Bread of Life

Bread of Life
 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (john 6: 50)
The miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ celebrated the first Mass with His disciples at the Last Supper, the night before He died. He commanded His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The celebration of the Mass then became the main form of worship in the early Church, as a reenactment of the Last Supper, as Christ had commanded. Each and every Mass since commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross through the Holy Eucharist. Because the Mass “re-presents” (makes present) the sacrifice on Calvary, Catholics all around the world join together to be made present in Christ’s timeless sacrifice for our sins. There is something fascinating about continuing to celebrate the same Mass—instituted by Christ and practiced by the early Church—with the whole community of Catholics around the world…and in heaven.

bread of life

Why does the Catholic Church believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist?
The Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence is the belief that Jesus Christ is literally, not symbolically, present in the Holy Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist because Jesus tells us this is true in the Bible:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” - John 6:48-56
Furthermore, the early Church Fathers either imply or directly state that the bread and wine offered in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, the doctrine of the Real Presence that Catholics believe today was believed by the earliest Christians 2,000 years ago!

This miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

THE DEVIL'S TACTICS

Satan is the most cunning creature ever created by God. He has been studying you and me ever since we were born, and he knows what we have said, what we have done, and what we do when we think no one is looking. He has assigned his best demons to us, choosing them based on our personal weaknesses and their greatest strengths. The purpose of this webpage is to discuss some of Lucifer's tactics, based on real life experiences.

First off, the devil uses ridicule and personal attacks from the educated and so-called "intellectual" class to camouflage his existence. Just bring up the subject of "the devil" at a party or at work, and you are bound to hear something like, "Oh, come on. This is the 21st Century.

No one believes in that medieval stuff anymore. The Catholic Church just made up a bogey man to enrich themselves. Only idiots believe in ghosts and demons and such." So be prepared to be ridiculed and made fun of if you bring up the topic of the reality of the devil.

The so-called "enlightenment" of the 18th Century which replaced faith in God with faith in science and reason in the material world is still a very strong mind-set to a lot of people. In reality, The Enlightenment is that false light that the Bible says that satan can disguise himself as (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

If the devil isn't real, then the Bible is lying to us, because in the desert, Jesus physically talked to satan, and was even carried by Satan to the high point overlooking the world's kingdoms. And Jesus performed exorcisms as well. So if you are confronted with ridicule, then ask the ridiculer why the Bible is lying about the reality of satan, who appeared in the Garden of Eden from day 1.

Secondly, the devil will use your own strengths against you, as some of the martial arts do in self defense. For instance, if you like helping down-and-out people, he will send you a member of the opposite sex who really appeals to your physical senses, and who will regale you with tales of personal woe, all in an attempt to win your heart.

And because you really do want to help him/her because of your Christianity, you reach out to them. But be forewarned, the goal of this person is to ruin your life, and if you fall for the trap, you will soon be in a state of mortal sin, either through fornication or adultery.

This is one of his oldest and best traps, because he will spring it on you when you are at your weakest, say, after a divorce, after the death of a loved one, or after a huge personal loss of some kind, when you feel all alone and unloved. The person Satan will send into your life at your weakest point will tempt you with your main weakness, and will confuse you with his/her seeming goodness and his/her very apparent dark side at the same time.

The wonderful side is the bait to draw you in; the dark side is the trap that will spring shut after you capitulate. DON'T BE FOOLED. The way to recognize this person is that you will feel very good when he/she is around you, and you will feel very guilty when he/she is not around you. And you will have lots of sleepless nights as a result.

Another cunning tactic of the evil one is spiritual pride. This occurs when he sees that he is losing you to Jesus and he knows he can't stop you. So then he goes to Plan B, which is to instill in you the thought that since you know so much more than everyone else about the bible, about the sacraments, about the catechism, etc., then you are somehow better than everyone else who isn't as knowledgeable about God.

Being knowledgeable is a wonderful thing, but in no way does it ever make you better than the great unwashed out there in the world who don't take the time to study theology. Pride is the devil's great sin, because he thinks he is equal to God, as do a lot of people today. But Satan is only a created creature, like you and me, and he is only opposite to Michael the Archangel and the Blessed Virgin Mary, not God.

So don't fall for this trap - we are servants of God, no matter how much we know or don't know. And remember - Satan will ALWAYS outwit us with his knowledge, because he has a superior intellect, no matter how smart we think we are.

