*BEST OF DTB #121* The Catholic Defender: The Mercy Seat

Posted by John Benko - December 30th, 2011

Recently, at one of our bible studies, we were discussing the Pharisees during the time of Jesus.

How could they be so out of touch with who Jesus is? As the discussion continued, people were wondering how they would respond if they were living back then and witnessed the signs and wonders our Lord performed. I felt that we do not really need to think about what it was like then because we are called right here and now.

How many people today display the lack of faith today in following the Catholic Church? How many people would think, “Well, if I was living back then I would have been a follower of Christ. Like St. Peter, we would pledge our allegiance to the Lord, but how many of us would stand by the Lord when the first insults are fired?

How many of us will stand fast for the Lord when they mock you and spit on you? How many of us are willing to stand with the Lord when they threaten you with death? How many of us are willing to forsake our Lord for a smile and a handshake? If people 400 years from now could look back on our generation, would they wonder how we could have been so blind as the Pharisee of yesterday?

Judas sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver, how much did it take for us to leave the Church? Who is responsible when we choose to forsake the faith of the Apostles? We can look back and judge the Pharisee of their blindness, but are we that much different today? In a world where 42,000 denominations are challenging us to join them in rebellion.

If you are a faithful Catholic, probably you might have been strong enough to follow Christ and stand with him through the trial, however, how many of us have abandoned Jesus for another Bride?

We are in the time of apostasy, we are called to reach out and bring them home. It says in James 5:19-20, “My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring them 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”.

When you go to Confession, the Lord takes those sins you confess and throws them into the sea of forgetfulness and remembers them no more. You are given a judgement in the Confessional, a judgement of mercy.

The Confessional is the Mercy Seat of God! The Lord gave to St. Faustina the revelation of Divine Mercy. Jesus says the hardest worst sinner is most deserving for this mercy as Jesus does not wish the death of the sinner, but their true repentance.

I have often been asked the question, “Why do Catholics need to go to a priest instead of Jesus, since He is the Mediator between God and man.” We go to confession in obedience to Jesus’ command that gave this authority to his apostles.

This transfer of authority came after His resurrection and is recorded as follows:

“on the evening of that first day of the week, even though the disciples hadlocked the doors of the place where they were for fear of the Jews…Jesus came and stood before them ‘Peace be with you,’ he said. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. At the sight of the Lord, the Disciples rejoiced. ‘Peace be with you,’ he said again. ‘As the Father has sent me so I send you.’… He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

The Council of Trent (1556) defined the power to forgive sins in verse 23 as the same power exercised in the Sacrament of Penance. This power could have only reached our present age through Apostolic Succession where the Apostles ordained successors and broadened the faith throughout the world.

St. Paul gives special consideration to this Sacrament with the intent to instruct his listeners its importance.

He states, “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this IS fromGod, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us THE MINISTRYOF RECONCILIATION, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting TO US the message of reconciliation. So WE ARE AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST, as if GOD WERE APPEALING THROUGH US. We implore you on BEHALF OF CHRIST, BE RECONCILED TO GOD ( 2 COR 5Vs 17-20).
St. Paul then invites us, “Working together, then, WE APPEAL TO YOU NOT TO RECEIVE THE GRACE OF GOD IN VAIN”. Some thoughts; from the Webster’s New World Dictionary, AMBASSADOR is:
1. The highest-ranking diplomatic representative appointed by one country or government…(when you recognize the Church as the Kingdom of God on earth, this definition easily fits the mark).
2. A special representative, is one on a special diplomatic mission.
3. An official agent with a special mission ( Christ appointed his Apostles to carryout this “special mission”). BEHALF is defined as, “ME, in phrase on (mi)behalf, on (my side). I speak in his behalf, on behalf of speaking for;representing (This is exactly what the priest does)!

This Sacramental authority Jesus gives his Apostles should not be confused with the moral obligation to forgive seventy times seven.

In the great sacrament, Jesus chooses to forgive in the action of his Ministers. Just as God may heal someone through a minister, he established the priesthood for the purpose of spiritual healing.

The Council of Constantinople (553) declared that John 20:22 meant that the spirit was truly given and the breathing on the disciples was not merely symbolic. This action recalls Genesis 2:7 where God breathed life into Adam and gave him the natural spirit of life force.

St. John announces that the life-source for supernatural life is given, which is the seal of the Holy Spirit.

The Confessional, then, is not of man-made origin, but is a God-breathed action of the Holy Spirit. It has come down the ages through the Church that Jesus built.

When you go to Confession to the local priest, a bishop ordained him. The bishop himself was ordained by a previous bishop and the transfer of authority can be traced all the way back to the Apostles.

People who do not understand the Church often challenge its concepts by stating that a given teaching was invented on such and such a date.

The ‘invention’ dates, however, usually coincide with councils that met for the purpose of clarifying any teaching that was being misunderstood or challenged in some way.

