But where do we usually look for God? In the symbolic realm, in words, ideas, concepts, doctrines, books, articles, thoughts in our head.

      Have you ever had the experience of trying to talk to a friend, but they are so involved in what’s happening on their computer that they don’t look up from the screen and barely hear what you’re saying? Your friend is so distracted by the symbolic realm that only a small fraction of their attention is aimed at the real world, right?

      That’s typically us in our relationship with God. God is always there, but we don’t notice him much of the time because our attention is aimed not at the real world where God is, but at a symbolic world of our own invention. Our attention is focused on our personal thoughts, our opinions about a million things, theology, scripture, holy books, prayer and so on. We’re like the person who is more interested in a Facebook photo than the real person the photo points to.

      Hey look, we’re both doing it right now.

      You could be listening to God, but instead you’re listening to Pope Philbert. Me too, doing the same thing. What a bad trade we’re making! And if Pope Philbert was a real Pope, it would still be a bad trade.

      1) God is in the real world.

      2) How best to look in the real world?

      3) Set aside the symbolic world.

  14. Thursday’s Child,

    Your name, alluding to the Last Supper, is lovable.

    I love your use of analogies, just as Jesus did. Particularly satisfying is the second one, since no one is angry or offended in it. No one goes hungry there either!

  15. God => Real world.
    Scripture => Symbolic world.

    God => Real.
    Scripture => Talk about the real.

    Real world => “Book” that God wrote.
    Scripture => Book that men wrote.

    1. God => Symbolic world.
      Scripture => Symbolic world.

      God => Symbolic.
      Scripture => Talk about the symbolic.

      Real world => “Real” world.
      Scripture => Book that men wrote saying that God inspired and that other men read saying that God wrote and that we should read as if God had written, but in the end is just like the Bhagavad-Gita, the Lotus Sutra, or Plato’s dialogues (though Plato’s dialogues make more sense).

      1. Speaking of ‘sense…’

        A Phil by any other name doth smell … pretty much the same.

        With apologies to R & J, Act II, Scene II.

        Phil er’ up?

  16. Al, let’s agree that we’ve both completely lost interest in the other’s free advice. 🙂

    1. Your ‘advise’ doesn’t even make sense to you….as you have stated numerous times in your comments. That’s to say, a parrot can repeat things over and over again but the parrot himself doesn’t know the meaning of what he’s saying, and so cannot explain or elaborate on anything. You are the same. In about 100,000 words of comments …you could not give any detail of what you believe, only providing generalities such as God=>Real; and even you don’t understand the significance of the symbols that you are using. You have no idea who God is, nor what “Real” means, nor what the greater then “>” symbol means in relation to God and Real. You have no explanation of your generalities, even as a parrot has no explanation for his words, either. So, considering that you yourself don’t know not what you are saying, you never could give any ‘advice’ on theological matters to anyone in the first place. If so, you could have explained the contents of your advice long ago, weeks or months ago. But you just cut and paste your same arguments over and over again…like the parrot I just described. A while back I really thought that if given the chance you could gather your thoughts together and put down the details of what you believe in a coherent way, with at least a little detail. Details might include, whether or not you believe in life after death, or whether you believe there is something called ‘sin’, or ‘morality’, that actually exists; and how these relate to both God and man.

      And in all patience and charity I said that I would listen to what you were trying to convey. But you couldn’t do it. And you confessed that you didn’t even understand what you yourself were saying. So…. what type of advice do you have to offer?

      The advice I give is real advice. My advise is to go to someone who can teach better than I, who is a real teacher that knows about the eternal God, because HE IS THE ETERNAL GOD. And He knows about ETERNAL LIFE, because He lives forever already in ETERNAL LIFE. Also, He knows and teaches about sin and Hell because he is a Good Shepherd and cares enough to try to save us from these eternal evils. So, this is to say, my advise includes details provided by God Himself, and backed by countless miracles, and not only arguments such as ‘look at dirt’ and other generalities that are incoherent and without details or context.

      This is to say Jesus Christ is the Teacher that will bring a soul to eternal life. His teachings are ‘reliable’ and true advice’.

      To sum up, Phil ‘knows not what he says’ regarding theology, and therefore provides no intelligible advice regarding God. Phil should therefore stop attempting to give advice on what he has no idea of what he is talking about. Phil SHOULD, on the other hand, give advice on what he knows,for instance, how many peanuts does one need to feed 1000 squirrels. This is what Phil is competent at answering. Jesus, on the other hand, is the one to go to for information on what is Eternal Life. So, regarding God, Heaven and Hell…Jesus is the authority to study, and happy the man who learns from Him.

      And, you’d be wise to take my advise, even if you have no interest.

  17. Happy FATHER’S DAY Joe! You are certainly a ‘father of faith’ to all who frequent your blog. You spur on and nourish the faith of all by the awesome topics you choose on a consistent basis, as well as the in-depth commentary that you consistently supply. It’s always theologically stimulating to say the least. Sometimes, I wonder how on Earth you can come up with such in-depth analysis, one topic after another, in such shorts period time?!

    Best to you, and thanks for all your hard work with the blog. May God reward you abundantly!

    – Al

    1. It’s easy Al, he does it by following the pattern that dominates Catholicism online, talking almost exclusively to those who already largely agree. Imho, not really a worthy challenge for someone of Joe’s ability.

    2. Al expresses my sentiments better than I, and he did so first. Multiply his words and meaning and add my thanks and prayer for Joe.

  18. Al said, “In about 100,000 words of comments …you could not give any detail of what you believe…”

    I really don’t think we should debate anymore, but should instead just be honest with ourselves and admit both of us are pretty much profoundly disinterested in the other’s point of view. Not a crime, nobody’s fault, just a fact of life. We tried, it’s not working, let’s move on.

    So I say the following not to persuade, but just to try to explain as best I can why we are disconnecting.

    Consider the exchange between Joe and Irked. Joe favors one interpretation of scripture on the topic of prayer, Irked favors another. And so a debate unfolds that takes the form of “this idea vs. that idea”. This process is very normal and very familiar to everyone.

    What I’ve attempted to do, in a less than skillful manner, is open a door on a comparison different than “this idea vs. that idea”. What I have expressed in my 100,000 words is a belief that we should be questioning the role of symbols in a God inquiry. Are ideas really the path to God? Or are they more a distraction, an obstacle?

    I think our problem has been:

    1) My writing and diplomatic skills are not up to the job of sharing this point of view in this environment. I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, a not uncommon experience.

    2) The religious experience of most or all members here, especially Al, is so intensely ideological that you just can’t conceive of anything outside of that paradigm. Theology, doctrines and scripture appear to be EVERYTHING to you. Thus my posts read to you as incomprehensible gibberish. I can tell from Al’s replies that while he thinks he gets my point, he really has no idea at all what I’m attempting to share, which is another way of saying that I’m writing poorly.

    I should add that I am entirely open to the idea that there may be people somewhere in the vast Catholic universe who are exploring the topics that interest me, and may have been doing so for centuries before I was born. That would be great! Apparently I am not intelligent enough to find such folks should they exist.

    Anyway, perhaps this post game analysis is of some modest help. Or perhaps not. No idea really.

    1. Phil,

      I live in a place with 6 acres of nature behind my house. I just came in from viewing the stars. I saw 2 bald eagles within 2 miles of my house in the last month, and this is in the SF Bay Area. My exercise is riding a longboard skateboard about 15 miles through a State park every week, where that eagles are also, fishing in the Carquinez strait with ospreys and seagulls. In my childhood I caught pretty much every reptile native to California except for rattlesnakes. I had those…rattlesnakes as pets on my 40 acre ranch, 7 miles on a dirt road off highway 101 in Mendocino County. Almost every day during Summer, when I went to my garden/orchard, between 1 and 3 rattlers were sitting on a pile of rocks within 15 feet of my trees. I let them stay there for about 3 years until my family visited and I thought they might bite one of the various kids around, and so I decided to kill them, which I did. At night time during Winter, it was so silent there that I could pray to God who seemed only 6 feet above my head. That’s how easy prayer was in such isolation and solitude.

      This is all to say, I already know well what it is to ‘look at the dirt’. All that time, I was also a tree climber by trade, risking my life at that profession for 18 years. God protected me from injury during countless dangerous jobs, with death very close on many occasions. A guy I worked with, the best tree climber in San Francisco, died by falling out of a tree…and only 20 feet off the ground. So, I’m not only familiar with dirt, but with foliage, sheep, cows, coyotes, bears, wild boar, mountain lions and river otters, also.

      I have spent almost my entire life engaged with nature, making my living off of it, and also building a house in the complete ‘Boonies’ also. And I was literally the only person within about a 5 mile radius of my cabin in the woods who DID’NT grow marijuana….because I was a Christian. My parish there was 7 miles on a dirt road, and 9 miles on a highway away. And I went to Mass every Sunday with great joy and glee to see my fellow parishioners who totaled about 25 people. Many times there were only 10 people at the Mass, because drug growers, in my experience, don’t care much to go to Church on Sundays.

      Why I say these things, is that I think you think, that people on this site don’t know anything about ‘dirt’….’nature’, that is. You think they have never experienced deep nature as you have…and that they don’t value it. But, this is where you are probably wrong. At least in my case I’ve been around it all my life. Even today, I have cows about 1 mile from my house. So, some here might actually understand ‘dirt’ better than you do.

      And what I can tell you, is that ‘dirt’ and Christ, Mother Nature and God, people and nature, and religion and nature can all exist together. It all goes together. You seem to imply that a person who worships at a Church has never experienced real life. But that is just your assumption. You really have no idea what other people are doing, or what they have experienced in their lives, outside of the web pages. So, all of these assumptions of yours might be very wrong. And concerning me, they certainly seem to be. Christianity and the natural experience go hand in hand, and plenty of people have experienced this abundantly in their lives. So, you shouldn’t really imply that there is a division between nature and religion, as this is a totally false notion. It seems to be one of your primary themes, or complaints, as I see.

      Just sayin’.

      1. Dear Al,

        Wow. Your tour d’force of life in the hills of California seems as if it could have come from a work by John Steinbeck.

        I’ve grateful to God for your sharing here. Thank you.

        1. Hi Margo,

          Well, I bought the ranch out of necessity, and for it’s sheer beauty, as it was the only thing I could afford at the time. I looked for a friend/business partner to go in with me on it, and we bought 160 acres, and with hundreds of acres of BLM land adjoining it also. I paid for only 40 ac. of it, and it was divided accordingly. Back then, I was not worried about wild nature, as I was converted/reverted by St. Francis of Assisi, and reading of his retreat and experiences at Mt. Alverna, never left my mind. I thought that if St. Francis took a retreat in the wilderness, and he lived in 1210 AD, then I guess it would suit me also, in a similar fashion. So, I had no problem buying an isolated, totally wild, piece of property, and the price was right…back then…$500 per acre.

          And something I didn’t add, is that a friend of mine was killed and eaten by a black bear right in her own cabin, a very rare occurrence. She was about a 35-40 year old Jewish woman (..never asked her age), who moved out there and lived under a plastic tarp for about 6 months until she could build a little structure. She was a vegetarian before moving there, but said she didn’t have any food for weeks living under that hard, and finally was forced to go to some neighbors to beg for food. Then they offered her meat and she ate it as if there was no tomorrow. I don’t think she was ever a pure vegetarian again, after that. This woman, named Lorna, lived about 11 miles on a dirt road away from the highway (4 miles deeper in the woods/mountains than me, and then another 9 miles to the nearest food store in a town of 1500. But that 1500 population included all the surrounding folks also, mainly pot growers, who lived in my area. And this woman didn’t even own a vehicle in all the time she lived there. She hitchhiked everywhere, and everyone knew her well… as everyone picked her up when they saw her. She was probably the best known person up there, because of her lack of a car. But, because of her courage, I always wondered what it was that ‘made her tick’…so- to- say, and… how on Earth can she can do what she does with NO vehicle? so, I wold always chat with her when I had the chance. She was always very humble, considerate and pleasant. And, she was 1000 times as courageous a myself, to live like that. But, one time, her sister from New York called another friend living back there, and said she hadn’t heard from Lorna in about 6 weeks, which was odd. And, no one else saw her either. A few of the folks back there went to her cabin and found bear scat all over it, even on the sofa, and it included some of her hair. Her body was never found, except for her hand, which a friend of hers found in a ground squirrel hole a little ways away.

          Why there were a lot of black bears, someone once told me, is that Yosemite National Park would relocate the troublesome ones very far from the Sierras to the Trinity National Forest, thinking they would be far enough away from people there. But, for the bears, it was only a hop, skip and jump to the ranches in my area….about 30-40 miles away….for them a quick walk of only a few days to our area. So, supposedly we got a lot of the troublesome bears that Yosemite couldn’t handle.

          However, in all this story, I sold my ranch to get married. My wife isn’t much of a ‘mountain woman’, so to say. And also, there were no practicing Catholics up there….even though many of them were Catholics by birth. Many were Vietnam vets, or ex-hippies, trying to do the communal thing….which never really worked. Now, these same ex-hippies drive BMW’s and Mercedes Benz, and take winter vacations in Hawaii…due to the pot income. So, there was very little social life for me, considering the main focus there was ‘pot growing’. Now it’s legal, and so a lot of them are ‘going broke’ the price is so low. But the people were generally nice, and helped you when you really needed it. They just didn’t know the Lord well…and I tried to teach a lot of them any time I had the chance. Many of them heard the stories of St. Francis that I told them, though. And they all referred to me as…”Br. Al”. 🙂

          And that is also what we call each other in the Legion of Mary, now. So, I’m still called “Br. Al”….and so…maybe things really haven’t changed that much?!

          Best to you.

          1. Br. Al,

            Super cool stuff, Br. Al. You and Phil have a pile of log-sawing or chopping, chewing, or chawing to do. Maybe a purchase or two. Enjoy the carpentry.

            God bless.

          2. Hi Margo,

            The ‘pile of log-sawing or chopping, chewing, or chawing’ is all pretty easy to do for us…but it’s the ‘confessing’ that’s the problem. Confessing one’s sins is hard to do for some. People easily prefer the ‘chopping, chewing, or chawing’ to ‘confessing’. But, confessing makes you feel much better when you actually get back to the ‘chawing’. 🙂

  19. Phil, the way I see it, when Jesus became incarnate, the ‘symbolic’ and the ‘real’ were united in a momentous way: ‘the Word became flesh’, says the beginning of John’s Gospel. By his birth, life, death and resurrection, he made a bridge between these two. From now on, every ‘real’ thing you see and touch can convey some symbolic truth. I agree with you about the listening though 🙂

    Margo, thank you for that nice interpretation – I hadn’t thought of it! I called myself Thursday’s Child because I was born on a Thursday and feel like I have far to go!

