*BEST OF DTB #204* The Catholic Defender: Confession, the Mercy Seat of God

Posted by John Benko - July 28th, 2012

At today’s bible study, 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 allegience 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 yesturday?
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 33,000 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 APPEALINGTROUGH 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 NewWorld Dictionary, AMBASSADOR is:
1. The highest-ranking diplomaticrepresentative appointed by one country or government…(when you recognize theChurch 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 thespirit 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.

*BEST OF DTB #203* The Catholic Defender: Confirmation, the seal of the Holy Spirit

Posted by John Benko - July 28th, 2012

From the writing Ordo Confirmation is (550 A.D.) the Bishop invokes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, “All powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit, You freed your sons and daughters from sin, and gave them new life. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence. We ask this through Jesus Christ Our Lord.”

The Sacrament of Confirmation is one of the seven Sacraments that our Lord established through the Church for ministering to his people. The coming of the Holy Spirit began with Pentecost, and its associated miracles.

The Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles, then, and has remained with us ever since. The primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to make us holy.

This begins at Baptism. The Holy Spirit implants sanctifying grace, empowering us with faith and love. The faith can be embodied in its attitudes and rites before it is explicitly formulated.

Acts 8:14-17 states, “Now when the Apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, since they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.” The “laying on with hands” is the oldest name given for the Sacrament of Confirmation. This happens when the Apostles pray over the person receiving the gift. Acts 19:5, 6 states, “And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”

Confirmation, thus, is the Sacrament whereby the Apostles and their successors anoint the Holy Spirit by laying of hands and anointing with charism. By the end of the second century, extraordinary and miraculous charisms had largely disappeared.

Pope Gregory the Great (604 A. D.) explained it by pointing out that such charismatic signs were “necessary in the first days of faith, but not in later years”(Homiliae in Evanfelia, Hom 29.4).

The Holy Spirit is poured out upon the recipient through the invocation of the Bishop. During the Easter Vigil the Priest is authorized to Confirm by proxy for the Bishop.

What a great blessing and honor it was to participate in this process while serving in Iraq.

I had 70 Soldiers preparing for the Easter Vigil who all had participated in the RCIA program.

In Iraq I was graced to be one of the
leading Catechists is Baghdad as we Confirmed all of the Candidates and Catechumens.

The miracle is that all those receiving this great Sacrament receive the Holy Spirit with all the blessings, as those from the beginning.

Pope Pius states in his encyclical, Mediator Dei, 11/20/47, “…that we learn of confirmation through its liturgy is significant. This highlights the importance of liturgy as a means of knowing and transmitting religious teaching.” As water is used in baptism, olive oil, perfumed with balsam is used in Confirmation, the Sacrament of the Holy Spirit. It is Pentecost extended throughout the world, perpetuated and made ever present in the church. It is a call to spread the Kingdom of Christ, to spread the message of salvation.

Pope Paul VI states in his encyclical, Divine Consortium Nature, 8/15/71, “The sharing in the divine nature which is granted to men through the grace of Christ has a certain likeness in the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of confirmation and finally are sustained by the food of eternal life in the Eucharist.” St. Paul says, “It is God who establishes us with you in Christ; and has commissioned us; he has put his seal upon us and given us his spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2Corinthians 1:21,22).

The bishop who administers Confirmation will state, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” We are called to be a witness for Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit, to be a Holy Nation, a people set apart to be the ‘Light of the World,’ and ‘Salt of the Earth.’ Our lives should be transformed from our former self to become a new creature in Christ. In the RCIA, we encourage people to see this faith as a pilgrimage, a journey of faith to be lived. St. Paul described this growing process, the Mystery. “The mystery, which is Christ in you… Him we proclaim, warning every man teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:27,28).

Jesus says, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witness…to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The Church declares that those who have received the Sacrament of Confirmation “…are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by both work and by deed as true witnesses of Christ” (Dogmatic Constitution of the Church). The church teaches us to be merciful in various ways. These are taken from Matthew 25:31-45, and are called the corporal works of mercy:

Feed the hungry.
Give drink to the thirsty.
Cloth the naked.
Shelter the homeless.
Comfort the imprisoned.
Visit the sick.
Bury the dead

The spiritual works of mercy are:

Admonish sinners.
Instruct the uninformed.
Counsel the doubtful.
Comfort the sorrowful.
Be patient with those in error.
Forgive offenses.
Pray for the living and the dead.

Let us in our day reaffirm our baptismal/confirmation vows to reject the glamor of evil and follow the most Holy Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One simple way to do this is the holy water font.

The custom of the holy water font goes all the way back to Pope Alexander I near the year 105. He placed the font at the front of the meeting place to illustrate that the Sanctuary had been opened up for all. In the Old Testament only the priests used the holy water.

He was the fifth successor of Saint Peter.

This custom began to remind us of our baptismal vows.

*BEST OF DTB #202* The Catholic Defender: Baptism, a tribute to the Trinity

Posted by John Benko - July 28th, 2012

The Baptism of the Lord not only begins his public ministry, it reveals the Trinity as the Father says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

The Holy Spirit descending “like a dove and coming upon him”(Jesus).

