The Catholic Defender: Priscilla and Aquila, Friends of St. Paul

Posted by Donald Hartley - May 7th, 2016

apollos 1After staying in Antioch some time, Paul left and traveled in orderly sequence through the Galatian country and Phrygia, bringing strength to all the disciples. A Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, an eloquent speaker, arrived in Ephesus. He was an authority on the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord and, with ardent spirit, spoke and taught accurately about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the Way of God more accurately. And when he wanted to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. After his arrival he gave great assistance to those who had come to believe through grace. He vigorously refuted the Jews in public, establishing from the Scriptures that the Christ is Jesus.

There is a lot of history written in between the lines of this scripture coming from Act’s 18:23-28. Antioch became an early Christian center as a result of the great persecution of the followers of Jesus which began with the stoning of St. Stephen (Act’s 7:54-60). In fact, it was Antioch that the followers of Jesus first became known as Christian (Act’s 11:26) and first called Catholic (Act’s 9:31 Greek Translation). Acts 9:31 states, “Then the church throughout all* Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.” In the original Greek, it is: “Acts 9:31 ἡ μεν ουν εκκλησια καθ᾽ ὁλης της ιουδαιας και γαλιλαιας και σαμαρειας ειχεν ειρηνην οικοδομουμενη και πορευομενη τω φοβω του κυριου, και τη παρακλησει του ἁγιου πνευματος επληθυνοντο.”

ignatius 1The term in bold commonly translated as ‘church throughout all’ is in Greek ‘”εκκλησια καθ᾽ ὁλης”—pronounced “Ekklesia Kath olos” (Catholic) or the Church Universal, since Kath olos is the same term used by St Ignatius of Antioch for the Church in his letter. St. Ignatius (3rd Bishop of Antioch-follower of St. John) later would write the Smyrnaeans on his way to Rome as a prisoner, “Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” St. Ignatius would be thrown to wild beasts giving his life for Christ and would not abandon the Catholic Faith.

Notice a familiar name, Apollos, who was known by the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 3:1-23) who originally brought division in the Corinthian Church. Appollos was a Jew from Alexandria, Egypt, who was well learned of the Old Testament Scripture (Septuagint specific from Alexandria 256 B.C.) arrived in Ephesus. Apollos was being instructed in the “Way of the Lord” and learned of Jesus through the prism of the baptism of St. John (Matthew 3:1-6). As a new Christian, being an authority on the Old Testament, Appollos began teaching in the synagogue. He had great zeal, but he was ill-prepared to preach without knowing or understanding the fullness of truth (the Catholic Faith).

apollos 2It was about this time that Priscilla (wife of Aquila) and Aquila ran into Apollos. Now, Priscilla and Aquila were companions of St. Paul traveling from Corinth to Syria (Ephesus) (Acts 18:1-22) when they ran into Apollos in Ephesus (Acts 18:24-26). Once Apollos had met St. Paul and learned the whole teaching of Jesus, Apollos became a dynamic witness and defender of the Faith (Jude 3).

Think about this text, how important it is to continue to learn about Jesus and our Catholic Faith? Today there are many like Apollos, who have a zeal to proclaim the “Way of the Lord” with what they believe. Apollos was considered an authority on the scriptures (Old Testament) but without knowing or understanding the concrete meaning coming from the Apostles, he caused division.

Ephesians 2:19-22 states, “So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

apollos 3To be a prophet, it is not a matter of competing to be the best witness or follower of Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:5-9), but it is a team effort that brings us together by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1-31).

Now there are over 40,000 plus new (Christian) religions (Galatians 1:6-9), so many voices, the truth of the Catholic Faith can sometimes be blurred by the many Apollos who see themselves as their own authority who preach through the prism of their own understanding. This is why it is important that as Catholics, we hold fast to that apostolic faith (2 Thessalonians 2:15, 3,6-7), and be a sign and a witness like Priscilla and Aquila that will lead many to the deeper truth of following Jesus. Living the life of Grace through the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, we want to pass it on.

Acts 16:9-18 gives the example of the missionary fervor of St. Paul to reach people for Christ, “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing beseeching him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. Setting sail therefore from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Ne-apolis, and from there to Philippi, which is the leading city of the district of Macedonia, and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days; and on the sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together.
apollos 4One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul. And when she was baptized, with her household, she besought us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by soothsaying. She followed Paul and us, crying, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul was annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.”

Great signs and wonders accompanied St. Paul and his Co-workers. Here on Deepertruth, we are graced to share many of these signs and wonders on our radio show covering Eucharistic Miracles with Dr. Gregory Thompson and Marian Apparitions with Marianologist John Carpenter. There are many signs and wonders of the Lord (Act’s 2:17-19) from the great work coming from Joesph Martone Jr in Colorado always in battle saving unborn children to Judy Alciatore who shares poems from the Lord.

apollos 5What a great thing it is when we are friends with the friends of Jesus, St. Paul sent greeting to Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. Onesiphorus was a co-worker with St. Paul who found Paul in chains in Rome when most abandoned him (2 Timothy 1:15-18). Onesiphorus had by this time of St. Paul’s writing passed away and we find St. Paul interceding for him before the Lord Jesus on that great Day of judgement.

We who believe today because of the great missionary activity of St. Paul and the early Church, we too have received the same blessed Grace poured out by Jesus through His friends today.

