The Catholic Preachers Group

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Scripture and Tradition

Protestants claim the Bible is the only rule of faith, meaning that it contains all of the material one needs for theology and that this material is sufficiently clear that one does not need apostolic tradition or the Church’s magisterium (teaching authority) to help one understand it. In the Protestant view, the whole of Christian truth is found within the Bible’s pages. Anything extraneous to the Bible is simply non-authoritative, unnecessary, or wrong—and may well hinder one in coming to God.

Catholics, on the other hand, recognize that the Bible does not endorse this view and that, in fact, it is repudiated in Scripture. The true "rule of faith"—as expressed in the Bible itself—is Scripture plus apostolic tradition, as manifested in the living teaching authority of the Catholic Church, to which were entrusted the oral teachings of Jesus and the apostles, along with the authority to interpret Scripture correctly.

In the Second Vatican Council’s document on divine revelation, Dei Verbum (Latin: "The Word of God"), the relationship between Tradition and Scripture is explained: "Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit. To the successors of the apostles, sacred Tradition hands on in its full purity God’s word, which was entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit.

"Thus, by the light of the Spirit of truth, these successors can in their preaching preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. Consequently it is not from sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same devotion and reverence."

But Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestants, who place their confidence in Martin Luther’s theory of sola scriptura (Latin: "Scripture alone"), will usually argue for their position by citing a couple of key verses. The first is this: "These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31). The other is this: "All Scripture is
inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be equipped, prepared for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16–17). According to these Protestants, these verses demonstrate the reality of sola scriptura (the "Bible only" theory).

Not so, reply Catholics. First, the verse from John refers to the things written in that book (read it with John 20:30, the verse immediately before it to see the context of the statement in question). If this verse proved anything, it would not prove the theory of sola scriptura but that the Gospel of John is sufficient.

Second, the verse from John’s Gospel tells us only that the Bible was composed so we can be helped to believe Jesus is the Messiah. It does not say the Bible is all we need for salvation, much less that the Bible is all we need for theology; nor does it say the Bible is even necessary to believe in Christ. After all, the earliest Christians had no New Testament to which they could appeal; they learned from oral, rather than written, instruction. Until relatively recent times, the Bible was inaccessible to most people, either because they could not read or because the printing press had not been invented. All these people learned from oral instruction, passed down, generation to generation, by the Church.

Much the same can be said about 2 Timothy 3:16-17. To say that all inspired writing "has its uses" is one thing; to say that only inspired writing need be followed is something else. Besides, there is a telling argument against claims of Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestants. John Henry Newman explained it in an 1884 essay entitled "Inspiration in its Relation to Revelation."

Newman’s argument

He wrote: "It is quite evident that this passage furnishes no argument whatever that the sacred Scripture, without Tradition, is the sole rule of faith; for, although sacred Scripture is profitable for these four ends, still it is not said to be sufficient. The Apostle [Paul] requires the aid of Tradition (2 Thess. 2:15). Moreover, the Apostle here refers to the scriptures which Timothy was taught in his infancy.

"Now, a good part of the New Testament was not written in his boyhood: Some of the Catholic epistles were not written even when Paul wrote this, and none of the books of the New Testament were then placed on the canon of the Scripture books. He refers, then, to the scriptures of the Old Testament, and, if the argument from this passage proved anything, it would prove too much, viz., that the scriptures of the New Testament were not necessary for a rule of faith."

Furthermore, Protestants typically read 2 Timothy 3:16-17 out of context. When read in the context of the surrounding passages, one discovers that Paul’s reference to Scripture is only part of his exhortation that Timothy take as his guide Tradition and Scripture. The two verses immediately before it state: "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:14–15).

Paul tells Timothy to continue in what he has learned for two reasons: first, because he knows from whom he has learned it—Paul himself—and second, because he has been educated in the scriptures. The first of these is a direct appeal to apostolic tradition, the oral teaching which the apostle Paul had given Timothy. So Protestants must take 2 Timothy 3:16-17 out of context to arrive at the theory of sola scriptura. But when the passage is read in context, it becomes clear that it is teaching the importance of apostolic tradition!

The Bible denies that it is sufficient as the complete rule of faith. Paul says that much Christian teaching is to be found in the tradition which is handed down by word of mouth (2 Tim. 2:2). He instructs us to "stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thess. 2:15).

This oral teaching was accepted by Christians, just as they accepted the written teaching that came to them later. Jesus told his disciples: "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me" (Luke 10:16). The Church, in the persons of the apostles, was given the authority to teach by Christ; the Church would be his representative. He commissioned them, saying, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19).

And how was this to be done? By preaching, by oral instruction: "So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ" (Rom. 10:17). The Church would always be the living teacher. It is a mistake to limit "Christ’s word" to the written word only or to suggest that all his teachings were reduced to writing. The Bible nowhere supports either notion.

Further, it is clear that the oral teaching of Christ would last until the end of time. "’But the word of the Lord abides for ever.’ That word is the good news which was preached to you" (1 Pet. 1:25). Note that the word has been "preached"—that is, communicated orally. This would endure. It would not be
supplanted by a written record like the Bible (supplemented, yes, but not supplanted), and would continue to have its own authority.

This is made clear when the apostle Paul tells Timothy: "[W]hat you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2). Here we see the first few links in the chain of apostolic tradition that has been passed down intact from the apostles to our own day. Paul instructed Timothy to pass on the oral teachings (traditions) that he had received from the apostle. He was to give these to men who would be able to teach others, thus perpetuating the chain. Paul gave this instruction not long before his death (2 Tim. 4:6–8), as a reminder to Timothy of how he should conduct his ministry.

What is Tradition?

In this discussion it is important to keep in mind what the Catholic Church means by tradition. The term does not refer to legends or mythological accounts, nor does it encompass transitory customs or practices which may change, as circumstances warrant, such as styles of priestly dress, particular forms of devotion to saints, or even liturgical rubrics. Sacred or apostolic tradition consists of the teachings that the apostles passed on orally through their preaching. These teachings largely (perhaps entirely) overlap with those contained in Scripture, but the mode of their transmission is different.

They have been handed down and entrusted to the Churchs. It is necessary that Christians believe in and follow this tradition as well as the Bible (Luke 10:16). The truth of the faith has been given primarily to the leaders of the Church (Eph. 3:5), who, with Christ, form the foundation of the Church (Eph. 2:20). The Church has been guided by the Holy Spirit, who protects this teaching from corruption (John 14:25-26, 16:13).

Handing on the faith

Paul illustrated what tradition is: "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures. . . . Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed" (1 Cor. 15:3,11). The apostle praised those who followed Tradition: "I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you" (1 Cor. 11:2).

The first Christians "devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching" (Acts 2:42) long before there was a New Testament. From the very beginning, the fullness of Christian teaching was found in the Church as the living embodiment of Christ, not in a book. The teaching Church, with its oral, apostolic tradition, was authoritative. Paul himself gives a quotation from Jesus that was handed down orally to him: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).

This saying is not recorded in the Gospels and must have been passed on to Paul. Indeed, even the Gospels themselves are oral tradition which has been written down (Luke 1:1–4). What’s more, Paul does not quote Jesus only. He also quotes from early Christian hymns, as in Ephesians 5:14. These and other things have been given to Christians "through the Lord Jesus" (1 Thess. 4:2).

Fundamentalists say Jesus condemned tradition. They note that Jesus said, "And why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?" (Matt. 15:3). Paul warned, "See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ" (Col. 2:8). But these verses merely condemn erroneous human traditions, not truths which were handed down orally and entrusted to the Church by the apostles. These latter truths are part of what is known as apostolic tradition, which is to be distinguished from human traditions or customs.

"Commandments of men"

Consider Matthew 15:6–9, which Fundamentalists and Evangelicals often use to defend their position: "So by these traditions of yours you have made God’s laws ineffectual. You hypocrites, it was a true prophecy that Isaiah made of you, when he said, ‘This people does me honor with its lips, but its heart is far from me. Their worship is in vain, for the doctrines they teach are the commandments of men.’" Look closely at what Jesus said.

He was not condemning all traditions. He condemned only those that made God’s word void. In this case, it was a matter of the Pharisees feigning the dedication of their goods to the Temple so they could avoid using them to support their aged parents. By doing this, they dodged the commandment to "Honor your father and your mother" (Ex. 20:12).

Elsewhere, Jesus instructed his followers to abide by traditions that are not contrary to God’s commandments. "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice" (Matt. 23:2–3).

What Fundamentalists and Evangelicals often do, unfortunately, is see the word "tradition" in Matthew 15:3 or Colossians 2:8 or elsewhere and conclude that anything termed a "tradition" is to be rejected. They forget that the term is used in a different sense, as in 1 Corinthians 11:2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:15, to describe what should be believed. Jesus did not condemn all traditions; he condemned only erroneous traditions, whether doctrines or practices, that undermined Christian truths. The rest, as the apostles taught, were to be obeyed. Paul commanded the Thessalonians to adhere to all the traditions he had given them, whether oral or written.

The indefectible Church

The task is to determine what constitutes authentic tradition. How can we know which traditions are apostolic and which are merely human? The answer is the same as how we know which scriptures are apostolic and which are merely human—by listening to the magisterium or teaching authority of Christ’s Church. Without the Catholic Church’s teaching authority, we would not know with certainty which purported books of Scripture are authentic. If the Church revealed to us the canon of Scripture, it can also reveal to us the "canon of Tradition" by establishing which traditions have been passed down from the apostles. After all, Christ promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church (Matt. 16:18) and the New Testament itself declares the Church to be "the pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15).


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Is Catholicism Pagan?

If few Fundamentalists know the history of their religion—which distressingly few do—even fewer have an appreciation of the history of the Catholic Church. They become easy prey for purveyors of fanciful "histories" that claim to account for the origin and advance of Catholicism.

Anti-Catholics often suggest that Catholicism did not exist prior to the Edict of Milan, which was issued in 313 AD and made Christianity legal in the Roman Empire. With this, pagan influences began to contaminate the previously untainted Christian Church. In no time, various inventions adopted from paganism began to replace the gospel that had been once for all delivered to the saints. At least, that is the theory.

Pagan Influence Fallacy

Opponents of the Church often attempt to discredit Catholicism by attempting to show similarities between it and the beliefs or practices of ancient paganism. This fallacy is frequently committed by Fundamentalists against Catholics, by Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and others against both Protestants and Catholics, and by atheists and skeptics against both Christians and Jews.

The nineteenth century witnessed a flowering of this "pagan influence fallacy." Publications such as The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop (the classic English text charging the Catholic Church with paganism) paved the way for generations of antagonism towards the Church. During this time, entire new sects were created (Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses)—all considering traditional Catholicism and Protestantism as polluted by paganism. This era also saw atheistic "freethinkers" such as Robert Ingersoll writing books attacking Christianity and Judaism as pagan.

The pagan influence fallacy has not gone away in the twentieth century, but newer archaeology and more mature scholarship have diminished its influence. Yet there are still many committing it. In Protestant circles, numerous works have continued to popularize the claims of Alexander Hislop, most notably the comic books of Jack Chick and the book Babylon Mystery Religion by the young Ralph Woodrow (later Woodrow realized its flaws and wrote The Babylon Connection? repudiating it and refuting Hislop). Other Christian and quasi-Christian sects have continued to charge mainstream Christianity with paganism, and many atheists have continued to repeat—unquestioned—the charges of paganism leveled by their forebears.

Use of a round wafer implies sun worship?

Hislop and Chick argue that the wafers of Communion are round, just like the wafers of the sun worshippers of Baal. They don’t bother to mention that the wafers used by the same pagans were also ovals, triangles, some with the edges folded over, or shaped like leaves or animals, etc. The fact that a wafer is round does not make it immoral or pagan, since even the Jews had wafers and cakes offered in the Old Testament (Gen. 18:1-8, Ex 29:1-2).

