*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 #261* The Catholic Defender: The SSG Cardenas Story

Posted by John Benko - March 31st, 2013

It was spring/summer of 2006, I was relatively new to my unit as the Medical Platoon Sergeant. At this time I received a new Soldier, PVT Cardenas, a very young 17 year old new recruit.

I placed him in support of B Company, 2-5 CAV. with the B Company line medics.

PVT Cardenas would be given the responsibility of taking care of his Platoon of Cavalry Soldiers.

This is a very important role to keep your Soldiers medically qualified to deploy at any given time. This includes insuring that their shots are all up to date, recorded in the MEPROS, and medical records.

They have to train their Combat Life Savers ensuring that they are within standards, they must remain proficient in their medical skills.

They are the subject matter experts the Platoon Leader and Platoon Sergeant depends upon. It is a great responsibility for anyone to assume.

We deployed to Iraq in October 2006 and PVT Cardenas was the youngest Soldier I took to Iraq.

This was a 15 month deployment as we would not return to the United States until after the middle of January, 2008.

During this time, PVT Cardenas would earn his promotion to SPC, E-4, as he did very well under a hostile environment.

 He served at a very small JSS (Joint Security Station) that our Battalion strengthened and fortified.

There was a lot of enemy contact and all my Medics performed brilliantly. They saved a lot of lives as did all my Medics.

When the opportunity arose, I encouraged my Soldiers to depend on God, to trust in Him to help them, along with their training. It is important to hold firmly your faith in such places.

PVT Cardenas was no exception, he was raised Protestant, and I knew his wife and family were culturally Catholic.

In 2009, our unit would redeploy back to Iraq for another 12 months and this time, SPC Cardenas was dedicated in studying the Catholic Faith.

We would get together when the opportunity was there, we were both at JSS Sader City, which was a very dangerous place to be.

 I had medics at JSS UR, FORD, Comanche, War Eagle, and other places in our operations of theater.

The Platoons would constantly be out on missions so it was difficult for much organization there. We did the best that we could. I would bring SPC Cardenas up for promotion to Sergeant and so he went before the Board and did excellent getting a high score.

Upon returning from this deployment, SPC P Cardenas would PCS out of the Unit and transfer out to another Station in San Antonio Texas.

I would go to the Fort Hood Medical Hospital and finish out my 26 year career there.

Throughout this time, I always encouraged him to excel in his military career as I did with all my Soldiers, but most importantly, I encouraged him to continue his journey to the Catholic Faith.

This past year, I was honored to Sponsor SSG Cardenas into the Catholic Faith this past Easter Vigil, March 30, 2013 (San Antonio Texas).

He was able to share with me his success being recognized as NCO of the Year at his Unit/Station.

What an honor this is and another one I am most proud of. Like a Father, I have had one Soldier recognized nationally as Soldier of the Year by the USO, celebrated in Washington D.C. and another one earning the “Daisey Award” which is rare for a lower enlisted to earn.

SSG Cardenas is certainly in that company of great Soldiers I have had the opportunity to lead and serve with.

Not only did SSG Cardenas receive the Sacramental Grand Slam, Baptism. Confirmation, and God be praised, Holy Communion, his wife was confirmed along with him! What a great blessing for the Cardenas family and what an honor for me to Sponsor SSG Cardenas.


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