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Ring Smart Home Security Systems. And when he pronounces the words of absolution, our forgiveness is complete. When some people think of Vatican City, what they immediately picture is something like a wealthy kingdom, complete with palatial living accommodations for the pope and chests of gold tucked away in every corner, not to mention the fabulous collection of priceless art and artifacts. Looking at it that way, it's easy to see how some people would become indignant at what they think is an ostentatious and wasteful show of wealth.

Should Catholics Call Priests Father?

But the truth is something quite different. While the main buildings are called the "Vatican Palace," it wasn't built to be the lavish living quarters of the pope. In fact, the residential part of the Vatican is relatively small. The greater portion of the Vatican is given over to purposes of art and science, administration of the Church's official business, and management of the Palace in general. Quite a number of Church and administrative officials live in the Vatican with the pope, making it more like the Church's main headquarters. As for the impressive art collection, truly one of the finest in the world, the Vatican views it as "an irreplaceable treasure," but not in monetary terms.

The pope doesn't "own" these works of art and couldn't sell them if he wanted to; they're merely in the care of the Holy See. The art doesn't even provide the Church with wealth; actually, it's just the opposite. The Holy See invests quite a bit of its resources into the upkeep of the collection. The truth of the matter is that the See has a fairly tight financial budget.

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So why keep the art? It goes back to a belief in the Church's mission one of many as a civilizing force in the world. Just like the medieval monks who carefully transcribed ancient texts so they would be available to future generations — texts that otherwise would have been lost forever — the Church continues to care for the arts so they will not be forgotten over time. In today's culture of death where the term "civilization" can only be used loosely, the Church's civilizing mission is as important today as it ever was.

You might hear this argument a lot today, especially in the wake of the abuse scandal in the Church. Everyone wants to find a solution to the problem, and in doing so some people are advocating ideas that are outside the pale of our Catholic faith i. A lot of people blame the Church for being too rigid in its beliefs and not wanting to try anything new.

The truth is, a lot of the ideas for reform that are floating around today aren't new.

They've been around for a while, and the Church has already considered them. In fact, the Church has spent its entire life carefully examining ideas and determining which ones are in line with God's law and which aren't. It has discarded heresy after heresy while carefully building up the tenets of the Faith. It should come as no surprise that there are thousands of other Christian churches in existence today — all of them had "new ideas" at one point that the Church had decided were outside the deposit of faith.

The Church has an important responsibility in protecting the integrity of our Faith. It never rejects ideas out of hand, as some dissenters would claim, but has two thousand years of prayer and study behind the beliefs it holds to be true. This doesn't mean that we can never disagree on anything. As homosexual activity gains greater acceptance in our culture, there'll be more pressure among Christians to explain away the Bible's clear prohibition against it.

It's now the standard liberal party line to claim that the Bible — when understood correctly — doesn't disallow homosexual activity. But this claim flies in the face of clear passages in both the Old and New Testaments. The first, of course, is the famous story of Sodom and Gomorrah. If you recall, two angels were sent by God to Sodom to visit Lot:.

The message of this passage is pretty clear. The men of Sodom were homosexuals who wanted to have relations with the men inside the house. Lot offered them his daughters, but they weren't interested. Shortly thereafter, Sodom was destroyed by God in payment for the sins of its people — namely, their homosexual acts. This fact is confirmed in the New Testament:. But these certainly aren't the only passages in the Bible that condemn gay activity. The Old Testament contains another unambiguous condemnation: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

It's awfully hard for a liberal Christian to explain this away. There's simply no mention here merely of gay promiscuity or rape; rather, Paul is weighing against any homosexual relations which he describes as "unnatural," "shameless" and "dishonorable". Liberal Christians are in a bind. How, after all, does one harmonize homosexuality with the Bible? Their solution, it appears, is to strip the Bible of its moral power, and run in rhetorical circles trying to escape its clear message. It's true — the Catechism says quite plainly, "Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions.

Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters'" This teaching is at the heart of what it means to have free will. But that doesn't mean that our conscience is free from all responsibility or can be ignorant of God's law. This is what the Catechism refers to as having a "well-formed conscience. In other words, our conscience isn't just "what we feel is right"; it's what we judge to be right based on what we know of the teachings of God and the Church.

And in order to make that judgment, we have a responsibility to study and pray over these teachings very carefully. The Catechism has a section dedicated entirely to the careful formation of our conscience — that's how important it is in making right decisions. And in the end, whether right or wrong, we're still held accountable for our actions: "Conscience enables one to assume responsibility for the acts performed" When properly formed, it helps us to see when we've done wrong and require forgiveness of our sins.

By seeking a fully-formed conscience, we actually experience great freedom, because we're drawing closer to God's infinite Truth. It's not a burden or something that keeps us from doing what we want; it's a guide to help us do what is right. Some believe that it's an unrealistic alternative to birth control which they don't think is sinful anyway while others think that it's just as bad as birth control.

NFP has had to walk a fine line between both extremes. First of all, the main problem with birth control is that it works against the nature of our bodies — and nature in general. It aims to sever the act sex from its consequence pregnancy , basically reducing the sacredness of sex to the mere pursuit of pleasure.

NFP, when used for the right reason, is more of a tool used for discerning whether a couple has the means whether financially, physically, or emotionally to accept a child into their lives. It involves understanding your own body, taking careful stock of your situation in life, discussing the issue with your spouse, and, above all, prayer. Rather than cutting yourself off from the full reality of sex, you are entering into it with a better understanding of all aspects involved.

People who favor birth control point to those people who can't afford more children, or whose health might be at risk from further pregnancies. But these are perfectly legitimate reasons to use NFP — situations where it would be perfectly effective — and the Church allows its use.

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Other people think that taking any sort of control over the size of your family is like playing God, rather than letting Him provide for us as He sees fit. It's true that we must trust God and always accept the lives He sends us, but we don't need to be completely hands-off in that regard. For example, rather than throwing money around and saying that "God will provide," families carefully budget their finances and try not to overextend their means.

NFP is like that budget, helping us prayerfully consider our situation in life and act accordingly. It's part of our nature as humans to understand ourselves and use our intellect and free will, rather than passively expecting God to take care of everything. We're called to be good stewards of the gifts we're given; we must be careful never to treat those gifts carelessly. While this may be one of the most common myths Catholics hold regarding their faith, it's also one of the most easily dispelled.

The Catechism minces no words when talking about abortion: It's listed with homicide under crimes against the fifth commandment, "Thou shalt not kill. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable" The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life" It can't be stated more plainly than that. Some people might argue, however, that being "pro-choice" doesn't mean being in favor of abortion; lots of people think abortion is wrong but don't want to force that opinion on others.