    1. Hi Thursday,

      Yes, the symbolic is part of the real world of course, agreed. The distinction I’m drawing between the two does have it’s limits. Perhaps an analogy can help?

      Facebook is an entirely symbolic social environment, and thus might be compared to the ideological part of the religious experience. Facebook is not bad or evil in itself. But it becomes a problem if a person’s social life is overwhelming dominated by clicking around on Facebook. And that is what is happening to a great many people, the extreme convenience of social media is pulling many of us away from real world encounters.

      The same kind of dynamic appears to unfold in religion. Beliefs are not bad in themselves, and we’re all going to have them as part of the human condition. The problem arises if we get confused and start thinking that ideological beliefs are the most important part of religion, or even the only part.

      I would take some issue with your statement that there is such a thing as “symbolic truth”. To me, “the truth” is what’s real, and any symbol is only a street sign which very imperfectly points towards the real. As example, my name is not me.

      Ideas about God are not God. They are instead only the tiniest tiniest tiniest immeasurably small fraction of God, just as my name is a very small part of me. If somebody sees that, it’s only natural that before long they will begin wondering why we invest so incredibly much time in theology.

      Honestly, why should we care what some long dead guys 1900 years ago said about God, when God is ever present everywhere right now in all times and places?? Why settle for middle men when we can have the real thing?

    2. Thursday’s Child,

      You are welcome. Your succinct reply to Phil suggests that you are farther than you may think, and that I, an old lady, have a long distance ahead. You and Phil are SO RIGHT about listening. Are we then obliged to respond to what we’ve heard?

      1. You, that wasn’t a blog post, it was a soliloquy…we have a us apoet and didn’t knowit…. 😉

        As for Thursday, he hit on something really profound with the networking analogy. The “network” knows that all that is good comes from the Benefactor, because His alone is the creation that holds the resources. But the Benefactor knows that to respect His people’s free will, he has to step aside and let His people relate to Him through other people – and intercessors – and in the case of the faith realm, whether or not those people or intercessors are now or no longer part of the material world….I am going to use that one, so thanks, Thursday….

      2. If you feel we are right about listening, then that might be a productive and constructive topic for us to explore together.

        To return to Joe’s article, I offer the suggestion that listening is the ideal form of prayer. If true, then the issue of who to pray to becomes unnecessary.

        Here’s a well known real world experiment that might help us move beyond endless theory to a bit of real world practice. Sit quietly and listen to your breathing. Just listen that’s all, no fancy anything required.

        Now let’s find out how well you’re listening. Breathe naturally, and count each breath as you exhale. If you are anything like me and most people, you’ll get to about 6 and then you’ll lose track of the count. Some train of thought will distract you and a few minutes later you’ll realize that you’ve stopped counting.

        As I see it, this exercise illustrates a key obstacle in trying to connect with God. We tend to be overwhelmingly distracted by all the symbols flying around in our heads. And if one is a wannabe theologian as many of us here are, then many of those symbols will be of a theological nature.

        Because our symbol storm is often about God, we may feel that this process is taking us closer to God. My argument is that it’s actually the opposite which is happening. All these many ideas running around in our brains, however holy they may be, are actually what is distracting us from listening.

        I sense it’s something like this. Within our minds we are like little petty gods ruling over a tiny symbolic kingdom. We get to order our symbol subjects around and tell them what to do etc. And that power, as small as it is, is intoxicating, addicting.

        Listening, sometimes called dying to be reborn, would seem to be the act of surrendering that little throne within our minds, and becoming subjects of an infinitely larger kingdom, the real world, God.

        We go from being a big fish in a very small pond, to being a very small fish in a very large pond. Which sounds like a demotion at first, until we realize that the large pond is actually real, and not just a pile of symbols.

        If God is real, then the real world is the logical place to look for him. And the main thing standing in the way of that inquiry in to the real is our obsession with the symbolic.

        Except for me of course. I’m not obsessed by the symbolic at all. Nope, I could stop typing any time I want to. I’m not addicted, no way, not me. If I wanted to stop typing, I would just stop, over and done, put it down and walk away. That’s right, I’m against all this symbolic stuff and thinking and typing and talking and theology and participating on blogs until my fingers turn blue and fall off. In fact, I recently typed a 100,000 word article on why typing is bad, yup, bad, bad, bad. I’m so glad I’m not one of those typing thinking symbolic people!!

  20. Al,

    I’m not claiming there is a division between nature and religion.

    I’m claiming nature _IS_ religion.

    What we’re all doing in this thread is not religion, it’s talk about religion, ie. ideology.

    As you might have noticed in this thread, and pretty much any other thread on these topics, ideology always leads to conflict.

    The only way to avoid that conflict is to do what is being attempted on the Catholic web, circling the ideological wagons in little defensive web forts. But whoops, even that doesn’t work, because conflict WITHIN the Catholic community is also a raging wildfire.

    And it’s not Catholicism that is the problem, because this same pattern of division and conflict exists within every ideology ever invented. So even if everyone converted from Catholicism to some other ideology that would solve nothing. The pattern of “this ideology vs. that ideology” is essentially pointless because it never leads to peace no matter what the ideologies are or who emerges triumphant from a debate. In fact, such battles never even lead to victory for anybody, but only an endlessly repetitive head butting process which goes for centuries to no effect.

    And so we can see….


    1) Catholicism is supposed to be about peace.

    2) Ideology (any ideology) always leads to conflict.

    3) And so I find myself investigating whether there is a way to connect with God that doesn’t involve ideology.


    But, uh oh….

    I have centuries of Catholic DNA and a Catholic upbringing. And thus it is my incurable self contradictory fate to argue against ideology in a very ideological manner. It’s nobody’s fault but my own if readers become confused by that process.

    Hey, it’s interesting that you were a tree climber. As it happens, I’ve been attempting a lot of tree work on our property this year, though there’s no way I’m going to actually climb the trees given I’m too old and stupid for that. So I’ve been bumbling around with rope saws and long poles saws in a manner I’m sure you’d find quite comedic.

    1. Hi Phil,

      Your main idea (I’ve read about a third of your posts) comes from scripture. Assume that Jesus is God (I believe that, so it’s your assumption I’m asking). He’s already answered your complaint, and your words reinforce the truth of what He has said.

      “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)

      “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53)

      “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:35-37)

      God has explained and clarified the source of the division. His revelation sharpens the conflict. He offers you the peace of resolution. WE cannot do that for you except pray that you come to know and accept it.

      God bless.

      1. Hi Margo,

        You actually have not the slightest idea what Jesus actually said, or what he meant by what he said. None of us do. There is no video of Jesus, no proof of anything. Your interpretation of Christianity is just that, your interpretation.

        It’s this very lack of any ability to nail things down that keeps the clergy, theologians, and all us amateur wannabe theologians in business. If any of this could be nailed down and settled, it already would have been long long ago, and there would nothing left for us to talk about. As example, the Earth is round, settled, done, proven, thus no discussion or debate.

        All we know is what somebody said Jesus said, and what somebody said Jesus meant. Or in many cases, what somebody said somebody said somebody said Jesus said. In other words, you are worshiping gossip by dead people.

        If you feel Catholicism is all about division, conflict, holy war and the destruction of families through the worship of ideology, ok, that’s your call for yourself. I guess I will count myself lucky not to be a member of your family.

        I hope you won’t be too surprised if you should find it difficult to sell such a perspective to sane people. It’s one thing to become ensnared in conflict, that’s just the human condition. It’s something else entirely to worship the conflict, that’s just plain old evil.

        1. Hi Phil,

          Au contraire. I talk to God, and I listen to Him. He talks to me through EVERYTHING that I experience. This includes you, my conscience, nature, my interpretative and failing-to-interpret, uncomprehending mind. Friends and enemies. True and error-ridden teachers. Family members. The CHURCH, predominantly Catholic but also primitive religions and what they have to say or have said. Words and works of saints and of people who do/have done great evil, such as Hitler and Mother Teresa. Joe, Thursday, AWLMS, and Barely Barry There. So here’s where we part. The meaning of it all. The dirt. I see death and what that means. You see what you choose. God bless.

          P.S.: I’m not selling anything. In this and in many other things we disagree. It seems as if you hold onto the conflict, continually accusing us of peddling this division which, if only we saw it your way, would somehow magically disappear into what? DIRT. OK. Have it your way. You are right for yourself. Not for me.

          1. I have repeatedly proposed that division and conflict arises from something deeper than any particular ideology, thought itself. This seems proven by the fact that every ideology ever invented has fallen victim to division and conflict. What do all ideologies have in common? Thought.

            Once the universality of ideological conflict is faced, it becomes clear that ideological battles are essentially pointless, because no matter which ideology wins division and conflict will persist. As example, Catholicism dominated every corner of Western culture for 1,000 years to a degree unimaginable today, and this did not end division, conflict and violence. For a more timely example, observe the never ending rhetorical violence raging _within_ Catholicism today.

            But Catholicism is not the source of the conflict. If that was the problem we could solve it by converting to some other ideology. Except that, oops, there is no ideology which does not experience these very same divisions and conflicts.

            If in 10,000 years of human civilization no ideology anywhere on Earth has delivered us from division and conflict, it’s simple every day obvious common sense logic to begin looking for a solution in other directions.

          2. I did not intend and don’t see that I ever said Catholicism was the source of the conflict. Please show/tell me where I said that. IF I did say that, it was pure error.

            It seems you read words that aren’t there, and that is a source of conflict. You are attempting to ‘interpret’ non-existence–an error which is in opposition to truth.

    2. Tree trimming drones will put a lot of tree people out of business pretty soon. I’ve already come up with a few workable ideas…but it’s too expensive to make prototypes. Mainly, if you can get a drone to fly part of your rope saw, attached to fishing line and also to ‘paracord’… and drop it exactly on the spot of the branch you want to cut…half of the job is over with. No climbing needed. Old guys can trim their old trees.

      1. Misplaced reply. That was for Reverend Philbert, a few moments back. (I guess he became a Methodist? Maybe Bulldog got to him.)

      2. Aha, I’ve been thinking and casually researching tree trimming drones too! Agreed, very promising, but not ready yet. Great minds think alive after all. 🙂

        Rope saws also have promise, but not in the their current simple manual form. Saw almost always gets stuck in cut. A motorized rope saw might be a miracle. Should it interest you, it might not be too expensive to invent one of those. If you could solve the “stuck in cut” problem, you could sell them for $500 each on Amazon, no kidding. Seriously dude, check out this sales page, 73 reviews from certified buyers. Lots of interest in the rope saw concept.

        I bought one myself. Guess where it is…. 🙂

        1. I think if it’s used only to maintain tree limb length, that is, tipping limbs back 3-5 feet to about 2 -3″ diameter wood…then a modified rope saw might work, because the wood is still pretty green. And this is where a drone would come in, to place the rope exactly, so that the tree actually looks decent after the work is done. The slingshot and fishing line and weights has been around a long time, but are very inaccurate for ornamental trimming purposes. So, a drone would quickly place the rope in the right location.

          In 50 years there will probably be drones with short boomand hoses attached, wherein a 2 gallon tank feeds a water cutting saw. They might be able to cut the branches like they currently cut sheet metal? By then, the drones will be strong enough to support the weight of the water. But, then again…it’s too much trouble testing such concepts, so it’s better to think of simple, easy to manufacture, inventions. Otherwise, you’ll go broke making prototypes.

          1. Al, the big problem I see with rope saws is not so much placing the rope, but the fact that the saw almost inevitably gets stuck in the cut. The whole process does take the patience of God, but I think it would work if the rope saw didn’t get stuck in the cut. Whoever solves that problem is going to have a hot product on their hands.

        2. “Guess where it is…. 🙂 ” 🙂

          If you go and try to rescue it. You aught to think about going to confession first. 🙂

  21. Sigh…

    I NEVER said that you claimed Catholicism is the source of conflict. I never said that. Never implied it. Never thought it. You are doing Al’s thing of arguing against assertions of your own invention.

    As I’ve repeatedly stated adnaseum, I don’t think Catholicism is the source of conflict either. I just a few minutes ago wrote yet another post very specifically on that very exact subject. All for nothing. Banging my head on the closed concrete door.

    1. Phil,
      YOU don’t imply? Here you are:

      Pope Philbert says:
      June 19, 2017 at 8:23 am
      Hi Margo,

      “…..If you feel Catholicism is all about division, conflict, holy war and the destruction of families through the worship of ideology, ok, that’s your call for yourself. I guess I will count myself lucky not to be a member of your family.
      I hope you won’t be too surprised if you should find it difficult to sell such a perspective to sane people. It’s one thing to become ensnared in conflict, that’s just the human condition. It’s something else entirely to worship the conflict, that’s just plain old evil.”

      What Margo did suggest was that Jesus spoke to the SOURCE of conflict. He pointing to Himself as truth, as good, and as the ultimate method for our dealing with the error of evil. The life of Jesus as recorded in Scripture and as the Church interprets Him is a METHOD for understanding and overcoming evil. I have chosen that.

      God bless.

  22. Margo, here is the scriptural quote which you shared regarding division and conflict. I said Catholicism was about peace, and you replied with this….

    ” “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)

    “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53)

    “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:35-37)”

    1. Phil, So we’re both clear:

      margo says:
      June 19, 2017 at 7:33 am
      “Hi Phil,
      ….He’s [Jesus] already answered your complaint,** and your words reinforce the truth of what He has said.” There followed quotes from Jesus about division. Then I wrote:

      “God has explained and clarified the source of the division. His revelation sharpens the conflict. He offers you the peace of resolution….”

      God has clarified and explained the SOURCE of division. Why is there division? Because our parents chose the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God’s revelation of His son sharpened our understanding of the nature of the conflict, focusing it most clearly. His victory over death (resurrection) shows us the way to eternal life–to live as he taught, to walk his walk, to speak his truth, to see by his light. His death forces mankind to visualize in all its extremity the depths of evil to which men may succumb. We’ve gone so far to kill the God who created us because of love, for love, to love. We answer the goodness of such love by deicide. (Capable of killing God, what is left? All else is fair game for men who allow themselves such a depth of depravity.) The resolution to evil is the peace of love.