Unfortunately for Chick and other Fundamentalists, their arguments backfire. An atheist will take the pagan connection one step further, saying, "Christianity itself is simply a regurgitation of pagan myths: the incarnation of a divinity from a virgin, a venerated mother and child, just like Isis and Osiris, Isa and Iswara, Fortuna and Jupiter, and Semiramis and Tammuz. Beyond this, some pagans had a triune God, and pagan gods were often pictured with wings, as was your God in Psalms 91:4. The flames on the heads of the apostles were also seen as an omen from the gods in Roman poetry and heathen myths long before Pentecost. A rock is struck that brings forth water in the Old Testament . . . just like the pagan goddess Rhea did long before then. Also, Jesus is known as the ‘fish,’ just like the fish-god Dagon, etc." Unless the Fundamentalists are willing to honestly examine the logical fallacies and historical inaccuracies, they are left defenseless. Fortunately, like the attacks on Catholicism in particular, all of the supposed parallels mentioned above self-destruct when examined with any scholarly rigor. If not guilty of historical inaccuracies, they all are guilty of what can be called "pagan influence fallacies."

Anything can be attacked using fallacy

The pagan influence fallacy is committed when one charges that a particular religion, belief, or practice is of pagan origin or has been influenced by paganism and is therefore false, wrong, tainted, or to be repudiated. In this minimal form, the pagan influence fallacy is a subcase of the genetic fallacy, which improperly judges a thing based on its history or origins rather than on its own merits (e.g., "No one should use this medicine because it was invented by a drunkard and adulterer").

Very frequently, the pagan influence fallacy is committed in connection with other fallacies, most notably the post hoc ergo proper hoc ("After this, therefore because of this") fallacy—e.g., "Some ancient pagans did or believed something millennia ago, therefore any parallel Christian practices and beliefs must be derived from that source." Frequently, a variant on this fallacy is committed in which, as soon as a parallel with something pagan is noted, it is assumed that the pagan counterpart is the more ancient. This variant might be called the similis hoc ergo propter hoc ("Similar to this, therefore because of this") fallacy.

When the pagan influence fallacy is encountered, it should be pointed out that it is, in fact, a fallacy. To help make this clear to a religious person committing it, it may be helpful to illustrate with cases where the pagan influence fallacy could be committed against his own position (e.g., the practice of circumcision was practiced in the ancient world by a number of peoples—including the Egyptians—but few Jews or Christians would say that its divinely authorized use in Israel was an example of "pagan corruption").

To help a secular person see the fallacy involved, one might point to a parallel case of the genetic fallacy involving those of his perspective (e.g., "Nobody should accept this particular scientific theory because it was developed by an atheist").

Whenever one encounters a proposed example of pagan influence, one should demand that its existence be properly documented, not just asserted. The danger of accepting an inaccurate claim is too great. The amount of misinformation in this area is great enough that it is advisable never to accept a reported parallel as true unless it can be demonstrated from primary source documents or through reliable, scholarly secondary sources. After receiving documentation supporting the claim of a pagan parallel, one should ask a number of questions:

1. Is there a parallel? Frequently, there is not. The claim of a parallel may be erroneous, especially when the documentation provided is based on an old or undisclosed source.

For example: "The Egyptians had a trinity. They worshiped Osiris, Isis, and Horus, thousands of years before the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were known" (Robert Ingersoll, Why I Am an Agnostic). This is not true. The Egyptians had an Ennead—a pantheon of nine major gods and goddesses. Osiris, Isis, and Horus were simply three divinities in the pantheon who were closely related by marriage and blood (not surprising, since the Ennead itself was an extended family) and who figured in the same myth cycle. They did not represent the three persons of a single divine being (the Christian understanding of the Trinity). The claim of an Egyptian trinity is simply wrong. There is no parallel.

2. Is the parallel dependent or independent? Even if there is a pagan parallel, that does not mean that there is a causal relationship involved. Two groups may develop similar beliefs, practices, and artifacts totally independently of each other. The idea that similar forms are always the result of diffusion from a common source has long been rejected by archaeology and anthropology, and for very good reason: Humans are similar to each other and live in similar (i.e., terrestrial) environments, leading them to have similar cultural artifacts and views.

For example, Fundamentalists have made much of the fact that Catholic art includes Madonna and Child images and that non-Christian art, all over the world, also frequently includes mother and child images. There is nothing sinister in this. The fact is that, in every culture, there are mothers who hold their children! Sometimes this gets represented in art, including religious art, and it especially is used when a work of art is being done to show the motherhood of an individual. Mother-with child-images do not need to be explained by a theory of diffusion from a common, pagan religious source (such as Hislop’s suggestion that such images stem from representations of Semiramis holding Tammuz). One need look no further than the fact that mothers holding children is a universal feature of human experience and a convenient way for artists to represent motherhood.

3. Is the parallel antecedent or consequent? Even if there is a pagan parallel that is causally related to a non-pagan counterpart, this does not establish which gave rise to the other. It may be that the pagan parallel is a late borrowing from a non-pagan source. Frequently, the pagan sources we have are so late that they have been shaped in reaction to Jewish and Christian ideas. Sometimes it is possible to tell that pagans have been borrowing from non-pagans. Other times, it cannot be discerned who is borrowing from whom (or, indeed, if anyone is borrowing from anyone).

For example: The ideas expressed in the Norse Elder Edda about the end and regeneration of the world were probably influenced by the teachings of Christians with whom the Norse had been in contact for centuries (H. A. Guerber, The Norsemen, 339f).

4. Is the parallel treated positively, neutrally, or negatively? Even if there is a pagan parallel to a non-pagan counterpart, that does not mean that the item or concept was enthusiastically or uncritically accepted by non-pagans. One must ask how they regarded it. Did they regard it as something positive, neutral, or negative?

For example: Circumcision and the symbol of the cross might be termed "neutral" Jewish and Christian counterparts to pagan parallels. It is quite likely that the early Hebrews first encountered the idea of circumcision among neighboring non-Jewish peoples, but that does not mean they regarded it as a
religiously good thing for non-Jews to do. Circumcision was regarded as a religiously good thing only for Jews because for them it symbolized a special covenant with the one true God (Gen. 17). The Hebrew scriptures are silent in a religious appraisal of non-Jewish circumcision; they seemed indifferent to the fact that some pagans circumcised.

Similarly, the early Christians who adopted the cross as a symbol did not do so because it was a pagan religious symbol (the pagan cultures which use it as a symbol, notably in East Asia and the Americas, had no influence on the early Christians). The cross was used as a Christian symbol because Christ died on a cross—his execution being regarded as a bad thing in itself, in fact, an infinite injustice—but one from which he brought life for the world. Christians did not adopt it because it was a pagan symbol they liked and wanted to copy.

Examples of negative parallels are often found in Genesis. For instance, the Flood narrative (Gen. 6-9) has parallels to pagan flood stories, but is written so that it refutes ideas in them. Thus Genesis attributes the flood to human sin (6:5-7), not overpopulation, as Atrahasis’ Epic and the Greek poem Cypria did (I. Kikawada & A. Quinn). The presence of flood stories in cultures around the world does not undermine the validity of the biblical narrative, but lends it more credence.

Criticism, refutation, and replacement are also the principles behind modern holidays being
celebrated to a limited extent around the same time as former pagan holidays. In actuality, reports of Christian holidays coinciding with pagan ones are often inaccurate (Christmas does not occur on Saturnalia, for example). However, to the extent the phenomenon occurs at all, Christian holidays were introduced to provide a wholesome, non-pagan alternative celebration, which thus critiques and rejects the pagan holiday.

This is the same process that leads Fundamentalists who are offended at the (inaccurately alleged) pagan derivation of Halloween to introduce alternative "Reformation Day" celebrations for their children. (This modern Protestant holiday is based on the fact that the Reformation began when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517.) Another Fundamentalist substitution for Halloween has been "harvest festivals" that celebrate the season of autumn and the gathering of crops. These fundamentalist substitutions are no more "pagan" than the celebrations of days or seasons that may have been introduced by earlier Christians.

Historical truth prevails

Ultimately, all attempts to prove Catholicism "pagan" fail. Catholic doctrines are neither borrowed from the mystery religions nor introduced from pagans after the conversion of Constantine. To make a charge of paganism stick, one must be able to show more than a similarity between something in the Church and something in the non-Christian world. One must be able to demonstrate a legitimate connection between the two, showing clearly that one is a result of the other, and that there is something wrong with the non-Christian item.

In the final analysis, nobody has been able to prove these things regarding a doctrine of the Catholic faith, or even its officially authorized practices. The charge of paganism just doesn’t work.

NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004

IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
+Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Assurance of Salvation?

There are few more confusing topics than salvation. It goes beyond the standard question posed by Fundamentalists: "Have you been saved?" What the question also means is: "Don’t you wish you had the assurance of salvation?" Evangelicals and Fundamentalists think they do have such an absolute assurance.

All they have to do is "accept Christ as their personal Savior," and it’s done. They might well live exemplary lives thereafter, but living well is not crucial and definitely does not affect their salvation.

Kenneth E. Hagin, a well-known Pentecostal televangelist from the "Word Faith" wing of Protestantism, asserts that this assurance of salvation comes through being "born again": "Unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Though much of Hagin’s theology is considered bizarre in Protestant circles, his explanation of being born again could be endorsed by millions of Evangelical Protestants. In his booklet, The New Birth, Hagin writes, "The new birth is a necessity to being saved. Through the new birth you come into the right relationship with God."

According to Hagin, there are many things that this new birth is not. "The new birth is not: confirmation, church membership, water baptism, the taking of sacraments, observing religious duties, an intellectual reception of Christianity, orthodoxy of faith, going to church, saying prayers, reading the Bible, being moral, being cultured or refined, doing good deeds, doing your best, nor any of the many other things some men are trusting in to save them." Those who have obtained the new birth "did the one thing necessary: they accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior by repenting and turning to God with the whole heart as a little child." That one act of the will, he explains, is all they needed to do. But is this true? Does the Bible support this concept?

Scripture teaches that one’s final salvation depends on the state of the soul at death. As Jesus himself tells us, "He who endures to the end will be saved" (Matt. 24:13; cf. 25:31–46). One who dies in the state of friendship with God (the state of grace) will go to heaven. The one who dies in a state of enmity and rebellion against God (the state of mortal sin) will go to hell.

For many Fundamentalists and Evangelicals it makes no difference—as far as salvation is concerned—how you live or end your life. You can heed the altar call at church, announce that you’ve accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, and, so long as you really believe it, you’re set. From that point on there is nothing you can do, no sin you can commit, no matter how heinous, that will forfeit your salvation. You can’t undo your salvation, even if you wanted to.

Does this sound too good to be true? Yes, but nevertheless, it is something many Protestants claim. Take a look at what Wilson Ewin, the author of a booklet called There is Therefore Now No Condemnation, says. He writes that "the person who places his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and his blood shed at Calvary is eternally secure. He can never lose his salvation. No personal breaking of God’s or man’s laws or commandments can nullify that status."

"To deny the assurance of salvation would be to deny Christ’s perfect redemption," argues Ewin, and this is something he can say only because he confuses the redemption that Christ accomplished for us objectively with our individual appropriation of that redemption. The truth is that in one sense we are all redeemed by Christ’s death on the cross—Christians, Jews, Muslims, even animists in the darkest forests (1 Tim. 2:6, 4:10, 1 John 2:2)—but our individual appropriation of what Christ provided is contingent on our response.

Certainly, Christ did die on the cross once for all and has entered into the holy place in heaven to appear before God on our behalf. Christ has abundantly provided for our salvation, but that does not mean that there is no process by which this is applied to us as individuals. Obviously, there is, or we would have been saved and justified from all eternity, with no need to repent or have faith or anything else. We would have been born "saved," with no need to be born again. Since we were not, since it is necessary for those who hear the gospel to repent and embrace it, there is a time at which we come to be reconciled to God. And if so, then we, like Adam and Eve, can become unreconciled with God and, like the prodigal son, need to come back and be reconciled again with God, after having left his family.

You Can’t Lose Heaven?

Ewin says that "no wrong act or sinful deed can ever affect the believer’s salvation. The sinner did nothing to merit God’s grace and likewise he can do nothing to demerit grace. True, sinful conduct always lessens one’s fellowship with Christ, limits his contribution to God’s work and can result in serious disciplinary action by the Holy Spirit."

