*BEST OF DTB #107* The Catholic Defender: Casper, The Friendly Ghost

Posted by John Benko - October 27th, 2011

One question I have often been asked by people is, “Do you believe in Ghosts”?

Some people really go all out in this. You can go to the History Channel or some place on cable TV and find late at night some “Ghost Chasers” trying to catch something on tape.

You’ll be in a haunted house with all kinds of modern technology trying to pick up energy.

There have been movies based on the imagination which adds to some people more evidence of ghosts.

People may have their own idea of what a ghost is, but I will use the Webster’s Dictionary for a baseline for the purpose of this article.

According to the dictionary, a ghost is:

1. the seat of life or intelligence.
OK, well, that knocks out Progressives and liberals?

2. a disembodied soul, the soul of a dead person believed to be an inhabitant of the unseen world or to appear to the living in a bodily likeness.
That explanation is interesting. That one has some teeth to it.

3. Spirit, Demon. This definition may fit most of the examples given behind legend.

1 Samuel 28: 8-19 states, “So he (King Saul) disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and set out with two companions. They came to the woman by night (The Witch of Endor), and Saul said to her, Tell my fortune through a ghost; conjure up for me the one I ask you to. But the woman answered him, You are surely aware of what Saul has done, in driving the mediums and fortune-tellers out of the land. Why, then, are you laying snares for my life, to have me killed? But Saul swore to her by the Lord, As the Lord lives, you shall incur no blame for this. Then the woman asked him, Whom do you want me to conjure up? and he answered, Samuel. When the woman saw Samuel, she shrieked at the top of her voice and said to Saul, Why have you deceived ME? You are Saul! But the King said to her, Have no fear. What do you see? The woman answered Saul, I see a preternatural being rising from the earth. What does he look like? asked Saul. And she replied, It is an old man who is rising, clothed in a mantle. Saul knew that it was Samuel, and so he bowed face to the ground in homage. Samuel then said to Saul, Why do you disturb me by conjuring me up? Saul replied: I am in great straits, for the Philistines are waging war against me and God has abandoned me. Since he no longer answers me through prophets or in dreams, I have called you to tell me what I should do.

To this Samuel said: But why do you ask me, if the Lord has abandoned you and is with your neighbor? The Lord has done to you what he foretold through me: he has torn the kingdom from your grasp and has given it to your neighbor David. Because you disobeyed the Lord’s directive and would not carry out his fierce anger against Amalek, the Lord has done this to you today. Moreover, the Lord will deliver Israel, and you as well, into the clutches of the Philistines. By tomorrow you and your sons will be with me, and the Lord will have delivered the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines”.

There are some thoughts about this passage of scripture, the reaction of the Witch of Endor is very telling to me.

She was able to recognize a true manifestation of Samuel from the impersonations of demons.

Another question this creates is where Samuel came from. He did not come from heaven. The woman said, “I see a preternatural being rising from the earth”.

A preternatural being means to be beyond nature, one who is existing outside of nature. Samuel is coming from a State or abode of the dead, the netherworld. Sheol, that place St. Peter refers to as “prison” (1 Peter 3:19).

Another thought from this text is that Samuel appears as an old Man, one who King Saul recognized.

Samuel had not seen the Beatific Vision yet as he was among those awaiting for the Messiah. This is important to the Israelite following the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When these died, their bodies were buried with their ancestors.

Jacob gave this directive: “Since I am about to be taken to my kindred, bury me with my fathers in the cave that lies in the field of Machpelah, facing on Mamre, in the land of Canaan, the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for the burial ground. There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried, and so are Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there, too, I buried Leah– the field and the cave in it that had been purchased from the Hittites” (Genesis 49:29-32).

This has a sacred foundation based on the promise of the general resurrection.

We see an example of this in Matthew 27:51-53, “And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city (Jerusalem) and appeared to many”.

Was Samuel among this group released from “prison”?

Maybe, along with Abraham,Isaac, and Jacob? God is so good and praise his holy name for giving us his salvation.

I do not think that the image of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was what caused the Roman centurion to remark,“Truly, this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54)!

