*BEST OF DTB #112* The Catholic Defender: I kneel before the King

Posted by John Benko - November 23rd, 2013

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”.

Kneeling has always been seen as an act of surrender to God, a sign of deep respect and reverance.

Psalms 95:6 says, “Enter, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us. For this is our God, whose people we are, God’s well-tended flock”.

In the Mass, we are truly “God’s well-tended flock”. In the Mass is found the true worship of God through the liturgy.

In the Old Testament, we see King Solomon kneeling before the Altar of the Lord. 1 Kings 8:54 says, “When Solomon finished offering this entire prayer before the altar of the Lord, he rose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had been kneeling with his hands outstretched towards heaven”.

The Altar represents “holy ground” because this is where the great sacrifice continues before the assembly. God’s presence is made manifest before all through the invocation of the Priest.

Tradition pictures that Moses at the burning bush went to his knees.

Artists have shown this sign of surrender in many paintings, I love the scene with Charlten Heston in the movie “The Ten Commandments“!

God calls out, “Moses, Moses, He answered, ‘Here I am’, God said, ‘Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob’. Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God”.

Quite simply, to kneel is to bend the knee, to fall or rest on the knees. That is what I picture Moses doing as he takes his sandles off.

Is there a time in your life when you recognized the power of God and simply went to your knees? Maybe an extreme situation?

At Mass we kneel at the consecration of the Eucharist. We recognize God working and as his presence is made manifested at the Altar in the form of bread and wine.

In the New Testament, we see kneeling as a sign of respect and great reverance. Matthew 17:14 says, “When they came to the crowd a man approached, knelt down before him (Jesus), and said, ‘Lord, have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic and suffers severely; often he falls into fire, and often into water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him’.

Jesus cures the boy, however, he tells the Apostles, “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you”.

Jesus is teaching us about the importance of faith in Him, and as the man concerned about his son, we too should kneel before the King of kings especially when we approach him with humility.

Mark 1:40 states, “A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, ‘If you wish, you can make me clean”. Moved with pity, he (Jesus) stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean’. The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean”.

This is another scene where tradition plays a role is the story of the man born blind whom Jesus heals.

There are many such stories in the New Testament where Jesus encounted the sick, the lame, and the blind. Jesus heals them all.

The Church has always believed in the Divinity of Christ and because of this has always placed Jesus as the object of worship.

We believe in the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever amen!

John 9:35 says the following, “When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered and said, ‘Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him and the one speaking with you is he.’ He said, ‘I do believe, Lord,’ and he worshiped him”.

Like the scene with Moses, I can see this healed blind man kneeling to Jesus with gratitude.

There are a lot of such images found in the bible especially surrounding Jesus.

This also reveals the kind of adoration people gave Jesus. Jesus was clearly being worshiped as in the this scene.

In the early Church, kneeling signified penance. So thoroghly was kneeling identified with penance that the early Christians were forbidden to kneel on Sundays and during the Easter season, when the prevailing spirit of the Liturgy was one of joy and thanksgiving.

In the Middle Ages kneeling came to signify homage, and more recently this posture has come to signify adoration, especially before the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

It is for this reason that the bishops of the United States have chosen the posture of kneeling for the entire Eucharistic Prayer.

Kneeling is also a sign of respect as seen when a Knight is being elevated or even if a heavenly manisfestation such as the Blessed Virgin Mary or an angel appears.

Our worship is to God alone, therefore, we do not kneel before images or apparitions, but we recognize God at work through them.

There is a distinction of worhip given to God alone, and the respect given the heavenly realm.

Often times you will see an image of children kneeling before the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Kneeling is seen here as paying honor and respect with attention to the message that comes from Heaven.

Any true heavenly manisfestation would not allow you to worship such an event unless it was Jesus personally speaking such as the case with St. Faustina when Jesus appeared to her giving us the message of the Divine Mercy.



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The Catholic Defender takes a quick look at the Trinity

Posted by John Benko - September 22nd, 2013

(Editors note) (deepertruth wants to extend a great and wonderful day for all the Father’s out there! May you be enriched by your families this day and everyday!)

The Trinity is the great mystery of the nature of God. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, one God in Three Divine Persons.

The easiest way that I’ve associated the Trinity together is my tool of water.

There is Steam, liquid, and ice that is of the same substance, yet three forms.

Using mathematical calculations, there are fractions, decimals, and percentages that can derive the same answer.

God is Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Just looking from the scriptures, there are some unique comparisons:

Isaiah 45:22-25 states, “Turn to me and be safe, all you ends of the earth, for I am God; there is no other! By myself I swear, uttering my just decree and my unalterable word: To me every knee shall bend; by me every tongu shall swear, Saying, ‘Only in the Lord are just deeds and power. Before him in shame shall come all who vent their anger against him. In the Lord shall be the vindication and the glory of all the descendants of Israel”.

Philippians 2:6-11 states, “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

Revelation 1:8 states, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty”. Again, Revelation 21:6-7 states, “He said to me, ‘They are accomplished, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water”.

Referring to Jesus, Revelation 22:12 states, “Behold, I am coming soon, I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end”.

Exodus 3:13 states, “But. said Moses to God, ‘when I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your Fathers has sent me to you, if they ask me what is your name? what am I to tell them’? God replied, ‘I am who am’. Then he added, ‘This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you”.

John 8:57-58 states, “So the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham’? Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM”.

1 Samuel 2:10 states, “The Lord’s foes shall be shattered. The Most High in heaven thunders; the Lord judges the ends of the earth. Now may he give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed”.

2 Corinthians 5:9-10 states, “Therefore, we aspire to please him, whether we are at home or away. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil”.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (232) states, “Christians are baptized ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’. Before receiving the sacrament, they respond to a three-part question when asked to confess the Father, the Son, and the Spirit: ‘I do”. ‘The faith of all Christians rest on the Trinity”.

The Athanasian creed gives a summary of the early Church’s teaching on the Trinity :

We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost; but the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten; the Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten; the Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
        the Only Begotten Son of God,
        born of the Father before all ages.
    God from God, Light from Light,
        true God from true God,
    begotten, not made, consubstantial
       with the Father;
        Through him all things were made.
    For us men and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven,
        and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
        of the Virgin Mary,
        and became man.
    For our sake he was crucified
      under Pontius Pilate,
        he suffered death and was buried,
        and rose again on the third day
        in accordance with the Scriptures.
    He ascended into heaven
        and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again in glory
        to judge the living and the dead
        and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
        the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
    who with the Father and the Son
        is adored and glorified,
        who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic,
     and apostolic Church.
    I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
        and I look forward to the resurrection
        of the dead and the life of the world to come.
Amen.


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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!