*BEST OF DTB #226* The Catholic Defender: Father Duffy Of the Fighting 69th

Posted by John Benko - November 12th, 2012

One of my favorite old movies is called “The Fighting 69th”.

This is the story of a largely Irish regiment with the additions of other ethnic groups who had fought in the Civil War with distinction. I remember the 4th Alabama that fought for the South had once defeated the “Fighting 69″ in the Civil War, now they were being merged as one unit.

One of the greatest American Chaplains of all time served for this unit during World War I, Father Francis Patrick Duffy.

He was a Catholic Priest who served as an Army Chaplain during the Spanish and American War.

Because of the impending war to end all wars, Father Duffy was appointed as Chaplain of the “Fighting 69th” based out of New York in 1912.

Father Duffy by this time was promoted to Major and served as the senior chaplain of the 42nd Division.

Joyce Kilmer, a noted poet of the time wrote of the sea voyage across the Atlantic, “as long as the mess-line,” people would be waiting to go to confession.

Can you imagine this today? This is powerful. I will insert a story in Iraq that a Priest told me of a Soldier who came to Confession, he had been in several conflicts and was worried he might not make the next one out alive.

Father heard his confession and sadly, the Soldier was killed within six days in a battle.

Father Duffy continued to have long lines of Soldiers going to confession.

Father would offer Mass every morning using a make shift altar from a long board on two nail kegs.

It did not take the “Fighting 69th” long to enter the war, they arrived in France in November 1917.

If you scene the movie “War Horse”, you can get an idea what the trenches was like.

The Fighting 69th took position from French forces at Luneville in the Lorraine sector in 1918.

After two days of bombings they were hit by mustard gas killing over 400 Soldiers.

Father Duffy was always up on the front lines hearing confessions and offering Mass.

He was well loved by all the Soldiers as he encouraged them.

Father Duffy was most known for his presence among his troops.

He would travel with the medics which is common today, I was graced to serve with several Catholic Priests in a war zone.

I remember always having a chaplain with our aid station in the Gulf War. I would be serving Mass daily (Father would make an altar using MRE boxes) in the Saudi Arabian desert and
Father and I would walk around the perimeter praying the Rosary together.

Operation Iraq Freedom was different in that we were not set up like a conventional front line situation. We were set up in Joint Security Station’s (JSS) many of which never had a Catholic Priest.

I was utilized by the ArchDiocese of the Military as a Catholic Minister offering Catholic “Liturgy of the Word” Services.

Father Duffy showed great moral courage in the face of the heaviest fighting.

He was there to give care and comfort to the wounded offering the Last Rites to the dying.

Father Duffy was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal.

After the War, Father Duffy would serve as a Parish Priest in New York City.

If anyone out there from New York would like to send pictures of any monument that would be great!

Father would publish a book, “Father Duffy’s Story” about his experience in World War I. He died in 1932.


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*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 #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 #97* The Catholic Defender: Clean

Posted by John Benko - July 12th, 2011

Luke 5:21 states, “Then the Scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?”

The Religious leaders of the Jews did not recognize Christ’s authority to forgive sins.

Jesus asks what is easier; to tell this man your sins are forgiven or pick up his mat and walk.

Jesus astounded the crowd when the man picked up his mat and walked.

Jesus states, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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”.

When I read John 20:23 I find that Jesus did instruct his Apostles to forgive mens sins and hold them bound. This is an authority commanded by Christ!

It is Jesus who forgives in the action of his Ministers. The question becomes, do you believe in Jesus, and does he have the power to forgive sins?

I say, yes he does! Can Jesus use his Church? Yes, he can!

He has commanded it! Jesus gives this authority to forgive sins to his Church saying, “Recieve the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retaned” (John 20:23).

St. Paul would refer to this Ministry as the Ministry of Reconciliation. I’ve heard some say they do not need a “middle man” for forgiveness, they believe you can go straight to Jesus.

I encourage to take all concerns to Jesus everytime. However, when dealing with sin and reconciliation, I must say that we are to go to the Catholic Priest to recieve absolution. St. Paul writes, “And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their traspasses 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 Corinthians 5:18-20).

St. Paul continues, “Working together, then, we appeal to you not to recieve the grace of God in vain. For he says: In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you. Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6: 1-2).

James sees this “middle man” important for the sick man saying, “Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the Church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14-15).

I prefer to have this “middle man” as well, those who are present that the Lord is working through.

The Ministry of Reconciliation was important to the poor sinner who has strayed from the truth, “My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).

When you confess your sins, the Lord takes those confessed sins and throws them into the sea of forgetfulness and he remembers them no more.

You also recieve a judgment in the Confessional, a judgment of mercy. The Confessional is the mercy seat of God.

To be truly free and clean of sin, the Lord gives us his “Ministry of Reconciliation!


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