The Catholic Defender: To Whom Shall We Go

Posted by John Benko - July 23rd, 2013

Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” The Lord was reacting to the many who were formerly following him. When Jesus is speaking to “the Twelve”, he is speaking to the whole Church. St. Peter’s response is the million dollar question! “To whom shall we go”? With all the voices out in the public square competing for position in the heart and mind of people, St. Peter clearly defines Jesus: “You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

It’s interesting that it was also St. Peter speaking for the “Twelve“, the whole Church, identifying who Jesus is. Jesus asked his disiples “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The response was varied, “some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” It was St. Peter who came out saying, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

It is important to understand who Jesus is because he is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Jesus has the words of eternal life!

St. John put it this way, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” He was in the beginning with God… And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”

Jesus Said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is what St. Peter and the Apostles came to believe through following the Lord and witnessing his public miracles. Jesus changed the water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana in Galilee and revealed his glory, “and his disciples began to believe in him”.

Of the works of Jesus, St. John writes, “It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. There are many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world contain the books that would be written.”

I want to come back to St. Peter’s question, “To whom shall we go”? What does this mean? Can we know where to find this truth?

At the Trial of Sir THOMAS MORE Knight, Lord Chancellor of England, for High- Treason in denying; King Henry VIII’s act of Supremecy, May 7, 1535. St. Thomas said:

” Who presently made Answer in these words: For as much as, my Lords, this Indictment is grounded upon an Act of Parliament, directly repugnant ,to the Laws of God and his Holy Church, the Supreme Government of which, or of any part thereof, no Temporal Person may by any Law presume to take upon him, being what right belongs to the See of Rome, which by special Prerogative was granted by the Mouth of our Savior Christ himself to St. Peter, and the Bishops of Rome his Successors only, whilst he lived, and was personally present here on Earth: it is therefore, amongst Catholic Christians, insufficient in Law, to charge any Christian to obey it. And in order to the proof of his Assertion, he declared among other things, that whereas this Kingdom alone being but one Member, and a small part of the Church, was not to make a particular Law disagreeing with the general Law of Christ’s universal Catholic Church, no more than the City of London, being but one Member in respect to the whole Kingdom, might enact a Law against an Act of Parliament, to be binding to the whole Realm: so he shewed farther, That Law was ,even contrary to the Laws and Statutes of the Kingdom yet unrepealed, as might evidently be seen by Magna Charta, wherein are these Words; Ecclesia Anglicana libera sit, & habet omnia jura integra, & libertates suas illcesas: And it is contrary also to that sacred Oath which the King’s Majesty himself, and every other Christian Prince, always take with great Solemnity, at their Coronations.”

So great was Sir Thomas’s Zeal, that he further alleged, that it was worse in the Kingdom of England becasue of their rebellion. St. Thomas More believed Obedience to the See of Rome was likened to any Child to do to his natural Parent: for, as St. Paul said to the Corinthians, I have regenerated you, my Children, in Christ; so might that worthy Pope of Rome, St. Gregory the Great, say of us Englishmen, Ye are my Children, because I have given you everlasting Salvation: for by St. Augustine and his followers, his immediate Messengers, England first received the Christian faith, which is a far higher and better Inheritance than any carnal Sather can leave to his Children; for a. Son is only by generation, we are by Regeneration made the spiritual Children of Christ and the Pope.”

St. Thomas More was put to death because he would not renounce Jesus Christ before any court of man. Of the Church that Christ founded, Isaiah wrote, “No weapon fashioned against you shall prevail; every tongue you shall prove false that launches an accusation against you. This is the lot of the sevants of the Lord, their vindication from me, says the Lord.”

Because of King Henry’s persecution of the Catholic Faith, bringing Protestantism into England, a massive persecution of the Church took place between 1534 until 1829. Also, other denominations grew out of the Protestant movement such as the various Baptist groups, the Methodist and through the King James Bible, they influenced much of the Protestant world.

St. Paul writes, “So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

This is the answer to St. Peter’s question, “To Whom shall we go!” We are to go to His Church, the Catholic Church. The Church St. Paul referred to as the “pillar and foundation of truth.”

God’s grace is imparted upon the world through the Lord Jesus Christ’s Church. St. Paul writes, “Because of this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles–if, as I suppose, you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was GIVEN TO ME for your benefit, namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly earlier.” The Apostles became the arbitors of Grace, transmitting this grace through the Sacraments.

