a Christmas wish granted

Posted by John Benko - December 25th, 2010

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The Catholic Defender: Serving on the Frontline

Posted by John Benko - December 19th, 2010

The Catholic Defender: Journey to the Center of the Faith

Posted by John Benko - December 13th, 2010

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and the evidence of things not seen”.

Colossians 1:28 states, “It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ”.

St. Paul is basing this through the Authority of Christ as he states, “Now I rejoice in my suffering for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions on Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, o which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past”.

As we search for this center of faith, an important clue comes from St. Augustine, “the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed”.

Jesus Commands the Church to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Through the apostolic Ministry of the Catholic Church, “As they traveled from city to city, they handed on to the people for observance the decisions reached by the Apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem. Day after day the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number” (Acts 6:4-5).

1 Corinthians 1:10 commands us, “I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Chris, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be know divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and purpose”.

Acts 14:22-23 encourages us “They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. They appointed presbyters for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith”.

1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Your every act should be done with love”.

St. Jude echos this writing “Beloved, although I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I now feel a need to write to encourage you to contend for the faith that was once handed down to the holy ones. Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. ON THOSE WHO WAIVER, HAVE MERCY; SAVE OTHERS BY SNATCHING THEM OUT OF THE FIRE; ON OTHERS HAVE MERCY WITH FEAR, ABHORRING EVEN THE OUTER GARMENT STAINED BY THE FLESH” (Jude 3,21).

St. James echos this teaching, “My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).

St. Paul writes, “I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you o live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”(Ephesians 4:1-5).

Titus 3:15 says, “All who are with me send you greetings. Greet those who love us in the faith”.

Having gone to many nations and meeting many people from around the world, I find St. Paul’s encouragement to “love us in the faith” really inspiring. The Catholic Church is truly universal and to meet people from all over has been a great blessing.

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are (From Wikipedia):

  • Wisdom: With the gift of wisdom, we see God at work in our lives and in the world. For the wise person, the wonders of nature, historical events, and the ups and downs of our lives take on deeper meaning. The matters of judgment about the truth, and being able to see the whole image of God. We see God as our Father and other people with dignity. Lastly being able to see God in everyone and everything everywhere.
  • Understanding: With the gift of understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by all the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live. The gift of understanding perfects a person’s speculative reason in the apprehension of truth. It is the gift whereby self-evident principles are known, Aquinas writes.[4]
  • Counsel (Right Judgment): With the gift of counsel/right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus. The gift of truth that allows the person to respond prudently, and happily to believe our Christ the Lord
  • Fortitude (Courage): With the gift of fortitude/courage, we overcome our fear and are willing to take risks as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with courage is willing to stand up for what is right in the sight of God, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, or even physical harm and death. The gift of courage allows people the firmness of mind that is required both in doing good and in enduring evil, especially with regard to goods or evils that are difficult, just like Joan of Arc did.
  • Knowledge: With the gift of knowledge, we understand the meaning of God. The gift of knowledge is more than an accumulation of facts.
  • Piety (Reverence): With the gift of reverence, sometimes called piety, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love. Piety is the gift whereby, at the Holy Spirit’s instigation, we pay worship and duty to God as our Father, Aquinas writes.
  • Fear of the Lord (Wonder and Awe): With the gift of fear of the Lord we are aware of the glory and majesty of God. A person with wonder and awe knows that God is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love. This gift is described by Aquinas as a fear of separating oneself from God. He describes the gift as a “filial fear,” like a child’s fear of offending his father, rather than a “servile fear,” that is, a fear of punishment. Also known as knowing God is all powerful. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 1:7) because it puts our mindset in its correct location with respect to God: we are the finite, dependent creatures, and He is the infinite, all-powerful Creator.

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit are:


With these gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit this gives us the tools to fight the battle of life:

The Beatitudes
Wait upon the Lord

To go through the journey to the center of the Faith, your only true hope is to find the Catholic Faith to utilize the Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture.


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Immaculate Conception show notes

Posted by John Benko - December 11th, 2010

These notes accompany the Blogtalkradio show on the Immaculate Conception of Mary. They should be used in conjunction. You may need to hit the pause button from time to time as you listen.

At about the 6:30 mark, we mention that Catholic Sacred tradition puts Mary’s birth date at September 8th. Link. As a matter of tradition, the date of Mary’s birth is not something established as doctrine we are bound to adhere to. Nevertheless, Catholics do believe that The Holy Spirit leads our Church to all truth, in accordance with Jesus’ promise (John 16:13).

Again, according to Christ’s own words, we believe that what the Catholic binds on earth is bound in heaven (Matthew 16:19). Obviously, this question of authority divides Protestants and Catholics. Protestants adhere to a doctrine known as Sola Scriptura which stipulates that the Bible alone is a Christian’s rule of faith. Catholics believe this doctrine is wholly untenable from either a logical or historical perspective.

However, the most ironic fact of all is that the idea that Christ’s truth is revealed to us by Scripture only is a direct contradiction of what Scripture teaches (John 21:25, 2 Thessalonians 2:15). There is not a single verse of scriptural support for the idea of the formal sufficiency of Scripture. Don’t believe me? Try and find one.

As a Catholic says this, he is often accused of being in opposition to the Scriptures. Nothing could be further from the truth. Catholics fully aknowledge that the Scriptures are a form of the inspired, inerrant Word of God.

Where we differ from Protestants is that we reject the notion that God speaks to us only through Scripture and we reject that Scripture is a matter of personal interpretation (2 Peter 1:20).

For a better understanding of why Sola Scriptura is a false doctrine, I invite you to listen to this show in your leisure.

The biggest problem with the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is this notion of personal interpretation and the false notion of formal sufficiency that is necessitated by it. The Protestant doctrine of formal security holds that anyone can- merely by his own efforts and the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit- read and properly interpret Scripture. Protestants hold that all doctrines sufficient for salvation are easy to read and understand and are found plainly and conspicuously on the face of Scripture.

Again, it is critical to note that this doctrine is in direct opposition to what Scripture suggests.

2 Peter 3:15 And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

It is not my intention to go into a dissertation on Sola Scriptura here but it is important to draw the lens back and understand that the Scriptures are only of use to you in accordance to the effort you are willing to invest in them.

If you want to understand how doctrines such as the Immaculate Conception are drawn from Scripture, you must be willing to move past sound byte apologetics and be willing to go a little deeper.


At about 12:40, we first touch on the significance of the Old Testament in understanding the New. Here is a show and corresponding show notes on Old Testament typology fulfilled in the person of Mary.

At about the 14:00 mark, Donald discusses the importance of the Covenant. A definition of a Covenant is very important. This is another sharp division we have with Protestants. Protestants see Salvation in terms of a doctrine titled Sola Christi or Christ alone. This doctrine is also false and wholly un-Biblical. God’s relationship with us is a covenant relationship that requires the cooperation and participation of human beings. Sometimes, this assertion, by Catholics, is derided as propagating a so-called weak Jesus. The weak Jesus canard is a shrewd avoidance of the plain truth that Christ’sjustice demands respect of our free will to accept or reject His plan of salvation.

Ignoring this fact is essential to dismissing Mary as a mere bit-player in the Salvation story.

At the 16:00 mark, we start explaining how Mary actually fulfills essential Old Testament models of roles intrinsic to the salvation story. Two primary roles are that of the Queen Mother and the Ark of the Covenant. The Queen Mother was the Mother of the King and interceded before him (Jeremiah 13:18, Jeremiah 29:2, 1 Kings 15:13, 2 Chronicles 15:16).

It is no coincidence the Jesus first public miracle was at Mary’s request (John 2:1-11).

More significant to the doctrine, however, is how Mary is the fulfillment of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament carried in it items which foreshadowed Christ. These items made the Ark so holy that to even touch it meant death.

2 Samuel 6: 6 And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. 7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there because he put forth his hand to the ark; * and he died there beside the ark of God.

Mary carried Christ HIMSELF and is the actual fulfillment of the Ark.

Revelation 11:19-12:5

19* Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; 2* she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. 3* And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. 4* His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; 5* she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,

Starting at 27:34, we begin to set up the Angel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary by a simple discussion on the topic of Grace. For further information, please read sections VII and VIII of this article on the topic of Grace. Here was a show we did on it. Technical issues at the start.

At about the 29 minute mark, we talk about Concupiscence and how sin was brought into the world through the disobedience of the first woman. We then contrast that with how salvation was brought into the world through the obedience of the new woman.

We then focus on the natural dilemma that Salvation rests on Mary’s yes and how God would guarantee that yes answer while still preserving her free will. At 38:50, we make the point that Mary had to be totally predisposed to God’s will due to an abundance of Grace.

We then make the case that that is exactly the state the Bible tells us She was in.

The distinction between Mary’s boundless faith (Luke 1:38) and Zechariah’s failing faith (Luke 1:19-20) is stark. Elizabeth (Luke 1:45) and Jesus (Luke 11:27-28) both make a point of saying that Mary’s faith is the reason why she was so blessed. How blessed?

Blessed among all women (Luke 1:42) and for all generations (Luke 1:48). This blessing doesn’t detract from Christ…it magnifies Him! (Luke 1:46).

Lest you think I am taking liberties with Jesus’ words in Luke 11, think again.

At 40:22, we begin to talk about what the Angel Gabriel says to Mary in Luke 1:28. Here is the actual Greek, broken down. Verse 29 proves that the greeting was an astounding one.

The King James translates this verse wrong…intentionally. In it’s original margin notes, the KJV concedes that Kecharitome translates ”endured with grace”.

John 1:14

We hope that these notes help. Enjoy the show!

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