BUT, since Satan doesn't have a heart and is full of pride, if our thoughts and actions come from our heart and our humility, we will beat him every time, in Christ Jesus. Mother Mary is the epitome of what we should be, and the more we attach ourselves to her Immaculate Heart, the more Satan fears us.

One of Satan's greatest ploys is the occult. So many people read their daily horoscope, or play with Ouija boards, or have their fortunes told at the rundown shacks of "psychics" in town. DON'T DO THESE THINGS! This is akin to playing with fire.

These things are NOT harmless fun and games, but demonic gateways for Satan and his minions to attach themselves to your soul. The only way to get out of this trap once you get involved with it is to confess it to a priest, and push back against it. Sprinkle any occult object with holy water and burn it. Your life will be a living hell if you do not.

Depression is the devil's compensation for living for him and not for God. He will whisper to you that you are no good, and you might as well end it all now, because God will never forgive you, since you let Him down so much. Of course, before you sin, he will whisper in your ear that you have had a rough life, and you deserve a little pleasure in life. After all, look at all of the rich people who lead sinful lifestyles all the time with sex and money and pleasure, and nothing bad ever happens to them!

And besides, God will always forgive you, and you can go to confession this week anyway. So what's the big deal? So many people fall for this depression trap, and commit suicide as a result. DON'T BE FOOLED. God will ALWAYS forgive you if you repent, and the odds of going to heaven after suicide are pretty slim, although even that can happen, if there is enough time for you to repent after you initiate the act.

And always remember that Satan will show you a great physical time, for a while. He will give you money, sex, power, or whatever, to convince you that you have the secret of life, and that the Mother Teresa's of the world who are God's servants are stupid and dumb. But he will ALWAYS pop your balloon after he has blown it up and puffed you up with pride.

He will let you get away with your favorite sin time after time after time, but one day, you will not get away with it. Either you will be devastated in this life because of your sinful lifestyle (death of a loved one, jail time, depression, etc.), or even worse, you will die unexpectedly and go straight to hell. The bible says that it IS IMPOSSIBLE to please God if you live in the flesh (Romans: 8:8).

There are many many other tactics of Satan, such as allowing you to come in contact with bad influences at work, like the good old boy or the good old girl, who are always joking and kidding around about sex. Another strategy of his is to always upset you, so that you will start to question why God allows these bad things to happen to you.

After all, you will start to think, I am a good person, and if God loved me, then He wouldn't let these things happen to me. Well, guess what - none of the saints ever lived perfect and cushy lives either! Read Job chapter 38 if you want the answer to this question! Still another of his demonic methods is to make life so easy and cushy for you with money and good luck, that you will start to question why you need God at all!

There are many other ways he can get us, but these methods mentioned above are some of the ones that are apparent. And remember, the more you commit yourself to Christ, the more demons Satan will assign to you to trip you up. Prayer, the Rosary, Adoration, helping the less fortunate, performing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy on a regular basis, reading scripture, praising God, Daily Mass, singing hymns of praise in your car, etc., are all ways to drive these demons nuts. They have no power over us UNLESS we give in to their temptations. So always remember that you have 2 choices in life:

1. Either your body can drag your soul to hell;

2. OR, your soul can lift your body to heaven.

CHOOSE WISELY!

Friday, August 14, 2015

THE SOUL CANNOT DIE

Our own reason and intelligence can give us good grounds for believing that when the body dies something in us lives on. Man is not just body, he is also spirit. He has a soul. The body is a material thing. When the life goes out of it, as we say, it falls into its separate parts. It drops to dust.

But there is something in us that is not a material thing, that cannot come apart, that cannot corrupt. How do we know?
You stand by the body of a friend who has died and you may be struck most of all by the fact of death. Everything seems finished. And yet if you think it over the conviction deepens that death is not the end.

You find a letter that your friend had written to you during his life. He had used paper and ink to capture his thoughts. But his thoughts were more than just paper and ink.

During his life he had spoken to you. His thoughts had been a sound in the air. But they were more than just a sound. Nor were they just a twist of a membrane in his head. They were more than just material things. There was something in him which paper and ink, sound, flesh and blood, even a brain could only roughly capture and express.

He had spoken, for example, of Justice, of Truth. But Justice and Truth are not material things. A material thing can be weighed, has a colour, a shape, can be measured. Even the material force that we call energy, such a thing as electricity, can be measured.