In the Old Testament, another interesting happening occurred when a band of Moabites were conducting a raid in Israel.

Some people were in the process of burying a man when they witnessed the raid. In fear, they tossed the dead man into the grave of Elisha and they took off for fear.

When the dead man came into contact with the bones of Elisha, “he came back to life and rose to his feet”.

Now, the text does say that “everyone went off”, was it for fear of the Moabites or was it from Elisha (2 Kings 13:21)?

Nobody hung around, that was for sure.

During a major storm the Apostles were being tossed about far off into the sea. Jesus meant to pass by the Apostles, but they saw him walking on the sea.

The Apostles naturally thought he was a ghost and cried out as they were all terrified. Jesus at once said to them, “Take courage, it is I,do not be afraid”(Mark 6:50)

St. Matthew adds that St. Peter said in reply “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water”! He said, “Come”.

St.Peter got out of the boat in the midst of the roaring waves and walked on water at least until he realized what he was doing and became distracted and began to sink. He took his eyes off the Lord and that still happens to any of us trying to make it on our own.

All Peter could do was to cry out “Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:26:30)!

Sometimes we find ourselves in situation where we need the Lords help to save us from all kinds of disasters and events in our lives. At the end of our life there are three possibilities we will have: Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory. At the end of the next age, Purgatory will totally be released.

At the general judgment at the Parousia, when Jesus returns at the Second Coming, there will be a total release of all the dead.

Matthew writes that at the Resurrection of Jesus, many saints were raised, at the end of time, all will be raised.

With the Judgment, there will be only two places, Heaven and hell.

Purgatory will be totally released and these will go to Heaven. Until then, we must be faithful to the “Bark of Peter” from which the voice of the Lord springs forth.

The following comes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and should be the light of the faithful as we hear the Lords voice:

CCC 2115 states, “God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility”.
Remember the case of King Saul and the Witch of Endor? Sometimes it might not be the best thing to know your future.

I think it would be best to let Providence give us tomorrow for today is the only thing we can be assure of. Now is the day of salvation, now is the acceptable time (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).

CCC 2116 states, “All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to unveil the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect,and loving fear that we owe to God alone”.

There have been some of the most known exorcisms brought about because people got involved with Ouija boards and other Occult enterprises.

We have seen a growth in witchcraft in our time through through the Wiccan covens. There is a serious cry for the supernatural by many people curious of extraordinary occurrences.

CCC 2117 States, “All practices of magic or sorcery,by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons, Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to the so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity”.

There have been visions our Lord has given to Saints such as Anne Catherine Emmerich who reveal mysteries and stories about the States of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.

St. Catherine stressed that it is more holy to pray for the Poor Souls in Purgatory than for sinners who are still alive.

Casper might be a funny children’s story, but people get lost sometimes between fantasy and reality.

God’s revelation of those in Purgatory reminds us of the importance to remember them and pray for them. I don’t know about a Ghost of Uncle Buck haunting the attic, that probably might be of demonic origin.

However, the Catholic Church does have authentic revelation of the Lord through his Saints that can keep our spiritual bearing grounded on the truth of God.


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*BEST OF DTB #94* The Catholic Defender: Personal Thoughts on Harry Potter

Posted by John Benko - July 6th, 2011

I know there are a lot of people who see the Harry Potter books and movies simply as children’s books.

Fantasy, strict entertainment. The bible and the Church has much to say about spells and incantations directed towards other gods or the devil.

With the rise of the Harry Potter sensation, so has the Wiccans benefited.

They have 1-800 numbers and witchcraft books where ever Harry Potter is advertized in book stores or libraries.

Some have even tried to “christianize” Harry Potter? The following are some of my thoughts:

The casting of spells is not a natural but a supernatural occurance. They are the product of demons who do the bidding of the one who summons them. There are specific incantations for different spells. It may appear laughable but it is not what God wants us to entertain ourselves with (1 Samuel 15:23).