One problem with this argument is that this is not even how things work in everyday life. If another person gives us something as a grace—as a gift—and even if we did nothing to deserve it (though frequently gifts are given based on our having pleased the one bestowing the gift), it in no way follows that our actions are irrelevant to whether or not we keep the gift. We can lose it in all kinds of ways. We can misplace it, destroy it, give it to someone else, take it back to the store. We may even forfeit something we were given by later displeasing the one who gave it—as when a person has been appointed to a special position but is later stripped of that position on account of mismanagement.

The argument fares no better when one turns to Scripture, for one finds that Adam and Eve, who received God’s grace in a manner just as unmerited as anyone today, most definitely did demerit it—and lost grace not only for themselves but for us as well (cf. also Rom. 11:17-24). While the idea that what is received without merit cannot be lost by demerit may have a kind of poetic charm for some, it does not stand up when compared with the way things really work—either in the everyday world or in the Bible.

Regarding the issue of whether Christians have an "absolute" assurance of salvation, regardless of their actions, consider this warning Paul gave: "See then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off" (Rom. 11:22; see also Heb. 10:26–29, 2 Pet. 2:20–21).

Can You Know?

Related to the issue of whether one can lose one’s salvation is the question of whether one can know with complete certainty that one is in a state of salvation. Even if one could not lose one’s salvation, one still might not be sure whether one ever had salvation. Similarly, even if one could be sure that one is now in a state of salvation, one might be able to fall from grace in the future. The "knowability" of salvation is a different question than the "loseability" of salvation.

From the Radio Bible Class listeners can obtain a booklet called Can Anyone Really Know for Sure? The anonymous author says the "Lord Jesus wanted his followers to be so sure of their salvation that they would rejoice more in the expectation of heaven than in victories on earth. ‘These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:13).’"

Places where Scripture speaks of our ability to know that we are abiding in grace are important and must be taken seriously. But they do not promise that we will be protected from self-deception on this matter. Even the author of Can Anyone Really Know for Sure? admits that there is a false assurance: "The New Testament teaches us that genuine assurance is possible and desirable, but it also warns us that we can be deceived through a false assurance. Jesus declared: ‘Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord" shall enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt. 7:21)."

Sometimes Fundamentalists portray Catholics as if they must every moment be in terror of losing their salvation since Catholics recognize that it is possible to lose salvation through mortal sin. Fundamentalists then hold out the idea that, rather than living every moment in terror, they can have a calm, assured knowledge that they will, in fact, be saved, and that nothing will ever be able to change this fact.

But this portrayal is in error. Catholics do not live lives of mortal terror concerning salvation. True, salvation can be lost through mortal sin, but such sins are by nature grave ones, and not the kind that a person living the Christian life is going to slip into committing on the spur of the moment, without deliberate thought and consent. Neither does the Catholic Church teach that one cannot have an assurance of salvation. This is true both of present and future salvation.

One can be confident of one’s present salvation. This is one of the chief reasons why God gave us the sacraments—to provide visible assurances that he is invisibly providing us with his grace. And one can be confident that one has not thrown away that grace by simply examining one’s life and seeing whether one has committed mortal sin. Indeed, the tests that John sets forth in his first epistle to help us know whether we are abiding in grace are, in essence, tests of whether we are dwelling in grave sin. For example, "By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother" (1 John 3:10), "If any one says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:20), "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).

Likewise, by looking at the course of one’s life in grace and the resolution of one’s heart to keep following God, one can also have an assurance of future salvation. It is this Paul speaks of when he writes to the Philippians and says, "And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). This is not a promise for all Christians, or even necessarily all in the church at Philippi, but it is a confidence that the Philippian Christians in general would make it. The basis of this is their spiritual performance to date, and Paul feels a need to explain to them that there is a basis for his confidence in them. Thus he says, immediately, "It is right for me to feel thus about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel" (1:7). The fact that the Philippians performed spiritually by assisting Paul in his imprisonment and ministry showed that their hearts were with God and that it could be expected that they, at least in general, would persevere and remain with God.

There are many saintly men and women who have long lived the Christian life and whose characters are marked with profound spiritual joy and peace. Such individuals can look forward with confidence to their reception in heaven.

Such an individual was Paul, writing at the end of his life, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day" (2 Tim. 4:7-8). But earlier in life, even Paul did not claim an infallible assurance, either of his present justification or of his remaining in grace in the future. Concerning his present state, he wrote, "I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby justified [Gk., dedikaiomai]. It is the Lord who judges me" (1 Cor. 4:4). Concerning his remaining life, Paul was frank in admitting that even he could fall away: "I pummel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified" (1 Cor. 9:27). Of course, for a spiritual giant such as Paul, it would be quite unexpected and out of character for him to fall from God’s grace. Nevertheless, he points out that, however much confidence in his own salvation he may be warranted in feeling, even he cannot be infallibly sure either of his own present state or of his future course.

The same is true of us. We can, if our lives display a pattern of perseverance and spiritual fruit, have not only a confidence in our present state of grace but also of our future perseverance with God. Yet we cannot have an infallible certitude of our own salvation, as many Protestants will admit. There is the possibility of self-deception (cf. Matt. 7:22-23). As Jeremiah expressed it, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9). There is also the possibility of falling from grace through mortal sin, and even of falling away from the faith entirely, for as Jesus told us, there are those who "believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13). It is in the light of these warnings and admonitions that we must understand Scripture’s positive statements concerning our ability to know and have confidence in our salvation. Assurance we may have; infallible certitude we may not.

For example, Philippians 2:12 says, "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." This is not the language of self-confident assurance. Our salvation is something that remains to be worked out.

What To Say

"Are you saved?" asks the Fundamentalist. The Catholic should reply: "As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:18, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13)."

NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004

IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
+Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004

Are Catholics Born Again?

Catholics and Protestants agree that to be saved, you have to be born again. Jesus said so: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).

When a Catholic says that he has been "born again," he refers to the transformation that God’s grace accomplished in him during baptism. Evangelical Protestants typically mean something quite different when they talk about being "born again."

For an Evangelical, becoming "born again" often happens like this: He goes to a crusade or a revival where a minister delivers a sermon telling him of his need to be "born again."

"If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and believe he died for your sins, you’ll be born again!" says the preacher. So the gentleman makes "a decision for Christ" and at the altar call goes forward to be led in "the sinner’s prayer" by the minister. Then the minister tells all who prayed the sinner’s prayer that they have been saved—"born again." But is the minister right? Not according to the Bible.

The Names of the New Birth

Regeneration (being "born again") is the transformation from death to life that occurs in our souls when we first come to God and are justified. He washes us clean of our sins and gives us a new nature, breaking the power of sin over us so that we will no longer be its slaves, but its enemies, who must fight it as part of the Christian life (cf. Rom. 6:1–22; Eph. 6:11–17). To understand the biblical teaching of being born again, we must understand the terms it uses to refer to this event.

The term "born again" may not appear in the Bible. The Greek phrase often translated "born again" (gennatha anothen) occurs twice in the Bible—John 3:3 and 3:7—and there is a question of how it should be translated. The Greek word anothen sometimes can be translated "again," but in the New Testament, it most often means "from above." In the King James Version, the only two times it is translated "again" are in John 3:3 and 3:7; every other time it is given a different rendering.

Another term is "regeneration." When referring to something that occurs in the life of an individual believer, it only appears in Titus 3:5. In other passages, the new birth phenomenon is also described as receiving new life (Rom. 6:4), receiving the circumcision of the heart (Rom. 2:29; Col. 2:11–12), and becoming a "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15).

Regeneration in John 3

These different ways of talking about being "born again" describe effects of baptism, which Christ speaks of in John 3:5 as being "born of water and the Spirit." In Greek, this phrase is, literally, "born of water and Spirit," indicating one birth of water-and-Spirit, rather than "born of water and of the Spirit," as though it meant two different births—one birth of water and one birth of the Spirit.

In the water-and-Spirit rebirth that takes place at baptism, the repentant sinner is transformed from a state of sin to the state of grace. Peter mentioned this transformation from sin to grace when he exhorted people to "be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

The context of Jesus’ statements in John 3 makes it clear that he was referring to water baptism. Shortly before Jesus teaches Nicodemus about the necessity and regenerating effect of baptism, he himself was baptized by John the Baptist, and the circumstances are striking: Jesus goes down into the water, and as he is baptized, the heavens open, the Holy Spirit descends upon him in the form of a dove, and the voice of God the Father speaks from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son" (cf. Matt. 3:13–17; Mark 1:9–11; Luke 3:21–22; John 1:30–34). This scene gives us a graphic depiction of what happens at baptism: We are baptized with water, symbolizing our dying with Christ (Rom. 6:3) and our rising with Christ to the newness of life (Rom. 6:4–5); we receive the gift of sanctifying grace and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27); and we are adopted as God’s sons (Rom. 8:15–17).

After our Lord’s teaching that it is necessary for salvation to be born from above by water and the Spirit (John 3:1–21), "Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea; there he remained with them and baptized" (John 3:22).

Then we have the witness of the early Church that John 3:5 refers to baptismal regeneration. This was universally recognized by the early Christians. The Church Fathers were unanimous in teaching this:

In A.D. 151, Justin Martyr wrote, "As many as are persuaded and believe that what we [Christians] teach and say is true . . . are brought by us where there is water and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God the Father . . . and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit [Matt. 28:19], they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, ‘Unless you are born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:3]" (First Apology 61).

Around 190, Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyons, wrote, "And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan’ [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as newborn babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]" (Fragment 34).

In the year 252, Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage, said that when those becoming Christians "receive also the baptism of the Church . . . then finally can they be fully sanctified and be the sons of God . . . since it is written, ‘Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God’ [John 3:5]" (Letters 71[72]:1).

Augustine wrote, "From the time he [Jesus] said, ‘Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5], and again, ‘He that loses his life for my sake shall find it’ [Matt. 10:39], no one becomes a member of Christ except it be either by baptism in Christ or death for Christ" (On the Soul and Its Origin 1:10 [A.D. 419]).

Augustine also taught, "It is this one Spirit who makes it possible for an infant to be regenerated . . . when that infant is brought to baptism; and it is through this one Spirit that the infant so presented is reborn. For it is not written, ‘Unless a man be born again by the will of his parents’ or ‘by the faith of those presenting him or ministering to him,’ but, ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit’ [John 3:5]. The water, therefore, manifesting exteriorly the sacrament of grace, and the Spirit effecting interiorly the benefit of grace, both regenerate in one Christ that man who was generated in Adam" (Letters 98:2 [A.D. 408]).

Regeneration in the New Testament

The truth that regeneration comes through baptism is confirmed elsewhere in the Bible. Paul reminds us in Titus 3:5 that God "saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit."

Paul also said, "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:3–4).

This teaching—that baptism unites us with Christ’s death and resurrection so that we might die to sin and receive new life—is a key part of Paul’s theology. In Colossians 2:11–13, he tells us, "In [Christ] you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision [of] Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ" (NIV).

The Effects of Baptism

Often people miss the fact that baptism gives us new life/new birth because they have an impoverished view of the grace God gives us through baptism, which they think is a mere symbol. But Scripture is clear that baptism is much more than a mere symbol.

In Acts 2:38, Peter tells us, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." When Paul was converted, he was told, "And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name" (Acts 22:16).

Peter also said, "God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 3:20–21). Peter says that, as in the time of the flood, when eight people were "saved through water," so for Christians, "[b]aptism . . . now saves you." It does not do so by the water’s physical action, but through the power of Jesus Christ’s resurrection, through baptism’s spiritual effects and the appeal we make to God to have our consciences cleansed.

These verses showing the supernatural grace God bestows through baptism set the context for understanding the New Testament’s statements about receiving new life in the sacrament.