But who can measure Justice or Truth? These are ideas, spiritual things. You cannot say, "How long is justice?" "How wide is truth?" These things have no parts and so they cannot come apart. They cannot corrupt.

Now if a man can have spiritual ideas then there is something in him that is not material. And that something we call his soul. When the body dies the soul lives on.

Pagan Belief in Life After Death

That conviction is not just sentiment. It is sound reasoning. It is a conviction that has been shared by the vast majority of mankind. Wherever we find traces of human beings — burial grounds, graves thousands of years old, we find, too, evidence of belief in survival after death.

The ancient pagans like the ancient Jews, God's chosen people, had the same conviction. But survival is very little. There is life beyond the horizon of death. But what kind of life? And that is where reasoning power begins to fail. So the pagan took little comfort from his belief in immortality.

"We, when we go down there among the dead, what are we? A handful of dust and a shadow," wrote the pagan poet.

The Bible

Even in the Bible in the Old Testament you will find phrases which show that the ancient Jews only learnt very slowly that life after death is more than just survival. You will find phrases like this:

Better a living dog than a dead lion... The dead know nothing more. They have said goodbye to this world and all its busy doings under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 9.)
But as the ages rolled on God gave more and more light. So if you take up the Book of Wisdom you can read these lovely words:
The souls of the just are in God's hands and no torment in death itself has power to reach them. Dead? Fools think so, think their end loss, their leaving us annihilation; but all is well with them. The world sees nothing but the pains they endure. They themselves have eyes only for what is immortal. So light their suffering, so great the gain they win. God all the while did but test them, and testing them found them worthy of Him . . . Trust Him if thou wilt, true thou shalt find Him; faith waits for Him calmly and lovingly. Who claims His gift, who shall attain peace, if not they His chosen servants? (Wisdom 3.)
When Our Lord came on earth He made it certain for us.
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he is dead, will live on, and whoever has life and has faith in Me, to all eternity cannot die. (John 11: 25 – 26)
On another occasion He quoted from the words of the Old Testament:
Then at last, He said, the just will shine out clear as the sun in their Father's Kingdom. (Matt. 8.)
Their Father's Kingdom is Heaven. That is the home we are made for. What does it mean?

MORE

Saturday, August 1, 2015

THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Fr. Larry Richards

“You will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes upon you then you shall be my witnesses!” (Acts 1:8).

Gentlemen, the key to the growth in the spiritual life is surrender to the Holy Spirit! Too often we try to live a life of holiness under our own power – THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE! It will make you a Pharisee, but not holy.

To be holy, you need to surrender your life fully and completely to God the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew this – that is why after His resurrection He commanded His Apostles to wait for the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4).

Before the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles they were afraid and huddled together in a place that was safe. When the Holy Spirit came upon them, “they began to make bold proclamation as the Spirit prompted them” (Acts 2:4). They did not have the power – or the guts – to do this before the Holy Spirit came upon them! You NEED that same Holy Spirit if you are going to have a life of power and be the man God created you to be.

St. Paul had to challenge St. Timothy, who was a priest and bishop: “For this reason I remind you to stir into a flame the gift of God bestowed on you when our hands were laid upon you” (2 Timothy 1:6). St. Paul reminded this bishop that he has been given the Holy Spirit and must now surrender to the Spirit of the living God. How much more do we need to be reminded! If we do not experience this daily surrender to God’s Spirit, then our flesh can overtake us… way too easily. We’ve got to be surrendered to God’s Spirit.

The Word of God tells us, “But you are not in the flesh you are in the spirit” (Romans 8:5). This means that God’s Spirit is INSIDE of you. To illustrate this, let’s say I have a glass of milk and I take a bunch of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup and I pour it into the glass of milk, what happens? It stays in the bottom of the glass!

This is where the Holy Spirit remains in most men – at the bottom of their soul! They have received the Spirit and the Spirit is inside of them, but the Spirit is just abiding there. So what do you have to do? Stir it up! That is what Paul is saying to Timothy. That Spirit, that maybe sitting at the bottom of your soul; it is time to surrender and stir Him up. Surrender to Him!

We must be reminded that God dwells within us and we have been given a great gift. “If anyone doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (See Roman’s 8:9). So, you are not a Christian if you do not have the Holy Spirit, simple as that. “But if Christ is in you” (Verse 10), “the body is dead because of sin, while the Spirit lives because of justice. If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells inside of you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will bring your mortal bodies to life also to the spirit dwelling inside of you.”