In the case of Confession, some try to say that the Catholic Church invented the teaching of Confession in the 4th century. But, it preceded the 4th and earlier centuries, and was part of what Jesus commands when he states in the gospel of Matthew:

“Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you.” The apostles are to teach the world not merely one doctrine, such as the doctrine of Resurrection, but all doctrines pronounced by Jesus.

In deed, His historical teaching and the entire gospel the Catholic Church has safeguarded message. Jesus promised the Catholic Church that the gates of hell would not prevail against it, that he would be with us until the end of the age, and that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son and remains with us until Jesus returns.

His Church has His promise, His protection, and His seal. It is up to each person to be faithful or fall. We call this free will. In the meantime, Jesus truly waits for us in the Sacrament of Confession.


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*BEST OF DTB #120* Horror shatters the joy

Posted by John Benko - December 28th, 2011

So, here we are. It’s sometime in the area between December 25th, 2 BC and January 6th, 1 BC. In other words, by our reckoning, we are deep within what is to become known as the Christmas season- by all accounts- the season of joy.

The powerful wave of joy is shattered by a cry of agony;

A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

~ Matthew 2:18


Christ came to rule with Justice and love and mercy but the Devil seeks to rule with malevolence and hate and cruelty. Nowhere do we see that more starkly than in how Christ’s humility chooses to be born among the lowly and live with them, while Herod’s insatiable pride cannot show mercy even to the most innocent.

Today is the commemoration of the holy innocents. You could say that they were the first martyrs of Christianity. They were put to the sword to preserve the power of Herod just as other children were put to the sword to save the power of the Egyptian King.

Can you imagine being so vain and worldly that even a child must die to preserve your station and convienience? Surely nothing so defenseless could happen today…… oh wait.

What blind cruelty allows this? What inhuman pride? What callous rejection of love? What utter darkness! Abortion, human trafficking, rape, molestation, murder….

Precisely the darkness that this child of the Nativity came to dispel.
Is there ugliness in the world? You bet. Precisely the kind we remember today. Yet the inhuman cruelty, the unimaginable malevolence the devil has for us, working his will through his willing ilk, and finding it’s apex in The Cross, is no match for the love of Christ who turns shouts of agony into cries of salvific joy.

The Darkness…no match for the light.


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Christmas day post mortem

Posted by John Benko - December 26th, 2011

As you woke up this morning, maybe you felt something like I did- eyes a little bleary from having stayed up late, head a little sore and still ringing from the laughter and Christmas music. Maybe, like me, you have assorted aches and pains from the annual family Christmas day football game.

Maybe you have that bittersweet cocktail going on – 2 parts let down, 1 part relief, 1 part dread at getting back to work and facing a new year. Hopefully, you didn’t have a Christmas day flat tire, like I did.

But maybe, just maybe, you are like the Grinch this morning, puzzling till your puzzler is sore about how Christmas came without Ribbons and came without tags and came without packages boxes or bags. (We had to open presents Christmas Eve). Maybe, like me (and our green friend), once again, the true meaning of Christmas shone through and you are feeling the strength of 10 grinches plus 2 (that’s 12 grinches for those in Washington DC).

What a magnificent Christmas this was for me (and not just because I threw 7 touchdowns, as we won the family football game) Christmas was wonderful this year because it was a day of connection, a day of reconciliation. Maybe not full reconciliation but (at the risk of torturing the metaphor) a day when the ball was moved down the field considerably.

Whether you credit the Angel Clarence or the ghost of Christmas past, there is just something about the magic of Christmas the heals the troubled soul. Thornton Wilder had it right-

In the war of love,
only wounded soldiers can serve.
~ from “The Angel that troubled the waters”

Only when you have suffered, can you truly empathize with those who suffer, only when you have truly loved, unselfishly, can you truly know and receive love. My family of wounded soldiers all fought on the same side yesterday.

Great and wondrous gifts were exchanged , gifts that could not fit under the tree. Fellowship, forgiveness, contrition and reconciliation. These are the only things that make us truly human. These are the only things that make life worth living.


The light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
~John 1:5

So, in a manner of speaking, Christmas brings a new lease on life- not physical life, which is here today and gone tomorrow- but spiritual life which conquers and endures forever. Spiritual life that flows from God and through us, Grace that breaks down walls and crashes through barriers and makes whole the broken-hearted and restores peace to the troubled soul. It renews us, it recharges us, us gives us hope. A light to follow, a light to celebrate, a light to emulate.

In June of 2 BC, a spectacular event took place in the night sky over the middle east, as the planet Jupiter conjoined with Venus. The Magi would have seen it as the definitive sign to begin their journey from Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq).

In this area of the world, the daytime temperature can exceed 130 degrees in June. They would have traveled by night. They would have traveled in the darkness, led by the great light. Yes, the great light of the Bethlehem Star (Jupiter), but even more, by the great light of the child it led to.