Protestants on Regeneration

Martin Luther wrote in his Short Catechism that baptism "works the forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and grants eternal life to all who believe." His recognition that the Bible teaches baptismal regeneration has been preserved by Lutherans and a few other Protestant denominations. Even some Baptists recognize that the biblical evidence demands the historic Christian teaching of baptismal regeneration. Notable individuals who recognized that Scripture teaches baptismal regeneration include Baptist theologians George R. Beasley-Murray and Dale Moody.

Nevertheless, many Protestants have abandoned this biblical teaching, substituting man-made theories on regeneration. There are two main views held by those who deny the scriptural teaching that one is born again through baptism: the "Evangelical" view, common among Baptists, and the "Calvinist" view, common among Presbyterians.

Evangelicals claim that one is born again at the first moment of faith in Christ. According to this theory, faith in Christ produces regeneration. The Calvinist position is the reverse: Regeneration precedes and produces faith in Christ. Calvinists (some of whom also call themselves Evangelicals) suppose that God "secretly" regenerates people, without their being aware of it, and this causes them to place their faith in Christ.

To defend these theories, Evangelicals and Calvinists attempt to explain away the many unambiguous verses in the Bible that plainly teach baptismal regeneration. One strategy is to say that the water in John 3:5 refers not to baptism but to the amniotic fluid present at childbirth. The absurd
implication of this view is that Jesus would have been saying, "You must be born of amniotic fluid and the Spirit." A check of the respected Protestant Greek lexicon, Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, fails to turn up any instances in ancient, Septuagint or New Testament Greek where "water" (Greek: hudor) referred to "amniotic fluid" (VIII:314–333).

Evangelicals and Calvinists try to deal with the other verses where new life is attributed to baptism either by ignoring them or by arguing that it is not actually water baptism that is being spoken of. The problem for them is that water is explicitly mentioned or implied in each of these verses.

In Acts 2:38, people are exhorted to take an action: "Be baptized . . . in the name of Jesus Christ," which does not refer to an internal baptism that is administered to people by themselves, but the external baptism administered to them by others.

We are told that at Paul’s conversion, "he rose and was baptized, and took food and was strengthened. For several days he was with the disciples at Damascus" (Acts 9:18–19). This was a water baptism. In Romans 6 and Colossians 2, Paul reminds his readers of their water baptisms, and he neither says nor implies anything about some sort of "invisible spiritual baptism."

In 1 Peter 3, water is mentioned twice, paralleling baptism with the flood, where eight were "saved through water," and noting that "baptism now saves you" by the power of Christ rather than by the physical action of water "removing . . . dirt from the body."

The anti-baptismal regeneration position is indefensible. It has no biblical basis whatsoever. So the answer to the question, "Are Catholics born again?" is yes! Since all Catholics have been baptized, all Catholics have been born again. Catholics should ask Protestants, "Are you born again—the way the Bible understands that concept?" If the Evangelical has not been properly water baptized, he has not been born again "the Bible way," regardless of what he may think.

NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004

IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
+Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ang Araw ng Kapanganakan ni Jesus


Tungkol naman sa tuligsang nagsasabing hindi ipinanganak sa buwan ng Disyembre, alamin natin ito sa Banal na Kasulatan. Ang lahi ng mga Judio ay mula sa lahi ni Abraham. At ayon sa kasulatan wala pang Judio or Israel noong mga panahong iyon. Si Abraham ay ipinanganak sa UR sakop ng Chaldea ay isang pagano. Pinili siya ng Diyos na maging Ama ng maraming bansa na magiging piling tao ng Diyos. Sa paglipas ng panahon ang lahing ito ni Abraham ay dumami na napakarami sa loob ng 430 taon pagkatigil nila sa bansang Ehipto. Sa bansang Ehipto maraming bagay ang kanilang natutunan bago sila lumikas sa pamumuno naman ni Moises. Sa panahong iyon ang bansang Ehipto ay sariling kalendaryo at alpabeto. Ang kanilang kalendaryp ay binubuo ng 29 at 30 araw sa loob ng isang buwan. Ang isang taon sa kanila ay binubuo ng labindalawang buwan. Noon lumikas ang mga Israelita sa Ehipto sila man ay mayroon na ring kalendaryo na binubuo rin ng tulad sa bansang Ehipto. Noong bago sila sakupin ng bansang Babylonia ang Israel ay mayroon ng bagong kalendaryong sisusunod. Ang kalendaryong ito ay gamit pa rin ng isilang si Cristo. Noong isilang si Cristo ang Judio ay nasa ilalim ng Imperyong Romano. Ang mga Romano naman ay mayroon sariling kalendaryo at tinatawag itong Julian Calendar. Ang Julian Calendar ay umiral hanggang ika-17 siglo. At noong ika-17 siglo nagkaroon naman ng panibagong kalendaryo at tinawag itong Gregorian Calendar.

Ang mga Hebreo ay may mga batas panrelihiyong sinusunod. At isa sa mga batas na ito ay ang paghahandog na ginagawa ang mga Saserdote tuwing sasapit ang ika-10 ng ika-7 buwan ng taon. Tinatawg nila ang araw na ito ng “Araw ng Bayad-Sala” (Day of Atonement).

“Sapagkat sa araw na ito gagawin ang pagtubos sa inyo upang linisin kayo, sa lahat ng inyong mga kasalanan ay magiging malinis kayo sa harap ng Panginoon” (Lev. 16:30).

“Gayon man sa ika-sampung araw nitong ika-pitong buwan ay araw ng pagtubos, magiging sa inyo’y banal na pagpupulong, at pagdadalamhatiin ninyo ang inyong mga kaluluwa, at maghahandog kayo ng handog sa panginoon na pinaraan sa apoy” (Lev. 23:27).

Ang kaugaliang ito na tinatawag nilang batas ng relihiyon ay umabot hanggang sa panunungkulan ni Zacarias na ama ni Juan Bautista.

“Ang pangkat ni Zacarias ang nanungkulan noon, at siya’y naglilingkod sa harapan ng Diyos bilang saserdote” (Lk. 1:8).

Si Zacarias ang nanunungkulan noon bilang saserdote. Sa pagsapit ng panahon ng pag-aalay ng handog para sa kasalanan ng tao. Si Zacarias ang nagkapalad na nahirang na maghandog ng kamanyang. At noon pumasok si Zacarias sa loob ng Dakong Kabanal-banalan sa araw na iyon ng ika-10 ng ika-7 buwan, nagpakita sa kanya ang isang anghel ng Diyos.

“Walang anu-ano’y napakita sa kanya ang isang anghel ng Panginoon, nakatayo sag awing kanan ng dambana ng kamangyang. Nagulat si Zacarias at sinidlan ng matinding takot nang makit ang anghel. Ngunit sinabi nito sa kanya, Huwag kang matakot, Zacaria! Dininig ng Diyos ang iyong dalangin. Kayo ni Elisabet ay magkakaroon ng anak na lalaki at Juan ang ipangangalan mo sa kanya” (Lk. 1:11-13).

Ang Gawain ng isang Saserdote simula ika-10 ng ika-7 buwan ay natatapos ng 12 araw. Pagkatapos ng gawaing ito at saka pa lamang siya makakauwi ng bahay (2 Cron. 7:9-10).

“Iyong salitain sa mga anak ni Israel na sabihin sa ika-labing limang araw ng ika-pitong buwang ito ay kapistahan ng mga balag na pitong araw sa Panginoon” (Lev. 23:34).

“Kayo’y tatahan sa mga balag na pitong araw, yaong lahat ng tubo sa Israel ay tatahan sa mga balag” (Lev. 23:42).

Sa loob ng labin-dalawang araw si Zacarias ay titigil sa temptlo at sa ika-23 ng ika-pitong buwan saka pa lamang siya uuwi ng baha (2 Cron. 7:9-10).

“Nang matapos ang panahon ng paglilingkod ay umuwi na siya. Hindi nga nagtagal at naglihi si Elisabet sa kanyang asawa, at hindi unalis ng bahay sa loob ng limang buwan” (Lk. 1:23).

Simulan nating bilangin ang pagdadalang-tao ni Elisabet. Ibagay natin ito sa kalendaryo ng mga Judio. Sa kalendaryo ng mg Judio nagpakita ang anghel kay Zacarias sa buwan ng Tishri.

Ang kalendaryo ng mga Judio sa kapanahunan ni Zacarias bilang isang Saserdote.

1. Nissan……………….....unang buwan
2. Iyyar…………………….ikalawang buwan
3. Suvan…………………...ikatlong buwan
4. Tammuz………………..ika-apat na buwan
5. Ab…………………………ika-limang buwan
6. Elul………………………ika-anim na buwan
7. Tishri……………………ika-pitong buwan
8. Marshevan……………ika-walong buwan
9. Chislev…………………ika-siyam na buwan
10. Tebeth………………..ika-sampung buwan
11. Shebat ……………….ika-labing-isang buwan
12. Adar…………….……ika-labindalawang buwan

Ang kalendaryo ng mga Romano noong ipanganak si Jesus.

1. Marso…………………unang buwan
2. Abril………………….ikalawang buwan
3. Mayo………………….ikatlong buwan
4. Hunyo…………………ika-apat na buwan
5. Hulyo..………………..ika-limang buwan
6. Agosto…………………ika-anim na buwan
7. Setyembre……………ika-pitong buwan
8. Oktubre……………….ika-walong buwan
9. Nobyembre………….ika-siyam na buwan
10. Disyembre………….ika-sampung buwan
11. Enero …………………ika-labing-isang buwan
12. Pebrero………………ika-labindalawang buwan

Ang Gregorian Calendar naman ay nagsimula noong ika-17 siglo.

1. Enero………………unang buwan
2. Pebrero…………..ikalawang buwan
3. Marso……………..ikatlong buwan
4. Abril……………….ika-apat na buwan
5. Mayo...……………ika-limang buwan
6. Hunyo…………….ika-anim na buwan
7. Hulyo……………..ika-pitong buwan
8. Agosto…………….ika-walong buwan
9. Setyembre……….ika-siyam na buwan
10. Oktubre…………ika-sampung buwan
11. Nobyembre……ika-labing-isang buwan
12. Diyembre………ika-labindalawang buwan

Noong magpakita ang anghel Gabriel kay Zacarias ay ika-10 ng ika-7 buwan noon ng paghahandog ng kamanyang sa Dakong Kabanal-banalan. Ang ika-7 buwan ayon sa Hebrew Calendar ay buwan ng Tishri at sa Julain Calendar naman ay Styembre. Kinuha ang salitang Setyembre mula sa salitang Septem (Latin) na ang kahulugan ay pito (7). Sa buwang ito ipinahayag ng anghel Gabriel kay Zacarias na ang kanyang asawang si Elisabet ay maglilihi at manganganak ng isang lalaki. Mula sa buwang ito simulan nating bilangin ang paglilihi ni Elisabet.

Hebrew Calendar ----------------------Julian Calendar

1. Tishri -Marshevan….…Setyembre-Oktubre -------1 buwan ang tiyan
ni Elisabet
2. Marshevan-Chislev……Oktobre-Nobyembre ------2
5.Shebat-Adar ……………Enero-Pebrero--------------5
6. Adar-Nissan……………Pebrero-Marso-------------6

Sa ika-anim na buwan ng pagdadalang-tao ni Elisabet, dinalaw naman si Maria ng anghel Gabriel.

“Nang ikaanim na buwan na ng pagdadalang-tao ni Elisabet ang anghel Gabriel ay sinugo ng Diyos sa Nasaret, Galilea” (Lk.1:26).

Hindi nagtagal pagka-alis ng anghel na dumalaw kay Maria, siya ay pumunta kay Elisabet. Sa pagkikita nilang iyo binati siya ni Elisabet at sinabi ang tungkol sa kanyang dinadala sa sinapupunan. Maliwanag na noong dumalaw si Maria mayroon nang laman ang kanyang bahay-bata.

“Tumira si Maria kina Elisabet nang may tatlong buwan at saka umuwi” (Lukas 1:56).

Anim na buwan ang tiyan ni Elisabet ng dumalaw si Maria sa bahay nito sa Judea. Tatlong buwan siyang tumigil ditto at nang umuwi siya maaaring nakapanganak na si Elisabet. Muling bilangin natin ang mga buwan ng pagkatigil ni Maria sa bahay ni Elisabet.