So what is he saying? Because of that Spirit, we will live forever. We will never die. That is a great message of hope. Because the Spirit of God resides in me, the Spirit of God, which by definition is life, will keep me alive forever. “We are debtors then my brothers not of the flesh so that we live according to the flesh.

If you live according to the flesh you are going to die. But if we live by the Spirit, you put to death the evil deeds of the body and you will live” (Romans 8:12). This means we have got to have a disciplined life.

The gift God gave us is His grace, but just like a good athlete, we have to work with those gifts and make them strong. It is the same with the spiritual life. God has given us great gifts, but we have got to work and discipline

It takes discipline. In (Proverbs 5:23) , God tells us: “My people die because of lack of discipline.” Brothers, if you want to be a man, you are going to have to discipline yourself. That means you are going to have to discipline yourself by surrendering to the Holy Spirit every day.

A great example of a man who daily surrendered to the Holy Spirit is Bl. John Paul II. George Weigel tells the story of the future Pope John Paul and how his father, whom he called “The Captain”, told him to pray a prayer to the Holy Spirit everyday – and he did! I believe this is how Bl. John Paul II changed the world! The same CAN happen to YOU!

So what is necessary to surrender to His Spirit? I challenge you to say a prayer of surrender to the Holy Spirit every day for the rest of your life. Now of course this is not magic, nor is it superstition, you need to mean and live what you pray! You do not need to pray the exact one that I am going to give you, but it this is the one I say every morning. It is written by Cardinal Mercier who died in 1926:

O, Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do. Give me your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that you permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your will. Amen.
Then Cardinal Mercier says, “If you do this, your life will flow along happily, serenely and full of consolation. This submission to the Holy Spirit is the secret of sanctity.” It is the Spirit of God that makes us holy. It is the Spirit of God that makes us men.

It isn’t what we do, it is what the Holy Spirit, who is God, does within us. That is so important. When we surrender our lives daily to the Holy Spirit, His strength can take over. Submission to God’s Spirit is the key to manhood!

So the challenge is laid before you: be a man and start living a disciplined life of daily surrender, or be a wimp and do nothing!

Be a man!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

JESUS CHRIST, THE GOOD SHEPHERD

St. Thomas Aquinas

Priest and Doctor of the Church

This excerpt from St. Thomas Aquinas' Exposition on John's Gospel (Cap 10, lect. 3) is used in the Roman Catholic Divine Office of Readings, Monday of the 21st week in Ordinary Time.

I am the Good Shepherd. Surely it is fitting that Christ should be a shepherd, for just as a flock is guided and fed by a shepherd so the faithful are fed by Christ with spiritual food and with his own body and blood. The Apostle said: You were once like sheep without a shepherd, but now you have returned to the guardian and ruler of your souls. The prophet has said: As a shepherd he pastures his flock.

Christ said that the shepherd enters through the gate and that he is himself the gate as well as the shepherd. Then it is necessary that he enter through himself. By so doing, he reveals himself, and through himself he knows the Father. But we enter through him because through him we find happiness.

Take heed: no one else is the gate but Christ. Others reflect his light, but no one else is the true light. John the Baptist was not the light, but he bore witness to the light. It is said of Christ, however: He was the true light that enlightens every man. For this reason no one says that he is the gate; this title is Christ’s own.

However, he has made others shepherds and given that office to his members; for Peter was a shepherd, and so were the other apostles and all good bishops after them. Scripture says: I shall give you shepherds according to my own heart.

Although the bishops of the Church, who are her sons, are all shepherds, nevertheless Christ refers only to one person in saying: I am the Good Shepherd, because he wants to emphasize the virtue of charity. Thus, no one can be a good shepherd unless he is one with Christ in charity. Through this we become members of the true shepherd.

The duty of a good shepherd is charity; therefore Christ said: The good shepherd gives his life for his sheep. Know the difference between a good and a bad shepherd: the good shepherd cares for the welfare of his flock, but the bad shepherd cares only for his own welfare.

The Good Shepherd does not demand that shepherds lay down their lives for a real flock of sheep. But every spiritual shepherd must endure the loss of his bodily life for the salvation of the flock, since the spiritual good of the flock is more important than the bodily life of the shepherd, when danger threatens the salvation of the flock.

This is why the Lord says: The good shepherd lays down his life, that is, his physical life, for his sheep; this he does because of his authority and love. Both, in fact, are required: that they should be ruled by him, and that he should love them. The first without the second is not enough.