      The dichotomy arises between good and evil. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus compels us to see the contrast.. As Thursday’s child has said so succinctly. Division DOES exist within us all as we carry in our nature the inclinations of original sin. Many have not been blessed by Baptism and many many never have heard the word of our Lord. Many have heard but choose to see it as open to interpretation or division. Some choose to oppose this division through allowing the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, via its guidance and direction of the Church (as Scripture notes and the Church teaches), to the peace of Christ when one accepts the teaching within a clean and repentent heart. The peace is a harbinger of peace forever. If not peace, there will be division. And worse.

      OK. I’m not a theologian and I’ve also not been able to spend much time here now. Please Awlms or AK or CK or Matthewp correct my errors or clarify or rewrite.

      God bless.

      **Your main complaint (my–ahem–interpretation of what you’ve been writing/what I’ve read) seems to be ‘division’ in the world, among groups of people, between two people and within each person. We need to stop talking the talk and start walking the walk. We need to experience love in action. Is this a rough approximation? Forgive me if this is not what you’ve said. It’s the best that I got.

      1. Margo – not much to add to your insightful commentary, except a word or two from me on Jesus per Matt 10:34. I am going to suppose that Jesus sighed, inwardly if not outwardly, when He said those words. Because he knew that some who would not accept Him or His Church, would strive to make it very difficult for those who did. And that some of those ostensible faithful would not be able to stand the tests meted of this world.

        And that’s why I come to this place: to exchange thoughts and ideas; to listen and learn; and to build up spiritual armor against those inevitable tests.

  23. So, which is it Margo?

    You say this…. “I did not intend and don’t see that I ever said Catholicism was the source of the conflict.”

    And you post the Jesus quote just above as well, in which he specifically says….

    “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

    So I now have no idea what your position really is, and suspect you don’t either.

    Whatever Jesus actually said, and whatever he may have meant, I don’t think the problem is Catholicism or Christianity more generally myself. I say that because all these same divisions, conflicts, arguments, violence etc exist within and between all other ideologies.

    But, as disclaimed above, it seems impossible to discuss matters of that sophistication on this site. On this site, indeed the entire Catholic web, I either have to join the club and wave the Catholic flag, or be burned at the stake for being a heretic. Join our club or die, that’s all anybody seems to be interested in..

    1. Hi Phil,

      Christ says:

      “If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my words. And the word which you have heard, is not mine; but the Father’s who sent me. These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you. But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you. PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU, MY PEACE I GIVE UNTO YOU: NOT AS THE WORLD GIVETH, DO I GIVE TO YOU. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.”

      You can easily see why Catholics like to savor the peace and words of Jesus….it’s because, as it says above, we love Him. You love your squirrels, and there is nothing to complain about that. And Catholics love Jesus, and should anyone complain about that either? And if they love Christ, they also love His words, which means too that they try to put them into action, to ‘walk the walk’ as you say. In doing these things, Jesus says of Himself and His Father: “we will come to him, and will make our abode with him”. So, for Catholics this is a very happy thing, that God will come into our souls and make His ‘abode’ with us. What can be greater than this…as God is ‘All Good’?

      And regarding God making His abode with us, we might want to compare this to what happened to Judas, the apostle that betrayed Jesus… His former Apostle and intimate friend. It is written of Judas, at the Last Supper:

      “When Jesus had said these things, he was troubled in spirit; and he testified, and said: Amen, amen I say to you, one of you shall betray me. The disciples therefore looked one upon another, doubting of whom he spoke. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, and said to him: Who is it of whom he speaketh? He therefore, leaning on the breast of Jesus, saith to him: Lord, who is it?

      Jesus answered: He it is to whom I shall reach bread dipped. And when he had dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. AND AFTER THE MORSEL, SATAN ENTER INTO HIM. And Jesus said to him: That which thou dost, do quickly. ”

      Here we have an example of how EITHER God, or Satan, can enter and make their abode in a persons soul (and body too). So, either true PEACE will come into one’s soul, or the OPPOSITE of TRUE PEACE (though this might appear to be ‘worldly peace’).

      So, we who have come to love Jesus, after getting to know Him, ‘keep’ His words, resulting in God coming to make His abode in our souls (and bodies too). But some who hate Jesus, the exact opposite occurs, Satan enters into them, even as He did to Judas.

      Lucky for us that Jesus is highly lovable. And, much more than the squirrels that He designed, and created, as the ‘Word of God…”through whom all things came into being”. Moreover, all of nature is indeed beautiful, but this is a testament to how wise and beautiful the Creator Himself is, to be able to creat such beauty. (I might note that I just saw the 2 bald eagles next to each other about 2 hours ago. ) So, Catholics love God all the more because of the beauty of His creation, and we also know that when we commit sin, we mar that beauty to one degree or another. And, this is another reason why we hate to sin, and try to guard ourselves against it. We try to be as beautiful in souls as all of the rest of creation is beautiful in body. And this is how God intended things to be.

      By the way, even the animals recognize when we are united to God, and not. They can see it by our behaviour. They know when we have peace and love in our souls, because it gives them a little peace, love and confidence in us as well. I’m sure anyone who has had many pets, both domesticated and wild as well, will testify to this truth.

      Best to all.

      1. Al,

        Good morning, and once again, I extend gratitude for your well written, kind, and wise words. Your explanation of peace of the world and of God is very clear.

        Two bald eagles together. Brother and sister? Or mates? Scientific consensus seems to be that they mate for life.


        1. Thanks Margo.

          The more think about it, the more I think this one passage regarding John the Apostle and Judas is one of the most important of all Gospel passages. In one little paragraph it shows so much of Christ and His relationship with His apostles (and with us by extension). Even with all the billions that Hollywood spends to capture a scene depicting diverse social interactions, what could be compared with this one with all it’s drama, all of it’s chaste intimacy? Where could we find a person resting his head on the breast of his friend, during a public dinner, and another friend,Peter, seeks a favor, to get an answer to a question even though they are all literally 5 feet away from each other, or less? It’s like they are whispering to each other in their ears during a relaxed dinner party. And the subject matter? Death. Betrayal. But also intimate, chaste friendship…chaste and intimate between them as a mother is with her 2 year old child. Yet, this is what the Gospel depicts. What does it teach us about Peter? What about John? What about Jesus, and what about Judas?

          To understand the Book of Revelation, I think it necessary to understand these apostolic interrelationships, and then how it was John also, the only virgin among of the apostles, like Jesus, who was given the gift of taking care of Christ’s virgin Mother, on the following day on Calvary.

          Could hollywood have created such dramatic and intimately chaste scenes as is portrayed in this little story at the last supper? And then you have also the ‘washing of the feet, and Peter, again, in dramatic fashion. Could hollywood created such a novel type of social interrelation as is shown there?

          So, today I’m meditating on this passage, thinking it is a very important one for understanding the rest of the Gospels, because it is literally ‘family stuff’, like brothers and sisters of 6-8 years old playing with each other and their parents. This is as it seems.

          So, just commenting on it, as you guys brought up the idea of ‘peace’ and what it means to different people, that is, what is the difference between worldly peace and Christian peace? And here I think you have a demonstration of Christian peace, in one short Gospel, and then also a bitter type of worldly peace as demonstrated with the actions of Judas, even with the kiss of betrayal later that night.

          On another subject, I talked to some fishermen who are very familiar with this pair of Eagles and one said he saw one carrying a 5 ft. branch in it’s talons and flying to a grove of Eucalyptus trees across the Sacramento River. Supposedly, this pair is here to stay as they are the offspring of another pair of 3 or 4 years back, Supposedly, the SF Bay area has other Eagles making nests also. They can be studied by googling’ SF Bay Area Bald Eagle’s. This is new to me, because I only saw them for the first time about a month ago. They hang out on a chunk of wood sticking up about 6 feet out of the water in the middle of a bay in the river about a 1/2 mile across. The fishermen say that the fish that get away from them often die and the eagles snack on them the following day. So, I think they like those fisherman.

          Best to you, and all.

          1. “Could hollywood have created such dramatic and intimately chaste scenes as is portrayed in this little story at the last supper?”

            Nope. As is ever the case, the Book is always better than the movie. 😉

  24. Jesus quote from Al: “PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU, MY PEACE I GIVE UNTO YOU.”

    Jesus quote from Margo: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

    Scripture can be quoted to make any point anybody wants to make at any time. If I knew my scripture a bit better, I’m sure I could find a quote which would praise the market value of motorized rope saws.

    1. Good morning, Phil,

      Through prayer and patience and 2000 years of wisdom given by God’s spirit, we understand the difference between the quotes you suggest: In one instance Jesus gives peace to his disciples. In the second instance, Jesus will not force peace to those who will not have it. He allows us to choose–to kill (to die) or to live. Worldly stuff or heavenly peace. Our choice. In another instance of Scripture, we are warned that our giving His peace to another may not be accepted but will be returned to us. Indeed, most (?all–I don’t remember) of the original twelve disciples suffered martyrdom.

      1. Cherry-picking Scripture, and engaging in out-of-context agenda-driven “compare and contrast,” whether by New Age secularists or Christian fundamentalists, always fails upon circumstantial and theological examination.

        But it’s a debate technique with dependable appeal to the critically unsophisticated.

      2. Also, forgot: In the second quote Jesus is teaching that his kingdom is not “of this world.” His disciples originally believed that the Messiah would achieve a kingdom on earth. Jesus brought, instead, a spiritual kingdom to the world.

      3. Margo, if you’re going to quote scripture to me, please read it yourself. Here is your quoted scripture, shared with you yet again.


        ““Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)

        “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53)

        “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:35-37)””


        PLEASE NOTE: Jesus says in these quotes that he came to bring a sword. He says he came to bring division. He says…

        “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law”

        So you don’t have 2,000 years of wisdom, you have a massive wall of scripture induced confusion being covered up by sanctimonious platitude wallpaper.

        1. Phil,
          In one quote, Jesus gives peace to his disciple. (Al’s scriptural reference).
          In other quotes, Jesus says he does not bring peace to the earth (Margo’s quotes from the Gospel according to Matthew).

          He gives peace, a fruit of his Holy Spirit, to those who choose to abide in His word, with the gift of himself and his Holy Spirit.

          He does not force his peace on any of us. He does not bring peace TO THE EARTH since many do not choose to live with Him, to accept his Holy Spirit, to be at peace with each other through HIM.

          So, Phil, May His Peace be with you today and always.

        2. Phil,

          There is neither wallpaper (since there are no walls) nor confusion where the Spirit dwells. “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you”
          (John 20:19)

    2. Hi Phil,

      If you’re ‘sure’ you could find such a quote, why not do just that. Then share it with us!

      No, because Jesus’ kingdom is not an earthly one, I doubt that you’ll find the words of which you are sure.

      1. “When men cease to believe in God, it is not as if they then believe in nothing; they then are capable of believing anything.” GK Chesterton

        Discourse = case in point…..

        1. “When dishonest people claim to want to disengage and then make an endless series of snarky little comments from the sidelines so that they can have their cake and eat it too while pretending they are keeping their word, their credibility as a human being goes swirling, swirling, swirling around the toilet bowl, and then vanishes in to the septic tank.” Sri Baba Bozo

  25. Hi Margo.

    1) Where do you see peace and resolution of division?

    I see it for example on this site and across the Catholic web among those who are willing to agree with the sleepy Catholic culture status quo. That peace is maintained largely by repelling those who won’t join the status quo club. I don’t see how this is an accomplishment, given that a skin head biker gang could keep peace within their club by the same method.

    2) You write, “He gives peace, a fruit of his Holy Spirit, to those who choose to abide in His word, with the gift of himself and his Holy Spirit.:

    Mr. Numbskull Squabbler wishes to know, why be so stingy? Why not give peace to all human beings, none of whom asked to be born after all? What is so holy about a god giving peace only to those of his creations who will praise him, and then leaving everybody else to get by on their own?

    How would we feel about human parents who did this with their children? Imagine the parent who says to their kids…. “You have free will. If you use it to praise and obey me, I’ll feed you. Otherwise, find your own food.”

    I offer you a kinder and gentler interpretation of Catholic doctrines, a doctrine of peace.

    God is ever present everywhere in all times and places. This is straight from Catholic teachings, so you’re going to have a hard time wishing it away. The implications of this teaching are….

    No one is ever separate from God, because that’s not possible. Separation from God is not real, only an illusion. Any human being who is willing to understand what is causing the ILLUSION of separation from God can experience the unity that has always been there, and always will be there. And if one can’t do that it doesn’t really matter that much, because before we know it we’ll be dead, and then that which is causing the illusion of division will be erased.

    Everything and everyone that comes from God “returns” to God, because there is no other place anything or anyone can be.

  26. A comment I wrote on another Catholic site, that um, never publishes comments.


    Patrick, you write…

    “Adam’s sin severs our relationship with God, leaving us alone in the world.”

    If I recall correctly, Catholic doctrine teaches that God is ever present everywhere in every time and place. If true, then it’s not possible to be alone in the world. What is possible however is to feel alone, to suffer from the illusion of separation from God. It seems a central question of theology should be, what is the source of that illusion?

    I suggest to you that sin, whether Adam’s or our own, is not the real cause of the illusion of separation. Sin is just a symptom of something more fundamental, the inherently divisive nature of what we’re made of psychologically, thought. It is thought that creates the “me”. It is the experience of “me” as something divided from everything else which creates our fear. And it is our fear which generates sin.

    I would suggest that any theologian might shift their focus from the content of thought (this idea vs. that idea) to the nature of thought. The illusion that we are separate from God (and thus our suffering) does not arise from bad ideas, it arises from that which all ideas are made of.

    As example, imagine we are wearing a pair of tinted sunglasses. No matter where we look, all of reality in every direction will appear to be tinted. But of course the tint we see is not a property of reality, it’s not real, but is rather an illusion created by the tool we are using to observe reality.

    So it is with thought. Thought operates by dividing reality in to conceptual parts, by creating the illusion of division in our minds. An easy example is the noun, whose function is to define such a conceptual division. When we observe reality through the thought “sunglasses” we see division everywhere we look, because that’s how thought operates. But the division we see is just an illusion, it’s not real.

    Suffering arises from the illusion of separation from God. That illusion is generated by how thought operates.

    And here comes the really inconvenient part…

    That illusion can not be healed by any theology, because all theology is made of thought, the very thing causing the illusion.

  27. “Are Some People’s Prayers More Valuable Than Others?”