7. Nissan-Iyyar……………Marso-Abril-------------7-buwan na
ang tiyan ni Elisabet
9. Suvan-Tammuz………..Mayo-Hunyo----------------9

Kung ang ika-siyam na buwan ng pagdadalang-tao ni Elisabet ay Tammus (Hebrew calendar) pumapatak naman itong Hunyo sa Julian Calendar. Ang pagdadalang-tao ng isang babae ay 9 na buwan at ang buwan ng Tammuz ay pumapatak sa tamang bilang ng pagdadalang-tao ng babae. Kung kaya’t si Juan ay ipinanganak sa buwan ng Tammuz o Hunyo. Ang Simbahang Katoliko ay ipinagdiriwang ang kaarawan ni San Juan Bautista tuwing sasapit ang ika-24 ng Hunyo. At ayon sa bilang ng buwan mula noong buwan ng Tishri hanggang sa buwan ng Tammus ito’y hustong ika-siyam na buwan ng pagdadalang-tao ni Elisabet. At noong ipanganak naman si Juan sa buwang ito ay si Maria naman ay tatlong buwan nang nagdadalang-tao. Sapagkat noong dumalaw ang anghel sa kanya ay buwan ng Nissan at noong nagpunta siya kay Elisabet ay may laman na ang kanyang sinapupunan. Mula nang dumating siya sa (bulubundukin ng) Judea hanggang sa umalis siya may tatlong buwan na ang kanyang dinadala. Bilangin natin ang buwan ng pagdadalang-tao ni Maria.

1.. Nissan-Iyyar……Marso-Abril -------1 buwan ang tiyan ni Maria
2. Iyyar-Suavan………Abril-Mayo------------2
3. Suvan-Tammuz …..Mayo-Hunyo----------3
4. Tammuz-Ab…………Hunyo-Hulyo----------4
5. Ab-Elul………………Hulyo-Agosto---------5
6. Elul-Tishri…………...Agosto-Setyembre-----6
7.Tishri-Marshevan ……Setyembre–Oktubre---7
8. Marshevan-Chislev…..Oktubre-Nobyember—8
9. Chislev-Tebeth………Nobyembre-Disyembre-9

Ang tunay na bilang ng pagdadalang-tao ng isang babae ay pumapatak lamang ng siyam na buwan. At ayon sa ginawa nating pagbilang sa paglilihi ni Maria ang ika-9 na buwan ay ang Tebeth. Lumalabas ngayon na si Jesus ay ipinanganak sa buwan ng Tebeth na ang katumbas sa Julian Calendar ay Disyembre. Ang ika-anim na buwan ng pagdadalangtao ni Elisabet ay buwan ng Nissan (Hebrew Calendar) at Marso naman sa Julian Calendar. Ito ang unang buwan ng pagdadalang-tao ni Maria at ang ika-9 ay ang buwan ng tebeth (Hebrew Calendar) at Disyembre naman sa Julian Calendar. Ang araw naman ay nagsisimula sa 6:00 ng hapon ng sumunod na araw. Noong isilang si Jesus ay hindi taglamig na pilit na pinalalabas ng mga kaaway na panahon ng taglamig. Ang buwan ng Tebeth ay hindi taglamig na di tulad sa Gregorian Calendar. Kaya naman mayroon tayong mababasa na noong isilang si Jesus ay mayroong nagpapatol ng tupa nang gabing iyon. Kung ang panahong iyon ay taglamig walang mangangahas magpastol ng tupa sa tindi ng lamig sa kalagitnaang Asya.

Sa ikalilinaw ng marami, narito ang paghahambing ng mga kalendaryo noon at sa kalendaryo sa kasalukuyan.

Buwan Hebrew Julian Gregorian

1. Nissan Marso Enero
2. Iyyar Abril Pebrero
3. Suvan Mayo Marso
4. Tammuz Hunyo Abril
5. Ab Hulyo Mayo
6. Elul Agosto Hunyo
7. Tishri Setyembre Hulyo
8. Marshevan Oktubre Agosto
9. Chislev Nobyembre Setyembre
10. Tebeth DISYEMBRE Oktubre
11. Shebat Enero Nobyembre
12. Adar Pebrero Disyembre

Mapapansin natin na ang buwan ng Tebeth (DISYEMBRE) sa hebrew at Julian Calendar ay pumapatak sa buwan ng Oktobre sa Gregorian Calendar. At itong Gregorian Calendar ay ginamit lamang noong ika-17 siglo at ang gamit noon ay Julian Calendar. Kaya’t maliwanang na si Jesus ay isinilang noong DISYEMBRE at hindi Oktubre.

[Hindi na pinalitan sa bagong kalendaryo ang ika-25 ng Disyembre bilang araw ng kapanganakan ng Panginoong Jesukristo]

Si Maria sa Biblia

Nihil Obstat: Msgr. Jose C. Abriol
Imprimatur: Msgr. Josefino R. Ramirez

Marami na ang naisulat tungkol kay Maria sa kaniyang pagiging Ina ng Diyos, ang pag-akyat niya sa langit at sa kanyang pagiging Immaculada Concepcion. Ang dahilan ng pagsasa-aklat ng tungkol kay Maria ay upang matugunan ang lahat ng paninira at pagtuligsa ng mga kaaway ng Simbahan na hindi tumitigil hanggang sa mga panahong kasalukuyan. Dahil sa paninirang ito, maraming mga Katoliko ang umalis sa tunay na Katawan ni Cristo at nakiisa sa pagtuligsa sa Simbahan at sa pananampalataya nito. Ayon sa kanila, ang pananampalatayang Katoliko ay lihis sa tunay na sinasabi ng Banal na Kasulatan.

1. Ayon sa kanila, ang mga Katoliko ay sumasamba kay Maria bilang isang Diyos.
2. Hindi sila naniniwala na si Maria ay Ina ng Diyos.
3. Hindi sila naniniwala na si Maria ay tunay na Immaculada Concepcion.
4. Hindi sila naniniwala na si Maria ay iniakyat sa langit.

Maniniwala lamang daw sila kung ang mga bagay na ito ay nakatala sa Banal na Kasulatan. Ilan lamang ito sa mga tuligsang ginagamit ng mga kaaway ng Simbahang Katoliko upang maakit ang mga Katolikong umanib sa kanila. Hindi kataka-taka kung ang karaniwang mamamayang Katoliko ang umanib sa kanila, sapagkat walang kamuwangan ang mga ito tungkol sa doktrina ng Simbahan. Subalit kung ang isang pari o obispo ang umanib sa kanila, ito ay malaking pinasala ang magagawa. Bago pa man maitatag ang Baptist Church, Methodist at itong mga kumakalat ngayong mga Fundamentalista, ang isyu tungkol kay Maria ay malaon nang naganap. Nagsimula ito sa isang Patriarka ng Constantinopla na si Nestorius. Si Nestorius na nagsimula bilang monghe na naging pari muna bago naging isang Obispo ay nagpahayag na hindi dapat tawaging Ina ng Diyos si Maria. Mula kay Nestorius marami pang mga Obispo at pari ang kumalaban sa paniniwalang ito ng Simbahan. Nananatili ang kanilang paniniwalang kund hindi ito nakatala sa Banal na Bibliya ay hindi dapat panaligan.

Sa ikalilinaw ng pananampalatayang Katoliko, narito sa aklat na ito ang kasagutan sa matagal nang isyu tungkol kay Maria. Noong lalangin ng Diyos ang tao, babae at lalaki, inilagay sila sa isang hardin sa silanganan ng Paraiso. Ang unang batas ng Diyos sa tao ay “huwag kakainin ang bunga ng punong kahoy na nasa gitna ng halamanan.” Dahil sa katusuhan ng Diyablo nadaya niya ang mga unang tao na sina Eba at Adan. Ang pagsuway sa utos ng Diyos ang kauna-unahang kasalanan na ginawa ng tao sa lupa. Dahil sa kasalanang ito nagpahayag ang Diyos ng tungkol sa darating na panahon:
“Ikaw at ang babae’y laging mag-aaway. Binhi mo’t binhi niya’y lagging maglalaban. Ito ang dudurog ng ulo mong iyan at ang sakong niya’y ikaw ang tutuklaw” (Genesis 3:15).

Ang “IKAW” na tinutukoy ng Diyos ay ang Diyablo at ang babae naman ay hindi tinukoy kung sino. Ayon sa Genesis 3:15, ang Diyablo at babae ay lagging mag-aaway, yaong binhi ng Diyablo at binhi ng babae ay laging maglalaban. Subalit walang tinutukoy kung sino ang Babae at ang Binhi. Ayon sa Simbahang Katoliko ang babaeng tinutukoy ay si Maria sa Bagong Kasulatan. Sa mga kaaway ng Simbahang Katoliko hindi raw si Maria ang tinutukoy ng Diyos na “BABAE.” Kung pag-aaralang mabuti ang siasabi sa bersikulong ito, mapapansin natin ang mga salitang binitiwang ito ng Diyos. Ayon dito yaong Diyablo at ang babae’y magka-away. Ang salitang “magka-away” ay may kahulugan, hindi maaapektuhan ng kasamaan ng Diyablo ang babae. At ang babae nama’y hindi niya maaapektuhan ang Diyablo, sapagkat sila’y magkaaway. Sa madaling salita hindi sila magkakaroon ng relasyon sa isa’t-isa. Si Eba ay hindi maaaring ang babaeng tinutukoy dito, sapagkat siya ay naapektuhan na ng kasamaan ng Diyablo. Noong sila’y [Eba at Adan] ay sumuway sa utos ng Diyos, ang relasyon nila sa Diyos ay naputol na kung kaya sila pinalayas sa hardin ng Diyos. Dahil sa pananalig niya sa mga salita ng Diyablo, si Eba ay naging kaaway ng Diyos. Kung hindi si Eba ang babaeng tinutukoy sa Genesis 3:15, samakatuwid hindi pa isinisilang ang tinutukoy na ito ng Diyos na magiging kaaway ng Diyablo. Sa bersikulong ito nililiwanang na karaka-raka na ang babaeng isisilang na magiging kaaway ng Diyablo ay hindi maapektuhan ng kasamaan. Nangangahulugan na hindi pa man isinisilang ang babaeng ito ay walang kasalanan sapagkat maliwanang ang pagkakasalita ng Diyos dito: “IKAW AT ANG BABAE AY LAGING MAG-AAWAY.” Kung si Maria ang babaeng tinutukoy dito, maliwanang na si Maria’y hindi pa man naisisilang ay wala nang kasalanan. Marami pa rin ang hindi naniniwalang si Maria ang tinutukoy na babae. Maaaring masabi rin natin na wala namang tinutukoy kung sinong babae ito. Subalit sa aklat ni Isaias niliwanang niya ito kung anong uring babae ang makakaaway ng Diyablo:

“Kaya nga’t ang Panginoon na rin ang magbibigay ng isang palatandaan. Maglilihi ang isang dalaga, at ito’y manganganak ng lalake at ito’y tatawaging Emmanuel” (Isaias 7:14).
Maliwanag na sinasabi ni Propeta Isaias na ang ipanganganak ng Babae ay isang Makapangyarihang Diyos kung kaya tinawag na “Ang Diyos ay Sumasaatin” (Emmanuel). Ang sanggol na isisilang ng dalaga ayon kay Propeta Isaias ay isang Diyos, isang taong Diyos. Kung ang isisilang ng babae ay isang taong Diyos o Diyos na tao, maliwanag na ang dalaga ay magiging Ina ng Diyos na tao. Ang Simbahang Katoliko ay nagpahayag na si Maria ang babaeng tinutukoy sa Genesis 3:15 at sa Isaias 7:14. Dahil sa paniniwalang ito ipinahayag ng Simbahan na si Maria ay tunay na Ina ng Diyos na si Jesus. Sa pangyayaring ito marami ang tumutol – hindi sila sang-ayon na tawaging Ina ng Diyos si Maria. Ayon sa kanila, “Paano magiging Ina ng lumalang ang kanyang nilalang lamang?” Ano ang tunay na dahilan nila upang hindi nila matanggap na si Maria ay tunay na Ina ng Diyos. Batay sa kanilang mga aklat ang Diyos (Ama ang tinutukoy nila) ay hindi maaaring magkaroong ng ina. Kung ating pag-aaralang ang kanilang mga pagtuturo tungkol sa pagiging Diyos ni Jesus, malalaman natin na ang Diyos Ama ang siya rin ang naging Anak ng Diyos. Sa madaling salita, ang Ama ang siya ring nagging Anak. Kaya’t hinid nila matanggap na si Maria ay Ina ng Diyos. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit nasasabi nila na “Paano magiging Ina ng Lumalang ang kaniyang nilalang lamang?” May mga nagtuturo na ang Diyos ay mayroong tatlong persona. Ang salitang persona ay hango sa salitang Griyego ba “PROS” [Prosopon]. Ang kahulugan ng salitang ito ay “ginampanan” (role). Ayon sa kanilang pagkaka-unawa ang Diyos ay gumanap sa tatlong katauhan (persona). Una Siya ang Ama, ikalawa Siya sa anyong Anak at sa iktalo sa anyong Espiritu Santo. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit hindi nila matanggap na si Maria ay tunay na Ina ng Diyos. Maraming relihiyon ang naniniwala na ganito rin ang paniniwala at doktrina ng Simbahang Katoliko. Dahil dito binatikos nila at siniraan na sinasabing hindi turo ng Diyos ang mga turong Katoliko.