What is magic? Especially when a supernatural power is attributed to it. A sorcerer. Magic is the “use of means as charms and spells believed to have supernatural power over natural forces”. I know we try to look for the good in all these movies, but a duck is still a duck, no matter how you clothe it.

This is typical for the average American. We feel that we are old enough and mature enough to enjoy what we want to watch. It is a personal right.


Ephesians 5:11
“Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but expose them”.


How we have lifted ourselves up in our own eyes! Rebellion is the same as witchcraft!

I’m not saying that watching Harry Potter will cause you to become a witch, though I do think it may cause people to become desensitized to it. If it’s OK to create a story line that makes magic and spells fun that opens the box that magic and spells are fun. How many people out there can tell the difference from a spell that is genuine and one that is fabricated. Where does the fabrication get the source that makes it fiction?

For me, this is a question of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If it is offensive to Him, I could care less if it has an impact on me or could sway me. If He says don’t play with it, I’m going to stay clear of it. I might think I could handle it, but He knows better! Satan’s power is deception! He certainly has been given a lot of play!

What is a spell? Is that associated with Christianity? Does dressing yourself with a pentagram mean your a witch? Does that mean you practice witchcraft?

What about fads that become popular? What about those who wear their pants baggy and halfway down their butt, does that mean they are from prison and homosexual? Maybe not, but it’s not a good fad to form the next generation.

Demons can be a lot of fun in fantasy, but I would hope that we can see it for what it is.

There is a great difference from a crucifix and a pentagram, from holy water and a wand, from the miraculous medal and tarot cards, from the bible and crystals.

The wicca (white light) believe that their spells are from goddesses that are good.
It’s not fantasy that I’m opposed to, but the origin from where it comes. Just reading the Cover to the DVD which informs us to join HP on his “amazing journey into the world of wizardry” and talks of their “magical abilities and courage in this spellbinding” book.

What is a wizard? They are a sorcerer having magical power. Worthy of the highest praise.

Wizardry, the art or practices of sorcery.

Jesus says,

“But as for cowards, the unfaithful, the depraved, murderers, SORCERERS, idol-worshipers, and deceivers of every sort, their lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulfur, which is the second death”.

Consider the continued rise in popularity of witchcraft. More young people are getting involved in it. I’ve had soldiers who practiced it and they thought of Harry Potter as free advertizement. people might not be affected by it, your salvation might be intact, but what about your neighbor, the girl down the street? Are we to the point that we don’t care about our fellow man? That’s not what the Church is about! We are suppose to bring the gospel to every nation. Seems like we have retreated and consorted with the enemy!

Another example: George Harrison (former Beatle) donated thousands of dollars to the Krishna movement, wrote a forward to a book encouraging Krishna consciousness in the western world, had a number one song dedicated to Krishna “My Sweet Lord”. The Beach Boys would have Mahareshe Mjewinf speak at their concerts. They would dim the lights down and encourage people to become followers. Mike Love would prance on stage dressed as a Krishna monk. It was ugly especially for me who loved the Beach Boys. Sadly, after about one year of this, nearly 1,000,000 young Americans became followers.

Is this harmless? For many people, it elevates curiosity. I know Psychiatrists who will say that few sins are brought on by a spur of the moment, but usually planned, developed through thought. People don’t wake up one day thinking that they want to be a witch or something, it is a process, moral, spiritual, and physical. But to a child who sees this as fantasy, many today are trying to get out of reality and are moving to the supernatural. They understand what they know and experience. They see nothing wrong with HP and so they do not see spells as evil.


From the CCC

“All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity.”

Now of course, the situations change when it involves a child’s book or a movie!

One final thought, have we ever thought to consider what the sin was that Judas Maccabees discovered among his fallen Soldiers? “On the following day, since the task had now become urgent, Judas and his men went to gather up the bodies of the slain and bury them with their kinsmen in their ancestral tombs. But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of jamnia, which the law forbids to the Jews to wear. So it was clear to all that this was why these men had been slain” (2 Maccabees 12:39-40).Making occult symbols into fads of fantasy does not change the Lord’s position of such symbols! The following video is dedicated to all the deepertruth friends out there!