    Of course some peoples prayers are more valuable, because Christ taught that that the nature of the Church is described under the metaphor of a kingdom, and a kingdom has it’s own particular hierarchical nature, wherein those who have a higher position in the hierarchy have more intimate access to the king himself and therfore, more ‘lobbying power’ with the king. And this lobbying power can be either to the benefit or detriment for others of lesser status in the same kingdom. Is this not what kingdoms are all about? How they govern? And do we not see this in so many of the stories in the Old Testament, such as the actions of Esther, who saved the entire nation of Israel during their captivity in Persia, due to her influence over the King of Persia? And also with Daniel, who used his lobbying power, and miracles, for the benefit of his people Israel, under the domination of Nebuchadnezzar? Moreover, there are also many other stories involving King Saul, David and King Solomon? So, the very nature, or ecclesiology, of the Church being modeled after that of a kingdom, indicates that a similar lobbying power will be given to those who are closer in proximity, or intimate relationship, to the king.

    Now, to see how these close relationships and powers are demonstrated in this in the Gospel, we can examine the hierarchy found in the ‘college of apostles’, themselves. We know that Sts. Peter, James and John had the most access to the intimate side of Jesus during the Lord’s ministry of teaching and preaching to the people of Israel. And, in some ways, St. John the evangelist, the ‘beloved of Jesus’… as he describes himself, had even more ‘lobbying power’ over Jesus than even St. Peter himself…’The Rock’. Examine this short story, regarding the ‘Last Supper’:

    “When Jesus had said these things, he was troubled in spirit; and he testified, and said: Amen, amen I say to you, one of you shall betray me. The disciples therefore looked one upon another, doubting of whom he spoke. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. SIMON PETER THEREFORE BECKONED HIM, and said to him: Who is it of whom he speaketh? He therefore, leaning on the breast of Jesus, saith to him: Lord, who is it? Jesus answered: He it is to whom I shall reach bread dipped. And when he had dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. [ And after the morsel, Satan entered into him. And Jesus said to him: That which thou dost, do quickly.” ( John 13:21)

    Is it not seen, above, that Peter could have talked to Jesus Himself, but he did NOT do this. Peter ‘prayed’, or ‘asked’ (they are synonym’s) St. John, who was ” was leaning on Jesus’ bosom” of Jesus, to acquire this intimate secret that he desired. And Jesus complies with John’s request to Him, providing also the answer to Peter by John’s means.

    So, this is a good example of how those who are closer to Jesus, more intimate with Him, are able to receive answers to their desired pleas/prayers/questions/ desires due to their close relationship with ‘the King’, which others of not such proximity, or status, might not receive. We also witness similar things when reading the Lives of the Saints, found throughout Christian History.

    And lastly, how do we actually increase our position in the Kingdom of Heaven? Jesus explains clearly, here:

    …”let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall BREAK ONE of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the LEAST in the kingdom of heaven. But he that SHALL DO AND TEACH, he shall be called GREAT in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, that unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall NOT enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)

    So, we see that we actually have the ability to ‘change our status’ depending on how diligently we keep and teach the commandments (ten) of God… as is clearly indicated in the above quote.

    1. Al,

      I loved this post, particularly the retelling of Peter asking John to learn the betrayer. Definitely a powerful scene, and proving the point of one’s prayers being more efficacious than another’s.

      The Church’s idea of “patron” saints points us to certain saints who, as a result of their own earthly-supernatural experience, have a particular gift for obtaining God’s help in those areas. For carpenters and ordinary workers, for fathers and guardians, for doubts about God’s justice, we have St. Joseph. For mothers with disappointing children, and adulterous spouses, we have St. Monica, mother of Augustine. Etc.

  28. Ok, a spiritual chain of command, a hierarchy.

    So let’s say that this heretic converts to the official “one true way” Catholicism, whatever that might be, and begins following all the rules feverishly. You know, reformed heretics are sometimes the most ardent of the faithful.

    You’ve been at it longer so you rank higher than me. But, you’re only praying etc 4 hours a day, and as a new convert fanatic I’m praying etc 9 hours a day, and keep it up for years. Eventually I rise in the chain of command and overtake you, effectively demoting you to a relatively lower position within the hierarchy.

    From my higher position I begin telling Jesus about all the yelling you’ve been doing on forums. He’s not too impressed and decides to demote you further. I come back to the forum and say something like…

    Nana nana na na! 🙂

    Ok, you have a point, I guess this Catholic thing is not so bad after all…..

    1. Promotion and demotion all has to do with sin, even as Jesus said above. I’m not the teacher in all of this, I just try to interpret correctly what Jesus, who came to teach what the Father wanted, says. So, Christ says that anyone who sins even a little, will be ‘least’ in the Kingdom that He teaches about. And those the avoid sin, and also teach OTHERS to avoid sin, will be ‘great’ in the Kingdom….like you say, promoted and demoted.

      But, your example above doesn’t really work well in Christ’s Kingdom in various ways. It is true that converts can rise quickly, and even surpass Saints in virtue, charity, good works and everything the Lord means by ‘keeping and teaching the Commandments”. But, the most important commandment that Chartist taught was ” You will love your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself”. And this has nothing to do with hours o ‘work’, or hours of ‘prayer’….because you can’t measure love by hours (although it might indicate something in an exterior way). Christ also teaches: “Those who love much, have been forgiven much”, and so charity for others also, or amends those least commandments that people break, probably because least commandments like ‘stealing’ can be corrected by greater commandments such as ‘love thy neighbor’. If you love your neighbor, you don’t want to steal from him, that is.

      But, what is true is that you indeed CAN complain to Jesus, the king, if I or others have offended you. And yes, you might get justice, and I might get a ‘whack on my head’, for true offenses. But, Jesus might just tell you also, to grow up and stop being such a sissy. He can point to the cross and tell you how patient with others you are suppose to be, in imitation of Him, considering He didn’t ‘demote’ the soldiers who were crucifying him to hell, but on the contrary, prayed: “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do”.

      So, the old adage “sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me”, applies in this case. And, where does ‘being yelled at’ come into consideration regarding this teaching of Christ…our Good King?:

      “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them that calumniate you. And to him that striketh thee on the one cheek, offer also the other. And him that taketh away from thee thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every one that asketh thee, and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again. And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner. And if you love them that love you, what thanks are to you? for sinners also love those that love them. And if you do good to them who do good to you, what thanks are to you? for sinners also do this. And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thanks are to you? for sinners also lend to sinners, for to receive as much. But love ye your enemies: do good, and lend, hoping for nothing thereby: and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the sons of the Highest; for he is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil.”

      So, maybe you don’t need to celebrate just yet, but rather… go stand in the corner and repeat 50 times: “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me”. I wish I was your catechism teacher 60 years ago. It would have been endless fun directing you to the corner every day, for one thing or the other. For instance, I would say, ” Now Philly, do you really need to call yourself ‘pope’ all the time? Do your parents know about this? Get going….You know where to go. And take off that white sheet of paper on your head while your at it! 🙂

      1. Edith Stein, AKA St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, OCD,in The Science of the Cross, says, …to be led by faith to the goal [union with God, AKA a bit of heaven on earth],

        the “…soul must conduct itself in the right manner. She must enter into the night of faith of her own choice and by her own power. After having renounced all desire for creatures in the night of the senses, in order to reach God, she must now die to her natural faculties, her senses, and to her intellect also. For in order to reach the supernatural transformation, she must leave behind everything natural. Yes, she must divest herself, as well, of all supernatural goods when God grants her any of these. She must let go of everything that falls into the realm of her power of comprehension.”

        Mary’s response when visited by Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation, was like this. As was Joseph’s response when visited by the Angel as he lay pondering whether/how he may in justice deny God’s call. Neither understand how, in the order of nature, God could act as He seemed to propose. Faith is a seed which grows into a kingdom.

        In the same book, final chapter, St. Teresa reports on the death of St. John of the Cross. There was miracle upon miracle. And suffering untold with nary a whisper from John. He predicted the exact hour and day of his death. There were sweet perfumes emanating from the pus-filled bandages and sheets on which the saint had lain. There was unseemly light. And persecution from his superior all the while, which strengthened him in his love.

        Edith Stein was a great thinker and philosopher, born in 1891 on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement to devout parents in that faith. In her teenage years, she professed atheism, until her conversion to Catholicism at age 30 in l922. Her family–her mother in particular–was heartbroken, but a sister later followed Edith into the faith. Her sister died with her at Auschwitz in l942.

        All of us are called to become saints–atheists, Jews, Catholics, Protestants. Do we choose to be or not to be. That is the question.

      2. Al as my confirmation teacher? Ok, here’s the real life scene.

        It’s a small suburban one story church a few blocks from our house. Clean, new, nice, but nothing too fancy. There were long rectangular windows along each side of the church which could be opened to let the breezes blow through, which was great. And then, the fatal flaw….

        The church was about a half block from the beach. As a teen, you’d sit there in the pews listening to some nice old man drone on with his blah, blah, blah etc that nobody ever remembered more than a few minutes. But you weren’t really listening to the priest, couldn’t really listen, because you could hear the great surf you were missing through the open windows. Ocean breezes were wafting through the church, seductively luring you out in to the real world, the church that God built, the church uncontaminated by mere human interpretation.

        And then FINALLY the nice old man would be done droning his endlessly boring blah, blah, blah, and you’d race out of the church, hop on your bike, and race to the beach. Your church clothes would quickly vanish revealing the bathing suit secretly hiding underneath. And before you knew it, you’d be in the water, racing down a sparkling clear wave while tons of liquid God arched over your head.

        And so my teaching to all you wanna be priest and prophets, is this…


        The little human church you’re so proud of will never be able to compete with the church God built. Your boring lecturing guilt selling blah blah blah sermons will never be able to compete with the sound of crashing waves.

        PS: The first time I ever got drunk, and did I get DRUNK, was at a little festival in that church parking lot. Yep, me and Jesus, really tied one on.

          1. Margo, IMHO….Elitist (or just deluded) benefactors of Western Civilization have sentimentally been decrying said civilization, in favor of the ‘naked savage dancing in the forest primeval’ ever since Rousseau and the so-called Enlightenment. All the way up to Jared Diamond and his Swiss-cheese thesis of environment as a primary influencer of the course of Western civilization in “Guns, Germs, and Steel.”

            Ol’ Jared denounces agriculture as the worst thing ever to happen to Mother Earth – a common theme of the “Watermelon Left” (Gaia-green on the outside, Commie Red on the inside), and extols the headhunting Papua New guinea native while flying first class around the world like an pop-academic Leonardo DiCaprio, eating gourmet meals in 5-star hotels.

            Right, then. The rank odor of hy-pocrisy, from the swamp-bottom up. We see more than a bit of it here.

        1. Oh Phil…you noticed. How sweet…. ❤️

          Don’t let it go to your head.

          It’s actually my sunny, eternally optimistic Catholic nature. I keep hoping that some sliver nugget, some tiny, cloudy, uncut diamond will roll out of that unending riverbank of black, sticky clay….so far, nothing but dank, interminable, bordering-on-putrid riverine muck. But I’m stupid, I keep coming back, yearning for….something that none of us ever get.

          So….I’ll keep coming back, and absent a message from you that reflects even a little respect for the others here, both for their ideas and attempts to engage you in reasoned discourse without condescension and insult, my messages, such as they are, is what you’ll continue to get. Because I can.

          And OBTW….your observation about my reading ‘everything you post’….you’ve said that in the past so that, as well, is boring.

          1. Al, sorry, my “read everything I post” comment was directed at AK, not you. Should have made that more clear.

          2. Al, regarding your post above. The only thing you want from me is that I join your mutual validation society. If I joined, then anything I might say about anything would be given the stamp of approval. As example, AK has been relentlessly rude to me and sputtered all kinds of incoherent mumbo jumbo in every direction, and you could care less, because he’s part of your little club.

            That’s all you really care about, surrounding yourself with those who will pat you on the head and tell you that you’re right. As you can see, it’s my gift and my burden that I have absolutely no talent for that operation.

          3. Al, I’ll stand aside and address what was directed at you. For what was directed at me…..

            Jeremiah 5:21.

            Written, of course, by clergy for the benefit of clergy, and the eternal obfuscation/fleecing of the unenlightened and thought-befuddled on this blog….our own pet guru Phil, of course, excepted….

  29. Here’s another way to “pray”.

    Here’s a very interesting video on Netflix about a drug called DMT, which is highly spiritual/religious in nature.

    If you don’t have Netflix, I believe the full video is also on YouTube:

    I Imagine you’ll reject this with enthusiasm, and that’s ok with me. I haven’t used this drug and have no opinion on it other than it’s interesting. If you’re open minded enough to learn about it, perhaps we might discuss it further together.

    Very briefly, DMT appears to provide a very compelling experience of another layer of reality, which is usually described by users in spiritual terms. Or, it provides the illusion of another layer of reality. In either case, it seems to open people’s minds to spiritual investigation in a manner not always available elsewhere.

    Again, the point of this post is not to persuade anybody of anything, other than this seems an interesting topic which we might want to educate ourselves on.

    1. Phil:

      This could have been an interesting discussion. Everyone from Lao Tze to William James has philosophized on the utility of mind-altering substances to enhance spiritual connections. My experience is from watching the effect of such attempts on friends and acquaintances, and it has formed my opinions on layers and illusions. What colored your whole post, for me however, was this:

      ” If you’re open minded enough to learn about it, ”

      Do you even have a clue how insulting and condescending is that simple inquiry? How that same attitude is/has been reflected in so many of your posts? You do realize that ‘not interested’ may not equal ‘closed mind?’ Understand you have some smart folks on this blog that don’t like even the appearance of being “talked down to…”

      My demonstrated *attitude* comes not from philosophical or theological disagreement, but from all-the-above, from your quote on.

      Having lectured, I have noted a recent softening of the tone of the discourse that is encouraging. Something I would never expect to experience from, say, a Barry but not surprised at all to see happen with you.

