What do you think of this Prophecy?

What do you think of this Prophecy?

Dear Readers,

I would like to know what you think of the prophecy below. It was given (in 1976) by Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, who would later become Pope John Paul II, and who is now Saint Pope John Paul II. It appears to be a direct statement about the times in which we live. Please leave your comments (below) so we can discuss.

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has ever experienced. I do not think that the wide circle of the American Society, or the whole wide circle of the Christian Community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist. The confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence. It is, therefore, in God’s Plan, and it must be a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously.”

[http://www.catholic.org/news/national/story.php?id=57376]

Take note the Saint pointed his remarks at American Society, and the wider Christian community. So, what does it mean to you? How should we respond to these warnings?

Thanks for reading,

T.P. Johnson

 

Catholics: Are you a “Fool” for Christ?

Catholics: Are you a “Fool” for Christ?

Dear Readers,

I ran across an article that really hits home about the reality of Christianity, and I thought it would be good to pass it along. The general basis of the piece centers are a clear choice, will we be fools for Christ, or will we choose to be fools for the world? Please go to the link below:

http://spiritdaily.org/blog/inspiration/heed-not-the-bell-on-wall-street

I hope you find the piece productive.

I’d love to know what you think of the article, post comments in the box below. You can subscribe to my email list (below), and follow me on Twitter:

Thanks for reading, and please share this work,

T.P. Johnson

 

 

 

New Release – Gospel of Matthew Young Adult Version

New Release – Gospel of Matthew Young Adult Version

Now available at Amazon in print workbook (8.5″ X 11″) format:

JOURNEY THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW – FOR YOUNG ADULTS.

Book description:

In this world, spiritual restoration cannot take place without young adults rising to help the Lord renew the face of the world. The youth of our world play a vital role in God’s plan; the Lord calls them to learn and grow in faith so they will have a profound and lasting impact on the world around them.

This study is intended for use by parish-level Bible study groups (though it can be used as a personal study as well), and it is specifically targeted to young adults interested in learning about Scripture and about the Roman Catholic faith. There are 15 weekly units taking the studiers through a methodical study of this Gospel, with frequent emphasis placed on various points young Christians can consider as they journey through God’s Word.

Each unit contains sections entitled,  “THOUGHT STOP POINT,” which are intended to help individuals apply their faith to real life and to assist them in finding ways to serve the Lord and His Church.

Formatted in workbook format for weekly use, study units end with nine major questions centering on a given week’s Bible chapters, with extra note space provided for answers. 

Please post comments in the box below, and subscribe to my email.
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Thanks for reading, and please share this work,

T.P. Johnson

Book sale has ended for, Catholics it is our Fault!

Book sale has ended!


Dear Readers,

Thank you to everyone who purchased the Kindle book while it was on sale. The book rose to 33rd place in my category. Not quite as high as I had hoped for but, still in the top 50. There are some big names in the top 10 of my book’s category, so 33rd isn’t bad. Thanks again. 🙂


My book titled, CATHOLICS: IT IS OUR FAULT, is no longer on sale. The prices have returned to normal retail levels. You can still get a copy, at regular prices, by CLICKING HERE.

Please post comments in the box below, and subscribe to my email.
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Thanks for reading, and please share this work,

T.P. Johnson

First Look New Release Cover

First Look New Release Cover

Book description:

In this world, spiritual restoration cannot take place without young adults rising to help the Lord renew the face of the world. The youth of our world play a vital role in God’s plan; the Lord calls them to learn and grow in faith so they will have a profound and lasting impact on the world around them.
       
This study is for young adult Catholics who want to learn more about their faith and the Bible while drawing closer to the Lord.

Through 15 weekly study units, T.P. Johnson takes the reader through a methodical study of this great opening Gospel.

The book will be available at Amazon soon and later at Barnes and Noble.

Please post comments in the box below, and subscribe to my email.
Follow me on Twitter:

Thanks for reading, and please share this work,

T.P. Johnson

My book, CATHOLICS: IT IS OUR FAULT — 50% off sale!

CATHOLICS: IT IS OUR FAULT


Dear Readers,

My book titled, CATHOLICS: IT IS OUR FAULT, is on sale in PRINT format for $7.45 (from $13.99). You can get your copy here: http://amzn.to/2gdd87f

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Thanks for reading, and please share this work,

T.P. Johnson

Should we return to weekly faith services? – (part 2 UPDATED)

Should we return to weekly faith services?