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*BEST OF DTB #38* The Catholic Defender Explains Purgatory

Posted by John Benko - November 13th, 2010


It was June of 1985, I had already passed Basic Training and AIT. I was now at my first duty station at Fort Stewart Georgia.
I was assigned as a Medic with the Ambulance Section and given responsibility for a track M113A2 vehicle.
This was great experience for me as I learned a lot as we trained for our missions. I became involved with the local Catholic Church (St. Stephens) in Hinesville Georgia.
I was teaching the 5th grade CCD and still conducting Seminars on Rock music for the area to include a Catholic School in Savannah.
Those were great opportunities as we spoke to many students and families to include the presentation at the Fort Stewart Recreation Center. There were several single Soldiers present and they were very respectful. Father Norton was the Catholic Chaplain at the time and he supported our efforts.
Father Norton would become very special to me as I would serve as a “Lay Eucharistic Minister”. During field operations and “in the absence of a Catholic Priest”, I was responsible for the Eucharist, I could distribute Holy Communion. We often went to train at Fort Irvin California to conduct desert training for a 30 day rotation.

I would have the Blessed Sacrament with me for Catholic Communion Services in the field.
I could imagine how David felt as he danced before the Ark of the Old Covenant.
I had Jesus Christ in person with me. I will always treasure this gift. I met several Soldiers in my unit that became very special to me.
One was from Philadelphia who would discuss the Catholic Faith with me.
He was raised a Calvinist, but was not practicing it. Originally, he became interested in the work I was doing on the Rock Seminars. He would help me prepare for them. He had some good questions he asked me concerning Purgatory.
He didn’t understand why Catholics prayed for the dead. I began with the Old Testament showing that their were three places that were understood in the afterlife. Heaven, Sheol (the Netherworld) and Gehenna (hell).
It is understood that if a person goes to hell, there was no getting out of it. That is eternal punishment. I shared Maccabees 12:38-46 showing that praying for the dead was part of the Jewish belief system.
Some of Judas Maccabeus’s men who were killed in battle were found with Pagan amulets that offended God. This was forbidden yet some of them took the risk of disobedience. “Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas warned the soldiers to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pius thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin”.

This perfectly fell into the message I was giving with the Rock Seminars as there are a lot of images that Rock fans wear that are Pagan amulets such as Pentagrams, Hexagrams, and many others.

I explained how this understanding and belief carried over into the New Testament. 1 Peter 3:18-21 states, “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, 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”.


From the time when Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, mankind had not been allowed back to that relationship with God.

Those who were not damned were placed in “prison” awaiting for the promised Messiah. I shared Luke 16:19-31 explaining Jesus showing two places of the dead.
One was hell where the rich man went and the poor man (Lazarus) was in this “prison” or the “bosom of Abraham”.
There is a great chasm that prevents anyone from crossing from either side to the other. Jesus says something very important, warning, “Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead”.
Jesus was speaking of himself. When you read Matthew 27:51-54, your reading about the death of Jesus (Matthew 27:45-50) but follow what happens,
“And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many. The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, ‘Truly, this was the Son of God”! I was beginning to make sense for my friend as he continued to ask questions about this. He felt it was clear that in the Old Testament there was this place of waiting before Christ came.
Was this place of waiting done away with in the New Testament?
According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, no this place was not done away with. Jesus warns, “Therefore, I say to you, every sin and blaphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:31-32).
Knowing and understanding this, St. Paul writes, “May the Lord grant mercy to the family of Onesiphorus because he often gave me new heart and was not ashamed of my chains. But when he came to Rome, he promptly searched for me and found me. May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day. And you know very well the services he rendered in Ephesus” (2 Timothy 1:16-18).
August 1985, our unit was deploying to Fort Irwin California for a 30 day training event. My friend stayed back at Fort Stewart couple of days before he came out there. One night I was asleep near my vehicle when he found me and nudged me waking me up.
He wanted to share with me the good news that he was received into the Catholic Faith. Father Norton had been working with him and that was why he remained a couple of more day in the rear. What a blessing!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5HjNoTcj9w




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