  30. Phil,

    You said: “NEVER EVER BUILD YOUR CHURCH ANYWHERE NEAR THE BEACH!”….and this is something that I agree with you on. I actually gave away a perfectly fine riding 7′ G&S surfboard to neighbor, because it was distracting me from the faith after my reversion to the Church. Surfing can be very addicting and cause people to waste a lot of time, even though it is super fun…and that’s the problem. But I still ‘long board’, after all these years, every week, and went out yesterday for a 5 mile ride. I’m also a developer of skateboard trucks, and have 3 patents regarding them, one of which is almost ready for the market. I have another design thats been on the top 20 best sellers at Amazon for about 9 years now, but is liscenced to a big long boarding company (Just Google ‘sidewinder trucks’ and you’ll see my design). So, surfing and long boarding are right up my alley, so to say. But, neither sport should cause a person to lose his faith, as they are merely ‘sports’. And with surfing, one gets to understand the power of the ocean, and so, when reading of the storms that the Apostles dealt with on the Sea of Galillee, you get a better idea of what was actually going on. So, in every sport you can acquire some wisdom, as long as you don’t become a ‘fanatic’ and make it your ‘god’, or main focus in life, as Jesus said: “Where your treasure is, there also is your heart.” And the exercise is always very good, because Christ walk countless miles with His disciples, and when doing such exercise, you also get more info. and wisdom regarding the Holy Faith, and life itself.

    But the allure of the beach is very powerful and very distracting at the same time. And I have often thought the same as you when visiting a Church near a beach. I went to Mass up in Oregon, on the coast, last Summer, and the Church was right on the beach, and even the parking lot was filled with blowing sand. And I though, what an idiotic place to build a Church! So, with this, we’re on the same page.

    Your experience with the beachside Church you describe is one of a typical youth. And I feel sorry for you if that actually was your parish! But, the more intellectual strength a person has, the more capable he is to overlook many deficiencies in the physical aspects of the Church and Churches. The physical buildings are very secondary to the spiritual truths in the Christian faith, and this should all be taught in catechism classes. The more mature the Christian, the more he understands that the exterior things of religion are nothing compared to the interior things. And he can overlook many insane decisions that leaders of the Church have made in the past regarding exterior items such as architecture, and Church property. If anyone puts to much attention, or emphasis, on these things, they should be catechized over again to point them in the right direction, which is the spiritual side of Catholicism.

    Anyway, that’s my opinion on that subject.

  31. Al, very cool that you are a surf dude! I’m afraid I can no longer say the same, though I am now a major woods dude, which I also cherish. A couple of replies…

    Imho, the more intellectual strength one has, the more one comes to see what a weak stew intellectualism really is, in regards to spiritual matters. I propose that any idea one human creates can be destroyed by another human. You instinctively know this already, which is why you guys resist me and other heretics which such enthusiasm, you recognize the threat. But of course can’t and won’t admit it. Watch, you will now slam down on the reply button to deny, deny, deny this, which tells me that somewhere inside you know it’s true.

    No matter what spiritual ideology any of us might create or cling to that experience will always be rooted in fear, because there will always be somebody out there who can punch big holes in our ideology. This is why the Catholic web is almost exclusively Catholics talking the Catholic talk with other Catholics, and why heretics are always put under pressure to conform or vanish. Fear. If it wasn’t for this fear, Catholics would be doing the logical thing, and spending their time online “sharing the good news” with non-Catholics.

    To be fair, the very same thing happens on atheist forums. They circle the like minded wagons, and then repel invaders with great passion. Same thing. Fear.

    In both cases, the fear doesn’t arise from personal weakness, but from the inherently divisive nature of that which all ideas are made of. Fear is built in to thought.

    To me, intellectualizing religion is like reading a book about sex, having beliefs about sex. Ok, no crime there, but personally I value the EXPERIENCE of sex more highly. I’d rather eat the food on the plate than read the menu.

    We are very alike you and I in that we both have Catholic DNA and so our minds are crammed with intellectualisms. The difference between us is that you appear to worship your intellectualisms, whereas I see mine as more a distraction from experience of the real world, of God. I’m not far enough along to let them go, but I have seen that their value is mostly as entertainment.

    All that said, I feel that both of us, me included, are making the classic Catholic mistake of trying to assert and own a “one true way”. There is much variety in the human experience, so we should probably be celebrating that God has given us many true ways.

    Not only that, I have one more very important thing to say…


    1. Hi Phil,

      I was never a ‘surfer dude’, just a surfer, as even in my pagan days I never bought into the surfing culture. I did it for a simple reason: Swimming in a pool is fun. Swimming in a lake is more fun. Swimming in a ocean with small waves is real fun. And then swimming in an ocean with 5-6 ft waves is unbelievably fun! BUT… for me, the fun ends in swimming in an ocean with 8 ft., and above, waves. At that point you start thinking of your board breaking, and the possibility of drowning. So, for some it might be cool, but it’s no fun any more. And it definitely can be terrifying… so, what’s fun about that? The Surfer ‘dudes’ think the terrifying surf is fun. So, I was never one of them. On the other hand, surfing is highly addictive, and so the better the waves in your area, the worse it is for the surfer. It’s too easy to run away from your problems and just go to the beach and wait for waves. Sooner or later you figure out that you’re just wasting your time…kind of like a golfer who finally realizes that he’s spending $25K and 500 hrs. a year trying to knock a very little ball into a similarly little hole. And if they actually do it under par ( whoopie!), they talk about it for days. It’s really absurd to put so much money and so much practice into it, except maybe that it provides some exercise, which is good.

      Your comment above about ‘fear’ just indicates that it is YOU who have the fear, and not me. Why bring up fear in every conversation? It’s unnecessary. It’s like liberals always saying people are phobic about gays, phobic about islam, phobic about race, etc… Unless these people come with a AR15 to my house I have no phobia of them. And, likewise with the very benign conversations that occurs on the Catholic web, who should be terrified?? Remember what I said about ‘sticks and stones will break your bones…”? It’s one of the greatest sayings I was ever taught, as too many people are offended by ‘nothing’ these days. And with such attitudes, we’ll probably lose the next war we fight, if the military robots who have courage ever cease to work.

      So, I don’t fear anything about this conversation. God provided you with your own brain, and also with your own free will. I have my own brain and free will and that has little to do with you. These forums are really recreational, and FAR from terrifying. And, I’m not even needing anyone here to validate my opinions, because I already know them, and have tested them against both my own experience, as well as countless priests and nuns, and the whole written history of the Church (lives of saints etc.). This is to say, that I understand that I am not alone in my faith, but rather part of a gigantic kingdom, me being just one of it’s many peasants digging for spiritual potato’s. This is all basic catechism that anyone can learn, as long as he just wants to leave the woods, or the surf, for a little while and study the teachings of the ‘other peasants’ and their ‘spiritual potato’s, carrots, or green beans’….whatever their experiences with God are. So, you should forget about the ‘wagons circling’ analogy, because there are no indians attacking. Rather, we Catholics are just enjoying ourselves…smoking the ‘peace pipe’ with one another’, so-to-say. You, however, might feel that WE are ‘indians’ though. But that’s a different story. That’s YOU who are afraid, and not us. But luckily, true Catholics are peaceful people, and Jesus is ‘meek and humble of heart’. So, no one should be terrified of either Jesus or his servants, as we are all called to be loving, virtuous and self sacrificing…traits that don’t usually incite terror or anxiety. But, if you ARE afraid Catholics and you do consider us indians (that are circling YOUR imaginary wagon), then I’ll let you know my ‘indian’ name…”Running Nose”. I hope that doesn’t terrify you?

      Best to you.

    1. Phil,
      Speaking of fear, may I ask what you believe is the biggest fear of mankind? And what do you fear the most in life?

      I think (believe) that for more than most, the fear of dying/death is the big number one.

    2. Phil,
      This ekklesiaproject site, BTW, is put together by non-denominational Christians–the board does not subscribe to Catholic belief or doctrine.

  32. I suppose I’ve already said this too many times, but here’s another try to make the connection between Catholicism and nature worship.

    It’s my understanding that Catholic doctrine proposes that God is ever present everywhere in all times and places. As far as I know, this is a standard issue official Catholic teaching in full compliance with Vatican doctrines. It was taught to me in my confirmation classes 50 years ago by a priest, without any whiff of controversy.

    “Everywhere” seems a key word, as this word implies that God is in every molecule, every atom, every quantum fluctuation etc. That is, according to this interpretation, God is woven in to the fabric of reality. But even that huge claim doesn’t quite get to the end of the implication of “God is ever present everywhere”.
    If God is everywhere, woven in to the tiniest, tiniest, tiniest building blocks of reality, isn’t that really just another way of saying that God _IS_ the observable universe?

    The word “God”, like all nouns, implies a division between one thing and another thing. And so from an intellectual thought based human perspective, God is typically conceived of as being one thing, and you and me and everything else conceived of as being a collection of other separate things.

    It seems to me a key question is…

    1) Is this perceived division between “things” real?

    2) Or is the perceived division an illusion created by the nature of thought, the electro-chemical information medium through which we typically observe reality?

    If the later, then “me” praying to “God” can be seen as an act which reinforces the illusion of division, of fantasy separation. If the later, then literally everything everywhere becomes a target of worship and reverence.

    If the later, then there is no “you” and “me” as separate things. There is no separate worshiper. If the later, then religion is God worshiping himself.

    Which if true, would prove another Catholic doctrine, that we are made in his image. 🙂

    1. Phil,
      God, as creator, has left his mark on his creation, sure. But he is NOT the observable universe. He is above, beyond, around, through, with, for, in, and impenetrably not those prepositions, for he is infinitely more. We use the word supernatural to convey that aboveness, that more greater and infinitely more than natural.

      AK suggested Jeremiah 5:21, so I, good student that I am, looked at it and kept reading through 5:22. It speaks specifically to YOU, Phil. There is fear and there is the ocean too.

      The problem with the natural ocean here on earth is that it is bounded by the shore. We inevitably end on dry land. What then? If we want the boundaries to broken, we must talk to the Guy who built the boundaries. Being our dad, he listens to us, our other siblings. Particularly does he listen to his eldest and firstborn son.

      Do you have any children?

      God bless.

      1. Thanks for your reply Margo.

        It would help if you can clarify EXACTLY where I lose you in my thesis. Let’s find the point where we diverge, and work on that. We might start here…

        1) Do we agree that Catholic doctrine teaches that God is ever present everywhere?

        2) I’m interpreting the word “everywhere” literally, to mean in every tiny corner of all things, and nothing too. Does that work for you?

        To attempt a clarification, I don’t mean to claim that God is limited to being observable reality and nothing else. I’m attempting to say that the _realness_ of God is most tangibly expressed in the _real_ world.

        That is, God is not just an idea, a theory, a concept, a belief. Yes, these are God too, but in a very weak form heavily contaminated by human imperfection.

        Food is God. A a menu is God too. Ok, agreed. But when you’re hungry, which would you rather eat? The food on the plate? Or the menu? The real, or the symbolic? It’s that simple!

        EXPERIENCE of God is where the nutritious calories are found, not in the theological menu. The menu is optional. As example, if you couldn’t read the language a restaurant menu was printed in, the food would still be nutritious.

        God = food = real = nutrition.

        Theology = menu = symbolic = words about nutrition.

        1. Ok, Phil,

          You asked. I looked again and found you saying this:

          Numbskull Squabbler says:
          June 22, 2017 at 6:03 am

          “…any idea one human creates can be destroyed by another human.”

          I AGREE.

          Catholicism was not created by a human being. It was begun by Jesus Christ, the son of the living God. He promised that the gates of hell (evil within humanity, within incarnate spirituality or purely spiritual evil) will not prevail upon His [Catholic] Church. God cannot be bought, put to death, fired, set aside, turned away, etc. Neither may he be made into a mere ocean.

          When you say, “I’m attempting to say that the _realness_ of God is most tangibly expressed in the _real_ world.” (from Numbskull Squabbler says:
          June 22, 2017 at 10:21 am), I DISAGREE.

          Our Supernatural God is above, beyond, far from, beside, in, with, through, for, behind, inside, near, and infinitely more, ‘more greater’ than any of these things. It is not found in nature. We see only glimpses or wisps of the EXPERIENCE, OR THE IDEA of him, but it is NOT HIM.

          1. Nice explanation, Margo.

            What Phil doesn’t understand is that God is a Trinity, and that there is only ONE Son of God, in the Holy Trinity…which is Jesus Christ. Without being incorporated into the Body of Christ, we are all mere creatures, such as trees, stones and chimpanzees…the same thing that I think Phil thinks are equal to ‘Sonship’ under God, just because they exist. However, eternal life was never promised to these creatures, but only to Mankind, and only by means of being incorporated into the body of Christ through the means that Jesus taught us to be incorporated into it. This is to say, that Jesus, the ONE true SON OF GOD, is the one that teaches us the way to be adopted into His body, his Church, wherein we attain Eternal life through our union with Him. So, everytime we say OUR FATHER, we say it because Jesus told us to call God ‘Our Father’, and this is because we are His disciples and therefore part of His family, and which the FATHER accepts. We, therefore, acquire eternal life through this means…unity with His Only Son, Jesus Christ. Moreover, we maintain unity by means of maintaining unity with the Church He established, and receiving the sacraments that He provides for this purpose, thereby maintaining the grace on our souls necessary to live in harmony with the eternal Son.

            Best to you, and all.

            To insinuate that all creatures will live forever, or that mere nature is equal to the Son of God because it was created by God, as Phil seems to teach, is to deny the nature and reality of God as “Holy Trinity” which was revealed by Christ Himself.

          2. Margo,

            1) To the best of my knowledge, the word “Catholic” doesn’t appear once anywhere in the Bible.

            2) There is no one single Catholicism which you can claim ownership of.

            Catholicism is a community of over a billion people with pretty widely diverse opinion and experience. Catholicism belongs to humanity, not to you, not to your little club, not to those who have _self appointed_ themselves to leadership positions within the clergy, not to any of us.

            The notion that the clergy, and those who worship the clergy, own Catholicism is just one of many perspectives on what Catholicism is. All these “one true way” claims all of you are making about what Catholicism is just your interpretation. No amount of adamant stamping of your little feet changes that real world fact.

            Please search for Pew Research studies of Catholic opinion in the United States. Please familiarize yourself with REALITY. You will find widely divergent strongly held opinions on many Catholic doctrines, including widespread rejection of Vatican doctrines on some subjects like contraception.

            Your are fully entitled to your own interpretation of Catholicism, but to claim that your interpretation is the only interpretation marks you as a person of fantasy, and makes productive discussion largely impossible.

