Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Friday, March 24, 2006

Ok, two quick things.

First and foremost Pope Benedict XVI installed 15 new Cardinals into the Catholic Church's College of Cardinals. In his address to the new members he called them to work towards Christian unity. A difficult but very noble goal. Again, it shows that the Catholic Church is not thinking short term, but long term. Among the new Cardinals were two Americans. William J. Levada, a Californian who was previously selected by the incoming pope as head the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith (CDF), the office held by Cardinal Ratzinger before he was called to be the Bishop of Rome. Also granted the red hat was Sean O'Malley, aka. the Casual Cardinal (seriously do an image search for'll see what I mean), a white-bearded Franciscan who as Archbishop of Boston has had the job of repairing damage in sex-abuse scandals that forced the resignation of his predecessor, Cardinal Bernard Law.

Also, Andy over at All Too Common gets a "birretta" tip for this nice post, click here to see it.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

For those wondering what fork I took last night, I stayed in College Station and did what needed to be done. March 30 is now only about 10 days away....someone throw a clock out the window!

In other news, I received an e-mail from one of my best friends regarding an earlier post on here (actually several questions about a few posts, but this one ended at the top of the list when I printed stuff out). The post was that on The Sacrifce of the Mass, the high Catholic term for sacrament of holy communion.

The orginal post can be found here. Bottom of the page, February 1st.

Here is the question:

Here are some thoughts on Part 2 of an Ongoing Series: The Sacrifice of the Mass.

Sacraments are something I really have a hard time understanding. The Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms defines sacramentum as a holy rite that is both a sign and a means of grace. According to that definition, a sacrament must have some gospel reference point. If we stick with that definition, do any holy rites besides baptism and communion fit into that category?

Let's look at marriage in particular. We find marriage as a symbol of the relationship of Christ and the Church. Marriage was also something that predated the fall and the church. In other words, marriage was around before grace was needed. Additionally, marriage is available to those outside of the "covenant community." Pagans can get married and enjoy the benefits therein.

Marriage as a direct sign of grace is suspect because it predates the fall. Additionally, it is difficult to see how marriage represents or points back to cleansing from sin.

Now here is my response:

Is marriage both a sign and means of grace? My initial thought is to ask any married couple if they receive grace in their marriage to avoid not killing each other at times, but that’s not a good enough answer. What I am going to attempt here is to make a case for marriage being a sacrament, though it may be poorly done.

Looking at marriage in particular, it is a symbol of the relationship of Christ and His Church, it predated the fall and the Church. It was around before grace was needed and it is practiced by those outside the Church, the “covenant community.” Pagans can be married, but I wonder if they can fully enjoy the benefits therein.

If marriage is to be a sacrament it must stand fully unique from all others. Baptism and communion must be administered by an ordained minister; marriage is performed between the man and woman, with God as a witness of what He joins together.

Let me touch on the issue of pagan marriage. Looking at the ceremony as we have it today in the modern age, there is one very glaring pagan aspect in a wedding that is not questioned. The rings! The ring of marriage finds its roots in pagan religions. Yet, would any Christian wedding today go without the rings, circular bands representing a promise, a covenant, between husband and wife and God. Usually made of a finite material, a precious metal only of this plane of existence and circular a shape with no beginning and no end, used as a symbol to represent something greater than what it is, just a piece of metal on one’s left ring finger.

However as J.H. Newman wrote in Essay 369:

“The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with the branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison, are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church.”

Man is born with the knowledge of God, though he may imperfectly know Him, as we see throughout history, man has sought to know He that is greater than himself. It’s almost instinctive to know there is something greater than oneself. However, since the fall man’s rebellion lead to many forgetting the one, true God. Yet they still knew there was something greater. Even in their turning from Him, worshipping false god’s, there must have been a sliver of truth that remained in the error. The knowledge of a greater being, the knowledge of the need to worship, even as Paul notes, the Unknown God, remained ingrained as a part of the human experience. Christians removed the error from these ways, purifying them and applying them to Christian belief and understanding. This ended the pagan connection that once existed with these forms resulting in outright replacement, not compromise.

Marriage was instituted by God, yet it becomes more error filled with the pagan. The knowledge of marriage is there, most likely handed down in societal structures but somewhere losing its meaning and value. The sliver of truth that marriage exists for a reason (and I’ll get to this later, be patient) remains though distorted and lost to the errors.

