Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts

Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts

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Pharisees

All of the posts under the "Pharisees" category.

Stained Glass, High Altars, and Scripture: Why We Should Avoid Simplicity In Our Churches

There is a common misunderstanding that exists today in which many believe that Jesus was simple. Many arguments proceed from this belief, such as how our worship should be simpler, or our churches should be bare to better coincide with how simple Jesus was. But, the reality is, Jesus would not approve of this belief. This belief comes from a misunderstanding of who Jesus is, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, and poor catechesis with a lack of comprehension from the Scriptures.

Jesus in the Scriptures

Stained Glass

When it comes to wanting to have a simpler liturgy when it comes to Mass or just general worship, many people use Jesus’ words to the Pharisees as a defense for their position. The truth of the matter is the Pharisees created their own rules outside of the rules that God had laid out for His people. Jesus was never wanting to remove God’s rules:

“Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For amen I say unto you, till Heaven and Earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17-18

We need to remember that not all has been fulfilled. But I know what you are thinking. Didn’t Jesus die for our sins, come back from the dead, and ascend into Heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father? Yes. But Jesus also told us that He would Come Again. Jesus has yet to come again, thus not all has been fulfilled.

As a Jew, Jesus would have obeyed the laws of the Old Testament. We know that He was a teacher in the temple, and thus He would have known and followed these laws, as those who did not were forbidden to teach. We observe that the laws of God were obeyed, but the laws of the Pharisees were not. The Pharisees laws were created by them, in order that they may be seen as holier than thou, that is, these laws were unattainable by even the most devout of Jews, and the Pharisees gave the outward appearance of being holy while having an inward disposition of being wicked and corrupt. Thus, Jesus rested and prayed on the Sabbath, but did not necessarily wash before meals.

To further show that Jesus was not simple, we know from Scripture that Jesus was not simply dressed, but finely dressed. When Jesus was crucified we must remember these key passages from the Gospels:

“And after they had crucified him, they divided his garments, casting lots; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: ‘They divided my garments among them; and upon my vesture they cast lots’.” Matthew 27:35

“And crucifying him, they divided his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.” Mark 15:24

“The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified him, took his garments, (and they made four parts, to every soldier a part,) and also his coat. Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said then one to another: Let us not cut it, but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be; that the scripture might be fulfilled, saying: They have parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture they have cast lots. And the soldiers indeed did these things.” John 19:23-24

When the Roman soldiers would crucify their prisoners, they would generally cut apart the clothing of the victim and share it equally among themselves. However, when it came to Jesus’ clothing, they did not cut it, but rather, “rolled the dice” to see who would win it. Most clothing was made of multiple pieces of material, and thus they would rip it apart and just use the scraps for mending or what not. However, with Jesus’ clothing they did not, which means that this was not just “scraps put together” but fine material, expensive material. Why would Jesus, if He was simple, wear expensive clothing? Because He is God and He is our King.

Jesus Christ, Fully God and Fully King

Traditional High Altar

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is a separate person but has the same nature of God. He is fully God, as much so as God the Father and God the Holy Ghost. Three individuals, but one God. Now, a question must be asked: is the Trinity simply explained? The short answer is no. It is a mystery of faith that we can only briefly scrape with our limited intellect. Thus, if we as humans have difficulty understanding who Jesus Christ is in relation to the Trinity, how can we even say that He is simple? Jesus Christ proceeds from the Father, and through His love with the Father, the Holy Spirit proceeds through Them. But they all existed at the same time. We can say sincerely, that God is not simple, but He gives us enough information to allow our intellect to engage in this mystery.

Not only is Jesus Christ our God, but He is also our King. Jesus says so Himself:

“Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice.” John 18:37

Our Churches are adorn with beautiful images of our faith, along with gold because our King deserves our best. Before you say that Jesus did not want these nice things, remember, the three kings came to the Nativity with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, all lavish and expensive gifts. Before Jesus’ death, the sorrowful woman anoints Jesus’ feet with perfume that is worth 300 days’ wages. When the woman was admonished by Judas, Jesus rebuked him saying that she had done a good thing.

We must also keep in mind the sacrifices and gifts Cain and Abel gave to God in Genesis 4. Abel, being filled with love for God, gave his absolute best to God. Of his crop, he gave his top ten percent and burned it. Cain on the other hand, was not filled with love for God, and figured he only needed to be simple. So Cain gave his bottom ten percent and burned it. God was pleased with Abel and made it known that Abel had found favor with Him. Cain was upset and killed his brother because Abel was favored.

There is also an example of two kings. One king threw a party and invited the entire kingdom. When the guests arrived, the king took them around his castle and showcased all of his beloved art and ornaments. He shared with them his home and shared everything that he had with them. The ballroom was a magnificent spectacle that would give even the Disney castles some jealousy.

But there was a second king who also threw a party and invited the entire kingdom. However, when the guests arrived, he brought them into a ballroom with bare walls, no decorum, no art, no music, no anything. It was rather drab, or simple. However, because there was nothing else, the king said to his people, “I want you to spend the entire ball looking at me. You are not to dance with one another as that would take the focus off of me.” Now, this is rather a selfish attitude and certainly not the attitude one would expect from a king who is inviting people into his home.

The first king is like Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church, who has beautiful churches laced with golden ornaments and beautiful art, not so that you can’t focus on Him, but rather, you can reflect upon the beauty captured in all of this and meditate on the different aspects of Our Lord’s life. This is why most Catholic churches of the pre-conciliar time are beautiful works of art. The second king is like Jesus Christ in Protestantism. A selfish king who wishes to be the only person on display. This is why most protestant and Catholic churches of the post-conciliar time are drab and plain.

Jesus Christ deserves our absolute best when it comes to liturgy, worship, and even our churches. Our King’s kingdom is not of this world, but rather of Heaven. Jesus Christ Our King deserves the cream of the crop, not just the leftovers of the fruits of our labor. We should not be afraid to house our King in a beautiful church where one is left awestruck because it does not take anything away from Our God, but rather, emphasizes that much more how important and great He is.

Jeff October 23, 2015 1 Comment Permalink

There Is No Middle Road When It Comes To What Jesus Christ Taught

Many people think Jesus always chose the middle ground. Thus if we are given two options, in order to be like Christ, we are to choose the compromise between the two.

Pharisee and Tax Collector

Unfortunately, this is not the case when we look at what Jesus actually told us.

Jesus Christ said He is “the way, the truth, and the life” c.f. John 14:6. He also tells us we should do all He has commanded us to do c.f. Matthew 28:20.

If Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life and we are to follow His commands, this means we are to do what He has revealed to us and given to us. Likewise, we are also to follow what the Church has given us.

Sermon_On_The_Mount_Copenhagen1

If Jesus Christ commanded and taught that divorce and remarriage are to be condemned and not allowed, there is no middle road. If you love Him, you will keep his commandments, c.f. John 14:15.

The middle ground between truth and error is not truth, but error. The middle ground between two people arguing whether 2+2=4 or 2+2=5 is not 4.5. There is only one answer. It is erratic to claim otherwise.

Likewise, if Jesus Christ Himself gave us the doctrine and dogmas Catholics stick to, and if someone makes the claim “if the law does not bring someone closer to Christ, then they are obsolete” he is not being honest, but deceitful.

Jeff October 20, 2014 Leave A Comment Permalink

Are Traditionalists The Modern Day Pharisees?

Many who are faithful to the Church and Her Magisterium are mocked by their enemies as being a “pharisee”. Fortunately for the faithful, and unfortunately for the enemy, the term pharisee is being used incorrectly.

What is a Pharisee?

The Concise Catholic Dictionary of 1943 (CCD) states that Pharisees are:

“Those Jews who in our Lord’s time scrupulously observed the Jewish law and refused to have communication with the gentiles; the proud and self-righteous.”

Now, when the term “Pharisee” is thrown around, it is usually used to mock a certain point of view. Its used to mock it, ridicule it and silence it. Nobody wants to be a Pharisee. We know through Scripture that all they did was follow the rules, appear to be Holier Than Thou and had Jesus killed. They aren’t good people.

The people who are called this vile and ugly word, may in fact be devoted to the rules, the doctrine and the teachings of the Church. However, the are far from being smug, “Holier Than Thou” and are usually humble people who recognize that they too are sinners and in need of God’s love and mercy. It is important to keep in mind that there are always some of those who ruin it for everyone else. We are talking about the average traditionalist.

The Pharisees are the enemy in the Gospels. Every time they are mentioned, it is to prove a lesson to them. The Pharisees externally appeared to be “saints” but interiorly were wretched, unrepentant sinners. They cared more about their place of power, as opposed to their place in the Kingdom of God.

Traditionalists, from my experience, are not in any way Pharisees. They hold true to the Dogmas, Doctrines, and teachings of the Church. If the Pharisees did this, then this is the only area in which there is overlap between Pharisees and Traditionalists. Where they differ, is that the Traditionalist recognizes that he is a sinner. The Traditionalist tries his hardest to live his life as Christ and the Church has asked of him. Granted, he may be stern in what he believes, but that is only because the teachings of Jesus are not negotiable. What Jesus has taught goes and what the Church teaches in congruence with her spouse, is also the law of the land.

Pharisees in Scripture

Jesus mentions the Pharisees in Scripture numerous times. Often it is to drive a point home. God does not want you lukewarm, that is, following his law when those around you are looking, and ignoring it when no one is around. He doesn’t want you to follow it out of pride either. The error of the Pharisees is that they think that because they are following the law, that they are saved and because you are not following the law, you are not saved.

Jesus points out that no, those who are not following the law, but repent are more likely to be saved than those who pretend to follow the law, but are unrepentant.

“But what think you? A certain man had two sons; and coming to the first, he said: Son, go work today in my vineyard. And he answering, said: I will not. But afterwards, being moved with repentance, he went. And coming to the other, he said in like manner. And he answering, said: I go, Sir; and he went not. Which of the two did the father’s will? They say to him: The first. Jesus saith to them: Amen I say to you, that the publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of justice, and you did not believe him. But the publicans and the harlots believed him: but you, seeing it, did not even afterwards repent, that you might believe him.” Matthew 21:28-32 Douay-Rheims

Jesus also condemns the false traditions as well and that its not what is on the outside, but what is on the inside. These traditions were created by the Pharisees before them. The Traditions of the Church are given by her authority.

After he had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you. Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others. Woe to you Pharisees! You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces. Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.” Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them. Woe to you! You build the memorials of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute’ in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood! Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.” When he left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say. Luke 11:37-54 NAB

Jesus makes it very clear though, that we are to follow the “rules” and Traditions that He has given us numerous times as well (c.f. Matthew 19:16-30 and John 13:31-35).

It is clear that when Jesus talks about the Pharisees, that we must be repentant of our sins and we must follow whatever Commandments that He has given to us. That means that anywhere in Scripture in which Jesus tells us to do something, we are to do it. Because He is God, we know that that is the Truth. There is nothing wrong with following the teachings, doctrines and traditions of the Catholic faith. There is nothing wrong with asking others to do it and making sure that our priests and religious follow them as well, as long as it is done in love. The problem is when we follow only the rules to appear better than those around us. If it is out of general love for God, then it is perfectly acceptable to ensure that our brethren follow the traditions.

Not All Pharisees Hated Jesus

You read that correctly, not all of the Pharisees were bad and wanted Jesus to be killed. As a matter of fact, we read that after Jesus had cured the man born blind and sent him to the temple to wash his eyes, that there was disagreement between the Pharisees. We read:

Some therefore of the Pharisees said: This man is not of God, who keepeth not the sabbath. But others said: How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. John 9:16 Douay-Rheims

Jesus cured the blind man on the sabbath, and some of the Pharisees (the bad ones at least) felt that Jesus’ curing of this man violated the sabbath. Meanwhile, other Pharisees (the good ones) believed that if you are doing something that is good on the sabbath, than you can not be sinning. There was a definite division among the Pharisees. This demonstrates that not all were bad and that more than likely, a percentage of the Pharisees thought that Jesus was God and followed His teachings. We also know of the Pharisee Nicodemus. We read:

And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night, and said to him: Rabbi, we know that thou art come a teacher from God; for no man can do these signs which thou dost, unless God be with him. John 3:1-2 Douay-Rheims

It is an important distinction to highlight the good Pharisees. The Pharisees were generally bad, but to allow the good Pharisees to be lumped in with the bad is uncharitable to those who did follow Jesus (assuming they later converted). It also weakens the analogy that traditionalists are all “bad” as this is what the comparison is used for.

Conclusion

Every group has its members who are not good and give a bad name for the rest of them. Just like there were bad Pharisees, there will also be bad Traditionalists. The important distinction is to see how the Traditionalist lives his life as a Catholic to determine if he is like a Pharisee or not. The Pharisees aren’t only those who followed the law to a t, but those who exteriorly followed the law to a t when people were around to witness it. This is a clear sense of pride. But, when they weren’t around they were corrupt and interiorly were diseased and unclean. To lump those on the “ultra-conservative” or “ultra-traditional” side as pharisees, is an assumption and a judgment that you know better what is going on interiorly in their hearts, which Jesus warns against (c.f. Luke 6:37).

Most of the people I know may follow the law to a t, but it is out of love for God and love for others in helping them get to Heaven. If they are actually living out their faith, both when people are around and aren’t, then to call them a Pharisee is an error and an uncharitable error that only goes to create divisions within the Church. I don’t see how that helps anything.

Jeff April 2, 2014 8 Comments Permalink

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