This is why the Lord chose the Apostles and commissioned them to go to all the nations. St. Paul himself received this grace states, “Of this I became a minister by the gift of God’s grace that was granted me in accord with the excercise of his power. To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for all what the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things, so that manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens.”

What are the “riches of Christ?” What is the “mystery hidden from ages past?” It is the fulfillment of the new Covenant promised through the Prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34), it is the sign the people who first abandoned Christ asked for (John 6:30).

Jesus Christ is the sign come down from heaven, he is the “Bread of Life” who comes to us at every Eucharist. Jesus is present to you each and every Communion. When the Priest elevates the host proclaiming “the Body of Christ“, by saying “Amen”, we answer St. Peter’s question, “To whom shall we go”! To go to Him who has called us, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed”. Amen!


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The Catholic Defender: Shepherd Me Oh Lord

Posted by John Benko - July 17th, 2013

“Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, against the shepherds who shepherd my people: you have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds. I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from the lands to which I have driven them and bring them back to their meadow; there they shall increase and multiply. I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble; and none shall be missing, says the Lord. Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; As KIng he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security. This is the name they give him: The Lord our Justice.”

“The Lord our justice” is Jesus Christ, he is the “righteous shoot to David”! Jesus appointed his apostles to lead his holy Catholic Church, to “shepherd” His people. Jesus himself gathered his Apostles to build the remnant of his people Israel and established the new and everlasting Covenant.

Pope Francis is the 266th successor of St. Peter and all the current bishops today are the true successors of the Apostles in an unbroken line of apostolic succession.

If there is a Catholic Priest or Bishop who is teaching contrary to Catholic Teaching, if they are teaching that you can be a good Catholic and openly dissent from official Catholic teaching, then I would say that such a Priest or Bishop have lost site of their first mission in serving Jesus Christ. Even though the above scripture applies to the Old Testament, it is certainly applicable here and now.

We need to pray for our Spiritual leaders, “Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfull their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).

St Paul wrote St. Timothy, “Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks, for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you” (1 Timothy 4:16).

St. Peter writes, “So I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed. Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:1-4).

St. Peter received this message from the Lord himself: “Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

St. Peter was crucified upside down at Vatican Hill in 67 A.D. glorifying God through his martyrdom as Jesus had said.

When my Sons Nathan and Jason were still in their teens, Nathan would sometimes come up with some cool guitar licks just messing around.

He would go days playing it as he was really becoming a fine guitar player. I encourgaged him to take this one sound he came up with and try placing the words of Psalms 23 with it.

What resulted would be one of my favorite songs we did as a group.

Jason is my little drummer boy, at 13-14 he became a leader of the band keeping us on track with his beat. I am so proud of all my children as they continue to do well.

The following song is both Nathan and Jason playing before a good crowd in Hopkinsville Kentucky.


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* BEST OF DTB #65* The Catholic Defender: St. Peter in Rome

Posted by John Benko - February 14th, 2011

The primary reason why some dispute St. Peter was in Rome is because they want to take St. Peter out of the authority of the Catholic Church.

With St. Peter out of the way that would open the door to them to reject the Catholic Faith.

This is pure and simple. I find it interesting that they will call the Catholic Church the “Whore of Babylon” because they believe that the Church was founded in Rome by Constantine.

Yet, when you share with them that St. Peter was in Rome based on the premise that he was in “Babylon”, they can’t accept that. 1 Peter 5:12-13 states, “I write you this briefly through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it. The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son”.

BTW, St. Mark’s Gospel entered the New Testament canon through the authority of St. Peter. St. Luke’s Gospel was recognized through the authority of St. Paul. Babylon was a code name for Rome.

Following St. Peter during the early years after the Passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus we know that he was present at Pentecost. He gives the first Papal dissertation in Acts 2:14-41 when 3,000 people were baptized the first day.

A short time later, St. Peter gave a second speech at the portico called “Solomon’s Portico”. St. Peter and John were taken from there to the Sanhedrin where the Pharisees wanted to punish them but feared the people who were praising God (Acts 4:21).

We know that St. Peter was still in the Holy Land when persecution broke out against the Christians.

After St. Stephen was stoned to death, people went everywhere to escape Saul of Tarsus. Everyone except the Apostles. St. Peter gives a third speech and Baptized Cornelius near Caesarea.

St. Peter received a vision and message from an angel while in Joppa when three men came to see him to take him to Cornelius.

This would be very important for the early Church as God reveals to St. Peter his plan of salvation for the Gentiles.