In the beginning, the first marriage, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were given the command of marriage, be fruitful and multiply. God having created them in His image was opening the curtain just ever so slightly. Through the bond of becoming one flesh in the marriage act, God was allowing His creation to assist Him in the process of creation. How great an honor could He bestow upon man and woman than to assist in His creation by bringing forth new life?

By creating humanity in His own image, God inscribes upon the humanity of man and woman the vocation, the capacity, and the responsibility of love and communion. Love is the most fundamental and innate calling of every human being and it shown forth in the great commandment to love God with all one’s being and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Marriage becomes an earthly foreshadowing of heavenly reality of perfect love and communion.

Now after the fall, marriage and what it was fell along with the rest of the world. Divorce was not permitted in the Garden, yet it became so after the fall. The commandments spell out that “Thou shall not commit adultery.” In the Garden, grace was abundant and sin not even on the radar that this would never have been a problem. However, we see Christ restore marriage to its proper place, by purifying its fallen state. Christ is explicit that divorce was not so from the beginning and that Moses allowed divorce due to the hardness of heart, but that from the beginning it was not so. It was a pure union of male and female..

The argument could be made that all sacraments of the new covenant find a certain prototype in marriage. The marriage of Christians is a living sign that truly communicates the love Christ and the Church.. The lives of the spouses lived out in daily commitment to each other, and most specifically in the “one flesh” union, could be said to constitute a living sign. For as Paul states “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:31-32). Within the gift of the eucharist, the Christian family finds it foundation, even it’s very soul in its “communion” and mission, to love as God loves.

Marriage in the beginning was a grace filled institution for it was pure and without blemish. If men and women are to experience marriage as God intended it to be in the beginning, it stands to reason that they must renounce all that is contrary to God’s plan and continuously surrender themselves to the grace of redemption., the cross of Christ. It was humanity’s turning away from God that got us to this point in the first place, distorting our relationships with each other and with God. Does it not then mean that marriage between Christians is a transformational and not merely informational?

That said what Calvin said on the matter was this:

"Institutions", IV, xix, 34, says: "Lastly, there is matrimony, which all admit was instituted by God, though no one before the time of Gregory regarded it as a sacrament. What man in his sober senses could so regard it? God's ordinance is good and holy; so also are agriculture, architecture, shoemaking, hair-cutting legitimate ordinances of God, but they are not sacraments".

The reference to Gregory, I can only assume, dates to the Council of Florence., where the issue was raised of marriage being a sacrament or not. Thus the Gregory in question I believe is Gregory XII who was Bishop of Rome from 1406-1415. He was succeeded by Martin V (1417-1431). Perhaps Calvin was unaware of Innocent IV (1243-1254) in a confession of faith prescribed for a group called the Waldensians included matrimony among the sacraments. It reads as follows:

"And we by no means reject the sacraments which are administered in it (the Catholic Church), with the co-operation of the inestimable and invisible power of the Holy Ghost, even though they be administered by a sinful priest, provided the Church recognizes him",

The formula then takes up each sacrament in particular, touching especially on those points which the Waldensians had denied:

"Therefore we approve of baptism of children . . . confirmation administered by the bishop . . . the sacrifice of the Eucharist. . . . We believe that pardon is granted by God to penitent sinners . . . we hold in honour the anointing of the sick with consecrated oil . . . we do not deny that carnal marriages are to be contracted, according to the words of the Apostle."

It is, therefore, historically certain that from the beginning of the thirteenth century the sacramental character of marriage was universally known and recognized as a dogma. The only one of the seven sacraments held by the Western Church missing there is that of holy orders, or ordination.

Let’s wind the clock back some more….all the way back to before 430 (the year of his death) and Augustine of Hippo.

“Among all people and all men the good that is secured by marriage consists in the offspring and in the chastity of married fidelity; but, in the case of God's people [the Christians], it consists moreover in the holiness of the sacrament, by reason of which it is forbidden, even after a separation has taken place, to marry another as long as the first partner lives . . . just as priests are ordained to draw together a Christian community, and even though no such community be formed, the Sacrament of Orders still abides in those ordained, or just as the Sacrament of the Lord, once it is conferred, abides even in one who is dismissed from his office on account of guilt, although in such a one it abides unto judgment." –from "De bono conjugii"( chap. xxiv in P.L., XL, 394)