Dear Readers,

This is the second part of my piece titled, “Should we return to weekly faith services.” In this article, which starts after the image of the empty pews, I conclude and summarize the points I make for the return to weekly services for all people of faith.

The world, and the USA, are filled with problems and issues (nothing new, there’s always been hard times but, the pace does seem to have quickened in recent years). Do you believe a turning back to God is in order? Speaking as a Roman Catholic, and looking at some quick stats, weekly Catholic Mass attendance in the 1950s was approximately 74%, today that has fallen to 22-25%! Similar numbers are found in non-Catholic churches. Is this massive drop in faith a healthy development? It is easy for a person to say they believe in God, yet do they place their proclaimed faith into practice, or is it simply a moniker many wear but never really pursue?

Please post comments in the box below, and subscribe to my email.
Follow me on Twitter:

Thanks for reading, and please share this work,

T.P. Johnson


I am convinced that the trend of decreasing attendance at weekly worship services is harmful to souls and damaging to our nation. It is important to recall some critical comments made by founders of this country:

John Adams in a speech to the military in 1798 warned his fellow countrymen stating, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams is a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and our second President.

Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the Declaration of Independence “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

“Whereas true religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness . . . it is hereby earnestly recommended to the several States to take the most effectual measures for the encouragement thereof.” Continental Congress, 1778

George Washington, General of the Revolutionary Army, president of the Constitutional Convention, First President of the United States of America, Father of our nation, “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” 

There exist hundreds of statements by the founders of the United States that make it unequivocally clear that only a religious and moral people can free people remain free (GO HERE).


I now return to the arguments for weekly worship services for all people of faith.

WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?

Let us review the reasons (note: all faiths can create their own lists that should convince its followers) that we have discussed:

  • The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood…
  • …to the change from worshipping God on the Sabbath, to worshipping God on the Lord’s Day,…
  • …to the change from the Old Covenant blessing of God’s Presence in the Holy of Holies to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for all people to receive in faith,…

Is it true that the reasons discussed to this point are still not enough to draw you back to regular weekly attendance at worship services? If that is the case, than what about attending for the sake of our kids?

As we have covered previously, parents (and especially fathers) have an enormous impact on the faith of their children. If parents neglect their responsibilities to God, it is likely that their children will follow their poor role model. When a father decides to stay home rather than attend faith services with his family, he is providing a behavioral model for his children. That is not a unique situation; it happens every week across the nation. It is not at all hard to see that parents frequently provide contradictory messages to their children. On the one hand, they tell their kids they must attend services; however, on the other hand, they refuse to participate. Their children will look at what they do, not say—they will follow their actions, not their hypocritical words. People need to decide whether handing down their faith to their children is important to them—if it is, they must show the way.

During the early years of growth, children see their fathers as protectors and as people of power and authority—it leaves a lasting impact on children when they regularly see their father kneeling in adoration or prayer to God (they come to understand that if their father is kneeling before the Lord, they should too).

If one believes in God, and follows Christ, then attending Mass (or Church services for non-Catholics) is a Biblically mandated practice that provides the attendees and their children many benefits—not least of which is improved grades in school for their children and an increased likelihood that their children will hold onto the faith when they become adults (GO HERE for research results regarding students grades in school via regular worship attendance).

If the researchers cited above are correct, then it is possible that our children will do better in school if they attend faith services each week. Couple that with the stability, discipline, and faith formation provided by participating on a regular basis, and it seems clear that we are taking a valuable developmental tool away from our children if we do not bring them each week. If you are a parent and reading this, ask yourself: do you strive to ensure your children get to sports practice, while ignoring their faith? Have sports and other worldly activities taken the place of regular worship?

TO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD

Let’s review the reasons (for attending services we have discussed so far:

The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood…

  • …to the change from worshipping God on the Sabbath, to worshipping God on the Lord’s Day,…
  • …to the change from the Old Covenant blessing of God’s Presence in the Holy of Holies to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for all people to receive in faith,…
  • …and for the sake of our children…

Is it true that the reasons discussed to this point are still not enough to draw you back to regular attendance at Mass/Church? If that is the case, than what about attending services for the sake of enjoying time with like-minded people and for the sake of hearing the Word of God in scriptural readings?