Sa Katoliko iba naman ang kanilang paniniwala tungkol sa Diyos, Ayon sa simbahan mayroon isang Diyos at ito’y binubuo ng tatlong Persona. Ang Ama ay isang persona, ang Anak ay isang persona at ang Espiritu Santo ay isang persona. Ang tatlong persona ay pawing magkakaiba. Ang Ama ay iba sa Anak, ang Ama at Anak ay iba sa Espiritu Santo. Ang nagging anak ni Maria ay hindi ang Ama kundi ang Anak sa siyang Ikalawang Persona. Sa ibang relihiyon lumalabas na ang anak ni Maria ay ang Ama; sa Katoliko hindi ang Ama kundi ang Anak.

Kung ang pagbabatayan natin ang sinasabi ni Propeta Isaias na isang dalaga ang maglilihi ang manganganak ng isang lalaki at ang batang lalaking ito ay isang Makapangyarihang Diyos. Maliwanag na ang dalaga ay magiging Ina ng Makapangyarihang Diyos, sapagkat ang kanyang iluluwal sa maliwanang ay isang Diyos. Kung si Maria ang sinasabi ng Simbahan na dalaga o babae, ito’y batay na rin sa Banal na Kasulatan:

“Kaya’t sinabi sa kanya ng anghel, “Huwag kang matakot, Maria, sapagkat kinalulugdan ka ng Diyos. Makinig ka! Ikaw ay maglilihi at manganganak ng isang lalaki, at siya’y pangangalanan mong Jesus. Siya’y magiging dakila, at tatawaging Anak ng Kataas-taasan, Ibibigay sa kanya ng Panginoong Diyos ang trono ng kanyang amang si David. Maghahari siya sa angkan ni Jacob magpakailanman, at ang kanyang paghahari ay walang hanggan” (Lukas 1:30-33).

“Sumagot ang anghel, “Bababa sa iyo ang Espiritu Santo, at lililiman ka ng kapangyarihan ng Kataas-taasan. Kaya’t banal ang ipanganganak mo at tatawaging Anak ng Diyos” (Lukas 1:35).

Mapapansin natin na ang pahayag ni Propeta Isaias tungkol sa ibibigay na palatandaan ng Panginoon na isang dalaga ang maglilihi at manganganak ng isang lalaki ay naganap kay Maria. Isang anghel ang lumitaw o dumalaw kay Maria at nagpahayag na siya ay maglilihi at magdadalangtao. Si Maria ay isang dalaga at nakatakda pa lamang ikasal sa isang lalaking Jose ang pangalan. Ang lahat ng pahayag ni Isaias ay pawang naganap kay Maria sa pamamagitan ng anghel. Ang kahulugan ng salitang anghel ay “mensahero” o “tagapag-hatid ng balita.” Ipinahayag ng anghel ang balita kay Maria mula sa Diyos. Sa pangyayaring ito maliwanag na si Maria and tinutukoy na “Babae” at wala nang iba. At kung siya nga ang tintukoy na babae, si Maria ay tunay na Immaculada Concepcion sapagkat hindi pa siya ipinanganganak ayon sa pahayag ng Diyos, siya y magiging kaaway na ng Diyablo. Kaya’t si Maria bago pa lamang bumuko (conception) sa sinapupunan ng kanyang ina, siya ay wala nang kasalanan. Doon sa paninirang ginagawa ng mga kaaway ng simbahan na nagsasabing “si Maria ay may kasalanan” batay sa Roma 3:23 (“ang lahat ay nagkasala”), ito ay walang katotohanan at paninirang-puri na lamang nila ito sa “Babae.” Kung sakali naming tunay na kinakalaban nila si Maria, hindi kataka-takang maganap ito dahil sa ang Diyablo at ang babae’y laging mag-aaway. Ang mga tumutuligsang ito ay hindi na mga tao ng Diyos kundi kaaway na ng Babae. Sapagkat ang babaeng ito ay pinili ng Diyos sa bunton ng mga kababaihan upang maging Ina ng kanyang Anak. At ang mga kaaway ng Babae at ng binhi nito ay kaaway rin ng Diyos. Kung si Maria ay marumi, papayag ba ang Diyos na ang kanyang Bugtong na Anak ay magmula sa marumi?
"Sinong makakakuha ng malinis na bagay sa marumi? Wala!" (Job. 14:4).

Tungkol naman sa pagiging Ina ng Diyos ni Maria, si Propeta Isaias ay maliwanag na ipinahayag ang tungkol sa magiging anak ng dalaga. Hindi sinasabi ni Propeta Isaias na ang dalaga ay gagamitin lamang ng Diyos na instrumento. At ito’y niliwanag ng anghel Gabriel na ang anak niya ay tatawaging Anak ng Diyos. Maliwanang na ang Anak ni Maria ay Anak ng Diyos. Hindi ang Diyos Ama ang anak ni Maria, kundi ang Anak ni Maria ay ang Anak ng Diyos. Kung ang anak ni Maria ay Anak ng Diyos, at ang Anak ng Diyos ay Diyos, si Maria ay Ina ng ng Anak ng Diyos na Diyos.

Mula nang sabihin ng Diyos ang tungkol sa babaeng magiging palaging kaaway ng Diyablo, nagkaroon lamang ito ng kaganapan pagkaraan ng mahabang panahon. Noong dumalaw ang anghel Gabriel kay Maria, ang mga Judio [Ang salitang Judio ay hango sa tribo ng anak ni Jacob na si Judah] ay alipin ng makapangyarihang Imperyong Romano. Kahit na sila’y sakop ng Imperyo ng Roma, hindi pinakialaman ang kanilang pananampalataya. Pinabayaan silang ipagpatuloy ang kanilang kinagisnang kaugalian at pananampalataya. Noong dumalaw ang anghel Gabriel kay Maria, ayon sa kasulatan si Maria’y nakatakda nang ikasal kay Jose:
"Nang ika-anim na buwan ng pagdadalang-tao ni Elisabet, ang anghel Gabriel ay sinugo ng Diyos sa Nasaret, Galilea, sa isang dalaga na ang pangala’y Maria. Siya’y nakatakdang ikasal kay Jose, isang lalaking buhat sa lipi ni Haring David" (Lukas 1:26-27).

Dito’y walang sinasabi kung ilang taong gulang si Maria at si Jose. Ayon sa [tradisyon ng] Simbahang Katoliko, [humigit-kumulang sa] 14 na taong gulang si Maria ng ipanganak niya si Jesus. Maaaring may katuwiran ang Simbahan sapagkat mayroong mga kaugalian ang mga Judio tungkol sa gulang ng pag-aasawa ng lalake at babae. Ang mga lalaki at babae sa mga Judio na nasa gulang na 13 hanggang 18 ay inihahanda na sila sa pag-aasawa. Sampung atong gulang pa lamang ang mga bata ay tinututuruan na sila ng tungkol sa buhay may-asawa, lalong lalo na ang unang gabi ng kanilang pagsasama. Ang kanilang mga magulang o matatandang kamag-anak ang nagtuturo sa kanila ng dapat nilang gawin sa buhay may-asaw. Ang kanilang mga magulang ang pumipili ng kanilang mapapangasawa. Sa mga Judio ang pagliligawan ay wala sa kanilang kaugalian. Maaring nanilbihan si Jose sa mga magulang ni Maria. Maaari rin naming naghandog si Jose ng mga bagay na mahahalaga sa magulang ni Maria. Ayon sa Simbahang Katoliko ang naganap upang maging asawa si Jose at si Maria ay kagustuhan ng Diyos. Ang Diyos ang pumili kay Jose na maging asawa ni Maria. Ang lahat ng ito’y hindi natin matatagpuan sa Banal na Kasulatan. Sa Pilipinas ang mga kaugalian ng mga Judio na magulang ang pumipili sa mapapangasawa ng kanilang mga anak ay siya rin kaugalian natin. Sa mga Judio ang mga tumutupad sa kanilang kaugalian at batas ng pananampalatay ay mga taong tinatawag na Matutuwid (CHASSIDIM).
Ayon sa kasulatan noong dumalaw ang anghel Gabriel kay Maria, siya’y nakatakda nang ikasal kay Jose, pagkatapos ng pagdalaw na iyon ng anghel, hindi nagtagal siya ay dumalaw sa pinsan niyang si Elisabet. (Ang salitang “hindi nagtagal” ay maaaring ilang araw lamang). Maaaring ang pagdalaw ni Maria kay Elisabet ay upang batiin niya ito dahil sa mabuting balitang ipinahayag sa kanya ng Anghel. Ang paglilihi at pagdadalang-tao ni Elisabet ay hindi marahil nabatid ng pamilya ni Maria kundi sa pamamagitan ng anghel. Hindi sinasabi sa kasulatan kung ipinagtapat ni Maria kay Jose ang tungkol sa pagdalaw ng anghel sa kaniya. Malayo rin naman ang Judea sa Galilea upang umalis si Maria ng hindi nagpapaalam kay Jose at sa kaniyang magulang. Sa mga Judio ang isang babaeng nakatakda nang ikasal ay halos pag-aari na ng lalake, kaya lamang hindi maaaring umalis si Maria ng hindi nag-papaalam sa kaniyang mapapangasawa. Pagdating niya sa Judea sa bahay ni Elisabet binati niya ang huli. Nang marinig ni Elisabet ang tinig ni Maria naggagalaw ang sanggol sa kanyang sinapupunan.

“At buong galak na sinabi, “Pinagpala ka sa mga babae, at pinagpala rin ang dinadala mo sa iyong sinapupunan. Sino ako upang dalawin ng Ina ng aking Panginoon?” (Lukas 1:42-43).
Kabaliktaran ang nangyari, sa halip na si Maria ang bumati kay Elisabet dahil sa pagdadalang-tao nito, siya pa ang binati. Ang nakapagtataka paano nalaman ni Elisabet na mayroong dinadalang bata sa sinapupunan si Maria. Wla naman tayong mababasa na may nagsabi sa kanya tungkol sa naganap kay Maria at sa anghel. Sa himig ng pananalita ni Elisabet lumalabas na alam niya ang lahat ng naganap kay Maria. At tungkol naman sa sinapupunan ni Maria nakapagtataka at nalaman niya na mayroon nang sanggol sa loob nito. Sa naganap na pagtatagpong ito ni Maria at Elisabet mahihinuha na natin na ang isang taong napupuspos ng Espiritu Santo ay nagkakaroon ng kapangyar ihang malaman ang naganap at magaganap pa. Sa tagpo pa ring iyon nalaman natin sa si Maria makalipas lamang ang ilang araw mula ng dalawin ng anghel ay nagdadalang-tao na. Noong dumalaw siya kay Elisabet nagsisimula nang bumuko ang sanggol sa kanyang sinapupunan, samantalang si Elisabet naman ay nasa ika-anim na buwan ng pagdadalang-tao. Tatlong buwan tumigil si Maria sa tahanan ng kanyang kamag-anakang si Elisabet (Lukas 1:56). Kaya’t noong umalis si Maria sa Judea ganap nang ika-siyam na buwan ng pagdadalang-tao ni Elisabet. Maari rin namang nakapanganak na si Elisabet nang umalis ng Judea si Maria, sapagkat ang pagdadalang-tao ng isang babae ay siyam na buwan lamang. Sa tagal naman ng pagtigil ni Maria sa tahanan ni Elisabet ang paglaki ng kanyang tiyan ay hindi na maililihim sa mata ng tao. Nang bumalik siya sa Galilea, natuklasan ni Jose na siya ay nagdadalangtao na.