I wrote the following as a tribute to my Mother:

I was reading the Scripture readings preparing myself for Mass. This was the 4th anniversary of my Mother’s death and I was simply wanting to be at Mass. Everything I do in His name I want to dedicate for my Mother’s honor. I would not be where I am if it were not for my Mother. As I was reading the second reading from St. Paul to the Colossians, I read these passages:

“Brothers and sisters: If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”.

A light bulb just clicked on as I read that. The letter to the Colossians was written by St. Paul, sometime in the springtime of 57 A.D.

Jesus was crucified on April 3, 33 A.D.. By the time St. Paul was traveling, many in his audience were, by this time, RAISED from birth or early childhood in the Catholic Faith. The reference “For you have died” in Christ, implies they were already baptized perhaps many of them as children. That is what “raised” implies as to differentiate from those who were converts at an older age.

As I pondered this revelation, I realized that the truths of the Catholic Faith go all the way back to the Apostles. What a great gift we have that through the Apostolic Tradition, the truths of Christ can still be perpetuated all of the world. The Sacraments are the visible signs of Gods grace being poured forth upon those requesting them.

Baptism is one of the seven sacraments Jesus established. It grew out of the Old Testament cleansing of impurities (Ezekiel 36:25). John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, began to baptize people, calling for repentance. Regarding the coming Messiah, he told the crowds, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming…. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:16)

Jesus prepared the apostles through three years of teaching and enlightening them to the truth of scripture, during which time He opened their eyes to His commandments. Jesus told them, “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.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Baptism has always been an important sacrament. St. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, spoke to the Jews who were celebrating Passover. They had arrived from all over the Roman Empire. The Holy Spirit moved people to accept Jesus the crucified through the words of St. Peter. He said to them, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38,39)

It is clear St. Peter taught that baptism washed away sins. St. Peter makes this more clear as he writes, “For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison (purgatory), who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. THIS PREFIGURED BAPTISM, WHICH SAVES YOU NOW. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3 Vs 18-21)”.

The Catholic Church teaches that baptism takes away all sin, original sin in the case of children and actual sin of those old enough to understand the concept of sin. St. Paul described baptism this way; “we were indeed buried with Him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” This baptism could not be only a symbol! Christ was not raised symbolically! (Romans 6:4)

St. Paul could tell you from experience what this meant. He had persecuted the faith and was on the road to Damascus to hunt down Christians when Jesus appears to him asking, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” St. Paul ends up with the priest Ananias who states, “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and his sight was restored. He got up and was baptized….” (Acts 9:17-19)

The early church saw the faithful as “one body and one spirit, as you were called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all.” (Ephesians 4:5-6). The Church as always tried to echo Jesus as he states, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and spirit. (John 3:5). About baptism our Lord warns, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:15,16).

There are two authorized methods for water baptism. Immersion is when the believer is taken and submerged fully under water. Pouring is when water is poured to flow out and run across the head of the recipient. In both cases the water must be flowing. It is valid if the person administering baptism repeats the words; “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The effect of baptism is that the Holy Spirit infuses sanctifying grace, which leaves an indelible mark on the soul. A priest or deacon administers baptism only once usually. However, in emergency, anyone can baptize. A doctor can baptize in critical conditions. President John F. Kennedy once honored a woman for baptizing a person who had been attacked by a shark and was approaching death. The victim had been studying the faith before this accident took place.

There are three kinds of baptism. The most common form is water baptism. Usually a candidate studies the faith through the RCIA program. This instruction helps give the candidate preparation and the opportunity to say ‘yes’ to our Lord. Another type of baptism is related to the water. It is called baptism of desire. The classical case of baptism of desire is the good thief on the cross (Luke 23: 42,43). The shark attack victim described earlier would be placed in this category, had he not been baptized. These individuals desire salvation and baptism. The third type of baptism is called the baptism of blood. It is a martyr’s death. Only the Lord knows how many have died for His namesake.

Division first arose in England concerning baptism. During the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation, two Lutherans, Thomas Munzer and Nicholas Storch, founded the Anabaptist movement in 1605. They began to rebaptize their adult followers because they rejected infant baptism. Much of the protestant movement treats baptism as a symbol, and renounces its necessity. It has become a public witness the individual makes before the community.

This picture was taken by a photographer who had promised the mother of the child he would give her a copy as she could not afford a picture.

The practice of infant baptism began during apostolic times. In the book of Acts, the households of Cornelius and Jason were all baptized. About the year 250 A.D., the Church, during a council, addressed the question concerning the baptism of infants. Should infants be baptized on the eighth day after birth, or could it be any day? The point took issue with baptism replacing circumcision, as was the Old Testament Law. This was done on the eighth day! To baptize on the eighth day recognized the need for baptism in the New Testament.

The Church favored any day to be appropriate but stressed the importance to baptize as soon as possible. The Catholic Church recognizes the value of symbolism in baptism, but, she maintains the function of grace and the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38, 39).