"Undoubtedly it belongs to the essence of this sacrament that, when man and wife are once united by marriage, this bond remains indissoluble throughout their lives. As long as both live, there remains a something attached to the marriage, which neither mutual separation nor union with a third can remove; in such cases, indeed, it remains for the aggravation of the guilt of their crime, not for the strengthening of the union. Just as the soul of an apostate, which was once similarly wedded unto Christ and now separates itself from Him, does not, in spite of its loss of faith, lose the Sacrament of Faith, which it has received in the waters of regeneration." –from "De nuptiis et concupiscentia (I, x, in P.L., XLIV, 420),

As early as 430, the leaders of the Church placed marriage, which Augustine identifies as a sacrament, on the level of baptism and holy orders, ordination. Now, allow me to use the assumption that holy orders is a sacrament, because it is another subject entirely to research the views that is a sacrament or not, I will let Augustine argue for me. Augustine considers baptism and holy orders to be sacraments in the strictest sense and on equal footing with these he places Christian marriage.

And moving the “Way Back” machine into the second century, before he went heretical we have Tertullian and his work “Ad Uxiorem”:

"If therefore such a marriage is pleasing to God, wherefore should it not turn out happily, so that it will not be troubled by afflictions and needs and obstacles and contaminations, since it enjoys the protection of the Divine grace?"


"How can we describe the happiness of those marriages which the Church ratifies, the sacrifice strengthens, the blessing seals, the angels publish, the Heavenly Father propitiously beholds?"

Carrying more weight than even the testimony of the early Church fathers regarding the sacramental character of marriage is the stance of the Eastern and Western churches. The essential features of each can be traced to Apostolic ordinances. East and West both agree that marriage is a sacrament. Even those that separated from the Church early in her history treat marriage a sacrament. The Nestorians, Monophysites, Copts, Jacobites, etc., all agree with the Eastern and Western Churches. The sacramental nature of marriage has never been a matter of dispute between the West and the East.

There is a great deal of correspondence (circa 1576-1581) between Tubingen professors, defenders of the Reformation and the Greek patriarch, Jeremias. It terminated with the latter’s indignantly scouting the suggestion that he could be won over the doctrine of only two sacraments, and his solemn recognition of the doctrine of seven, including marriage., as the constant teaching of the Greek and Eastern Church. About fifty years or so later the Patriarch Cyril Lucar, who had adopted the Reformed doctrine of only two sacraments, was for that reason publicly declared a heretic by the Synods of Constantinple in 1638 and 1642 and by that of Jerusalem in 1672, evidence to how firmly the seven sacraments, including marriage were maintained in the Easter Church.

Remember the split between the East and West occurred in the 1000’s. So we either have the East and West concluding that marriage was a sacrament independently of each other as well as the early church’s that split due to heresy, or we have the knowledge that even as early as the second century it was viewed by the Church as a sacrament and that taken in whole, it has always been taught as such until more recent times and more recent theological errors.

Your thoughts dear reader...leave a comment.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Fork In The Road: Temptation vs. The Right Thing

God must have a wonderful sense of irony. How else can I explain the choice in front of me today? On the one hand, Beggar Street Social is playing in Austin at 8:15 till about 9. A short drive from them at 10 PM the Double Bubble is playing the Saxon Pub. The temptation to go see my friends play is great. Yet at the same time, I've been asked by Double B to do some ground work here in College Station for their March 30 show at Shadow Canyon....err Midnight Rodeo (aka. Midnight Rode a Ho), does not open till 8. It is certainly a fork in the road. To go would be to induldge my senses in some of my favorite music. Yet, the virtue of my being there to induldge myself would be letting down one of the folks I came to see. Those of you that know me, know which one wins out. I guess, I'm off to see the Wizard rather than the possibilities of Wisteria Lane. I am but a humble servant in the Vineyard of the Lord and when I am done with what I must do, I'll hang out with Tony Soprano.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day
The beautiful prayer of St. Patrick, popularly known as "St. Patrick's Breast-Plate", is supposed to have been composed by him in preparation for this victory over Paganism. The following is a literal translation from the old Irish text:

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.
I bind to myself todayGod's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.
I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ within me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ at my right,
Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

And before I forget....

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Young Rocket at the 1986 All Star Game in Astrodome

In what could be his last game, Roger Clemens takes the hill tonight against Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. Thanks for the memories Rocket!

Roger Clemens Tonight.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


CAESAR.Who is it in the press that calls on me?I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,Cry "Caesar"! Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.

SOOTHSAYER.Beware the Ides of March.

CAESAR.What man is that?