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The Guardian Angel: The Eucharistic Miracle of Meersen Netherlands 1222 and 1465

Posted by Donald Hartley - April 13th, 2016

ignatius 1“Consider how contrary to the mind of God are the heterodox in regard to the grace of God which has come to us. They have no regard for charity, none for the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, none for the man in prison, the hungry or the thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead.” “Letter to the Smyrnaeans”, paragraph 6. circa 80-110 A.D.

When you take the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch and consider them with the over all text of Scripture, this helps bring into perspective the miracle of God’s word being handed down.

Notice as St. Ignatius writes the Smyrnaeans, the unique similarity with Matthew 25:34-40, “Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ There is no question that St. Ignatius ties Jesus Christ with the Eucharist and the Bishops of the Church.

ignatius“Come together in common, one and all without exception in charity, in one faith and in one Jesus Christ, who is of the race of David according to the flesh, the son of man, and the Son of God, so that with undivided mind you may obey the bishop and the priests, and break one Bread which is the medicine of immortality and the antidote against death, enabling us to live forever in Jesus Christ.” -“Letter to the Ephesians”, paragraph 20, c. 80-110 A.D.

It’s interesting looking at the words St. Ignatius writes the Ephesians reminding them of their one faith in Jesus Christ. St. Paul wrote the Ephesians just a few decades before, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” St. Paul said that he was made an Apostle for our benefit, just as St. Ignatius exhorts us to obey the bishops and the priests today coming from that one faith.

ignatius 2“I have no taste for the food that perishes nor for the pleasures of this life. I want the Bread of God which is the Flesh of Christ, who was the seed of David; and for drink I desire His Blood which is love that cannot be destroyed.” -“Letter to the Romans”, paragraph 7, circa 80-110 A.D.

St. Ignatius was a disciple of St. John the Apostle, as He writes his letter to the Romans, notice the very unique influence in what St. Ignatius writes from what he learned from St. John, ” Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.” John 6:27

St. Ignatius gives us a deeper clue to what St. John was saying to his listeners. We are to hunger for the Bread of Life which is Jesus who established the Covenant on his precious body and blood (soul and divinity).

“Take care, then who belong to God and to Jesus Christ – they are with the bishop. And those who repent and come to the unity of the Church – they too shall be of God, and will be living according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If any man walk about with strange doctrine, he cannot lie down with the passion. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of His Blood; one altar, as there is one bishop with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons.” -Epistle to the Philadelphians, 3:2-4:1, 110 A.D.

There is so much scripture here to consider that shows no doubt the knowledge of St. Ignatius retained from what he learned from the Apostles.

Last supperRegarding the unity of the Church, Jesus prayed these words at the Last Supper with His Apostles, “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:20-24

St. Ignatius speaks about the concern of schism. Schism comes from the root word skizam or skitso meaning without division. The scriptural text here comes from John 21:11, “So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.” The 153 fish represents all the nations, peoples and tongues. The whole Church in all the nations in one net, undivided.

paul 4St. Paul speaks of those who follows “strange doctrines”, “Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness;” 1 Timothy 4:7

Anything that takes us away from the true Sacrifice of Jesus Covenant is in truth godless. I’ve seen this where a person will denounce the Catholic Faith now claiming a personal relationship with Jesus. They come to deny the very Jesus they think they now know better than the Saints of God. Strange doctrines rooted from heresies like Sola Scriptura have led many down a wrong path. Jesus continues to point to Himself and the truth of the Catholic Faith which is based in Scripture. Jesus gives us great signs and wonders of His true presence among us in the holy Mass.

The Eucharistic Miracle of Meersen Netherlands 1222 and 1465

The people of the Netherlands over the years suffered greatly due to foreign invaders from the fourth century Barbarian to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century. In 1421, a terrible flood drowns nearly 10,000 people. Despite the calamities, Jesus has always maintained a remnant of believers in the Netherlands. The past few years the Catholic Church in the Netherlands is about 23% of the population, nearly 4,000,000. It has been slowly decreasing as Secularism continues to plague Christian Europe. Islam is on the march there growing at 6%. Jesus has never taken His hands away from His Catholic Church in the Netherlands.

Gerberga of SaxonyAt the middle of the 10th century, the wife of then King Louis IV of Outremer, Gerberga of Saxony, enlarged their chapel in Meerssen. This place became an important place of pilgrimage due to Jesus giving a great sign among the people. In 1222, during Holy Mass on Sunday, as Father was consecrating the Holy Eucharist, living Blood began to drip from the Large Host staining the Mass corporal. This event was recognized by by the ecclesiastical authorities and the blood stained corporal was placed in the church for veneration and honor. In 1465 a massive fire broke out which ultimately destroyed the church. A brave farmer who happened to be near the church was able to rescue the relic. The blood stained corporal was completely unharmed.

The bravery of the faithful man who saved the miracle that happened 243 years before the fire, the people remembered this event as the “Miracle of the Fire”. The Church of Meerssen was rebuilt and in 1938 Pope Pius XI raised this church to a minor basilica. Despite the save of Secularism and Islam reaching the Netherlands, today, there is still major pilgrimages that are centered in the Netherlands and the miraculous blood stained corporal is carried each year on the octave of Corpus Christi.

bleeding HostIt is appropriate to recall the words of St. Ignatius, “I have no taste for the food that perishes nor for the pleasures of this life. I want the Bread of God which is the Flesh of Christ, who was the seed of David; and for drink I desire His Blood which is love that cannot be destroyed.” -“Letter to the Romans”, this is a great reminder that despite all that the world denies. St. Paul wrote of the Roman Church, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” The Eucharist is taken to all the world at every Catholic Church and Tabernacle. Hebrews 13:10

O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because you revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

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