Mother, I thank God for you and I ask for His blessing. May you forever enjoy the happiness of heaven with Our Lord and Our Heavenly Mother! Amen!


* BEST OF DTB #201* Is Baptism necessary for Salvation? ABSOLUTELY

Posted by John Benko - July 28th, 2012

In one of the most convoluted contortions of logic you will ever see, Debra JM Smith argues against the clear words of 1 Peter chapter 3. Once again, refuting her is so easy it is embarrassing.
First, Peter’s clear and unambiguous words;

20 Which had been some time incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God
 in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is, eight souls,
 were saved by water. 
21 Whereunto baptism being of the like form, now saveth you also: not
 the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the examination of
 a good conscience towards God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Now, a summation of her convoluted interpretation;

  1. We are saved by grace, not our own work. (On this point we agree. We are not saved BY works, we are saved BY Grace, received THROUGH faith, FOR works as it’s completion and perfection. (Ephesians 2:8-10, James 2:21-22). In the end, our works are what Justify us and save us, as they are the proof, perfection and completion of our alleged faith.)
  2. If we are saved by Grace then the requirement for works are excluded. (a complete non-sequiter. The Bible says no such thing. In fact is says just the opposite- Romans 2:5-6)
  3. Since Mark 16 says that He believeth and is baptized will be saved and he that doesn’t believe will be condemned, therefore, baptism is not necessary for salvation. (One of the most perverse contortions of logic I have ever seen)
  4. John’s Baptism was of water only and Jesus’ baptism brings the Holy Spirit. Therefore, there is no water involved in Jesus baptism. (not only completely against Scripture but a complete non sequiter as well)
  5. Peter is not saying that Baptism (Debra adds ‘water’ to the text, violating God’s commandment) saves us.
  6. of like type does not draw an inference to baptism.

Debra’s incoherent explanation, like everything in her heretical theology, runs smack into the brick wall that is God’s word.

Let’s start with Mark 16.

          16 He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.

Mark is clearly linking belief with the action of baptism. The exegesis of the passage makes this fact inescapable.

ho pisteusas kai baptistheis sothesetai is literally translated the he having believed and having been baptized will be saved. This confirms both the past action of baptism and the past, current and continued action of belief as requirements for eventual salvation.

By comparing the Baptism of Mark 16 with that of the Eunuch in Acts 8, Debra is conceding that this is referring to what she dishonestly labels water baptism.

Mark 16b is simply stating that salvation is impossible for one who does not believe- that faith is necessary for salvation, not that it is sufficient. To say that necessity equals sufficiency is a complete non sequiter. Air is necessary for life but it is not sufficient. You must have food and water and shelter as well.

Mark 16:16a shows that Baptism is a precondition of salvation and explicitly refutes the  fallacy of once saved, always saved.

Finally, what Peter refers to in being of like form is that the few were saved by water. He is showing that Noah and the ark are a clear typology of Baptism. When Jesus referred to being Born of Water and the Spirit, he was not contrasting vaginal birth with spiritual birth as Debra perversely suggests. He was referring to how the visible sign of water is infused with the invisible charism of grace and the reception of the Holy Spirit in the one, absolutely necessary Sacrament of Baptism.

On this point, Scripture simply could not be more clear.

Acts 2
38 But Peter said to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name
 of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of
 the Holy Ghost.  
39 For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are far off,
 whomsoever the Lord our God shall call.  
40 And with very many other words did he testify and exhort them,
saying: Save yourselves from this perverse generation.  
41 They therefore that received his word, were baptized; and there
 were added in that day about three thousand souls.

Debra stands refuted.


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*BEST OF DTB #200* The Catholic Defender: Adoni

Posted by John Benko - July 28th, 2012

After Mass, I once had an Iraqi citizen come up to me one morning to challenge me about what the Catholic Church believes.

It was interesting in that he identified himself as a “Nestorian” Christian. He also stated that the Nestorian Believers made up about 5% of the Christians in Iraq.

Just to give a background on the Nestorians, in 431, the Catholic Church at the Council of Ephesus defined that Jesus was 100% God and 100% man in one person.

Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople at the time had questioned the apostolic tradition which emphasized the disunity between Christ’s human and divine natures.

To give added weight to the Catholic position, Mary was given the title “Theotokos”, Mother of God.

That Mary was not just the Mother of the humanity of Jesus but the whole person. Jesus was conceived and born fully one person with two natures. He was not someone simply with multiple personalities.

My friend came up to me asking me what an “Apostle” was.

I simply responded that an apostle is one who is sent. Then I elaborated a little bit more explaining that Jesus had prepared his Disciples for three years for the missionary work that he was calling them to.

Not only does Jesus give the Apostles the “Deposit of Faith” but also the authority to proclaim it to all the nations.

That for nearly 2,000 years the Catholic Church has been empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach good news setting the captives free.

My Iraqi friend listened intently to me as I explained this to him when he asked me a second question.

He asked me why we were making a God out of Mary. To him, this was what kept the Nestorians from coming back to the Catholic Faith.

I thought about that for a second and I responded that the title “Theotokos” is an important title not necessarily for Mary, but because it identifies who Jesus is, Jesus is the Incarnation.