BRUTUS.A soothsayer bids you beware the Ides of March.

CAESAR.Set him before me; let me see his face.

CASSIUS.Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.

CAESAR.What say'st thou to me now? Speak once again.

SOOTHSAYER.Beware the Ides of March.

CAESAR.He is a dreamer; let us leave him. Pass.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Let's Go Old School

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem coeli et terrae, visibilium omnium, et invisibilium. Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum. Et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula. Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero. Genitum, not factum, consubstantialem Patri: per quem omnia facta sunt. Qui propter nos homines, et propter nostram salutem descendit de coelis. ET INCARNATUS EST DE SPIRITU SANCTO EX MARIA VIRGINE: ET HOMO FACTUS EST. Crucifixus etiam pro nobis, sub Pontio Pilato passus, et sepultus est. Et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas. Et ascendit in coelum: sedet ad desteram Patris. Et iterum venturus est com gloria, judicare vivos et mortuos: cujus regni non erit finis. Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem: qui ex Patre Filioque procedit. Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur: qui locutus est per prophetas. Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam. Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum. + Et vitam ventura saeculi. Amen.

How up to date are you on your Latin? You're not? Oh well....I won't torture you dear reader. What we have above in the italics is none other than the Nicene Creed (or more properly the Nicene-Constantinoplitan Creed).

Christians should know this one, for it is commonly recited Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and most Protestant denominations. It was finalized all the way back in 381 AD during the Council of Constantinople, after having been begun and approved in its orginal form at the Council of Nicea.
When I think about it, how truly amazing is it that this ancient creed (and also the Apostle's Creed) have survived so long. Survived heresy's, the Eastern schism, the Middle Ages, the Rennaissance, the Reformation, the Counter Reformation, and up into modern times. It stands as a testament to God's faithfulness to His Church and to the faith of Christians everywhere.

Wait...maybe not everywhere. Let's look at the Latin for a minute...and I'll translate.... there appears to be something more than some will confess:

And (I believe) in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son), who together with the Father and the Son is to be adored and glorified, who spoke by the Prophets. And one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We confess (I confess) one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for (I look for) the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen."
Do you see it, a part of the Creed that some will leave out when reciting it..."We confess one baptism of the remission of sins." Now why would this be a problem? Well it depends on one's view of baptism, yet for over a thousand years this is how the Creed was recited. I just find that a bit interesting, being the student of history that I am (despite 2 degrees in engineering) I would say that those who truncate and delete this portion of the Creed are being dishonest at least and liars at most. It's a mark of deception to say you are reciting the Creed when in fact you are skipping a piece you disagree with. Now those who don't know better, those in the pews or chairs, I will not put in this category because they may not undertake the study or research the history. However, I will apply it to those in the charge if they are knowingly truncating. For they play a shell game with the faith and consequently may be playing Russian Roulette with the souls of the faithful.
I don't claim to know why some would edit the Creed. I could guess at a great many reasons, but that would be mere speculation. The question that must be asked, why is this portion of the Creed sometimes ommitted? Is it because of the views of baptistim? That there is no grace in baptism? That more than one baptism may be needed in direct contradiction to Scripture?
Or is it a purposeful intent to keep the faithful in the dark and from asking questions about their faith and its early history? I don't know these answers, I could opine on them but it is probably not a good idea to do so without more research.
From a simply historical point of view, it's a dishonest practice to edit the Creed. It ranks high on the radar of something is wrong here. Ultimately, the reasons for doing so don't mean whole heck of a lot. In the end they are nothing but excuses to cover a dishonest practice.
Whatever your opinion though, it is an interesting question if your congregation uses the Nicene Creed as a confession of faith and does not recite it in its entirety. Is it still the Nicene Creed if it is altered? If it is not, then why claim to hold the Nicene Creed when it is an abridged version?
Just something to chew on and throw around.
In the meantime, may the Lord watch over you and your household and keep you safe.
In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I'll explain sometime!


Thursday, March 02, 2006

April 3, 2006
RED SOX @ Rangers
1:05 PM
Q: Where do the Sox rank in terms of importance in your life?
A: I say the Red Sox... sex... and breathing.
If you want to go get dancing....I have a few tickets
That's not opening day dancing - that's Devil Rays dancin'!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Blogging Vacation
I'll get back to posting more frequently soon dear readers. I've just been taking some time off to focus on other things that are going on in my life right now. So with out further ado, let me get back to my vacation from the blog world.