          3. Phil,

            What the Catholic Church believes is already written down in black and white in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is really pretty easy to understand as those who wrote it tried very hard to make it understandable. The church doesn’t have a watchdog that sniffs out the unorthodox members, even as Jesus didn’t stop Judas from attending the Lsat Supper. Jesus already said that there would be ‘goats’ in the Church and there would be ‘sheep’ in the Church. But, who they actually are …only the Lord knows these things. The apostles needed to ask Jesus, in the quote I provided a few comments back, who it was who would ‘betray’ Him. So, even the apostles couldn’t distinguish that Judas was rather…’goatish’. And so, today we have many people who would like to write their own Catholic catechism. And they even think they have the ability to do this. But if anyone wants to know what the official Church teachings are they just need to Google it, or pay the $15.00 on Amazon. Pretty handy compared to the myriad of Protestant sects that have nothing of the sort, and are reinventing doctrine on almost a daily basis.

          4. We learn about Christ’s Church by what Christ Himself says about it. And what He describes is not a Church symbolized by a smokey haze in a dark valley, but rather, a ‘light on a hill’. And this is what the Church is. It’s doctrines are open for all to see, for better or worse. They are not hidden. Christ says:

            “You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled.] He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

            The Church learns about itself through it’s very Founder and Head. And so, we His miserable, sinful and disciples rejoice to study the Lord’s words, and only pray that we might persevere in following our Good Shepherd, who is worthy of all our love and devotion. Who would want to promote any other King than Christ our Lord? And, who is ‘meek and humble of heart’ as is Jesus Christ? Who of all men in history can compete with Jesus Christ in His demonstrations of pure charity and goodness, witnessed by His very actions, ie..’walking the walk’?

            On the contrary, we should be ashamed to honor mere rock star idols, or movie stars, or fashion models, or sports Hall of Famers, over Jesus Christ. But people do it every day. As P. D. Trump tweets: “Sad!”

    2. So it seems this is an argument about classifying distinctions. If you think in terms of created (all we see) versus uncreated (God). So I think Phil is correct in warning that if we dwell solely on the created, including our limited ability to comprehend the uncreated, we risk missing out on the experience. What else is the purpose of the created, including theology. But just as children learn in stages, progressing from lower level thinking to a higher consciousness, we too have a God-appointed path to experience of Him.

      Aquinas is the prime example. Does anyone believe that he would have reached the pinnacle of his experience of God, after which he described his life’s work as “straw” had he not spun all of that straw? The journey lead him to the destination, but without the journey, he never would have arrived.

  33. Al, as usual, you confuse the clergy with the laity.

    It’s true, the clergy has produced a series of documents which express _THEIR INTERPRETATION_ of Catholicism in some detail. Obviously I agree with this.

    I would also agree that many Catholics such as yourself decide to accept the CLERGY’S INTERPRETATION as their own. This is however a bit more complicated. As example, about half of American Catholics voted for Trump, even though the Pope expressed serious misgivings about much of what Trump has bellowed. To make it more complicated, those Catholics who voted for Trump in spite of the Pope’s guidance are, on average, generally speaking, more likely to be the type of Catholics who declare full loyalty to the VATICAN’S INTERPRETATION of Catholicism.

    And then of course there are many millions of Catholics who disagree with the CLERGY’S INTERPRETATION to some degree or another. Among this group there is not one competing interpretation, but rather a near infinite number of various combinations of agreement and disagreement with the Vatican.

    The bottom line question is, who owns Catholicism? The clergy, and apparently you as well, declare the clergy owns Catholicism, that is, has the one true way interpretation. This claim is based on nothing more than the clergy’s self appointed leadership and assertion that they own the religion.

    You can chant all the memorized dogmas you wish, and of course you have every right to express your opinion. But nothing anyone says can change the facts of the real world. There a LOT of Catholics, with a LOT of different interpretations, and there’s no way to ever finally settle who is right. If there were, all these issues would have already been resolved long, long ago.

    I would also agree I’m being foolish typing any of this here, as it’s a complete waste of time. If you want to debunk this heretic, that’s your most promising line of attack.

    1. “I would also agree I’m being foolish typing any of this here….”

      But you keep-coming-back……

      …heh….if I believed in karma….

      1. Hi AK,

        Ok. Here’s a twisted myth with a bit of truth in it. A lot of little Christians aspire to the throne of the most high. Zeus is jealous. He doesn’t like that those Christians aren’t attracted to his throne. He sends his Gadfly.

        1. Margo – y’know, I tried yesterday to reach out an olive branch, explaining non-ad-hominen just how much of what Phil was doing was offensive to anyone with a shred of self-respect, instead it got sharpened and shoved in yours and Al’s eye. The incessant message of ‘you’re just too thick to get what I’m telling you benighted, clergy-befuddled Catholics’ is unmitigated by anyone’s attempt to get across, that **someone** may have the temerity to have an opinion that differs from the Counterculture Buddha. I have noted this multiple times in at least three blog.Phil is even more boring than Barry.

          At least Barry, in his mouth-foamed, Jimmy White cliff-notes rants, brings in some new theological references, faulty as they are, that cause me for one to research Scripture and historical writings. There’s literally nothing of value in Phil’s steaming pile of Esalen Institute “growth center transactional analysis pass-me-a-zoom” 70’s-era crap sandwich, especially delivered as they are with a nice odious side of narcissistic personality disorder.

          1. AK – I know. I’ve been reading. My posts go unanswered. Al is suspected of not reading.

            Act X: Scene XXIV: As before. A whirligig twirler, a depressingly rusted and worn-down amusement park. The child continues his ride. Spectators speculate. Someone proposes a Friday Fast. Some proceed to follow it. Some pray. Some implore. Some stand speechless. Others go to other rides. Some leave the park altogether.

            Donald Trump intones, “Sad.” The Pope weighs in: “I told you so.”

            The music seems to change a bit, but the notes simply echo that heard earlier. All around the whirligig. All in the name of God, or Not.

          2. Margo, that was a rather haunting pastiche on the situation here, but sadly, poetically accurate…

            Of God, or not, indeed….

    2. Phil,

      I’m not a debunker, just an explainer…and probably a poor one at that. But you say that everything is complicated, maybe like trying to straighten out a pile of cooked spaghetti, so to say. But it can be less complicated if you think of the Church like a tree, or vine, as Jesus Himself used as an example. We need this type of metaphor because the Church exists in time, changes somewhat, and also spreads to many places. And also as it grows in size and has many branches, some of which are healthy and some of which are damaged by the wind, some eaten by beetles or insects, and others scorched by the sun. And the tree has a history, because when you planted it, it was only a seed, and then after 70 years you cannot believe how thick is the trunk and how much it has grown in all that time. Jesus intended that we understand all of these things about the Church under this metaphor..but, of course, there are others too.

      So using this example, we read Jesus saying this on the night before He died:

      “I am the true vine; and my Father is the husbandman. [ Every branch in me, that beareth not fruit, he will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now you are clean by reason of the word, which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. If any one abide not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you. In this is my Father glorified; that you bring forth very much fruit, and become my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; as I also have kept my Father’s commandments, and do abide in his love.”

      So, in this little saying we can understand ALOT about the Church, His Church, and cared for by His Father, the Eternal Father. We already know form this that the CHURCH IS NOT PERFECT, as the vine has branches that have been damaged and is not attached well to the trunk. And Christ says that God the Father will prune these in His Divine Providence, and will even trim the branches of the healthy limbs, so that they will bear MORE fruit. SO, the Clergy and laity are mere braces of this vine. And they will be treated accordingly, some will not be attached well to the Trunk…Jesus..and others Will be, and will bear much fruit for God.

      I seems like you mix everything up, not considering that the members of the Church, whatever their position be in it, must be attached to the trunk of the vine, which is Jesus Himself. And if you only look at the wilted branches of the vine, you will come oup with a false assessment of it. So, even if you go to a Church and you see 50% of the vine wilted or attacked by aphids or beetles, you cannot say that the other 50% isn’t going to reduce a good quantity of grapes in a few months. You are mainly concentrating on the damaged branches that are only slightly receiving nourishment from the trunk of the vine…which is Christ.

      So, whether we are Clergy or laity, we are still branches of the vine. And some branches will make very bad decisions for the Church, such as using parishioners hard earned money to build a Church next to a beautiful beach…a very unwise decision, as you note. and there are many other decisions made by loosely attached branches (people such as Judas, also, was). However, we also see the good side of the vine, with both clergy (like the apostles) and laity, like the regular folk….all being attached to it’s source, the trunk of the vine, and all producing fruit. Some laity produce more fruit than the clergy, and vice versa.

      But, what is VERY IMPORTANT is of ALL to do what Jesus says….stay attached to the trunk of the vine. And He says how to do this very clearly above:

      “If you abide in me, and MY WORDS abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you. In this is my Father glorified; that you bring forth very much fruit, and BECOME MY DISCIPLES.” So we see, to be a disciple of Christ we must ‘keep His word’. We must study what He teaches. We must do what He says. We must imitate what He does. And, after time, we will start to be disciplined in His way of life, and become more like Christ. And all of it comes from listening carefully to everything He says.

      If you just look at the tree and complain there are a lot of dead branches on it, it does no good. Jesus already said that there would be, and it is His Church. But, you can try to heal your own branch by making sure it is always attached to Christ, by always having his words in your memory and on your tongue, and by praying frequently. This is how we remain attached to the trunk of the vine.

      Best to you….and ….may you be attached well to this same vine and bear much fruit for God.

      – Al

    3. Phil, You say
      “There a LOT of Catholics, with a LOT of different interpretations,…” I AGREE.

      But I DISAGREE when you say, “…and there’s no way to ever finally settle who is right.”

      Jesus settled it when he gave the keys of His kingdom to Peter and declared that what Peter bound on earth would be bound in heaven, and what loosed would be loosed. There certainly are and will be different interpretations else we’d all be robots. The beauty of the College of Cardinals, the lesser clergy, and the laity? We all have a role to play. Even heretics, believe it or not.

      There will no longer remain any doubt after the Final Judgment and the End of the World when Jesus shall come again as he left, on a cloud of glory, and we all shall understand how we all contributed to the sin and the glory God carries in relation to us.

      God bless.

    4. That’s what makes your sociological interpretation of Catholicism a sound one, and their theological interpretation of Catholicism a sound one too. You make affirmations that make sense sociologically (and even logically), but a theological interpretation like theirs is dogmatic. They don’t accept the sociological approach, you don’t accept the theological one (of course, theology is not based on evidence).

  34. Al, I don’t get the feeling you’re even reading the posts you are replying to. Ok, no problem, I am overly generous with my words, so I don’t blame anybody who skips them. In an attempt at conciseness, here’s the point I was attempting to make.

    There are lot of Catholics, with a lot of different interpretations, and there’s no way to ever finally settle who is right.

    1. Phil,

      But, what I was trying to say, is that you are confused about Catholicism because you FIRST don’t know the Gospel of Christ, who is the HEAD of Catholicism. If you don’t know the words of Christ who is the HEAD of the Church, you will never know His Body, the Church itself. That was my main point, and it was focusing on the ‘complications’ that you highlighted when you said: ‘This is however a bit more complicated.” and “To make it more complicated”…,etc… So, I was trying to clarify the complications by pointing you to the words of Christ, which teach what HE SAYS His Church should look like. And this is why I tried to get you to understand that there are indeed dead branches on the ‘Vine’, that Jesus describes as His Church, and that these dead branches are confusing you because you think they are equal to the ‘living branches’ that actually bear fruit. It seems that don’t understand these things that Christ says, so your confusion is understandable. In all things regarding the Church you must start with Christ Himself. After understanding HIS WORDS, you will understand the Church that HE founded…and as He said, on the ‘Rock of Peter’.

      Best to you.

      1. Al, no offense, but honestly, all you’re doing is endlessly repeating YOUR INTERPRETATION of Catholicism as if it was the only interpretation.

        1. …and it seems that you are not talking about Catholicism at all. I talk about the Catholicism that began with Jesus, and then was called ‘catholic’ or ‘universal’ at the proper time, that is, when it had spread everywhere in the Roman world by about 110 AD. Ignatius of Antioch called it ‘catholic’ at that time, though it was certainly used by others at the same time…that is…I doubt he coined the term. And, so this is where the Catholic Church becomes defined as the ‘universal’ orthodox faith, as compared to the myriad of gnostic and heretical faiths. And it was actually because of these other false faiths, not based on the apostolic faith transmitted through the early bishops, that using a name such as ‘catholic’ became popular. The heretical sects were usually small groups who followed a single charismatic leader, where as Catholicism was common everywhere, thus the name.

          Ao, I believe in the Catholic faith. It is defined by what is written in the Catachism. What you do, is similar to the gnostics of 60-300AD. They give their own private teachings based on their own ideas, but not based on apostolic authority that Jesus founded His Church on, and through which it spread throughout the world to this very day. And whether you like the Catholic Church, or not, I don’t think anyone could doubt that the Catholic Church effected the conversion of almost the entirety of the European continent, as well as the South American Continent, and effected the others as well being the foundation of Protestantism, from which it was the Protestant reformers came from.

          So, my definition of Catholicism is the correct one, and can be found in any encyclopedia. Do you have your definition of it…that actually makes some historical sense?

    2. There are lot of Catholics, with a lot of different interpretations, and there’s no way to ever finally settle who is right.”

      There are a lot of Catholics who break clear rules, for their own convenience.

      Put this way…

      We drive on the right side of the road. I’m from England, or Japan, and think/wish/fantasize we should/do drive on the left. So I drive on the left. The Law is clear. I will get away with it, for a little while anyway….

      But I understand that even with clear examples Phil will not listen to the things we believe about Scripture and the Catechism, nor understand how **anyone** could disagree with him. He’ll just spitefully dismiss us, as a mutual validation society, completely discounting any ideas we, the unenlightened, may bring to the table as invalid and irrelevant to the Truth of reality he has offered us. In all this he fails to see his mono-maniacally narcissistic need for complete belief and validation.

      In the downtown here, there are a few ‘disoriented express’ street corner folks who will tell you outlandish things, and you’ll be abused over and over until you either walk away or remain to acquiesce and become as loopy as they. Bottom line, Phil has what appears clearly to be a case of borderline narcissistic personality disorder, and none of us are going to deal rationally with that, just get crazy with him or walk away.

      1. An addendum…not vested in Phil or anyone else believing in my Scripture and Catholic Magisterium-based faith, nor insulted or exasperated one way or the other.

        As St. Bernadette of Lourdes so thoughtfully said, “I am not here to convince, just to inform.”