Jesus asked his Apostles who people say the Son of Man is and during the early centuries of the Church, that question was hammered out in the face of all the various heresies.

Nestorianism was just another heresy the Catholic Church had to contend with. I quickly posed this question to my friend:

“What is the difference from the Catholic definition “Theotokos” Mother of God, and Elizabeth’s recognition of Jesus as “Adoni” or “my Lord”?

(The Bible records the Greek word Kyrios which is the translation of the Hebrew Adonai)

This is a very famous scripture coming from Luke 1:39-45, “In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry. ‘Blessed are you among women. and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of My LORD (Adoni) should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord”.This leads into the great song of praise from Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord (Adoni), and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever”.

As I finished what I was saying, my Iraqi friend became highly interested in our Bible Study I had been conducting there at the Division Chapel. Oh, wouldn’t it be great to bring back those who have wondered from the fold so long ago? Sometimes we can only do so one person at a time!


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*BEST OF DTB #199* The Catholic Defender: The Sacrament of Marriage

Posted by John Benko - July 28th, 2012

Oddly, there are those who attack the Catholic Church on the teaching on Marriage. They want people to think that the Catholic Church somehow reduces Marriage when in fact, the Church elevates Marriage to a sacrament in obedience to Christ.

As you read this article and watch the video at the end, I invite you to another round of Chick-fill-a to take a stand for traditional marriage!

Marriage is one of the seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church.

It is really the first Covenant between Adam and Eve (Covenant of marriage).

Genesis 2:23-24 states, “the man said: ‘This one at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called woman, for out of her man this one has been taken’. That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body”.

In the Old Testament, a Covenant is an exchange of persons in contrast to a contract which is an exchange of things. Marriage fits this perfectly as it mirrors the Covenant God makes with his people. It is interesting that God referred to Israels unfaithfulness to Him as adultery when they chose to follow false gods.

The Israelites were allowed to marry anyone they pleased, “provided they marry into a clan of their ancestral tribe so that no heritage of the Israelites will pass from one tribe to another, but all the Israelites will retain their own ancestral heritage” (Numbers 36:6-7).

Moses will eventually grant a written bill of divorce because of the hardness of heart. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 states, “When a man, after marrying a woman and having relations with her, is later displeased with her because he finds in her something indecent, and therefore he writes out a bill of divorce and hands it to her, thus dismissing her from his house: if on leaving his house she goes and becomes the wife of another man, and the second husband, too, comes to dislike her and dismisses her from his house by handing her a written bill of divorce; or if this second man who has married her, dies; then her former husband, who dismissed her, may not again take her as his wife after she has become defiled. That would be an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring such guilt upon the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you as a heritage”.

Jesus refers to this speaking to some Pharisees who had approached Him. He was asked about divorce, Jesus responded, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate. They said to Him, ‘Then why did Moses command that a man give the woman a bill of divorcee and dismiss her’? He said to them, ‘Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery” (Matthew 19:3-9).

This is a very important scripture here! Who is it that declares a marriage “unlawful”?

Can any husband call his marriage unlawful?

No, he or she cannot make that claim. The “annulment” of a marriage is not a divorce, it is a marriage that is dissolved because it was found to be unlawful. It was never a true Sacramental marriage.

What is the process to obtain an annulment?

What is the base for having an annulment?

A man or woman is not capable of declaring whether a marriage is annulled or not. It has to come from the Catholic Church who provides a tribunal to investigate if a marriage can be annulled.

Matthew 18:15-18 states, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen to you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church. If he refuses to listen even to the Church, treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, 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”.

You take the matter to the Church and the tribunal will decide. Today, there are allot of annulments taking place, it is like Canon Lawyers have taken this scripture “unlawful marriage” and builds each case just like a regular case in court.

It has a feel very much like a court. You have a Canon Lawyer who defends the marriage while you have an advocate who tries to prove your case based on the evidence. It can take sometimes more than a year or longer for such a decision.

If there has been no remarriage, the individuals involved are not banned from the Sacraments. If there has already been a “remarriage” the individuals cannot receive the Sacraments until a positive decision has been reached and the current marriage validated.

We are living at a time when marriage is being attacked as divorce is more than 50% in the United States, there are Socialistic teachers and followers who are wanting to change what marriage is.

There are liberal Judges who are legislating from the bench trying to justify homosexual marriage. This is becoming a threat to the Sacrament of marriage.

Pope Pius XII in 1950 at the canonization of St. Maria Goretti warned that in the future the attacks on marriage would be great. The creation of the Birth Control Pill had much to do with the advent of the sexual revolution.

Pope Paul VI recognized the threat as the attack on the family became evident. Not all marriages are blessed as many are conducted outside the Church. Jesus warns, “For as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man”.
We know that Jesus blesses valid marriages such as the wedding feast of Cana (John 2:1-12).

Jesus is clearly referring to a secular humanistic condition of many in the last days.

Many times I have spoken to couples encouraging them with my triangle formula. Christ is at the top of the triangle, both spouses are at either end of the other two points.