People are social in nature and often gain substantial strength from gathering with other people to embolden their faith. Seeing other men and women in similar situations sitting next to us in church is a powerful means to connect with other people and a powerful tool for connecting to the Lord through sharing our faith with the community as a whole. Christ mandates us to: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,…” (cf. Matthew 28:18-20). How can we make disciples of all nations if we are not willing to join with our communities in worship every week?

Humans are not created to be alone. In the Genesis account, God stated that it is not good for man to be alone. By attending Mass or faith services we are entering a prayer life united to all those attending, and we are united to Christians and people of faith throughout the world—and, while these statements apply to Catholics and all Christians, the points also apply (in their own way) to people of every faith. If those who came before us did not share their faith, how then would we have come to know the Lord?

There is no doubt that we can, and should, study and learn the truths of scripture at home; however, by gathering together, and by listening to the Priest’s Homily or our Pastor’s Sermon, we are forcing our ears to take in words that we can only read at home. Our lives are often busy, and taking the time to read scripture at home is an activity that many people place way down the list of their priorities; however, as St. Jerome once said: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” By attending Mass or church services each week, we are guaranteed to digest at least some of the Holy Scriptures. The Catholic Church urges the faithful to read the Scriptures, and it uses St. Jerome’s statement above in paragraph #133 in the Catechism, as follows: The Church “forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

During the early centuries of Christianity, people learned and grew in the faith by hearing the word of God at church and at worship gatherings. There were precious few personal copies of scripture then, and not until the invention of the printing press in AD 1440 did lay Christians have access to copies of the Bible. For more than thirteen centuries, followers learned by hearing, not by reading. Each person learns differently—some read books, some listen to lectures, some learn best by using visual aids, and when we go to church, we often receive all three.

All Christians should regularly study Scripture, and they should balance their reading each week by gathering together with other Christians where they will hear the Scriptures read, and where they will listen to a Homily or Sermon centering on the weekly readings. In the Catholic Church, during every Sunday liturgy, there are four readings from Scripture (OT, Responsorial Psalm, NT, and Gospel). During weekday Masses, there are three readings. Many of the prayers said at Mass are based on Scripture. The Mass itself is based on Scripture, which means that attending Mass is a Biblical function in nearly all ways. The Church follows a three-year cycle for its readings; if a Catholic were to attend Mass every day for three years, they would have heard a majority of passages from the Bible—and that is only at Mass, which can be increased significantly by self-study at home and by joining study parish groups and programs (again, all points made regarding the Catholic faith are important for all people of faith–each major religion has its own sacred texts and rituals).

If one wants to know Christ, they must study His Word and (for Catholics) also receive His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the Eucharist.

BECAUSE GOD AND THE CHURCH MANDATES ATTENDANCE?

Let’s review the major reasons for attending weekly services:

  • The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood…
  • …to the change from worshipping God on the Sabbath, to worshipping God on the Lord’s Day,…
  • …to the change from the Old Covenant blessing of God’s Presence in the Holy of Holies to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for all people to receive in faith,…
  • …and for the sake of our children…
  • …and for the sake of gathering together with like-minded people.

Is it true that the reasons discussed to this point are still not enough to draw you back to regular attendance at Mass/Church? If that is the case, than what about attending because God and the Church mandates a weekly day of worship?

We know that God included the observance of the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments, and we are aware that Christians are not bound to the Law of Moses; however, the Commandments still hold value for all people. For Christians, the commandment to observe the Sabbath was changed to worshipping and gathering together on the Lord’s Day (Sunday). For Christians, the Lord’s Day replaces the Sabbath, yet at the same time at least partially fulfills the Sabbath requirement by making attendance mandatory on a weekly basis. The Church, having Divine origins, has received the power to make such pronouncements by Christ Himself:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” [Matthew 16:13-19 RSV-CE] 

Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. [Matthew 18:18 RSV-CE]

For Catholics, the passages above are critical. In them, we see the establishment of Simon as the first Pope when Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter (meaning rock), and then Jesus proclaimed that He (Jesus) would build His Church upon the rock of Peter. Jesus then gave Peter the keys to the Kingdom and the power to bind and loose (later also given to the apostles in general). If you are not Catholic, you will likely see those passages in a different light, yet the overall point still applies to all people of faith – there are central tenets of every religion that followers are called or even mandated to hold.