“Ganito ang pagkapanganak kay Jesukristo. Si Maria na kanyang ina at si Jose ay nakatakda nang pakasal. Ngunit bago sila nakasal, si Mari ay natagpuang nagdadalang-tao. Ito’y sa pamamagitan ng Espiritu Santo” (Mateo 1:19-20).

Umalis si Maria sa Galilea at pumunta sa Judea ng walang nakakaalam ng naganap sa kaniya. Sa pagbabalik na ito ni Maria na malaki na ang kaniyang tiyan inakala ni Jose na mayroong naganap na pakikipagtalik sa iba, kung kaya’t ipinasiya niyang hiwalayan ito ng lihim. Ang gagawing paglayo ni Jose kay Maria ay upang iligtas ang babae sa tiyak na kahihiyan. Sapagkat kung totoo ang kutob ng kanyang loob ang lalaking naging sanhi ngpagdadalang-tao ni Maria ay hindi makatitiis na hindi ilantad ang katotohanan. At kung mangyari ang ganito ay mapapahiya si Maria, hindi lamang sa kaniya kundi sa buong Galilea.

“Isang taong matuwid itong si Jose na kanyang magiging asawa, ngunit ayaw niyang mapahiya si Maria, kaya ipinasiya niyang hiwalayan ito ng lihim” (Mateo 1:20).

Binabalak pa lamang ni Jose ang paghihiwalay kay Maria, isang anghel ang nagpakita sa kanya sa panaginip. Palibhasa isang taong matuwid si Jose kung kaya’t maging ang panaginip ay kaniyang pinaniniwalaan. Pinakasalan niya si Maria hindi na dahil sa makamundong hangarin kundi dahil sa pahayag ng anghel. Ang pahayag ng anghel na ito kay Jose ay matagal nang inaasam-asam ng mga Judio. Mula pa noong ipahayag ito ni Propeta Isaias inaasahan na ng mga Judiong magkakaroon ng katuparan ito. Isa si Jose sa umaasang magaganap na ang lahat ng ito. Sina Simeon at Ana ay matagal nang naghihintay ng kaganapan sa hulang ito ni Propeta Isaias.

“May isang tao noon sa Jerusalem, ang pangalan Simeon. Matapat at malapit sa Diyos ang lalaking ito at naghihintay sa katubusan ng Israel. Sumakanya ang Espiritu Santo na nagpahayag sa kanya na hindi siya mamamatay hanggat hindi niya nakikita ang Mesias na ipinangako ng Panginoon” (Lukas 2:25).

“Naroroon din sa templo ang isang propetang babae na ang pangala’y Ana na anak ni Fanuel na mula sa lipi ni Asor. Siya’y napakatanda na. Pitong taon lamang silang nagsama ng kaniyang asawa” (Lukas 2:36).

Ang pagpapakasal ni Jose kay Maria ay hindi na bilang lalaking may pagnanasa sa kapurihan ng isang babae. Sa mga Judio ang pag-aasawa ay isang banal na tungkulin at ito ay naaayon sa kautusan ng kanilang pananampalataya. Sa mga Judio ang babae ay ikalawa lamang sa mga lalaki. Hindi nakapangyayari ang kagustuhan ng babae sa loob ng tahanan, wala siyang karapatan habang naroon ang lalaki sa tahanan. Ang lalaki ang nakapangyayari maging sa puso ng mga babae. Mayroon pang kaugalian ang mga Judio na kapag ang isang lalaking may-asawa ay namatay, ang kanyang asawang naulila na hindi nabiyayaan ng anak na lalaki ay magiging pag-aari naman ng susunod na kapatid na lalaki. Ang balong asawa ay mananatiling pag-aari ng lalaki habang hindi ito nagkakaroon ng anak na lalaki. At kung magkaanak na ang babae ng lalaki ang batang isinilang ay ituturing namang anak ng asawang namatay.

“Guro, itinuro po ni Moises, kung mamatay na walang anak ang isang lalaki, ang kanyang kapatid ay dapat pakasal sa balo upang magkaanak sila para sa namatay. Noon po’y may pitong magkakapatid na lalaki rito sa amin. Nag-asawa ang panganay, at namatay na walang anak kaya naiwan ang kanyang asawa sa kanyang kapatid. Gayon din ang mangyari sa pangalawa, sa pangatlo hanggang sa pamptio. Pagkamatay nilang lahat, namatay naman ang babae. Ngayon, sino pos a pito ang kanyang magiging asawa sa muling pagkabuhay, yamang siya’y napangasawa nilang lahat?” (Mateo 22:24-29).

May kaugalian pa rin ang mga Judio tungkol sa buhay may-asawa. Ang lalaki ay dapat lamang sumiping sa kanyang asawa tuwing sasapit ang araw ng Biyernes bilang pagdakila sa Araw ng Pamamahinga. Ang mga gumaganap ng mga ganitong bagay ay yaon lamang mga taong tinatawag na Matuwid na sumusunod sa mga kautusan ng kanilang pananampalataya. Ang pagsiping sa kanilang mga asawa ay naaayon pa rin sa kautusan. May batas ng pananampalataya ang mga Judio tungkol sa pagsiping nila sa kanilang asawa. Ang semilyang lumalabas sa lalaki ay isang banal na bagay. Sa kanilang pananampalataya ang magtapon nito ay mamamatay. Ipinagbabawal ng kanilang pananampalataya ang pagsiping sa babae walong araw bago dumating ang bisita nito (menstruation) at walong araw pagkatapos. Sapagkat ayon sa kanilang pananampalataya ang semilya ng lalaki ay hindi mabubuo at magiging bata sa mga panahong iyon. Gayon din naman ipinagbabawal sa kanila ang paliligo ng mainit na tubig bago sumiping sa kanilang asawa. Sapagkat ang semilya raw ng lalaki ay hindi makabubuo dahil sa init ng tubig. Ipinagbabawal din ang pagtulog na katabi ang kanilang asawa na sukob sa isang kumot. Kaya’t hindi kataka-taka na ipagbawal ng Simbahang Katoliko ang tungkol sa Family Planning (paggamit ng ganot at iba pa, gayon din ang pagtatapon ng semilya). Ang lahat ng pagbabawal na ito ay hango at mula sa kautusang minana ng Simbahan. Noong nagsasama na si Jose at si Maria hindi ginalaw ni Jose si Maria.

“Ngunit hindi ginalaw ni Jose si Maria hanggang sa maipanganak nito ang isang sanggol na lalaki na pinangalanan niyang Jesus” (Mateo 1:25).

Sa mga Judio bawal sa kanila ang gumalaw ng babae lalo na kung ito ay may laman na sa sinapupunan. Sapagkat si Jose ay isang taong matuwid nalalaman niya na hindi dapat sumiping ang isang lalaki sa isang babae kung ito ay nagdadalang-tao na. May kaugalian pa rin ang mga Judio tungkol sa mga babaeng bagong panganak. Ang kaugaliang ito ay minana pa nila sa kapanahunan ni Moises. Nagpasalin-salin ang kaugaliang ito hanggang sa kapanahunan ni Maria.

“Salitain mo sa mga anak ni Israel, na iyong sabihin. Kung ang babae ay maglihi at manganak ng isang lalaki ay magiging karumal-dumal na pitong araw, ayon sa mga araw ng karumihan ng kanilang sakit ay magiging karumald-dumal. At sa ikawalong araw ay tutuliin ang bata sa laman ng kaniyang balat na masama. At siya’y mananatiling tatlongpu’t-tatlong araw na maglilinis ng kaniyang dugo, huwag siyang hihipo ng anumang bagay na banal, o papasok man sa santuario, hanggang sa matupad ang mga araw ng kaniyang paglilini. Ngunit kung manganak siya ng babae, ay magiging karumal-dumal nga siya ng dalawang linggo, ayon sa kaniyang karumihan, at mananatiling animnapu’t-anim na araw na maglilinis ng kaniyang dugo” (Levitico 12:2-7).

Pagkatapos ng apatnapu’t-isang araw mula ng manganak ang isang babae, siya ay magiging malinis na. Sa madalin salita ang babae ay puwede nang sipingan. Ng kanyang asawa. Kung babasahin lamang ang bersikulang Mateo 1:25 ang salitang “hanggang ipanganak ang isang batang lalaki,” lumalabas na pagkalabas ni Jesus sa maliwanang ay ginalaw na ni Jose si maria. Kung sinipingan ni Jose si Maria pagkatapos ng paglilinis niya ng dugo, dapat hindi nagtagal ay muling nagbuntis si Maria. Kung nanganak na muli si Maria at ang sumunod niyang anak ay lalaki, ito ay panganay na anak ni Jesus. At ayon sa kaugalian ng mga Judio, ang pangangay na anak na lalaki ay nakatalaga sa Panginoon.

“Sapagkat lahat ng mga panganay ay sa akin, sapagkat ang araw na aking lipulin ang lahat na mga panganay sa Ehipto ay aking pinapaging banal sa akin ang lahat ng mga panganay ng Israel, maging tao at maging hayop, sila’y magiging akin, ako ang Panginoon” (Bilang 3:13).

Gayon nga ang nagyari ng isilang ni Maria ang kanyang panganay na anak na si Jesus. Inialay niya ang sanggol sa templo ayon sa kanilang kaugalian.

“Nang dumating ang araw ng paglilinis sa kanila ayon sa kautusan ni Moises, sila’y pumunta sa Jerusalem. Dala nila ang sanggol upang iharap sa Panginoon. Sapagkat ayon sa Kautusan ang bawat panganay na lalaki ay nakatalaga sa panginoon” (Lukas 2:22-23).

"Pakabanalin mo sa akin ang lahat ng mga panganay anumang nagbubukas ng bahay-bata sa mga anak ni Israel, maging sa tao at maging sa hayop ay akin” (Bilang 13:2).

Ayon sa mga tuligsa tungkol kay Maria, pagkatapos daw na maipanganak si Jesus ay ginalaw na ni Jose si Maria. Hinango nila ang paninirang ito sa salitang “HANGGANG SA MAIPANGANAK ANG BATANG LALAKI.” Dahil dito maraming Katoliko ang naniwala na si Maria ay hindi na maaari pang tawaging “BIRHEN,” sapagkat siya ay diumanoy ginalaw na ni Jose at nagkaroon ng ibang anak.

Ang salitang “HANGGANG IPINANGANAK” ay tumutuloy mula sa paglabas ng bata hanggang sa panahong tumanda ito. Hindi nangangahulugan na ang salitang “hanggang” ay natatapos lamang paglabas ng bata sa maliwanang. Kung si Maria ay ginalaw ni Jose paglabas ng bata sa maliwanag, kailan at ilang taon na si Jesus bago lumabas ang ikalawang anak naman ni Maria. Kung ang ikalawang anak ni Maria ay lalaki ito ay muli nilang ihahandog sa templo sapagkat panganay na anak naman ito ni Jose sa tunay na buhay. Kapag inihandog naman nila ang kanilang ikalawang anak sa Templo, maraming Judio ang mag-uusisa kung paano nangyari at dalawang beses silang nag-alay ng kanilang anak na panganay. Dahil dito mabubunyag ang nakatagong lihim tungkol sa kanilang anak na si Jesus. At kung lumabas at ipagtapat nila ang katotohanan, sinong Judio ang maniniwala sa kanilang sasabihin? Tungkol naman sa sinapupunan ni Maria na pinanggalingan ni Jesus, papayag ba ang Diyos na marumihan ang bahay-bata ni Maria? Ang sinapupunan ni Maria ay tulad ng pinaglagakan ng dalawang tapyas na bato ang Kaban ng Tipan. Ang kaban ng tipan ay hindi maaaring hawakan ng kahit sinong tao lamang. May mga taong tanging sila lamang ang maaaring humawak ng kabang ito. Ang sinumang humawak ng walang pahintulot mula sa Diyos ay tiyak na mamamatay. Sapagkat ang nasasaloob ng kabang iyon ay ang dalawang tapyas na batong mula sa Ama. Gayon din ang sinapupunan ni Maria na pinaglagakan ng bugtong na Anak ng Diyos, ito’y hindi maaaring dumihan ng kahit sino. Sapagkat ang sinapupunang ito ni Maria ay isang tunay na banal na Kaban ng Tipan. Dito inilagay ng Diyos ang kanyang Bagong Tipan sa atin – ang kaniyang Bugtong na Anak. Upang mapatotohanan na tunay na hindi ginalaw ni Jose si Maria, alamin natin ang naging buhay ng mag-asawa paglabas ni Jesus sa maliwanag.

“Taon-taon, tuwing Pista ng Paskua, ang mga magulang ni Jesus ay pumunta sa Jerusalem. Ang ng labin-dalawang taon na siya, sila’y pumaroon gaya ng dati nilng ginagawa” (Lukas 2:41-42).

Kung katotohanan ang mga pagbibintang ng marami na ginalaw ni Jose si Maria pagkatapos na mailuwal sa maliwanag si Jesus. Bakit sinasabi sa bersikulong ito na labin-dalawang taon na ang nakalilipas mula ng isilang si Jesus ay wala pa ring tinutukoy na kapatid niya? At ayon dito tuwing Pista nagpupunta sila sa Jerusalem at walang binabanggit na kasama silang kapatid si Jesus, Dapat sa gulang na labin-dalawang taon ni Jesus, kung totoong ginalaw ni Jose si Maria ng maipanganak si Jesus, dapat may isa o hanggang limang kapatid si Jesus. Sapagkat batas ng kaugalian ng mga Judio ang magkaroon sila ng maraming anak.

“At sila’y binasbasan ng Diyos at sa kanila’y sinabi ng Diyos, kayo’y magpalaanakin, at magpakarami, at kalatan ninyo ang lupa, at inyong supilin, at magkaroon kayo ng kapangyarihan sa mga isda sa dagat at sa mga ibon sa himpapawid, at sa bawat hayop na gumagalaw sa ibabaw ng lupa” (Genesis 1:28).

Ang besrsikulong Mateo 1:25 ay paglilinaw lamang ng isang katotohanan na hindi ginalaw ni Jose si Maria. Kung walang gumalaw na lalaki kay Maria siya ay tunay na birhen. Sapagkat ang pagiging tunay na birhen ng isang babae ay hindi lamang sa pagkasira ng kanilang pagkababae (“hymen”). Kung nasira ang hymen ng isang babae dahil sa pangangabayo ay hindi nangangahulugang hindi na siya birhen. Iba ang batas ng relihiyon at medisina. Maraming dahilan ang maaaring pagkasira ng hymen ng isang babae, subalit hindi maaaring sabihing hindi na birhen ito kung hindi naman nagalaw ng isang lalaki. Kaya’t sa batas ng relihiyon gayon din sa batas ng Diyos, hanggat ang babae ay hindi nagagalaw ng isang lalaki, itinuturing siyang isang birhen. Kaya naman si Maria ay tinawag nating tunay na isang birhen sapagkat walang lalaking nakagalaw sa kanya, batay sa sinasabi ng kasulatan “HINDI GINALAW NI JOSE SI MARIA.” Sinabi sa kasulatan na hindi ginalaw ni Jose si Maria hanggang sa maipanganak nito ang batang si Jesus ay upang ipabatid na si Jesus ay hindi nabahiran ng karumihan ng pagnanasa ng tao. Gayon din naman upang ipabatid sa sanlibutan na ang pinanggalingang sinapupunan ay hindi narumihan.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Paano maliligtas ang isang Katoliko

Paano maliligtas ang isang Katoliko?

Mula sa Katisismo ng Simbahang Katoliko

Isa sa pinakamalaking usapin ng mga di Katoliko ay ang tungkol sa Kaligtasan, “Ligtas ka ba kapatid? Ito ang mga katagang madalas gamitin ng mga di-Katoliko upang pasimulan ang kanilang doktrina, babasahin nila ang ilang mga bersikulo mula sa biblia at ipapaliwanag ayon sa kanilang pang-unawa o interpretasyon. Maging ang karamihan sa mga Katoliko ang hindi rin alam ang tunay na aral ng Simbahan tungkol sa Kaligtasan, kaya kadalasan ay hindi nila alam ang kanilang isasagot sa mga nagtatanong sa kanila. Narito ang mga ilang artikulo mula sa Katisismo ng Simbahang Katoliko, na siyang magbibigay linaw sa ating lahat ng tunay na turo ng Simbahang Katoliko. Inaanyayahan ko ang lahat ng di-Katoliko at higit sa lahat ang ating mga kapatid na Katoliko na basahin at pag-aralan na mabuti ang bawat artikulo na nakatala dito upang maunawaan natin ang tunay na kahulugan at daan tungo sa kaligtasan at kung papaano ito matatamo ng bawat isa. Humihingi ako ng paumanhin na hindi salin sa tagalog ang Katisismo, hindi ako isang dalubhasa sa pagsasalin ng wika at wala akong sapat na kakayanan dito. Hangad ko lamang na ibahagi ang munti kong kaalaman sa bawat isa. Patnubayan nawa tayo ng Poong Maykapal.

-Juanito Tayag CPG

The Catechism Of The Catholic Church

I. Justification

1987 The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us "the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ" and through Baptism: [Rom 3.22; cf. 6:3-4]

But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. [Rom 6.8-11]

1988 Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself: [Cf. 1 Cor 12; Jn 15.1-4]

[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature.... For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized. [St. Athanasius, Ep. Serap. 1, 24: PG 26, 585 & 588]

1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." [Mt 4.17] Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man. [Council of Trent (1547): Densinger 1528]

1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.

1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or "justice") here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.

1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life: [Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1529]

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus. [Rom 3.21-26]

1993 Justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom. On man’s part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent:

When God touches man’s heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God’s grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God’s sight. [Council of Trent (1547): DS 1525]

1994 Justification is the most excellent work of God’s love made manifest in Christ Jesus and granted by the Holy Spirit. It is the opinion of St. Augustine that "the justification of the wicked is a greater work than the creation of heaven and earth," because "heaven and earth will pass away but the salvation and justification of the elect … will not pass away." [St. Augustine, In Jo. Ev. 72, 3: PL 35. 1823] He holds also that the justification of sinners surpasses the creation of the angels in justice, in that it bears witness to a greater mercy.

1995 The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving birth to the "inner man," [Cf. Rom 7:22; Eph 3:16] justification entails the sanctification of his whole being:

Just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.... But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life. [Rom 6:19,22]


1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life. [Cf. Jn 1:12-18; 17:3; Rom 8:14-17; 2 Pet 1:3-4]

1997 Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an "adopted son" he can henceforth call God "Father," in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church.

1998 This vocation to eternal life is supernatural. It depends entirely on God’s gratuitous initiative, for he alone can reveal and give himself. It surpasses the power of human intellect and will, as that of every other creature. [Cf. 1 Cor 2:7-9]

1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification: [Cf. Jn 4:14; 7:38-39]

Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself. [2 Cor 5:17-18]

2000 Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love. Habitual grace, the permanent disposition to live and act in keeping with God’s call, is distinguished from actual graces which refer to God’s interventions, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification.

2001 The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity. God brings to completion in us what he has begun, "since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it:" [St. Augustine, De gratia st libero arbitrio, 17: PL 44, 901]

Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us. It has gone before us so that we may be healed, and follows us so that once healed, we may be given life; it goes before us so that we may be called, and follows us so that we may be glorified; it goes before us so that we may live devoutly, and follows us so that we may always live with God: for without him we can do nothing. [St. Augustine, De natura et gratia, 31: PL 44, 264]

2002 God’s free initiative demands man’s free response, for God has created man in his image by conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know him and love him. The soul only enters freely into the communion of love. God immediately touches and directly moves the heart of man. He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy. The promises of "eternal life" respond, beyond all hope, to this desire:

If at the end of your very good works . . ., you rested on the seventh day, it was to foretell by the voice of your book that at the end of our works, which are indeed "very good" since you have given them to us, we shall also rest in you on the sabbath of eternal life. [St. Augustine, Conf. 13, 36, 51: PL 32, 868; cf. Gen 1:31]

2003 Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are sacramental graces, gifts proper to the different sacraments. There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning "favor," "gratuitous gift," "benefit."[53] Whatever their character—sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues—charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church. [Cf. 1 Cor 12] ...

2005 Since it belongs to the supernatural order, grace escapes our experience and cannot be known except by faith. We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved. [Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1533-1534] However, according to the Lord’s words—"Thus you will know them by their fruits" [Mt 7:20]—reflection on God’s blessings in our life and in the lives of the saints offers us a guarantee that grace is at work in us and spurs us on to an ever greater faith and an attitude of trustful poverty.

A pleasing illustration of this attitude is found in the reply of St. Joan of Arc to a question posed as a trap by her ecclesiastical judges: "Asked if she knew that she was in God’s grace, she replied: ‘If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.’" [Acts of the trial of St. Joan of Arc]


You are glorified in the assembly of your Holy Ones, for in crowning their merits you are crowning your own gifts. [Roman Missal, Prefatio I de Sanctis; Qui in Sanctorum concilio celebraris, et eorum coronando merita tua dona coronas, citing the "Doctor of grace," St. Augustine, En. In Ps. 102, 7: PL 37, 1321-1322]

2006 The term "merit" refers in general to the recompense owed by a community or a society for the action of one of its members, experienced either as beneficial or harmful, deserving reward or punishment. Merit is relative to the virtue of justice, in conformity with the principle of equality which governs it.

2007 With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator.

2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

2009 Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us as a result of God’s gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us "co-heirs" with Christ and worthy of obtaining "the promised inheritance of eternal life." [Council of Trent (1547): DS 1546] The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness. [Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1548] "Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due.... Our merits are God’s gifts." [St. Augustine, Sermo 298, 4-5: PL 38,1367]

2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.

2011 The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace.

After earth’s exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for your love alone.... In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is blemished in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own justice and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself. [St. Therese of Lisieux, "Act of Offering" in Story of a Soul, tr. John Clarke (Washington DC: ICS, 1981), 277]


2012 "We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him . . . For those whom he fore knew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified." [Rom 8:28-30]

2013 "All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity." [Lumen Gentium, 40, 2.] All are called to holiness: "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." [Mt 5:48]

In order to reach this perfection the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by Christ’s gift, so that . . . doing the will of the Father in everything, they may wholeheartedly devote themselves to the glory of God and to the service of their neighbor. Thus the holiness of the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance, as is clearly shown in the history of the Church through the lives of so many saints. [Lumen Gentium, 40, 2.]

2014 Spiritual progress tends toward ever more intimate union with Christ. This union is called "mystical" because it participates in the mystery of Christ through the sacraments - "the holy mysteries" - and, in him, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. God calls us all to this intimate union with him, even if the special graces or extraordinary signs of this mystical life are granted only to some for the sake of manifesting the gratuitous gift given to all.

2015 The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. [Cf. 2 Tim 4] Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes:

He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows. [St. Gregory of Nyssa, Hom. In Cant. 8: PG 44, 941C]

2016 The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus. [Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1576] Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the "blessed hope" of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the "holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." [Rev 21.2]