St. Peter begins to speak when the Holy Spirit came upon the house of Cornelius.

St. Peter ensures the baptism of the entire household (Acts 10:9-48).

This would become important for the early Church and infant baptism.

King Herod captures St. Peter and puts him in prison, but God had other plans for St. Peter getting him away from the clutches of Herod (Acts 12:1-17).

We know that St. Peter was in Jerusalem for the Council of Jerusalem (49 A.D.), “After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to them, ‘My brothers, you are well aware that from the early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit just as he did us. He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts”.

After this scene, we do not see much of St. Peter in Jerusalem. This is the last time we see St. Peter in the book of Acts. St. Paul becomes the dominate figure from this point on.

So where does St. Peter Go? Does he ride his donkey into the sunset into retired life? No, not at all!

According to Tradition, St. Peter went to Antioch and ordained St. Evodius a bishop.

St. Peter appears to have gone immediately to Antioch after being released from jail by the angel. St. Ignatius of Antioch was a disciple of the Apostle John, who died around AD 100 AD.

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347 – 407 AD), grew up in Antioch, learned the history which taught that St. Ignatius had been ordained at the hands of Apostles, including St. Peter.

According to ancient tradition, St. Ignatius was the child whom Christ had held, as described in Matthew 18:4. It is also from here that St. John Chrysostom learned the history and tradition that Christ was born on December 25th, 2 B.C.

St. John Chrysostom would preach on the subject literally on Christmas day. It is important to understand from this tradition, St. Peter was in Antioch at one point. What about St. Peter in Rome?

Writing in his Annals circa A.D. 116, Tacitus a Pagan Historian, describes the response of Emperor Nero to the great fire that swept Rome in A.D. 64:
“But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.”
Suetonius, another Pagan historian also confirms Nero’s persecution of Christians at Rome (c. 120 A.D.):
“Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to
a new and mischievous superstition.” (Lives of the Caesars 26.2)

One of the Early Church Fathers who heard from St. Peter personally, was ordained by St. Peter would become the third successor to St. Peter. St. Clement of Rome about 95 A.D. wrote:

“Let us come to the heroes nearest to our times. . . . Let us set before our eyes the good apostles; Peter, who by reason of unrighteous jealousy endured not one or two but many labours, and having thus borne his witness went to his due place of glory. Paul, by reason of jealousy and strife, pointed out the prize of endurance. . . . When he had preached in the East and in the West he received the noble renown of his faith. Having taught righteousness to the whole world, even reaching the bounds of the West, and having borne witness before rulers, he thus left the world and went to the holy place, becoming the greatest pattern of endurance.”

St. Clement writes of Peter‘s stay in Rome, “I do not command you, as Peter and Paul did”.
Ignatius of Antioch wrote:

“Not as Peter and Paul did, do I command you [Romans]. They were apostles, and I am a convict” (Letter to the Romans 4:3 [A.D. 110]). Such a comment would only make sense if Peter had been a leader, if not the leader, of the church in Rome.

Later in the second century, Irenaeus of Lyons believed that Peter and Paul had been the founders of the Church in Rome and had appointed Linus as succeeding bishop.

Tertullian also writes: “But if you are near Italy, you have Rome, where authority is at hand for us too. What a happy church that is, on which the apostles poured out their whole doctrine with their blood; where Peter had a passion like that of the Lord, where Paul was crowned with the death of John (the Baptist, by being beheaded).”

St. Dionysius of Corinth also serves as a late second-century witness to the tradition. He wrote: “You (Pope Soter) have also, by your very admonition, brought together the planting that was made by Peter and Paul at Rome and at Corinth; for both of them alike planted in our Corinth and taught us; and both alike, teaching similarly in Italy, suffered martyrdom at the same time”.

Later tradition, first found in Saint Jerome, attributes to Peter a 25-year episcopate (or apostolate) in Rome.
St. Peter’s crucifixion in Rome is the only recorded traditional account of St. Peters death. John 21:18 states, ” Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God”.It is interesting to note that there are no viable examples or traditions of St. Peter having this experience anywhere else.

The grave that is claimed by the Church to be that of St. Peter lies at the foot of the aedicula beneath the floor under the main Altar. DNA testing reveals that the bones found were the bones of a 60-70 year old man.

On June 26, 1968, Pope Paul VI announced that the relics of St. Peter had been discovered. The evidence through scientific analysis found St. Peters name more than 20 times at the site, the bones had a purple and gold fabric.




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