Recall, also, the first part of these posts and the brief statement on the Sabbath. People of faith should recognize that God is loving and merciful, and He does not give us rules to bind us or control us—the Lord is trying to help us live better lives by following His rules (the Creator certainly knows what is best for His creatures). If you are a parent, you make binding rules for your children, and it is probable that your directions are not meant to be mean or hateful; instead, you are acting as a loving parent by teaching your kids the parameters and realities of life (likewise, God is not mean or hateful by handing down commandments; rather, He is trying to show us a path through life, while also offering a way back to Him).

The power to bind and loose means that Peter received the authority from Christ to make pronouncements within the Church and those decisions are approved or ratified by Heaven. The other apostles also received the power to bind and loose, as we see in the second passage. The office of Pope (Peter was the first) was handed down to his successors.

Receiving the keys means that the recipient received the authority of the person giving the keys (in this case Jesus gave Peter the keys—the Lord gave His authority to Peter in Jesus’ absence). Peter and his successors and the apostles and their successors, received the authority to decide what is permitted and what is forbidden by the Church and faith. The Pope and the Church hold the Christ-given authority to make binding decisions, and one of those decisions has been to shift our weekly worship to Sunday, which makes sense for many reasons, not least of which is that Sunday is the day we celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord. Therefore, God has proclaimed a weekly day of rest and worship, and He extended His authority to the Church, and the Church moved the day for Christians to Sunday, which means we must attend Mass (or church services for non-Catholics) every Sunday and on Holy Days. As state above, this is not for God’s sake, it is for the good of our own souls, for our lives, and the lives of those around us. It is to our spiritual detriment not to listen to what God asks of us. Recall, also, that in truth the Church did not move the Sabbath to Sunday; rather, it moved required worship to Sunday. This is an important distinction since Christians celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection, which has always been seen as happening on the third day, Sunday. Therefore, Christians are called to celebrate the New Covenant completed when Christ died. Recall these passages:

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight. [Acts 20:7 TRSV-CE]

On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that contributions need not be made when I come. [1 Corinthians 16:2 RSV-CE]

The early Christians gathered together for worship on Sunday.

FOR OUR FAITH AND BECAUSE WE LOVE GOD?

Let’s review the major reasons for attending weekly services:

  • The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood…
  • …to the change from worshipping God on the Sabbath, to worshipping God on the Lord’s Day,…
  • …to the change from the Old Covenant blessing of God’s Presence in the Holy of Holies to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for all people to receive in faith,…
  • …and for the sake of our children…
  • …and for the sake of gathering together with like-minded people.
  • …and because God and His Church mandates weekly faith attendance.

Is it true that the reasons discussed to this point are still not enough to draw you back to regular attendance at Mass/Church? If that is the case, than what about attending Mass for the sake of your faith and the love of God?

By developing personal discipline in our walk with Jesus, we draw closer to the Lord. Again, the Lord does not need us to be at church every Sunday; we need to be there. The Sabbath was made for man (man was not made for the Sabbath) and so is worship on Sunday. Likewise, worship of the Lord on Sundays is for our spiritual, moral and life benefit. Each time we gather at Mass and receive the Lord in the Eucharist, we receive Graces for our journey – and this (in different ways) applies to people of all faith.

For most people, attending regular attendance can seem to bear little impact on our lives in an immediate or current sense, yet perseverance is what leads to an increased faith. We receive spiritual fruit and benefits during attendance. Beyond the many gifts we receive, it is always spiritually healthy to recognize our weaknesses before God and to offer God our time as a display of our love and respect for Him—without ever considering what is in it for us. We are blessed with 168 hours of living every week, and God (along with His Church) asks for one of those hours to be spent in worship and that time spent is for our own good (this means God asks for 6/10ths of one-percent of a given week’s time – not so very much if one is honest). Can we not find enough love for God to give Him less than one-percent of our time in love and gratitude for all that He has does for us?

These points hold true when we are on vacation, or if we do not want to attend Mass or church for whatever reason. The obligation to attend Mass or church services every week (and for Catholics also on Holy Days) is not lifted because it’s inconvenient for us to attend. There are ways to find a Mass (or church) close to us that fits whatever scheduling circumstances we might have. Developing a discipline in our spiritual life provides fruit, and it is a sign of love for God that we develop discipline in how we worship Him. When we develop discipline in matters to do with God, that discipline often spills over into our regular lives. Be honest, when you set yourself to wake when the alarm chimes, and you do it, don’t you feel better for that small act? And, if you set out to become more fit, and lose some weight, don’t you feel better for having controlled your innate desires antipathy to exercise? Likewise, when we create discipline to worship God regularly, it feels good, and we experience personal growth for the effort. 

For Catholics, there are internet sites (GO HERE) that contain Mass, Confession, and Adoration times that can be used when we take trips for business or pleasure and non-Catholics can find similar ways to meet their weekly worship needs (as a personal aside, I have experienced amazing spiritual joy when I have gone to Mass when on vacation and I experienced amazing churches and extraordinary people–always a deep blessing to do so with my family). We should plan not to miss weekly Mass, or faith services, wherever we happen to be. Our souls will fill with Graces, and our families will reap the benefits of our efforts to stay close to the Lord. Furthermore, as we need food and water to sustain our bodies, our souls also require regular nourishment. We receive food for our souls when we receive the Lord in the Eucharist and when we hear His Word in Scripture. After all, we perform our daily work no matter whether we feel like it or not, and we’ll go to extraordinary measures to become physically fit; therefore, how can we do less for God and for our souls?When we do not feel like going to Mass/Church, and yet still go, we receive Graces, and we grow in personal discipline having fought laziness.

FOR THE SAKE OF OUR COUNTRY AND THE WORLD

 Let’s review the major reasons for attending weekly services:

  • The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood…
  • …to the change from worshipping God on the Sabbath, to worshipping God on the Lord’s Day,…
  • …to the change from the Old Covenant blessing of God’s Presence in the Holy of Holies to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for all people to receive in faith,…
  • …and for the sake of our children…
  • …and for the sake of gathering together with like-minded people.
  • …and because God and His Church mandates weekly faith attendance…
  • …for our faith and because we love God.

Is it true that the reasons discussed to this point are still not enough to draw you back to regular attendance at Mass/Church? If that is the case, than what about attending for the sake of our country and the world?

As I covered early in this post, our founders expressed the opinion that without a moral and religious people, a nation and its government will not remain standing. In our culture, there are many distractions, and we have countless opportunities to ignore God and His weekly worship requirements; however, as I have attempted to show, weekly attendance is not for God’s benefit, it is to our advantage and health that we should attend. Extend this outward from that point and apply this to the United States as a corporate entity, and then to the entire world. Without a proper foundation (God) upon which to base our lives, the same becomes a reality for our nation (and any country) and that poor basis suddenly flows across the world. We become a rudderless and directionless people who no longer recognize right from wrong since each individual has their own definition.

Do not misunderstand these points—in no way am I claiming the United States is perfect. Yet, the Church is a hospital for sinners, and without God, there is no cure for our real problems, both spiritual and earthly temporal. If we desire health for ourselves, our families, our nation, and the world, then we must engage in the world, we must live our faith in all aspects of our lives and that includes attending religious services every week. There is only one path to authentic hope, peace, and happiness, and that comes from God!

FOR THE SAKE OF OUR OWN HAPPINESS AND PEACE OF MIND

Let’s review the major reasons for attending weekly services:

    • The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood…
    • …to the change from worshipping God on the Sabbath, to worshipping God on the Lord’s Day,…
    • …to the change from the Old Covenant blessing of God’s Presence in the Holy of Holies to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for all people to receive in faith,…
    • …and for the sake of our children…
    • …and for the sake of gathering together with like-minded people…
    • …and because God and His Church mandates weekly faith attendance…
    • …for our faith and because we love God…
    • …for the sake of our country and the world.

Is it true that the reasons discussed to this point are still not enough to draw you back to regular attendance at Mass/Church? If that is the case, than what about attending Mass for the sake of our own happiness?

In a Gallup poll, it was discovered that people who attend church, synagogue, or mosque, frequently report having higher wellbeing, and they get an extra boost to their emotional state on Sundays – while the rest of the nation sees a decline in their mood (excerpted from here).

If you consider that study more carefully, it comes as no surprise. People of faith who attend services regularly tend to have a healthier outlook on life and on their futures. Individuals who study, pray and delve into the mysteries of God also tend to weather the storms of this life far better than those who do not—this is likely due to the truth that this life has always been filled with obvious pain and suffering and that people of faith can recognize that as the temporal reality of human existence. This is not to say that we are not to strive to lessen suffering or help when we see human pain—we are mandated by God to help those in pain; however, knowing the nature of human life allows people to not fall as low during the hard times, because they know one day this life will wash away and our lives will stretch across eternity. The Saints knew these many truths—they understood that life is tough and that God’s Promises to us regarding eternity creates hope in our lives, and especially in our futures. They believed it so deeply that they were moved to incredible acts–Saintly acts.

If you seek happiness—start attending faith services every week, pray and study, and pass it on to those you love. You will never feel regret for drawing closer to the Lord.

IN SUMMARY

Let’s review the major reasons for attending weekly services:

    • The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood…
    • …to the change from worshipping God on the Sabbath, to worshipping God on the Lord’s Day,…
    • …to the change from the Old Covenant blessing of God’s Presence in the Holy of Holies to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for all people to receive in faith,…
    • …and for the sake of our children…
    • …and for the sake of gathering together with like-minded people.
    • …and because God and His Church mandates weekly faith attendance…
    • …for our faith and because we love God…
    • …for the sake of our country and the world…
    • …for the sake of our own happiness an peace of mind.

In the list above we see nine major reasons for returning to weekly faith services, yet within each, many additional points help us realize that regular attendance is the best choice for all people of faith. It leads to benefits for us as individuals, for those we love, for our country, and for the entire world. I hope these reasons entice you to consider regular attendance at faith services, if not for yourself, for those around you. 🙂

WHAT CAN WE DO?

Not only should we learn more about our faith, and not only should we read the Bible and read the early Church fathers and doctors (and the texts of the faiths we hold) we should also start attending Mass (weekly services) every week (and on Holy Days of Obligation for Catholics). The rest will fall into place over time. But be careful, you might find your faith growing, and then you might feel your soul on fire for the Lord. 🙂
      
My prayer is that more people will turn to God, and that through Him we will help transform the world. There is but one path to that transformation—God, and God alone.
        
Please leave comments so we might enter a robust conversation and in your comments, please submit others reasons for weekly attendance that I might have left out.
      
May God always bless you with His peace and love,
       
T.P. Johnson

 

Should we return to weekly faith services? – (part 1 UPDATED)

Should we return to weekly faith services? 


Dear Readers,

The world, and the USA, are filled with problems and issues (nothing new, there’s always been hard times but, the pace does seem to have quickened in recent years). Do you believe a turning back to God is in order? Speaking as a Roman Catholic, and looking at some quick stats, weekly Catholic Mass attendance in the 1950s was approximately 74%, today that has fallen to 22-25%! Similar numbers are found in non-Catholic churches. Is this massive drop in faith a healthy development?

This is a reposting (see below) of a two part piece centered on the many reasons (or arguments) for attending weekly faith services (or Mass if you are a Catholic). It is easy for a person to say they believe in God, yet do they place their proclaimed faith into practice, or is it simply a moniker many wear but never really pursue?

A couple pertinent questions: Is it not true that with God all things are possible, so isn’t this the perfect time to return to a binding practice of your faith and call out to God for guidance? If not now, when?

Please post comments in the box below, and subscribe to my email.
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Thanks for reading,

T.P. Johnson


 

MEN WHO DO NOT CARE

How often do children, wives, parents, and friends, witness men who rarely make an effort to attend weekly faith services?

If a child’s father shows no effort to go to Mass, why should his child (or children)? How old must a child be before he/she starts questioning why they should attend if their father stays home to sleep in or to watch the Sunday football game?

Fathers and men in general, provide a powerful witness to faith when they attend Mass/Church and are engaged in what was happening in their faith, and especially when they demonstrate a desire to draw closer to God. Children see what we do–often we don’t want to admit that, but they have discerning eyes and intelligent minds. They can see the hypocrites in their midst, and they don’t like it anymore than we adults. If fathers do not go to church, their children will follow their example.

To all fathers and men: if you value your faith and want to see the next generation hold it firmly, than start attending regularly and delve deeper into your walk with God. It will pay eternal dividends for your soul and for the souls of your children.

WHY THE LORD’S DAY OVER THE SABBATH?

There is within Christianity places of worship that have rejected the Lord’s Day as a correct New Covenant replacement for the Sabbath. However, Christians from the earliest days of the Church observed Sunday as the Lord’s Day. Some converts in the early Church kept both the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day; however, those people were Jewish converts to the Christian faith who mistakenly felt they remained bound to Jewish rituals. Before continuing, let us consider the underlying meanings behind the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day.

JEWISH SABBATH

Observance of the Sabbath is a Biblical mandate for Jewish people. Orthodox Jews continue to observe to this day. It falls on the seventh day of each week (Saturday), followed by Jews beginning sundown on Friday and ending the following night (Saturday). It is a day of rest and the day recalls the Biblical Creation account, during which God created everything in six days and rested on the seventh. God made the observance of the Sabbath one of His Ten Commandments. The day is intended to be one of spiritual renewal.

THE LORD’S DAY

For Christians, the Sabbath was replaced by the Lord’s Day, mainly as a memorial of Jesus’ Resurrection. Worship on that day does have Biblical support (see below). However, there are important reasons for observing the Sabbath that also apply to the Lord’s Day and those reasons can be gleaned from the Scriptures: (1) For rest; (2) To offer regular weekly worship to God; (3) To commemorate what God (Jesus) has done for us. Please consider the words of Jesus regarding the Sabbath:

And he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; so the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath.” [Mark 2:27-28 RSV-CE]

We see Jesus providing the right interpretation and meaning of the Sabbath: it was made for humans, not for God. There are times during which Jesus appeared to have broken Sabbath laws, yet during those times Jesus always gave the proper meaning. From this comes an obvious question: Why did the Church change the weekly observance of the Sabbath to the Lord’s Day?

In the New Testament, Jesus spoke about the Ten Commandments. He mentioned all of the Commandments except the need to keep the Sabbath. A primary reason for this is that Christians are followers of Christ—they are free from the ritual observance of the Law. The Bible reflects that the early Christians gathered together on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, as the following passage reveals (there are additional readings):

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them,… [Acts 20:7 RSV-CE]

On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that contributions need not be made when I come. [1 Corinthians 16:2 RSV-CE]

The Didache, along with the early Church fathers, taught that the Sabbath was replaced by the Lord’s Day: “If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day,… [Ignatius, A.D. 110]On the first day of the week let there be service,[sacrifice of the Mass],…”Assemble on the Lord’s day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. [Didache AD. 70] *** Note: The Didache is the teaching of the 12 apostles. It is a short piece describing the teachings of the Lord to the Gentiles (or nations) and was given by the apostles. It is believed to have been written between AD 50 and AD 120. It is one of the earliest known works that describe the faith as practiced by early Christians, and it serves as the earliest known document dealing with liturgical, Church and faith matters, a near first Catechism. As seen from the quotes above, both Scripture and the Didache speak of assembling on the Lord’s Day (Sunday). It must be remembered that the Lord gave authority to Peter and later the rest of the apostles to make binding rules upon the Church (Christians).Many additional citations can be offered; however, the point is that Sunday was always the day of worship for Christians. I recommend the following resources for further study:

The Didache (GO HERE)
The Mass of the Early Christians, Mike Aquilina — (GO HERE
The Fathers of the Church, Mike Aquilina — (GO HERE
The Faith of the Early Fathers, William A. Jurgens — (GO HERE)
The Sacrifice of the Mass (GO HERE)
The Lord’s Day replaced the Sabbath (GO HERE)
 

THE MASS AS HEAVEN ON EARTH

Of all the many reasons there are for attending Mass, this section describes potentially the most important. Many Catholics routinely take the miracle of the Eucharist for granted, with many dismissing it outright. The Eucharist forms the summit and source of the faith. Each time we receive Holy Communion we receive the Real Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. It is critical that we understand that Jesus made one sacrifice for us and that we do not re-sacrifice the Lord during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. When we receive Communion during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are entering into the once-for-all sacrifice of the Cross worked by Christ. The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving, it is a memorial, and it is a true sacrifice by offering the same Body and Blood that Jesus sacrificed on the cross once for all. Christ offered Himself in a bloody manner on the cross, and since then the Church offers Jesus Body and Blood in a bloodless manner on the altar. That sacrifice is propitiatory or atoning (Catholics, read CCC #1367, and #1322-1381 in the Catechism). Where in the Bible do we find the teachings regarding the Real Presence? Consider Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse in the following passage:

I am the bread of life…Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.” Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?…After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life;… [Read John 6:47-69 RSV-CE]

In the passage above Jesus proclaims Himself to be the Bread of Life. Jesus also states that His Body and Blood are food and drink and that we must eat His Body and Drink His Blood if we desire eternal life. Some will say that Jesus must have been speaking metaphorically; however, the passage reflects that many of Jesus’ followers could not handle Jesus’ teachings about eating His flesh and that caused them to walk away from the Lord. If Jesus was speaking symbolically or metaphorically, then why would there be any reason for many of his followers to leave Him, as they did? Further, in the [1]Last Supper discourses we read that what Jesus means is clear, the bread and wine become Jesus’ Body and Blood:

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. [Luke 22:19-20 RSV-CE]

The Church uses the word, Transubstantiation, when referring to the transformation of the bread and wine into Jesus’ Real Body and Blood. The process remains a mystery; Saint Paul makes it clear that the bread and wine become Jesus Body and Blood:

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? [1 Corinthians 10:16-17 RSV-CE]

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”…Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. [Please read 1 Corinthians 11:23-30 RSV-CE]

Saint Paul affirms that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.” A person cannot profane the Body and Blood of Christ if they consume a mere symbol (notice that Saint Paul also teaches confession: “…let a man examine himself…”).

The Real Presence is one of the most Biblically supported truths of the faith with many more passages we could cite, and it was universally accepted in the early Church and has always been held by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Here is one example of the many statements made by early Church fathers:

“Take note of those who hold heterodox [the holding of unorthodox views] opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes.” [Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1 [A.D. 110].

There are hundreds of statements from the early Church that support the Real Presence (see the endnotes section). Please consider this excerpt from “Understanding the Scriptures:”

The thank offering or “sacrifice of thanksgiving” became the primary liturgy celebrated at the Temple, rather than the sin offering. The thank offering was unleavened bread and wine freely offered to God in gratitude for deliverance. Ancient Jewish teachers predicted that, when the Messiah came, no other sacrifice would be offered; the thank offering alone would continue. The word for “thank offering” in Hebrew, todah, was often translated by ancient Jewish scholars (like Philo) with the Greek word, “eucharistia,” which resonates with the language of Jesus and the early Church.

The reader might, at this point, wonder why I quoted the various passages above. The reason is to firmly implant the truth of the Real Presence in the hearts of Catholics. The early Church, as well as the Church throughout history, has always held the truth of the Real Presence. Churches that do no accept the truth of the Real Presence have broken away from the early Church and the teachings of Christ as reflected in the Bible.

Jesus promised He would be with us until His return, and He does that through His Real Presence in the Eucharist (this is different than, and should not be confused with, the Presence of the Holy Spirit whenever two or more are gathered in Jesus’ name). Heaven comes to earth during every Mass; therefore, if one desires to have a foretaste of Heaven, they need to look no further than the Mass and the Eucharist.

The sad truth is that the Real Presence forms a stumbling block for many people, including many Catholics (it is hard for them to believe, as was the case for so many of Jesus’ followers in the Bread of Life discourse). However, many Christians have no problem believing that Jesus rose from the dead, or that God created everything from nothing. Is it difficult to believe that the Bread and Wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ when we consider all of the items of faith we each hold without doubts?

There is no more powerful expression of being in Communion with the Saints, then when we receive our Risen Lord in the Eucharist, for where Jesus is, so is the Father, so is the Holy Spirit, so are the Angels and the Saints. The Eucharist provides a means through which we receive Jesus, and a means through which we commune with the Father, the Holy Spirit, and all of the Heavenly Host.

How could any Catholic, or any person who has studied and learned of the Real Presence, stay away from such an amazing gift? It’s hard to conceive of any reason to attend Mass that exceeds the reception of our Lord during Holy Communion; however, a joyful fact is that we do not have to wait for Sundays to receive the Lord in the Eucharist. We can receive the Lord every day during daily Mass, and we can worship our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration in many Catholic Churches. It is a joyful reality to know that the Lord comes to people in the Eucharist every minute of every day during Masses held throughout the world and across all time zones. Praise God for this wonderful gift!

In a future post, I will post additional arguments for attending faith services each week.

Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment so we can discuss this topic.

T.P. Johnson