*BEST OF DTB #142* The Catholic Defender: Spirit of the Soveriegn Lord

Posted by John Benko - May 6th, 2013

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who mourn; To place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes, To give them oil of gladness in place of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit” (Isaiah 61:1-3).

We see this scripture fulfilled at the baptism of Jesus. It is at this point that Jesus begins His public ministry.

The Gospel of Matthew records what happens, “The Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased “ (Matthew 3:13-17).

This is a most important connection that St. Matthew reveals because Jesus is truly the Messiah that Isaiah bore witness to.

This scene in Matthew is also important because we see a glimpse of the Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

We will again see this image at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8). After the Resurrection, Jesus will send the Catholic Church to go to all the nations to baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).

This is important for all of God’s people because we have the means to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit through our own Baptism (Acts 2:38) and receive the power of the Holy Spirit through the “laying of hands” (Hebrews 6:2).

St. Paul instructs St. Timothy, “Do not lay hands too readily on anyone, and do not share in another’s sin. Keep yourself pure (1 Timothy 5:22).

Why do we see this caution from St. Paul? St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians is key!

He writes, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory. It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me” (Colossians 1:24-29).

St. Paul is instructing us to prepare our converts, preparing them to receive the gift and power of the Holy Spirit. St. Timothy is instructed not to “lay hands” too readily.

They must be prepared and instructed in the Faith.

St. Paul says “The aim of this instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).

 Regardless if you are a catechuman, a candidate, or you are a life long Catholic, the Church calls us to take self inventory.

Jesus was tempted, He began His public Ministry being “led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1).

The 40 days has a symbolic meaning for Christians. We see the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years.

Jonah warned the Ninevites that God would destroy the great city in 40 days (Jonah 3:4) and the people responded by covering themselves with sackcloth and ashes.

God spared them because of their repentance. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, a 40 day season of the Church.

It is at the Easter Vigil that millions around the world are be recieved into the Catholic Faith. Catechumans are baptized and along with the Candidates, are confirmed into the Catholic Faith.

They will receive the Eucharist and share at the Table of Plenty with the whole Church!

Ascension Thursday is so important because it is the birth of the Papacy. 

Daniel 7:13-14 states, “As the visions during the night continued, I saw One like a son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, He received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.”

Consider what Jesus Promised to St. Peter, “Blessed are you Simon son of Bar-Jonah.  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.  And so I say to you, you are Peter (Kapa), and upon this rock (Kapa) I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and what ever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:17-19).

Consider Jesus, the Son of Man, giving the keys to his “Royal Stewart” once He received this dominion at the appointed time with the Ascension of Jesus. 

Jesus is the stone that destoys the great statue of Babylon.  “In the lifetime of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destoyed or delivered up to another people”.

Ascension Thursday is a very important feast of the Church!

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*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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