        1. AK is not insulted or exasperated one way or the other.

          Wow, the sanctimonious fantasy BS (otherwise known as blatant lying) is starting to get really deep. Anybody got some hip waders I can borrow?

          1. Phil, regarding my (and I would humbly surmise) our collective interaction with you, I did not use the two adjectives of emotion that *do* apply….amused, and sad. Not many people simultaneously can elicit those in me.

            The one thing for which, in months of posting, you can count as an accomplishment, such as it is. Little to nothing else.

      2. I think you never can go crazy by teaching the meaning of the words of Christ to others. If it doesn’t help the one you’re trying to reach, it does help yourself, due to the extra consideration and meditation on Christ that is derived from the discussion. And it took Jesus about 2 years …of calling His disciples ‘men of little faith’ , until they finally recognized Him for who He was…and they were living with Him day and night. So, as long as the conversation relates to the words of the Lord…I get a benefit of hearing and meditating on them over and over again, and thereby get closer to fulfilling a great teaching of Christ: “Amen, Amen, I say unto you, if any man KEEP my word, he shall not see death forever.”

        This is to say, in discussing aspects of His ‘words and teachings’, we are also ‘keeping’ the same words in our hearts. This in turn protects us from temptation and sin, because our souls are occupied with pius meditations, and evil is far away during such holy meditations. So, holy conversation has very many benefits, regardless of who is listening or benefiting by them. It’s like prayer.

        Here is a good example of what I’m talking about as described by Br. Juniper, a close friend and companion of St. Francis:

        “One day as Brother Giles, Brother Simon of Assisi, Brother Ruffino, and Brother Juniper were discoursing together concerning God and the salvation of the soul, Brother Giles said to the other brethren: “How do you deal with temptations to impurity?” Brother Simon said: “I consider the vileness and turpitude of the sin till I conceive and exceeding horror of it, and so escape from the temptation.” And Brother Ruffino said: “I cast myself on the ground, and with fervent prayer implore the mercy of God and of the Mother of Jesus Christ till I am freed from the temptation.” And Brother Juniper answered: “When I feel the approach of a diabolical suggestion, I run at once and shut the door of my heart, and, to secure its safety, I occupy myself in holy desires and devout meditations; so that when the suggestion comes and knocks at the door of my heart, I may answer from within: ‘Begone; for the room is already taken, and there is no space for another guest’; and so I never suffer the thought to enter my heart; and the devil, seeing himself baffled, retires discomfited, not from me alone, but from the whole neightbourhood.” Then Brother Giles made answer and said: “Brother Juniper, I hold with thee; for there is no surer way of overcoming this enemy than flight; inasmuch as he attacks us within by means of the traitor appetite, and without through our bodily senses; and so by flight alone can this masterful foe be overcome. And he who resists it in any other way, after all the toil of the conflict, rarely comes off victorious. Fly, then, from this vice, and thou shalt gain the victory.” (from the Life of Br. Juniper)


        This lesson teaches us to always have holy thoughts handy, against all temptations. Jesus even said the same when He said, “pray always, that you enter not into temptation”. It’s the same thing. It’s occupying our minds always with holy thoughts. And the same happens when we discuss holy topics, concerning Christ, online. At least we’re not out surfing the web for vain, sinful, or idle purposes. By the way, Br. Juniper is one awesome follower of Christ! Even in St. Francis’ opinion…. who said: “Would it that I had a thousand of these Junipers!” No one should miss this humble biography of Br. Juniper, as it’s filled with spiritual gems, especially on the virtue of humility, not found in any other literature (that I’ve ever read).

        Here it is for your convenience:

        1. Hah….OK, Al, I agree with you, depending on one’s level of patience. I have a lot, but you, my friend, are other-worldly (and I know you won’t agree…) in faith, patience and humility. I am privileged to know you…..and quite a few others here….even Phil has something to teach us, though it might not be what he intends….. 😉

          1. As you know, AK, I read a lot of the Lives of the Saints and also try to put into action some of what they teach. Here, for instance, is what St. Francis taught by example… regarding being patient with all people:


            “The true disciple of Christ, St. Francis, as long as he lived in this miserable life, endeavoured with all his might to follow the example of Christ the perfect Master; whence it happened often, through the operation of grace, that he healed the soul at the same time as the body, as we read of Jesus Christ himself; and not only did he willingly serve the lepers himself, but he willed that all the brethren of his Order, both when they were travelling about the world and when they were halting on their way, should serve the lepers for the love of Christ, who for our sake was willing to be treated as a leper.
            It happened once, that in a convent near the one in which St. Francis then resided there was a hospital for leprosy and other infirmities, served by the brethren; and one of the patients was a leper so impatient, so insupportable, and so insolent, that many believed of a certainty that he was possessed of the devil (as indeed he was) for he ill-treated with blows and words all those who served him; and, what was worse, he blasphemed so dreadfully our Blessed Lord and his most holy Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary, that none was found who could or would serve him. The brethren, indeed, to gain merit, endeavoured to accept with patience the injuries and violences committed against themselves, but their consciences would not allow them to submit to those addressed to Christ and to his Mother, wherefore they determined to abandon this leper, but this they would not do until they had signified their intention to St. Francis, according to the Rule. On learning this, St. Francis, who was not far distant, himself visited this perverse leper, and said to him: “May God give thee peace, my beloved brother!” To this the leper answered: “What peace can I look for from God, who has taken from me peace and every other blessing, and made me a putrid and disgusting object?” St. Francis answered: “My son, be patient; for the infirmities of the body are given by God in this world for the salvation of the soul in the next; there is great merit in them when they are patiently endured.” The sick man answered: “How can I bear patiently the pain which afflicts me night and day? For not only am I greatly afflicted by my infirmity, but the friars thou hast sent to serve me make it even worse, for they do not serve me as they ought.”
            Then St Francis, knowing through divine revelation that the leper was possessed by the malignant spirit, began to pray, interceding most earnestly for him. Having finished his prayer, he returned to the leper and said to him: “My son, I myself will serve thee, seeing thou art not satisfied with the others.” “Willingly,” answered the leper; “but what canst thou do more than they have done?” “Whatsoever thou wishest I will do for thee,” answered St. Francis. “I will then,” said he, “that thou wash me all over; for I am so disgusting that I cannot bear myself.” Then St. Francis heated some water, putting therein many odoriferous herbs; he then undressed him, and began to wash him with his own hands, whilst another brother threw the water upon him, and, by a divine miracle, wherever St. Francis touched him with his holy hands the leprosy disappeared, and his flesh was perfectly healed also. On this the leper, seeing his leprosy beginning to vanish, felt great sorrow and repentance for his sins, and began to weep bitterly. While his body was being purified externally of the leprosy through the cleansing of the water, so his soul internally was purified from sin by the washing of tears and repentance; and feeling himself completely healed both in his body and his soul, he humbly confessed his sins, crying out in a loud voice, with many tears: “Unhappy me! I am worthy of hell for the wickedness of my conduct to the brethren, and the impatience and blasphemy I have uttered against the Lord”; and for fifteen days he ceased not to weep bitterly for his sins, imploring the Lord to have mercy on him, and then made a general confession to a priest. St. Francis, perceiving this evident miracle which the Lord had enabled him to work, returned thanks to God, and set out for a distant country; for out of humility he wished to avoid all glory, and in all his actions he sought only the glory of God, and not his own…”
            (Derived from the ‘Little Flowers of St. Francis’)


          2. Ok, Al…..not much to be said to that, save for “I get your point…..”…most emphatically.

            Thank you.

          3. You’re a good man, AK. I think St. Francis likes you for your understanding and humility.

            Though, to be honest, it’s almost impossible to follow people such as St. Francis and Br. Juniper. They were like marathon runners of faith, where we are like weaklings that huff and puff after jogging just 1/2 a (spiritual) mile. Following those guys must have been exceedingly difficult. So, when you want to go serve a leper colony… give me a call.
            Otherwise, we can go to Starbucks! 🙂

        2. Al, until I can stop working,I’ll have to settle for supporting the local Marian House soup kitchen (are there still leper colonies???)….also, having just finished the Biblical School I have to talk to the parish RE director on how I can use all that eddication…maybe RCIA….

  35. Al, you wrote….

    “But, what I was trying to say, is that you are confused about Catholicism because you FIRST don’t know the Gospel of Christ, who is the HEAD of Catholicism. If you don’t know the words of Christ who is the HEAD of the Church, you will never know His Body, the Church itself.”

    Al, I don’t need to accept your interpretation of Catholicism to learn about Catholics, I can simply observe what Catholics say and do in the real world. That’s what Catholicism is, in the real world. The real world Al, have you heard of that place?

    Another reason to not accept or even listen to your interpretation of Catholicism is that you aren’t sophisticated enough to even realize that it is your interpretation, or more precisely, one interpretation among many which you have chosen to believe and sell.

    You are confusing a subset of Catholicism, the writings of a small but influential group of self appointed clerics, with Catholicism as a whole.

    Al, I can only chat at the Jehovah’s Witness level of theology for so long. If you’re trying to bore me out of here, it’s working.

    1. Phil,

      In my opinion, your theology is based on nothing. There is no base. All there is is criticisms that you make of things you don’t understand. So, the easy way for you resolve this, is to read a wikipedia article on Catholicism. You will save yourself a thousand hours of typing. And once you know what Catholicism actually is, then you can make a competent statement on it. Right now you just make statements out of the blue sky, as if it’s all a mere day dream. You accept that some hippy, abortionist, gay activist, self proclaimed ‘catholics’ understand the Church equally as do the Sisters of Mother Theresa do…just because they were baptized at birth. So, you really know nothing about Catholicism, and should do a little study. And as I said before, you can start with the Gospels. The Catholics that you talk about, the multitudes of liberal hippy Catholics, don’t listen to Christ’s words. And they have no intention of putting them into practice. They love their birth control and abortions. They love their reefers and methamphetamines. They love their pornography and divorces. And they LOVE calling themselves Catholics. If you actually read the Gospels you would understand what I said to you many times: in the Church Jesus said there are sheep and goats. But it seems like you only like the goats? You judge the true Church by them? You include their heretical faith, not based on the catechism, as orthodox and equal to the teaching of the official Church? But this is your error, not mine. I state the position of the true Catholic Church, and as detailed in the catechism that I recommended that you read many times.

      But, you have your free will. If you love the truth, though, you would put in a little study. Then at least you could provide a somewhat competent argument. But, as they say…”Que sera, sera”.

      1. One last thing….you also should learn what the word ‘apostasy’ means. I think you have no concept of this in your understanding of Catholicism. You believe that once a person receives the Catholic sacraments that he cannot be an ‘apostate’. This is a your major error of yours, linking the apostates and their version of the faith to the true faith found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You might want to ask some ‘apostates’ for THEIR catechism to read?

  36. Al, the reason you don’t see theology coming from me is that you don’t read other people’s posts. You just grab a sentence or two from them and then post your wall of memorized copy and paste scripture. But anyway…

    Want to see how patient, loving and Christian you are? Here’s how…

    1) Get off this forum. There’s no challenge or accomplishment in being patient, loving and Christian in a community where almost everybody already agrees with you. A hardcore atheist member of a skin head biker gang can do that.
    Want to see how patient, loving and Christian you are? Go to forums where it will be you against the entire forum. I’ve been doing this daily for 20 years. Have you ever done it even once?

    2) Your own doctrine commands you to share the good news. You are currently contenting yourself with sharing the good news with a single person, me. Pretty lazy, don’t you think? Not very serious, right?

    Sadly, you are representative of the entire Catholic web, which is why I’m taking the time to type this. Thousands of Catholic sites, all them Catholics talking the Catholic talk with other Catholics. Catholics are afraid to go out in to the real world and subject themselves to challenge, so they hide in places like this site, where they can cower behind the circled wagons of the like minded.

    So, having read the first seven words of this post, go ahead and post your wall of scripture.

    1. “..which is why I’m taking the time to type this….”

      Please, save yourself the effort, and while you’re not at it, spare us.

      “If you’re trying to bore me out of here, it’s working.”

      Be still, my little heart. Maybe we here could get back to that little mutual validation society without Johnny Derp clogging it up with terminal narcissism and Werner Erhardisms.

      We are here because we learn from each other, and enjoy each other’s company. You, make me at least want to take a walk through a full decontamination and delousing.

      “Catholics are afraid to go out in to the real world…”

      It’s Al’s to give details, but you know *damn well* the work Al is doing in spreading the Word, and out in the Real World you extol, from your Florida bunker. More than most people; but each of us does something in his or her own way. Who the hell are you to judge, you of the civil deportment and absentee good will of any typical basement-dwelling microcephalic Reddit troll? You…an egomaniacal, self-obsessed, abnormally mercurial, theologically and philosophically deluded borderline psychotic thinks, by trolling the web day after day looking for people to piss off with your inane drivel, disrespecting people and their beliefs, is doing mankind some kind of Christian-ordained service?

      Please, do give up on this forum and find another venue to befoul. You are boring.

      1. And OBTW, Phil,I am not insulted – I have to have some respect for a potential source of insult – but yes, I am exasperated at your continuous tick-like presence here.


    2. I read through all your posts until I see your obvious errors, and then address them. But I read them all. And your obvious error is that you know nothing of what the Gospel of Christ means, because you don’t believe in it. So, how can you comment at all on Christianity? First go and learn the words of Christ. That is what Christians follow, both Catholics and all others. And if you are AGAINST the words, tell us which ones they are, and why. But just to say you know what Catholicism means because you read a PEW survey, is the height of absurdity. First listen to Christ…and THEN criticize His Church…or detail how it is wrong….like Bulldog tries to do. But you just raise some strange gnostic explanation that nothing really matters and nothing really needs to be studied because Jesus is really nothing important. This is what you are getting at. But you don’t even show where Christ is wrong in your opinion, you just say “whatever he says is worthless because other men wrote it and they are obviously untrustworthy”. This is your argument. So, you propose your own vague ideas that make absolutely NO SENSE to anybody, because they are like a huge jigsaw puzzle that just came out of a laundry dryer. They make no sense whatsoever to anybody, and this is probably what you hear from the atheists, and everybody else you talk to.