The closer they move towards Jesus, the closer they move to each other building that foundation that will help them through any valley or any mountain they have to cross over. Not a day goes by that my wife and I tell each other of our love for each other. She is God’s greatest gift to me.

To many times people are quick to abandon their vows. Marriage is a gift to His people. It is the perversion of this gift that is the problem. The Lord wants to bless you abundantly but many times because of our hardness of hearts, we fall into sin many times leading us into a spiritual condition where we are out of the Church.

There are those who have abandoned the Catholic Faith because they are divorced and remarried who rejects the authority of the Church. There are those who forsake marriage for a life of immorality, for orgies, and the like.

There are those who want to make homosexual union a “marriage” which is an abomination against God. All of this us unlawful, St. Paul warns, “We know that the law is good, provided that one uses it as law, with the understanding that the law is meant not for a righteous person but for the lawless and unruly, the godless and sinful, the unholy and profane, those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, the unchaste, sodomites (homosexuals), kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is opposed to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which I have been entrusted” (1 Timothy 1:8-11).

The gospel St. Paul was entrusted has been given to us through this ministry. The (Catholic)bishops today is the authority for us to believe the gospel message. Let us pray for all Christian men and women that their marriages will be built upon the foundation of the gospel of peace. That children will be raised in loving households being shown good examples of what a father and mother should be. Let forgiveness be center for all of our faults.


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* BEST OF DTB #198* The Catholic Defender takes a look at Apostasy

Posted by John Benko - July 25th, 2012

One of the last signs St. Paul warns would happen takes place just before the “lawless one” is revealed.
He is speaking about the great Apostasy. St. Paul states, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. But the one who restrains is to do so only for the present, until he is removed from the scene. And then the lawless one will be revealed” (2 Thess 2:7-8a).
St. John warns of this evil period saying, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the anti-christ was coming, so now many anti-christs have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of our number; if they had been, they would have remained with us. Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number” (1 John 2:18-20).

It’s interesting looking at both text from St. Paul and St. John they refer to an individual who is to come and apostasy is a major sign of it. Here is something else that is simular:
St. John, “I write you not because you do not know the truth but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth” (1 John 2:21).

St. Paul, “The one whose coming springs from the power of Satan in every mighty deed and in signs and wonders that lie” (2 Thess 2:9).
Daniel saw this as he wrote, “As for you, Daniel, keep secret the message and seal the book until the end time; many shall fall away and evil shall increase” (Daniel 12:4).
St. Paul wrote St. Timothy warning, “Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the last times some will turn away from the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and demonic instructions through the hypocrisy of liars with branded consciences” (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
St. Paul also wrote to St. Timothy, “But understand this: there will be terrifying times in the last day. People will be self-centered and lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedience to their parents, ungrateful, irreligious, callous, implacable, slanderous, licentious, brutal, hating what is good, TRAITORS, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, as they make a pretense of religion but deny it’s power” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
St. Peter gets into this saying, “Know this first of all, that in the last days scoffers will come to scoff, living according to their own desires and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? (2 Peter 3:3-4a).

Jesus said, “For as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark” (Matthew 24:37-38).
Speaking of the time of the anti-christ, when this happens, he will have a false prophet known as the second Beast. If Rev 13 can have a double meaning, if it can represent Nero as the “Beast” and Jerusalem is the Whore of Babylon, then Rev 13:11 would have relevance with other scripture I have already brought forth.
This False prophet “performed great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of everyone”. “It deceived the inhabitants of the earth with the signs it was allowed to perform in the sight of the first Beast” (Rev 13:14).
Compare this with what St. Paul wrote in 2 Thess 2:9! Again, we have this anti-christ figure and a false prophet who ushers in this apostasy. When you look at the ‘false prophet’ and the ‘Whore of Babylon’ they both represent rebellion. In the Old Testament when His people (the Israelites) went to false gods and their prophets God called this “adultry” and “harlotry” (Ezekiel 16).
It s not the faithfulness to the Catholic Faith, but the rejection of it that is identified with this “Whore of Babylon” and the “false prophet”.
The Catholic Church is known as the “Bark of Peter”. The boat itself is a symbol for the Church, the Bark of Peter. The boat holds the Apostles, and symbolically all of Christ’s disciples (John 17:20-21).
The world is a sea in which the Church, like a ship, is beaten by the waves, but not submerged.
Noah and his sons build the Ark of Salvation. Remember well – No one outside the Ark was saved (1 Peter 3:19-21).
Going back to St. Paul’s original text (2 Thess 2:3-9), speaking on Verse 7, the one who restrains would be the Holy Spirit. The Lord has kept evil in check because of the Love that God is.
Since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has been very active in the life of the Church.
We are in the age of grace. At the end of this age, when Jesus returns, the lawless one will be destroyed and rendered powerless by the Lord’s presence.
Then all will face the general judgement of the world (Matthew 25:31-46)

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all thenations will assemble before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shephard separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and gave you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welome you, or naked an clothed you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you? And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me”.
Jesus goes on to say that these righteous will go to eternal life in heaven. Those who did evil and rejected to do these things will go to eternal punishment.


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* BEST OF DTB #197* Why anti-catholics are so wrong about the Book of Revelation.

Posted by John Benko - July 21st, 2012

It is so ironic that Anti-catholics choose to speak the most boldly about that which they know the least about. Nowhere is this more clear than the Book of Revelation. The average anti-catholic and even most of all non-catholics haven’t a clue what this book is telling us.


To truly get an understanding of this sacred book, may I recommend Michael Barber’s Coming Soon? You cannot get a better resource on this subject.

Really quickly, however, let me give you a summation about the how to understand what this book tells us in 8 simple steps.

If you understand these 8 simple steps, you will understand the message of John’s Revelation.

Step 1: The literary style: Apocalyptic language.

Apocalyptic language is the style of language that John’s Revelation is written in. Symbols are often used to depict actual events and concepts. These symbols include symbolic creatures, numbers and hyperbolic and allegoric language. One must not forget this and expect every event to be literal. If one get’s too caught up in the images, one loses the overall theme. Ezekiel and Daniel are two other examples of books using Apocalyptic language.


I will give you two unmistakable examples of it’s use in Revelation;

First, from Revelation 12;

3 And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns,  and upon his heads seven diadems. 
4 And his tail draweth the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: 

Now, we know (from verse 9) that the dragon is the devil (depicted as a snake in Genesis 3:15). However, are we to literally believe that 1/3 of the stars in the sky were hurled to earth by his tail? No. The stars were the heavenly angels who fell from grace as did Lucifer.Now let’s jump to Revelation 17;3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness: and I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet-colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 

Is this a literal woman sitting on a literal beast?

No. 

9 Here is the mind that hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth: 
10 and they are seven kings; the five are fallen, the one is, the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a little while. 
11 And the beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven; and he goeth into perdition.

12 And the ten horns that thou sawest are ten kings, who have received no kingdom as yet;
 but they receive authority as kings, with the beast, for one hour.

13 These have one mind, and they give their power and authority unto the beast. 
14 These shall war against the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, for he is Lord of lords,
 and King of kings; and they also shall overcome that are with him, called and chosen and faithful. 
15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the harlot sitteth, are peoples,
and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. 
16 And the ten horns which thou sawest, and the beast, these shall hate the harlot, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and shall burn her utterly with fire. 
17 For God did put in their hearts to do his mind, and to come to one mind, and to give their
 kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God should be accomplished. 
18 And the woman whom thou sawest is the great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.


So the roman beast depicted here, by virtue of it’s seven heads and 10 horns, is being tied directly to the ultimate beast- Satan. The woman rides the beast by virtue of her harlotry with the beast. She is that great city that ruled over the world (v18).

The Book of Revelation identifies that great city as Jerusalem, the city on seven mountains where our Lord was crucified (Revelation 11:8).

Step 2: Typology.

One cannot understand prophecy without understanding typology. They are intrinsically linked. Typology is the practice of seeing, in actual Biblical events, a foreshadowing of larger concepts. A perfect example is the blood of the lamb saving the Hebrews from the plague of the first born. By the blood of the lamb, death passed over them. Clearly, a type of Jesus.
The video at left gives some good examples of typology and how they relate to the Book of Revelation.

 
Step 3: When was this book written and how does that relate to who John is describing?

It was commonly believed for some time that the Book of Revelation was written about 96 AD, during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian and about the time John completed his other 4 books. However, according to Scripture scholar Dr. Scott Hahn, the Gospel and the three letters were written in a far more polished Greek, suggesting some time of advancement in mastering the subtleties of the language.

Further, the clues John gives himself, place it earlier.

John says, of the Roman Kings, that he is currently in the 6th of seven kings (Rev 17:10). Counting them according to those officially Senate sanctioned emperors, he is in the reign of Galba (68 AD) with Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero being the five fallen).

This is key. John’s Revelation is written almost immediately before Jerusalem’s destruction and the urgency is foretelling exactly that event. The Woman who reigned over the earth (17:18) could be none other than Jerusalem.

Step 4: Who is John writing to?

Was John writing to a 21st century audience? No, he was not. John was writing an urgent warning of events that would take place very soon. Things that would be witnessed by the people living at that time.

Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants, even the things which must shortly come to pass: and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John; 
2 who bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, even of all things that he saw. 
3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein: for the time is at hand.

Near the very beginning of the book is a warning to the seven churches. A specific warning to seven specific churches within a 50 mile radius of each other (1:4).

Could one allow the interpretation that these churches provide a type of churches today, with certain issues? Sure. However, one must be honest to the concept of typology that requires a literal short-term fulfillment first, that provides the model for the larger fulfillment later. So, the letters to the churches in Asia minor where to the churches in Asia minor. This is a fatal blow to those who attempt to fix a strictly futurist interpretation on this book. For none of the seven churches stand today and they haven’t stood for centuries.


Step 5: The larger historical context

The historical context is stark. First, the only Gospel that does not deal with prophesying the fall of Jerusalem is John’s gospel? Why?
Matthew (c41 AD), Mark (60-65) and Luke’s (56-57) gospels were all written before Jerusalem fell, John’s gospel was written 28 years after this tragic event occurred. Still, why would John not choose to give some space to this? After-all, Jesus devoted much time to these prophecies and the three other gospel writers recorded it. Why would John be silent on this subject? Was it only because the events had already been fulfilled?
The evidence suggests otherwise.
If you simply look at the four Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and Revelation, you now have the 4 books that are saturated with prophetic utterances. In fact, you have the 4 most prophetic books of the New Testament and all 4, predate Jerusalem’s destruction.

So, at a minimum, John’s perspective on Jerusalem’s destruction, is before it with the Book of revelation, after it with the other 4 books.

Step 6: The four prophetic Biblical books context-ed with one another
Looking at the Gospels, and comparing them to John’s Revelation, what parallel’s are there?
Many.
The parallel’s are most striking with regard to the predicted destruction of Jerusalem.

Matthew 23
29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and garnish the tombs of the righteous, 
30 and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we should not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 
31 Wherefore ye witness to yourselves, that ye are sons of them that slew the prophets. 
32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 
33 Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how shall ye escape the judgment of hell? 
34 Therefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: some of them shall ye kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city: 
35 that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous unto the blood of Zachariah
son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the sanctuary and the altar.

Revelation 18:24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all that have been slain upon the earth.
Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her!  how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 
38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

Revelation 18:18 and cried out as they looked upon the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like the great city?
 19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and mourning, saying, Woe, woe, the great city, wherein all that had their ships in the sea were made rich by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate. 

Revelation 11:

8 And their dead bodies lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.

Matthew 24: 1 And Jesus went out from the temple, and was going on his way; and his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. 
2 But he answered and said unto them, See ye not all these things?
verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.


* a clear refutation of zionism

Luke 21:
20 But when ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that her desolation is at hand. 
21 Then let them that are in Judea flee unto the mountains; and let them that are in the midst of her depart out; and let not them that are in the country enter therein. 
22 For these are days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
Revelation 18: 4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come forth, my people, out of her, that ye have no fellowship with her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues:

Luke 23: 26 And when they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and laid on him the cross, to bear it after Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. 28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming, in which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the breasts that never gave suck. 30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. 31 For if they do these things in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?


Revelation 6: 15 And the kings of the earth, and the princes, and the chief captains, and the rich, and the strong, and every bondman and freeman, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains;
16 and they say to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

These are only of few of the many examples. That Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are describing the same events is inescapable.These prophetic utterances all parallel each other.

Step 7: The time-line of Jerusalem’s destruction and the coming of the Kingdom.

Many of you may still be convinced that I am using end-time prophecies to describe first century events. Once again, you have to deny the plain words of Jesus with regards to these events. The amount of scriptural evidence is enormous that Jesus would come on the clouds in Judgement, throw down Jerusalem the whore and establish His Kingdom on earth within the lifetime of some of the very people standing there.

Matthew 10:  22: and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 
23: When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have  gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes.

Step 8: It is not Monday Night Football

 Those who want to turn John’s Revelation into a play-by-play of the end-times have missed the meaning of the book. The book is about God’s victory over the evil of Rome and Jerusalem and the establishment of His earthly Kingdom and the establishment of that as the model or type of his ultimate victory over Satan. It all plays out very dramatically, from the dispatch of the four horsemen to the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven.



Now that you know the steps, let me wrap it up for you.

The message of the Book of Revelation is an expansion of the message of the Gospels. Jesus came to earth and his own people rejected him (John 1:11), so He took their authority from them and gave it to the Church He built on Peter (Matthew 21:43, 16:18).

He threw down the great city that betrayed him and played the whore (Rev 11:8. 17:18, 18:10) and established the Catholic church as a Kingdom of Priests (Rev 5:10, 14:4) and the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2) with the old Jerusalem never to be heard from again (18:16-24).

All of this provides the template for the ultimate triumph of God over Satan, which doesn’t occur until Revelation 20:3.

So, now you know.

 
 


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*BEST OF DTB #196* Intro from the Catholic Defender

Posted by John Benko - July 18th, 2012

It was two years ago that I became a partner and member of deepertruth. Since that time I have really been blessed for all the support and love I have received from many.

I repost this in gratitude for God’s blessing upon this apostolate!


I was baptized at the age of 4 years old and that officially began my journey home. I went to a Catholic School in Blue Springs Mo. called “St. John Le Lande”.

I played on the youth sports teams, basketball and flag football. I also participated in track. I still have some of the ribbons we won participating in those events.

I am thankful for the Priests and the volunteers who were outstanding role models for all of us. I credited them by their example, that I never have been drunk in my life, smoked cigarettes, or done any drugs. We moved into a small town called Humansville Missouri. I went to public school there beginning with the 9th grade. This was not like Catholic School at all! The environment was much different. It was very difficult to be accepted there. I was under a lot of harrrassment and sports were the only thing that helped me through all that.

It wasn’t until my junior year that things began to get better for me. During this period, my faith was there, but it wasn’t strong. The Sunday morning battles were what Church we were going to. I wanted to go to Stockton where they had donuts and fellowship after Mass, and my Mother wanted to go to Humansville because it was closer. I guess, in time, we just quit going for awhile.

By the time I was in college, I was clearly a “nominal Catholic” as I didn’t go to Mass or talk about it. My roommates didn’t know I had a Catholic background for a couple of years. (I think it’s important to state here that this situation was not the church’s fault, it was my fault. It was not my Mother’s fault, it was my fault). This fault would eventually lead to some serious lack of wisdom on my part.

I believe that if I had been active in my faith, I would not have been so gullible. During these years of college, I failed several challenges because I was weak in faith. I was lukewarm about any commitment to Christ. I remember blaming God for my own mistakes, on and off the ballfield. (Jesus warns, “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot or cold, I will spit you out of my mouth ‘Revelation 3:15-16).

One day I called my Mother and told her that I was thinking about becoming a Baptist. She didn’t yell at me and I didn’t hear thunder, trumpets or anything like that. My Mother simply asked me to check out a retreat before I made a decision. I didn’t realize then the punch she had with this retreat. I said, “Sure Mom”! I didn’t know, but my Mother had begun working with this group that produced these “retreats”!

It was called “Cursillo” and I made my “Cursillo” in Carthage Missouri in the fall of 1978. This retreat would change my life forever. I was placed at St. Josephs table and from there, I had the time of my life. I learned about my faith and the foundations where it came from. I spiritually went to confession for the first time. I was a jock who had lost his way home and had found it. I felt so high that I told the priest in the confessional that I loved him. I didn’t even care what anyone else thought.

I was touched with all the prayers that people were offering on our behalf. My Mother slept on the floor for three nights for my soul. I found that out later on when I read the letter she sent in for our intentions. At the end of the retreat, I was given the chance to speak in front of everybody and their friends in how this “retreat” had affected me. I told them that I thanked my Mother for giving me the foundation of my faith. That through her, I was where I am today and I pledged to honor her by learning more about this great faith of ours!

I didn’t know Mom was out in the crowd and I surprised her greatly with my remarks. She stood up and thanked God and felt humbled by what I said. It was a Kodak moment! I came back to college enlightened and I made Immediate changes. I began to go to Mass every Sunday, and freely talk openly about my faith. It is important to note that I was still indifferent about religion in that it didn’t matter to me what religion another person was. I was just happy with my own faith.

My room mates were shocked that I had a Catholic background. They began to show me their concerns with Catholicism. This was news to me as they were introducing comic books and all kinds of “anti-Catholic” propaganda. In the beginning, I was not equipped to handle this. I didn’t have a big brother, a Scott Hahn, or Jeff Cavins to explain any of this to me. I had to fight this battle myself. My last year in college I studied more in religion than any of my classes. It became a struggle.

I would be at baseball practice and there would be five guys waiting for me to talk with me with their King James bibles. I was being told that all I need was a “personal relationship” with God, that all I needed to be was “Born Again”! I was told that I needed to be “saved” and this could not be done through any earthly institution. To them it was not a religion, but a relationship.

I could be in the dining hall and I would have guys gather around me to talk about their faiths and why the Catholic Church was in error. My roommates would invite people over to our room to debate with me which always would go late at night. I was in trouble and knew it. If the Catholic Church was the “Whore of Babylon”, and the Pope the “Anti-christ”, then I had to really investigate this through.

I was studying probably at least 2 hours a day on the Catholic Church and the various “Protestant” denominations. I began to take issue with my roommates who had introduced the “Jack Chick” comic books. I began to see that if the Catholic Church was the True Faith established by Christ, then she had full and complete authority from Jesus it’s founder.

That would mean that those who practiced “Protestantism” grew out of those traditions founded upon men who abandoned the Catholic faith. I became convinced through study that this was the truth. Then I simply began to understand that those people who were attacking the Catholic Church were inadvertently attacking Christ Himself.

We had hours of endless debate until finally after 3 years, one of my room mates decided he needed a change. I agreed based on his decision. I always look upon him with thankfulness and kindness because he was able to help me find the truth.

I began to dream dreams that were so real that concerned the Second Coming of Christ, I was wondering what was going on. They were so real and powerful to me. 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.

After more than three years, my roommate began to open up to me for the first time that he was a homosexual. I had people ask me about it before, but I never knew, nor did I judge him with it. He had feared me because he knew I was a jock and that I was openly against this lifestyle.

He began to explain to me how he had been sexually assaulted by one of his Uncle’s when he was twelve years old. I did not condemn him, but actually felt compassion for him. He was raised a Protestant and was interested in the Catholic Church out of curiosity from the debates.

I told him that we all need forgiveness, and he could find it also. I also told him he needed to forgive his Uncle. We would continue to study Christianity together and I was there to see him Baptized into the Catholic Church. Thus, the birth of the Catholic Defender!

The Mighty Macs

Posted by John Benko - July 15th, 2012

Just saw this movie with my wife for the first time. An amazing true story. I highly recommend it.


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