2The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen.

3Thou hast multiplied the nation, and hast not increased the joy. They shall rejoice before thee, as they that rejoice in the harvest, as conquerors rejoice after taking a prey, when they divide the spoils.

4For the yoke of their burden, and the rod of their shoulder, and the sceptre of their oppressor thou best overcome, as in the day of Median.

5For every violent taking of spoils, with tumult, and garment mingled with blood, shall be burnt, and be fuel for the fire.

6For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.

~Isaiah 9

Your Christmas tree cannot duplicate that light, it can only symbolize it, but what a magnificent symbol it is. Remember, when you were a child and you gazed in wonder at the lighted tree? Imagine how your heart will leap, when you gaze upon the Light Himself?

If only for a few hours yesterday, enraptured in the love and fellowship of family and friends, I had another foretaste- another sip- of the joy that awaits. I will hold this in my heart beyond January 6th, the end of this blessed Christmas season.


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A Christmas Blessing for All of You

Posted by John Benko - December 25th, 2011

When Heaven Met Earth
All Creation Rejoiced
Peace, Peace, and Blessed Peace
Be Yours


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*BEST OF DTB #119* The real message of Christmas

Posted by John Benko - December 25th, 2011

Life changes fast, doesn’t it. This Christmas day is my 48th but it is the first one in which there were no presents under our tree on Christmas morning. Very strange. Christmas morning next year is likely to be the second, as we hope to celebrate Midnight Mass in the church built over the very spot where our beloved Savior was born in Bethlehem, more than 2 Millenniums past.

To a disbelieving world, our faith seems rather peculiar and bizarre and, to be quite frank,we quarrel enough amongst ourselves to give them cause to make sport of it. “Some King you have” they must think, “born in a place where animals feed, scorned and ridiculed by some of His own relatives, crucified for a crime He did not commit so His followers could fight amongst themselves for 2,000 years”.

Laugh if you must, but I take great comfort from the fact that I have a King that wants to meet where I am. Especially since I could not hope to reach Him.

For those pondering how they might find God, if He exists, the journey would logically begin as an intellectual pursuit. Where should I begin to look? would be an understandable starting point but it would lead to an equally understandable frustration, for there is no shortage of deities laying claim and no shortage of sects within each religion. How could one hope to find God?

One can’t by oneself, and that is just the point of Christmas. You cannot find God. You must seek Him, then let God find you, knowing in your heart, that He will, if you will only let Him.

That, my friends, is the real message of Christmas. We could not find God, so He found us. We could not justify ourselves before God, so mercy found us. We could not see through the darkness, so light found us. If you have ever been lost in the woods at night, you know what I am talking about.

If you cannot find God, be still and believe, and let Him find you. Then, and only then, can you fully apprehend the miracle that is Christmas. Until you apprehend the miracle of Christmas, solving the riddle that is life is hopeless and your life, regardless of how prosperous, or tragic, will be nothing more than vaporous vanity.

In solving the message of Christmas, the message of life is solved and even the most painful life, plods on with perserverence and hope, and ends in rapturous joy.

The message of Christmas is how God chose to deal with sin and the misery caused by it. The blight of sin caused paradise on earth to be exchanged for a cold, lost and dying place. God’s Justice makes removing that penalty impossible and so, each day, we suffer and we watch others suffer.

The shocking and piercing reality of God’s love for us, as Jennifer Fulwiler (former atheist turned Catholic) so brilliantly put it, was that God’s response to suffering was not to eliminate it but to plunge Himself right into the middle of it.

So, Jesus did not choose to remove the chill from the night air around Bethlehem, He chose to be a baby, shivering in that air just like the shepherds. To a helpless world, He came as a helpless child. He was like us in all things except sin.

All things means all things. Have you ever felt frustrated? sad? grief-stricken? abandoned? God is with us in all these things.

A few year’s ago, a very blasphemous song came out called
What if God was one of us?

If God had a name, what would it be?
and would you call it to His face?
If you were faced with Him, in all His glory,
what would you ask, if you
had just one question?

and yeah, yeah, God is good
and yeah, yeah, God is great,
and yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us.
Just a stranger on the bus.
trying to make His way home.

If God had a face, what would it look
like and would you want to see,
if seeing meant that you would have to
believe in things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints,
and all the prophets?

and yeah, yeah, God is good
and yeah, yeah, God is great
and yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,

What if God was one of us,
just a slob like one of us,
just a stranger on the bus,
trying to make his way home,
nobody calling on the phone,
except for the Pope, maybe in Rome?

The point of this song is to suggest that, even if there is a God, it is of no benefit because He cannot relate to me. God is up there, with Jesus and all the saints and the prophets and we are down here. The message of the song is that God is, in fact, not one of us. The message of Christmas is that God, in the person of Jesus, in a stunningly real way, is one of us.