      You yourself don’t even understand you own ideas, except in a very foggy haze like those in Pink Floyds ‘The Wall’, ‘Comfortably Numb’ lyrics? You only had a ‘fleeting glimpse’ of what reality is, but now you want to go and preach to atheists and the whole world, something you have no way to describe in writing or speaking. You can’t get any pieces of the puzzle together, and you preach how great is the image of experiencing ‘real things’, that even crickets and blue bellies experience. And you compare this to the teachings of Christ, who actually defines items pertaining to eternal life, both explicitly and in parables, but you do nothing of the same. Your pieces don’t go together because you are already ‘comfortably numb’ and you can’t put it all together on paper…as the Catholic Catechism has done. Moreover, you don’t even want to read the catechism it to see if it makes any true sense. You prefer your scrambled up jigsaw puzzle, thinking you got a masterpiece that will amaze the world.

      Better for you to grab the Gospel of St. John and read it 25 times,… till you come to your senses. And get off the pot, and anything else that is numbing your spiritual senses, because everything you are saying is only “coming through in waves”…

      ….and not the good surfing type, either.

      Best to you.

  37. Are Some People’s Prayers More Valuable Than Others?

    Yes. Catholic prayers are more valuable than others’ prayers are, because Catholics have the ability to be more closely united to Christ an God the Father, through the reception of all of the sacraments which Christ taught us to receive.

    And this is to say, also, that it is very advantageous, and of great benefit, for anyone to have a devout Catholic pray for them.

    So, Phil, your a lucky man. You already have many servants of Christ… weak though they might be….still asking God to take care of you.

    1. Amen. Phil is a lucky man. Phil’s many gifts, offered to God for use in His kingdom, would multiply with the gates of plenty being opened for him.

      About John the Baptist being the least in the kingdom of heaven…. John baptized with water but Jesus baptized with the Holy Spirit. Until Jesus opened the gates of GRACE–the share of God’s life–with his sacrifice on the cross, John had no opportunity to merit. Therefore, John was unable to share in the spiritual life of Christ during his earthly life. That life of Christ, through the death of our Lord, we have been blessed to merit while we yet live on earth, through the sacraments (one summit type of prayer). Prayer itself is where we strive to learn and to accomplish the will of God. Lucky we who obtain this gift, this share of the kingdom, in infancy.

      Thank God for the kingdom he shares with us.

      1. Good morning Margo and Al:

        Continuing with the “mutual validation…”…here’s my wrinkle…. 😉

        Listened to a Tim Gray CD awhile back, talking about his conversion. He extolled the richness of Catholic prayer life, which takes one to a contemplative level above the extemporaneous ‘how you doin’, Father God?’ that characterizes much of the nondenom extemporaneous Americanized variety of Protestant prayer – which has it’s place, but is self-limiting, else why would Jesus have given us a ‘canned prayer’ in His own words, in answer to the question ‘teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1-4). Properly to contextualize and understand Catholic prayer life, one must make an effort to understand the history of the Church and the ‘how and why’ of both Catholic liturgy and prayer. One thing I find very encouraging and (dare I say) validating is the amount of witness I’ve seen of people from other faiths (or no faith) who, on tiring both of empty theatrics and a one-dimensional message, and on investigating these things in depth, saw no other way but that of Holy Mother Church.

        1. What Phil does
          t understand about ‘mutual validation’, is that we’re not validating anything. Were sharing our perspective on God as being only one part of the body of Christ. That is, the thumb is taking to the nose and the pinky finger is responding also. And in the exchange each part is strengthened by the interaction and learns mer about both itself and the body as a whole. And after the parts have similar communion with the majority of other parts, a holy wisdom is acquired, wherein all of the members might visualize and participate deeper in the living Mystical Body of Christ. So, this is to say such conversation and Christian interaction is highly valuable for the soul.

          Phil thinks it’s a waste of time. But, what is Heaven for all eternity about? Pretty much what we do here, but only on a monumentally greater scale… and that is to learn more about, and commune with God through the means of both the ‘beatific vision, and others as well, those being angels and other saints. Phil idea is that Christians don’t need to commune in Church, commune together. He would rather us prove our strength and patience by going out to wolves and pigs, and throw our pearls before them, demonstrating our superiority over them. But this is not what Christ taught. He said to go out and proclaim ‘peace’. If a peaceable man accepts this greeting, then give him more or it. If he doesn’t accept the gospel of Christ, then merely turn around and shake the dust from your feet…no hard feelings for anyone. Your peace will return to you and you will offer it to another. So, this is to say, Christians don’t waste time in competition. We proclaim Christ and His gospel to those who are peaceful enough to absorb it. Otherwise we go elsewhere so as to not waste time.

          Anyway, internet ‘communion’ is not a waste of time, because as said, we learn from one another. Moreover, when Jesus said “when two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst”, I think this equally applies to web conversations, also…even as Christ is present in the Holy Scriptures. And we can also put the lessons we learn on the Web into practice when we meet others ‘face to face, during evangelization outings. So, in my experience none of this is a waste of time, as Phil implies.

          Best to you.

          1. Message received…Al, as usual, you have something else to add that shows me where I left off.

            God bless you sir…

  38. Are Some People’s Prayers More Valuable Than Others?

    Yes, because some people have greater faith than others, and faith gets prayers answered. If all peoples faith were equal, then Jesus wouldn’t note the differences of strength in peoples faith; for instance, when He says about the Roman centurion: “Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith, not even in Israel. OR when He says: “O woman, great is thy faith: be it done to thee as thou wilt: and her daughter was cured from that hour.”

    And, that it is actually faith that gets prayers answered the following stories and sayings of Christ clearly reveal:

    “Then came the disciples to Jesus secretly, and said: Why could not we cast him out? Jesus said to them: Because of your unbelief. For, amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence hither, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you. But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.”

    And note the very last part of this quote, greater faith is tied to ‘works’. That is, a person needs not only to believe, but to put the effort into prayer, and this includes fasting. So, hard work helps faith and helps prayer, and consequently the people who do these things will have more effective prayers before God, as the quote says.

    As for whether prayers are effective after death, just think of a mother, like St. Monica, praying for her son for 20 years. Now, say her son died, would anyone believe that she would stop praying for him just because he died? On the contrary, her habit of praying for him will probably last for the rest of her life. So, it is natural for people to pray for their dead, and even pagans do such.

    So, everything Jesus say’s about prayer and faith, is the same as it taught by the Catholic Church today. Strong faith gets prayers answered, and therefore, Catholics SHOULD have stronger faith and more effective prayers due to the validity of their holy sacraments and ‘apostolic’ based teachings.

    1. Hi Al,

      The syndrome proliferates. AK leaves off; you add. I add where you leave. Your lights will shine!

      Prayers to a saint after the saint’s death are effective. Here’s why: One’s being (one’s soul) made in God’s image, lives eternally. While on earth, the elect, the beatified, have sought, invited and allowed Him to abide within their eternal soul. How then, as sharers in God’s own life, can He deny them Himself (or at least deny them his ear!) after their death? God is all-knowing, so He is aware of all things which occur on earth ( Matthew 10:29, even to the hairs we lose from our head). Because He shares his attributes (His life of grace, only one aspect of which is ‘knowledge’) with the elect, of course His elect too will have some knowledge of earthly affairs.

      Please, friends, expand, correct or explain more clearly what I try to say.

      1. Margo – here’s my expansion, all that is required to gild the lily:

        Given the Scripture verse, God must be very busy with my head… 😉

      2. Hi Margo and AK,

        I agree, Margo. I see the holy faith as being like a newly hatched ducklings that are in the process of bonding to their mother. Humans were originally created to see and commune with God ‘Our Father’ and Creator, and so Adam bonded to God at the time of his creation. And Eve, also, after her creation bonded strongly to God through HIs familiarity with them, and also to Adam… and Adam with Eve. But it was primarily to God that they were bonded to, as ducklings to their mother.

        But then, original sin caused Adam and Eve to lose, or erase, much of this natural bonding instinct that they had for their Father, God. And thus, they sought to hide from Him, the exact opposite of the love and natural familial bond they had before. So, to make a long story short, Jesus, as the ‘physical’ face of the Father, came here to establish this bond again with the ducklings, mankind. We were to be ‘born again’ in seeing the face of the Father anew through the life and words of Jesus Christ. In this, if we look at Him, and not to the world, we achieve the original bond again, the familial love for Jesus’ Father, and so are truly children of the Father again through knowing Jesus. So, to love Jesus is to love His Father, it is to share in the bonding that He Himself had for the Father from all eternity. This is a frequent theme, in one way or the other, throughout the New Testament.

        So, in response to the call of Christ to be ‘born again’, to ‘bond’ again, the main thing we should do is to keep looking at the face of God, even as a newborn baby looks at his mother and father…as this is how bonding naturally happens. This is why some parrots talk so well after being ‘spoon fed’ by caring humans after they hatch, because they bond to the humans instead of to their own avian parents.

        And, we also can help others to bond to God, by our own actions and words in life. Jesus said, ‘let your light shine so that others see your good works and glorify …bond to..your Heavenly Father.’ And so, here on this blog we try to do a little of this…to share and receive the image of God with others, to the extent of our abilities. We are both bonding to God through the help of others, and likewise helping them to bond to God also, by our words and actions. We’re just like a bunch of eggs being hatched in a huge nest which is the world….but some of these hatchlings bond to the world instead of their creator. We, being Christians, work as Jesus did to change this. Therefore, we try our best at evangelizing others…to get the bonding started with others, between themselves and Christ, and His Body the Church….here on Earth.

        Best to you both.

  39. Hi AK and Margo,

    After some meditation on the subject, I’d like to retract much of the comment on holy ‘instinct’, written above. And the reason is that it is much too general of a concept for theological purposes. It is not definitive enough and lacks details that classical Catholic theology provides to explain the faith, such as the Theological virtues of faith, hope and charity; a discussion of the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of God; and the Cardinal virtues of chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility. Not to mention discussions on the topics of Sacraments, Faith and Grace.

    This is to say, that the Christian/Catholic Faith cannot be generalized too much, as the Church itself has a catechism that is comprised of about 850 pages of explanations. And, Christ Himself says “Amen, Amen, if any many KEEP my word, He shall not see death forever”. And, the word “KEEP” is a ‘loaded’ word. It means many things, and takes a life time of study and practice, as it involves practicing what Christ taught and not merely reading about it. So, the Gospel should be read comprehensively, and put into practice in our daily lives. This is to say, I think you can see how an idea of ‘instinct’ is too general for teaching anything substantial on the Holy Faith. It was just a thought that passed my mind, but I didn’t have much time to reflect on it much for theological purposes. But for ‘biological’ purposes, it is quite interesting. 🙂

    Best to you both,

    – Al

    1. Al,

      You’re right about the faith being so much more than the analogy of learned or instinctive behavior in nature. But the analogy ‘works’ and is understood as an attempt to relate to another person’s focus. The famous ethologist K. Lorenz devoted his life to observing animal behavior and noted a ‘critical period’ when animals are able to learn as if by instinct. His work came to mind when reading Joe’s previous post about teaching the faith to the young (‘brainwashing’ them). It is a completely valid point for a departure–a ‘flight’ if you will–into faith, IMHO.

      God bless.

        1. That-is-a-fact, suffused with humility. You folks are a joy.

          Hey…have some thoughts on this thread that go with the concept of man made in the image and likeness of God, but I have 4 seminarians visiting from Mount St. Mary’s and feeding them is a full-time, and happy, job. Hope to be able to comment later.

          God bless you all, and for the Americans here, Happy 4th!

    1. Great thought-provoking question, James. I cannot claim ‘official’ teaching on this, but I’d say No. God loves us all. He gives us all the opportunity to know, love, and serve Him, and he gives us all eternal life (to spend as we choose). Some of us choose to accept and desire and return God’s love, and to those, God will grant more understanding and more of a share of his life, more of his inner life which he does not share with those who do not seek, desire, or want it. “Knock and the door shall be opened,” He says in scripture.

      Scripture shows Jesus loving his betrayer Judas despite foreknowledge of what Judas will do. He allows himself to be crucified, asking His father for forgiveness of his murderers, as “they know not what they do.” At the time of Jesus’s arrest, Peter slices off the ear of the soldier; Jesus heals the ear.

      What is your thinking about this?

      1. I mean it like this: all God does to bring the Ethiopian to Him is send His Angel to Philp, but He came to Saul while he was on the road to Damascus.

        While Christ was on Earth, He chose 12 out of over a hundred followers, and He gave three of those men a glimpse of His Glory on Mount Tabor.

      2. Thanks for the response Margo. I would also like AK and awlms to weigh in on this.

        I meant it like this: all God does to bring the Ethiopian to Him is send His Angel to Philip to bid him get into the chariot, but He came to Saul while he was on the road to Damascus.

        In the parable of the talents, the Master gives one guy 5 talents, another 2, and another 1. Isn’t the meaning that God gives more graces to some than others?

        While Christ was on Earth, He chose 12 out of over a hundred followers, and He gave three of those men a glimpse of His Glory on Mount Tabor.

        And I must now speak of the most obvious example: Mary. As Catholics we believe she is the most highly favoured creature; she was chosen by infallible decree to be the Mother of God, and in preparation for this God willed her to be conceived and born without sin.

        1. Hi James,

          I hope Awlms and AK are also able to offer their insights and perspectives.

          To your additional points. God’s plan does seem to involve giving more talents to one than another; it is a mystery. But without doubt, greater gifts carry greater responsibilities. To whom more has been given, more shall be required. Then again, those burdens become easy and the yoke light when we allow Him to carry them.

          All those original twelve disciples (but Judas) suffered martyrdom. Most saints tell of unspeakable darkness, spiritual desolation, or other suffering prior to consolation. St. Francis and Padre Pio suffered stigmatization. St. John of the Cross was imprisoned by his own community. St. Damian begged both God and man for assistance for his poor leper colony for over 30 years. He received little to no material assistance; he did experience some spiritual progress in the lepers. Only in the very last few weeks of Damien’s earthly life did God pour showers of material and human assistance on the leper colony. Only then did God seem to acknowledge the saint’s life of begging and grueling physical labor for His lepers. Father Damien then died in the peace of a happy death.

          I believe that God gives us the gifts we need for our salvation and for those whose lives we touch. Also, as we each have different gifts of varying magnitude, we each have different wounds–either specific and particular from the sins of those close to us–or general sins from all in the world in which we live…

        2. Hi James,

          It appears that Awlms is tied up with Irked in the next article, and AK is hosting a group of seminarians so they may be a while in reply.

          You may find other insights in T. Aquinas’ Commentary of the Gospel of St.Matthew which incorporates statements by other church fathers. This is from Chap. 25; you’ll have to scroll down to verses14-30. With prayers for rewarding reading.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *