Matthew is a husband, father, and pursuer of truth. He is a contributor to Epic Pew, Catholic Exchange, Managing editor at Catholic Stand, and runs a blog at thesimplecatholic.blog. He has earned an Masters in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville and recently started pursuing his dream of being a freelance writer. In this episode Matthew discusses the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist and the biblical evidence to support it. We attempted to record this episode a couple times had some technology difficulties. I highly recommend you check out Matthew’s article on the Eucharist at https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2019/07/27/3-reasons-why-critically-reading-john-6-will-convert-protestants/
Keith Little joins me this week to discuss his faith journey and some aha moments that changed his life. We discuss his ministry “Biblical Principles for Growth”, and his upcoming podcast that launches on Aug 21 on Breadbox Media. Check out Keith’s website at www.biblicalpriciplesforgrowth.org to learn more.
I have been called many things in my life: a good soldier, solid worker, a model employee, and even a good husband. Those things are great and admirable, but they fail in comparison to my favorite title: dad. The Lord has blessed my wife and I with four awesome children, but with raising children there is much responsibility.
At this point you are probably thinking that I am stating the obvious. After all, as parents we have to feed, clothe, and provide shelter for our family. These are great responsibilities and should not be minimized, but there is an enormous responsibility not on the above list. As parents we are also called to catechize out children. Let’s be honest about something: the church is losing young people in droves. I was recently listening to the Word on Fire podcast, and in a past episode Bishop Baron said that for every person that enters the church there are six who leave.
You can read the rest of my article on Epicpew here.
Imagine someone saying that they love Jesus, but they abhor sacred doctrine and theology. As unfortunate as this sounds, it is something that happens on a daily basis within Christendom. There are also those, some through no fault of their own, that do not understand the importance of sacred doctrine. Understanding of sacred doctrine is important in many facets of our lives, not just the spiritual.
Sacred doctrine is important because we are oriented toward God, and this orientation exceeds that which we can describe. These truths are given to us by divine revelation. Some of these may have become known by some, but over time error would creep in (ST 1, Q1, A1). Sacred doctrine is important because it is taught by divine revelation. Furthermore, it is important because it is the study of our creator, and if we truly love him, we would strive to know everything possible to build a stronger relationship.
Sacred doctrine and the use of reason are not at odds. Quite the contrary, reason can lead to some truths of sacred doctrine (ST I, Q1, A1). However, reason can only get us so far and we eventually need to be enlightened by God to other truths. Sacred doctrine includes the philosophical and natural sciences. This is because both have their origins in God, and sacred doctrine is the study of God. As St Thomas Aquinas states, “But in sacred science, all things are treated of under the aspect of God: either because they are God Himself or because they refer to God as their beginning and end” (STI, Q1, A7).
Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica. Trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province. London: Burns Oates & Washbourne. Print.
In sacred scripture we read that man was created he had a perfect relationship with God. Man is the pinnacle of creation, and God gave man everything. In return the Lord asked man not to each of one tree in the garden. Man did not listen, rebelled, and had to face the consequences of sin for the first time. The sin of our first parents also applies to us. We all have sinned, and the penalty for that sin is death. Saint Paul had the same opinion in Romans 6:23 which states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NRSV). However, the second person of the blessed Trinity, Jesus himself became incarnate to atone and redeem us from our sin.
The incarnation was needed because we could not atone for our sin on our own. Only someone who was perfect, and without sin could do that. This perfect sacrifice, Jesus, would also show us the new law of grace. A way of living, or new law of grace, shows us a deeper understanding of the law. It shows us how it was supposed to be lived from the beginning, and the divine Son of God, showed us how to live it. The new law is an interior, infused reality consisting in the grace of the Holy Spirit, received through faith in Jesus Christ and operating through charity. These virtues, which are also taught in 1 Corinthians 13, are faith, hope, and charity.
Since becoming a catholic these three virtues have been instrumental in my life. Faith is at the forefront, and the will of Christ is sought in everything that I do. Faith is the starting point for the New Law, and “the starting point for Christian morality” (Pinckaers 85). As a father of four, a husband, and one income life throws many curve balls. Things have not been easy, but my wife and I maintain our hope in Christ. It is this hope, through faith, that help us persevere and see the good even in the roughest circumstance. No matter how tight things are we see that there are those who are having much larger problems than ourselves. We strive to be good disciples, by not only having faith in Christ, but by also having charity. We trust God for our needs but realize that we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves and strive to help whenever possible. We have found that the practice of the infused virtues has deepened our faith and love for our fellow man.
Pinckaers, Servais. Morality: The Catholic View. St. Augustine’s Press. South Bend, IN: 2001. Print.
The three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity are given by God to those who are in a state of grace. Regarding the theological virtues St. Thomas Aquinas states, “the theological virtues direct man to supernatural happiness in the same way as by the natural inclination man is directed to his connatural end” (STII, Q62, A3). The three virtues are different, but linked together in purpose, function, and motive.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews described faith as something hoped for. We see this in Hebrews 11:1 where the author states, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (NRSV). Faith is the basis on which our hopes are founded and is the basis of merit (Hardon Ch. 10). Through faith we do not believe in fanciful myths or new theologies because we know what has been revealed, and to whom it has been entrusted.
Hope is related to faith because faith spurs hope. Furthermore, hope looks to the object of our faith. The object of our faith is supernatural, and hope helps us to attain supernatural truth. It shows us what to strive for and implies a modicum of pursuit. Are we pursuing the truth of God, or are we pursuing temporal things? If temporal, then we hope to attain them through our own efforts. If supernatural, thee is no way possible to attain them on our own. This is the error of Pelagianism that was condemned in the early days of the church. It is only through the revelation and assistance of God that we may achieve this end.
Charity, as is hope, is something that is directed to and fulfilled by the Almighty (Hardon Ch. 10). Hope is self-serving in a way because it is and end that we hope for ourselves, but charity is different. Charity comes about when we love God for who he is instead of what we can attain through Him. When we love God with everything we have we then seek to love him the way he wishes to be loved.
Faith, hope, and charity have their beginning and end in God. Faith is the substance of things hope for. Hope looks to God who is the object of our faith. In Charity we seek to love God the way he wishes us to love, and that includes loving him above all things and loving our neighbor. It is in this way that the three are distinct but intrinsically connected.
Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologia. Trans. Thomas Gornall. Blackfriars, St. Joseph, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1981. Accessed September 15, 2018.
Hardon, John. History and Theology of Grace. Ann Arbor, MI: Sapientia Press, 2005.
There are many things that may come to an individual’s mind when it comes to sacred scripture. Some may ask why there are so many translations. Some may wonder if the Bible as we know it fell from the sky at Pentecost. However many have questions on how we have the books we have. For sure it was long and arduous process, but it was one guided by the Holy Spirit and the church.
One rule that was used to determine inclusion of the twenty seven books was linkage to an Apostle, or apostolic origin. In the first three centuries after the church started there were many books bearing the name of various Apostles. As an example there was the Gospel of Thomas, Luke, Peter, and the proto gospel of James. In addition to these there were several hundred Acts and Apocalypses. Some of these writings were spurious and contradicted the Gospel being preached by the church.
Apostolic origin does not mean that it has to be written by an apostle, but that an Apostle “stands behind writing in such a way that the essential teaching is preserved within it (Nichols, page 104).” This would explain why the Gospel of Luke was included in the canon. Great care was made to ensure that writings had apostolic backing, and if they did not they were denied canonical status.
Another rule that was used in determining if a book was worthy of the canon was its conformity to the faith of the church. Would a collection of Holy writings from any religion be deemed authoritative if they contradicted each other? The answer to the question is obvious. The church used great care in determining that the twenty seven books in the canon were in compliance with what the church taught.
The church was able to do this by utilizing the oral tradition that was handed down from the Apostles. As a Nichols documents “around 190 a bishop in Antioch stopped people from using the Gospel of Peter on the grounds that its author did not regard the human body of Jesus as real (Nichols, page 104).” The church teaches that Christ was a real person, divine, and bled on the cross. This writing taught that Christ was a spirit that entered into a man that was being crucified. There were many writings like this floating around, and since they did not pass the test of orthodoxy they were not included in the canon.
Thirdly the writing had to be valued by the church that was respected for its own Apostolic origin (Nichols, page 104). Perfect examples of this are the Epistles of Saint Paul. There is little doubt that these writings are his for he states at the end of letters that he wrote them with his own hand. Also he wrote them to churches that he started and they knew him very well. These churches preserved these letters and read them in their liturgies.
Using these three criteria, the fathers of the church started to develop the New Testament. The letters of Paul were among the first to be recognized in 90 ad and were being assembled in small collections. The four Gospels were decided on around the year 200. There were various canons proposed, but the Pauline letters and the four gospels seemed to have staying power. Other books such as Revelation and Hebrews were battled over. Some areas of the church accepted them and others did not. There were also books with no apostolic link that were considered such as the Shepherd of Hermas and Clements letter to the Corinthians. However they did not meet the criteria previously discussed and were denied canonical status. Through many debates and hefty quarrels we know that the canon was final by the end of the fourth century (Nichols, Page 105).
Nichols, Aiden. The Shape of Catholic Theology: An Introduction to Its Sources, Principles, and History. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.
Scripture tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” However, there are some books that have been absolutely instrumental in forming Christian doctrine and thought. One of those books is Ephesians, and the other is Romans. Raymond Brown writes “Among the Pauline writings only Romans can match Ephesians as a candidate for exercising the most influence on Christian thought and spirituality (Brown, page 620).”
Ephesians is also a source of controversy among various groups in Christendom. One of the issues being addressed in the letter is that the love for God is not only singular, but requires love of neighbor and thus community. A way of living faith is intertwined with the love of neighbor. In is in this regard that one of the most popular passages of scripture is sometimes taken out of context. Ephesians 2:8-9 states “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God-not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” This is taken by the Sola Fide crowd as meaning that all we need is faith. Believe Christ has forgiven you and you have nothing else to do. This contradicts the context in which this passage should be read as the next verse puts it into perspective. Ephesians 2:10 states “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”
We are indeed saved by faith, but there is more to it. We are a community of believers and we must take care of each other. We are to take care of the poor, the sick, and intercede in prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters. Our faith is to produce good fruit for the Christian community, because a faith kept to ourselves will ultimately die.
A second issue illustrated in the Epistle to the Ephesians is that marriage is compared to the relationship between Christ and the Church, which is a large development from the earlier letters. Marriage is given a spiritual position. This is another portion of the Epistle that is taken out of context by some. Ephesians 5:22 states “Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord.” Some take this to mean that wives are to “obey” the husband and be subservient. However this is not the case as the other verses puts that theory to rest. Ephesians 5:25 states “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.” In a sort of ironic way I like to point out that obeying one’s husband is one thing; dying for one’s wife is another.
Brown states “The obligation for the husband to love is treated more extensively than the obligation of the wife to be subject, and both are rooted in God’s initial plan for union in marriage (Brown, page 624).” Christ came and died for us because he loved us. This is the responsibly of the husband, and that is to emulate Christ’s love to his wife. In this regard we are to care, love, and serve just as Christ did for us.
Brown, Raymond, An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Doubleday, 1997
Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version