The entire dilemma is played out in the Crucifixion scene where you see, in dramatic fashion, the suffering of Christ and the right response contrasted with the suffering of Christ and the wrong response. It is more than just claiming faith in Jesus, in mere words.

The bad thief told Jesus, in so many words; You cannot be God because I suffer. The good thief said, in so many words; Yes, I suffer, Yet, you are God.

Atheists often argue that if God cannot remove all suffering from the world, He is either not all-powerful or He is not just.

They rationalize that if a merciful God has power over the world, in which He reigns, He cannot fail to eliminate suffering. Therefore, since He cannot do this, they choose not to believe. They have it backwards. Unbelief is not caused by suffering. Suffering is caused by unbelief. It is a disbelieving world that has pushed God’s mercy aside and cast their lot with Satan. If this world is choosing Satan, God’s Justice demands that the world understand the consequences of that decision. If you let the roaring lion out of the cage and he devours an innocent child, can you blame anyone but yourself for the child’s death?

In the same way, each one of us bears at least some responsibility in fostering a culture of darkness or a culture of light. Is it rational to think it unjust that an innocent child suffers and dies or that a loving father is killed in a car accident? Yes, it is rational to feel that way. It can even be commendable, to a point.

Sure, it is less selfish to ask where God is because my family member suffers than to say where is He because I, myself suffer. It is less selfish still, to ask why innocent children and strangers suffer.

Yet, words are not enough. God is not indifferent to the suffering of the innocents but it is not God preventing God from healing, it is man. For God is not only One of Us but One with Us.

So, when we see so much suffering in the world and we accuse God Why do you see all this suffering and do nothing?, expect the index finger of God to point back at you, as He charges you with the same question. This is the miracle of Christmas and the miracle of Christianity and the message of the cross. To the bad thief, Jesus may say;

My child, right now, I cannot remove your suffering. You may not understand
why at this time but your suffering is the result of sin- your sins, and the sins of
others.

My justice demands that I must passively allow your suffering for a season
but I would not do so, even for a second, If I were not able to bring from it, a
greater good.

So, my child, though I cannot end your suffering right now, I choose, for
love of you, to join you in it. Yes, I am able to take us both down from the
cross, but then, how would I save you? So, I choose to suffer, not to prevent
you from suffering, but to join you in it and give it immeasurable
value.

As humans, we can suffer and we will suffer. We suffer in different ways and to different degrees and for different durations. Some complain bitterly over even the smallest sufferings and some show awe inspiring courage, in the face of unimaginable suffering. Suffering is a fact of life. What differs is the response to suffering and that is both a response to the unimaginable love of God and the equally incomprehensible malevolence of the destroyer. Both are played out in the Holy season we call Christmas and beyond.

On Christmas day, we celebrate the child who would embrace suffering to fuse Divinity and humanity in the most selfless act of love the world has ever seen, and will ever see. Three days later, we lament the slaughter of the Holy innocents, those who had to die at the bloody hands of Herod who gave himself wholly over the malevolence and pride of the evil one.

The former says to the guilty I must suffer and die, so you can live, the latter says to the innocent, you must suffer and die, so that I can live as I want.

Two responses to the person of Christ. The first is reflected in the true love of God exemplified by a grieving parent watching their child suffer, wishing they could trade places. The second, by a child molester mopping up his selfish and disgusting urge with an innocent child. Though these are polar extremes, the truth should not fail to meet you where you are.
For each day, you choose, of your own free will, to heal suffering, to cause suffering or to be indifferent to suffering. Only the first leads to Heaven, where suffering is vanquished. The others lead to hell, where souls are plunged in a universe of suffering.

Jesus does not desire that last, tragic end for us. In fact, so much does He desire rescuing us from the fire that He came down here to be with us and like us. Many of my protestant friends have it wrong. They think salvation is something Jesus does for us. No, it is something Jesus does with us, uniting our sufferings to His and working out our salvation through us. (Colossians 1:24-25, Phillipians 2:12)

Jesus is one of us. That is the message of Christmas. That is the message of Christianity and that is the message of the Catholic church. We could not find Him, He found us. We could not stretch up to reach Him, He stooped down to reach us. Our suffering is in vain, He gave it value. If Jesus is not in your life, it is not because He does not knock, it is because you do not answer. You do not seek Him and you do not answer when He seeks you.
The Angels appeared to the shepherds and proclaimed the good news for all people…..even the stranger on the bus.

So, my Christmas wish to those who hold Him dear is that you will stoke that flame and make it burn hotter and brighter that others may see it. To those who had Him and lost Him, try TRY to find Him again. He did not leave you nor forsake you. He was with you when you suffered and He did not give up on you when you failed Him. Search again for Him who is your only hope. To those who never had Him (or only did with a shallow effort), give us a chance to show Him to you. If you will only attempt to come to understand why this time and this faith, is so sacred to us, we will try to find you where you are and show you how to become whole.

Merry Christmas



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*BEST OF DTB #118* The Catholic Defender: Forever Shall I Sing

Posted by John Benko - December 18th, 2011

With the many blessings that I have recieved from the Lord, my journey has not always been a rosy path. Jesus never promised me a rose garden without thorns. I remember so long a go the promise I made to the Lord in my college days at School of the Ozarks:

“One particular dream had the greatest impact on me. After a major debate in the room where I took on a number of those attacking the Catholic Church, I went to bed troubled. I slept hard, but I dreamed that God’s Church, the Catholic Church, was dead. I felt such despair, and sadness I began to cry. I felt that the Church was in ruins and that Christ was sheding tears for His Body, the Church. I never felt such anguish, I cried so much that I woke up out of my sleep totally wet from crying. My pillow, the bed, and the blankets were all wet. I sat up as it took me a couple of minutes to realize it was a dream. I recalled my Confirmation that took place in Blue Springs Mo on September 23, 1968 by Bishop Sullivan. I renewed my vows and told the Lord that I will be a soldier for Him. I will not betray Him and leave the Church even when people around me do. I will do my best to remain loyal and stand for Him. A promise that I have tried to keep since 1978″.

I never would have imagined how much pain I would suffer as a result of those close to me who have abandoned the Catholic Faith. My immediate Family members have been struggling against their Catholic Faith to the point that several of those closest to me have given up the faith.

I have been blessed to have been an instrument in helping many find the faith, but it is a sadness that members of my own family have fallen. I remember talking to Steve Ray, a great Catholic convert of our times, tell me about how emotional it is for him at Mass. To him, Mass is a welcome home to God’s Church.

Many times for me it is emotional but for a very different reason. When I see young parents with their children at Mass, I remember my own children going to Mass with me in the same way. Through the echos of time, today they no longer go to Mass.

While I was sitting in a foxhole in Saudie Arabia in 1990, my ex-wife was playing the trojan horse teaching our children anti-Catholic material she was using in homeschooling. She became involved with a local homeschooling group who influenced her into anti-Catholic teachings.

I would not become aware of this until the 1994 when I went through the mail and finding some of this material in my mailbox. Up to this point, my ex-wife had been concealing her agenda in leading our children out of the Church. It became manifest while I was serving in Korea from Jan 1998 – Feb 1999.

After I returned back into the United States, I was away for another couple of months for senior NonCommissioned Officer School (ANCOC) at Fort Sam Houston Texas. When I finally returned from home, I could not even pray over our meals without a major fight.

I had five Catholic Priests who became aware of my situation wondered how I could have lasted so long in this marriage relationship. I did not believe divorce was an option and it was for the sake of my children that I stayed in it.

It was March 6, 2,000, that finally broke the camel’s back. I wanted to take my sons to a “Youth 2,000″ event hoping that it would be a positive experience for my boys, but because it was a “Catholic” event, they thought it would be “weak”.

My ex-wife thought this was so funny and happy that they did not want to go because she didn’t want them to return to the Catholic Faith. The more she laughed the more infuriated I got.

I finally lost it yelling at her that she is going back to Arkansas. It was my middle son who tried to calm the situation telling me that he would go to the event, he just wanted me to stop arguing. This is when he confessed to me that he had “attempted suicide” five times. This separated my head from my shoulders. I had not been there long enough to see the signs.

I was trained by my profession to see signs and symptoms of suicide, but this hit me like a mack truck.

This is when I felt that divorce was inevitable. This was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through. Even though it has been more than 10 years now, I still have tears for what has happened to my children.

It was for their sake I stayed in this marriage. I was not your kind of Father that spent 7 seconds a day with his children. They were my life. From their earliest ages, I was out there teaching them how to play baseball, soccer, football, basketball, and when they got older, music. Every week there was all the practices and then games on the weekend. I would lead my children in prayer every night in devotions and when they went to bed, I prayed over them. Prayer was vital! But the deployments to Iraq, Panama, Fort Irwin, and Korea was just to much time away allowing for a trojan horse to cause cracks in the family unity.

I remember when my Oldest Son missed his first Mass, I had carried him to the Altar when he was one week old, he was now 20 years old and was going to his Mother’s church now but coming to Mass at Ft. Campbell at a later time.

I was lectoring the Mass this day, and when he did not show up, I was so distrought that I read the second reading first and the first reading second. Father joked with me about it afterwards telling me he didn’t think anyone noticed.

Now none of my children are following the Faith and some of them are far away from Jesus Christ.

My wife Gigi encourages me to love them and just be Dad, but it is most difficult especially when they are making terrible mistakes in life. I realize that much of what I have experienced has become common place among American Catholics.

Many families have been hit hard because of their loved ones forsaking the Catholic Faith. This is why it is so important to teach and understand our Catholic Faith and to be able to respond to the threat of anti-Catholics who will try to take your children. If they can steal away your spouse they will do it.

Anti-Catholics do not have any respect, they are not afraid to throw their attacks on Mary, the Saints, devotions, the Papacy, Purgatory, even the bible itself. As I recall my promise to Our Lord, there have been many blessings.

I have participated in the RCIA Program for many years and have seen many conversions. I’ve had the chance to see many from Islamic Countries convert to the Catholic Faith. I’ve had the chance to witness to many over the past 30 years. It is my enduring hope that what we have done with deepertruth has helped confirm many in their Catholic Faith.

That has been the goal because we understand the challenge faced today. As I have shared from my own experience, we pray for all who have become Prodigal sons and daughters. For me, I will do my best with the help of His Grace to continue to fulfill my promise, to be faithful to Jesus even when those close to me should fall.

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*BEST OF DTB #117* Saints and Angels and Relics and Statues- Vehicles of Biblical Worship, not objects of Idolotry

Posted by John Benko - December 16th, 2011

The Catholic Encyclopedia gives what I feel to be a needlessly confusing explanation of the veneration or honor of Saints and Angels and Relics and Statues;

There are several degrees of this worship:
if it is addressed directly to God, it is superior, absolute, supreme worship, or worship of adoration, or, according to the consecrated theological term, a worship of latria. This sovereign worship is due to God alone; addressed to a creature it would become idolatry.
When worship is addressed only indirectly to God, that is, when its object is the veneration of martyrs, of angels, or of saints, it is a subordinate worship dependent on the first, and relative, in so far as it honours the creatures of God for their peculiar relations with Him; it is designated by theologians as the worship of dulia , a term denoting servitude, and implying, when used to signify our worship of distinguished servants of God, that their service to Him is their title to our veneration (cf. Chollet, loc. cit., col. 2407, and Bouquillon, Tractatus de virtute religionis , I, Bruges, 1880, 22 sq.).

As the Blessed Virgin has a separate and absolutely supereminent rank among the saints, the worship paid to her is called hyperdulia (for the meaning and history of these terms see Suicer, Thesaurus ecclesiasticus , 1728).
In accordance with these principles it will readily be understood that a certain worship may be offered even to inanimate objects, such as the relics of a
martyr, the Cross of Christ, the Crown of Thorns, or even the statue or picture
of a saint. There is here no confusion or danger of idolatry, for this worship
is subordinate or dependent. The relic of the saint is venerated because of the
link which unites it with the
person who is adored or venerated ; while the statue or picture is regarded as having a conventional relation to a person who has
a
right to our homage — as being a symbol which reminds us of that person

This explanation makes me cringe. Not because it isn’t correct (it is), not because it conflicts with what we have been saying (it doesn’t). It makes me cringe because it explains this doctrine in such an utterly (and in my opinion, unnecessarily) confusing manner that we could truly blame no one for misinterpreting it. To me, doctrines should be explained in ways that eliminate confusion rather than add to it.

To that end, tonight’s show will explain why this citation is not saying that we worship Mary, the Angels, the Saints etc. even though it-admittedly- seems to be.

Let’s start by pointing out that the article specifically states that it is rendering the word worship by the Anglo-saxon (that is British) definition, a definition quite different than our own.
It so happens that in British English and American English the meaning of the words honor and worship are reversed. A judge in America would be called your honor while one in Great Britain (a predominantly protestant country btw) is called your worship. So, if you are going to claim that Catholics worship Mary and the Saints, according to the American definition, to attribute divinity to them, then you have to stipulate that people in England consider their judges to be gods.

Further, while our upper legislative chamber is called the Senate, theirs is called the house of lords. Are we to project our understanding on this body too and assume that their legislative branch is filled with a bunch of Jesus-es? Come now. Can we stop being silly?

When reading this article, the distinction is made very clear because both American and British Catholics also refer to what we call worship- the level of honor that denotes Divinity- as Adoration. Adoration is yet another word that has multiple dictionary definitions but the context that we use it in is Worship- something due God alone. We refer to it as Adoration and our Anglo-Saxon brethren have called it Worship of Adoration. It is this adoration that matches exactly what orthodox American Christians mean by Worship and to describe this Adoration or Worship as applying to the honor given Mary, The Saints, the Angels, relics or statues is not only false, it is absurd.

To suggest that Catholics do not understand that Mary was a created being, or that statues are lifeless alabaster casts, is to make the accuser, not the object of his accusation, look foolish.

This is not to say, of course, that God cannot produce miracles through these. Through Mary, God performed the miracle of the Incarnation, just as through Moses, He parted the Red Sea. Through the Apostles, He performed miracles of healings and, through His Divine will, He brought life to Elijah’s bones and voice to Balaam’s Donkey. We as Catholics could add thousands of miracles to these, whereby God worked great signs and wonders through Saints and even through Statues and religious articles.

The point is that no Catholic believes that the Saint performed the Miracle nor did the bones nor the donkey. God performed these signs. Just as Moses had to remove his shoes because God’s presence made the ground before the burning bush holy, and Uzzah was struck dead because God’s presence made the Ark of the covenant holy, so we acknowledge that God’s work, through these people, made them holy. Not Divine, but Holy.

If the magnificence of The Ark of the Covenant or Salomon’s Temple, pointed to the awesomeness of Our God, how much more the magnificent creature that carried His Son in her womb? How could we dare not to give Mary, Christ’s own Mother, the highest honor possible due a creature of God?

By honoring Mary, we are, in fact, worshiping God, Her creator, by any definition of the word. This is what the author clumsily refers to as indirect worship. Even by the British definition of worship, what we call honor, that honor is directed ultimately to God, as we marvel at His work. So, even by the benign British version of worship, we do not worship Mary, The Saints, Angels etc. These creatures are not the object of our honor, God is. These creatures are only a vehicle of honor/worship directed towards God. This is in direct opposition to Idolatry, that which we are falsely accused of.

The first commandment (that which our protestant friends mistakenly call the first two commandments is clear;


Exodus 20
2
“I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of
the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
3 You shall not have other gods besides me.
4 You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape
of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the
waters beneath the earth;
5 *you shall not bow down before them or worship them.
For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting
punishment for their fathers’ wickedness on the children of
those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation;
6 but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth
generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my
commandments.

  1. Mary is not a goddess in Catholicism, nor is any saint a god or goddess, nor any angel, nor any Pope nor any statue. Anyone who tells you otherwise is simply lying.
  2. We do not carve idols unto ourselves. An idol is an object of ascribed Divinity, something that takes the place of God. The statues that we have are no more idols than the statues of Angels that God Himself commanded to me made for the ark of the Covenant and the Temple. These statues remind us of some of God’s most magnificent creations, glorifying Him in that creation.
  3. We do not bow down before them (prostration), nor do we worship them. A bow of the head or a kneel of respect, as Salomon gave his mother in 1 Kings 2, is a far cry from falling at one’s feet and prostrating oneself in worship.

At some point, common sense must enter the equation. Catholics do not worship anyone but The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Anyone who denies this is wrong. It is just that simple.

Join us tonight at 8:00 PM Eastern.
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*BEST OF DTB #116* Why Sex Is Complicated

Posted by John Benko - December 15th, 2011

A very wise young man once blew my mind by pointing out a fundamental reality in our fallen world: God made all things good and Satan tries to turn good things evil. Satan can create nothing. All he can do is use his superior intellect to twist our perception of reality to make good appear evil, truth look like lies, the attractive repulsive. He loves to use our emotions, good things, to further befuddle us.
God made marriage. Marriage is good. God made sex. Sex is good. Marriage reflects the unity of the Triune God and the bond between Christ and the Church, so it is a profound good for the world, even without the economic and social stability marriage generates. It is good for the persons involved, too. It takes immature, self-centered creatures and matures them, making their lives outwardly focused on another. With sex in the equation, it also makes them parents, which furthers the process of maturation.
God the Father loves the Son perfectly and completely: so much so it is personified in the Holy Spirit. Your love and your husband’s love is meant to be that beautiful. Your love will grow larger than the two of you, something you will both stand in awe of. In fact, the world will wonder at it, writing news articles about love after 75 years. In fact, marital love personifies, too–in your children.
Speaking of sex: the more selfless it is, the better. The more you lose yourself in your spouse and let go, the more amazing it is. On a fundamental level, sex is about surrendering to each other and becoming one, if even imperfectly. The hormones involved, oxytocin especially, are designed to cement a bond between husband and wife so that each sexual encounter–be it a romp under the covers or merely the promise of one in a look and a wink shot across a table crowded with cranky children and schoolwork–produces oxytocin and other hormones to reinforce the chemical, emotional, and spiritual bonds between husband and wife. That is very, very good.
That’s why Satan hates it. You and your spouse are created in the image and likeness of God. Marriage speaks to the world about the Nature of God. Since Satan cannot hurt God, he will hurt you, His image, or your marriage, His reflection. Satan will interfere with your marriage in any way inhumanly possible. If he can’t end the marriage, he will mar it to make it as imperfect a reflection of God as he can entice the two of you to make it.
God knew you and His purpose for you from The Beginning (Jerimiah 1:5, Romans 8:29). You and your spouse have been called to the Sacrament of Marriage from the moment God created the world. Satan, being a spirit, exists outside of physical time. He is not bound by our bonds. He can see you married when you are still a speck in your mother’s womb. He knows your spouse before you have even met. He will work on you and your husband from birth until death to interfere with your marriage. He will encourage you, a woman, to damage your ability to bond with your spouse by enticing you to sexual encounters without commitment so that you will come to marriage untrusting, numbed and scarred. He will entice your future husband to view women’s bodies as tools for his sexual fulfillment, separating the act of sex from the bonds of marriage and keeping him emotionally and sexually immature and unable to approach true manliness. (The Damage of Sexual Promiscuity–a must read)
Satan insinuates himself into your marriage to make less room for God
But God teaches us forgiveness, repentance, and self-sacrifice. God heals. As damaged as you come to the marriage bed, there is hope. As harmed as your marriage may be by sins against it, infidelity, lust, selfishness, God infuses the Sacrament of Marriage with abundant Graces to heal you both. All you need is God. All God wants is you.
Make yourself precious, like jewels.
Proverbs 31

Open your heart to God and to your husband. By this openness, you will allow Grace to flow into your marriage. Be prayerfully aware of God and set your selfish impulses to ignore, belittle, or bemoan the needs of your husband at the foot of the Cross. If he wants you to bring him a cup of coffee, serve Him by serving him. If he wants you to cuddle up on the couch after the kids are asleep, serve Him by accommodating him. If your marriage is damaged, use your love of God to rebuild it. If your husband is so damaged as to be numb to your needs, let God heal that. Help Him heal your marriage by taking up arms with Him to fight for your husband’s heart. Send a barrage of roses against the fortress your husband has built against you; flood his life with so many small acts of love that he drowns in it. Surrender to God to win the war for your husband’s heart. Make him gasp at the beauty of Love.

Who knows? Maybe your husband has been trying to do the same for you for years.

Your emotions, your desires, and your impulses must be under your guidance. Your guidance must be under God. If you do not guide your impulses, if God does not guide them, you will be manipulated and enslaved by them. Do not surrender your will to your emotions. Unite your will to God’s will, even when your emotions have a will of their own.
Your marriage can work. It can fulfill you, but only if you let God in.
Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

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Wifey Wednesdays are hosted each week by Sheila Wray Gregoire
at To Love Honor and Vacuum.

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*BEST OF DTB #115* The case for December 25th, 2 BC- The video

Posted by John Benko - December 12th, 2011

We are so proud to present this to you. We hope it makes your Christmas more Merry.

There are some that question the efficacy of such an effort on the grounds that it really doesn’t matter when Jesus was born, only that He was.

There is merit to the argument up to a point.

Where the argument loses it salience is when the difficulties presented call into question the reliability of the early church fathers, or even the fact that Jesus Christ was a historical person after all.

Those difficulties have long hinged around a number of popular misconceptions about the dates of some of the Gospel events. For example;

  1. It has long been assumed by many that Herod the Great died in 4 BC but this conclusion is
    simply untenable, given the evidence we have. A far more compelling case points to January 1BC.
  2. The issue of Quirinius as Governing Syria. His reign did not commence until 6 AD. Many point to this, and point # 1 as making Christ’s birth impossible to reconcile. Knowing that Quirinius would have been governing temporarily, in 2 BC, removes this objection.
  3. Zechariah’s appearance in the Temple was not according to the rotation established in 1 Chronicles 24, which begins on 1 Nisan but rather on the one that was set after the temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel. This rotation begins on Tisha B’ AV

These, and other facts, clear up the complications and show, quite clearly, that the early church knew what it was talking about. The gospel accounts are not fairy tales, they are true historical events. This should give pause to the misguided folks who say that Christmas is more about the sun god than the Son of God. That you establish the date of December 25 as belonging to Mithros or Nimrod orfalling during Saturnalia means nothing to me. The only point of contention is whether Jesus was, or was not, born on this date. The answer to that question must rest on the merits and not on who else lays claim to the date.

At the end of the day, we believe we have established December 25th, 2 BC as the only plausible date that fits the totality of the evidence. Unless someone can counter this conclusion with unimpeachable evidence, juxtaposing us against Mithros will result in a yawn.

The larger question is what this means for you. If this baby was born when we say He was, than you may just have to accept that He is who we say He is. What are you going to do with that revelation? Will you continue to remain frozen in denial or will yearning impulses move you to explore the potential reality of this possibility? If this boy child be God made flesh, it is reasonable of you to conclude that there must be some tangible evidence of this. Yet, if the evidence did exist, it is just as reasonable to conclude that you would incur guilt in making no effort to seek it out.

Yes, the reality that the Christmas story just might be a true story may shake you from your atrophy and place you on a new, exciting, and sometimes challenging path….

….but is that really such a bad thing after all?


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The case for December 25, 2 BC

Posted by John Benko - December 3rd, 2011

This audio presentation was created in November and December of 2011 by Deeper Truth Blog members John Benko, Donald Hartley, Ross Earl Hoffman, Jojo Hawkins, Margie Prox Sindelar and Dr. Gregory Thompson. We believe it makes a rock solid and definitive case that Jesus Christ was in fact born on December 25th, 2 BC. Enjoy!


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