Christ stands out for us as the example of this teaching: If Christ laid down his life for us, so we also ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

Monday, July 6, 2015

PREDESTINED FOR FREEDOM

For Catholics, when God "establishes his eternal plan of ‘predestination,’ he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace" (CCC 600). Thus, anyone who is finally saved will have been predestined by God because it was God’s predestined plan and God’s grace that went before him and enabled him to be saved.

However, this does not mean that God has predestined anyone for hell. Indeed, the Bible cannot be any plainer than to say God is, "not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Pt 3:9). God wills all to be saved. To be damned, a person must willfully reject God’s "predestined plan" for his salvation (cf. CCC 2037): simple enough.

But for a Calvinist, Ephesians 2:1 declares all who are apart from Christ to be "dead in trespasses and sins." In that view, to say a man could freely choose to accept or reject God’s grace and invitation to salvation would be as ridiculous as saying a corpse could choose to raise itself from the dead. Moreover, for Jesus’ declaration that a man must be "born anew" in John 3:3 to include the freedom to reject the offer would be akin to saying a baby has a say in whether or not he will choose to be born.

Romans 9:18-22 is perhaps the favorite-among-favorites of Calvinists:

So then he has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills. You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" But who are you, a man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me thus?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction . . .
Could Paul be clearer? Our salvation is entirely dependent on God’s unchangeable will. The free will of which the Catholic Church speaks is simply unbiblical. Shall we all join the local Calvinist ecclesial community, then? The answer seems—predestined.

Spiritual, Not Literal, Death

In fact, the Catholic Church agrees with the Calvinist in saying those who are "dead in trespasses and sins" do not have the power to "bring themselves back to life." Man cannot "work up" grace or faith; these are unmerited gifts from a loving God (see Eph 2:8-9). The hundreds of millions of babies the Church has baptized should suffice to make this point obvious. How many good works has a baby done to merit anything from God?

A key area, among others, where Catholics and Calvinists diverge is at the definition of "dead in trespasses and sins" and "born anew." Calvinists seem not to understand that these are metaphors. Paul is speaking of a spiritual death. Thus, the "dead" man to whom Ephesians 2:1 refers is still a human person complete with a living soul and a functioning intellect and will. No separation of soul and body requiring the reconstitution of personhood has occurred.

Moreover, by "born anew" in John 3:3, Jesus did not mean the sinner’s soul somehow ceased to exist, needing to brought into being from non-being. If this were so, then there would truly be no sense in which the sinner would be able to cooperate with God in the process.

The truth is: The soul of the unregenerate man "dead in sin" remains alive and able to know and to will (assuming we are talking about an adult convert). His soul is spiritually dead. Even though an unregenerate soul cannot merit anything from God, this does not mean he cannot cooperate with God who calls him to salvation. This seems to be what we find in the case of Saul of Tarsus. If ever a man was "dead in sin," it was Saul. Yet, in Acts 22:16, he was asked to cooperate with the grace of God in the cleansing of his sins when Ananias said to him, "rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name."

The Choice Is Ours

What the Calvinist misses is clear throughout the Bible. Man is truly free and God calls him to freely choose to serve or not to serve the Lord. From the famous Old Testament charge of Joshua to "choose this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord," (Jo 24:15) to the very words of Jesus Christ himself, "If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink" (Jn 7:37), man’s freedom to choose to obey or disobey the will of God for salvation is absolutely central to the teachings of Sacred Scripture.

But doesn’t a statement like "hath not the potter power over the clay" from Romans 9 seem awfully Calvinist? Not when we consider it is actually a reference back to Jeremiah 18:6: "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? Says the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel."

If you were to take this verse out of context you might get a Calvinist interpretation of Jeremiah. However, the next four verses are enlightening, to say the least:

If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will repent of the evil that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will repent of the good which I had intended to do to it. (Jer 18:7-10)
Far from denying free will, Jeremiah glaringly affirms it. The same can be said of Paul. Throughout Romans and elsewhere, Paul clearly teaches all men must freely cooperate with God’s grace to be saved. For example, look at Romans 2:6-8: "[God] will render to every man according to his works: To those who by patience in well-doing [good works] seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life, but for those who . . . do not obey the truth . . . there will be wrath and fury."

Or try Romans 11:22: "Note 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."

In Romans 6:16, Paul makes clear that we must continue to obey to attain final justification: "Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?" (Gk. justification).

Indeed, Jesus himself could not be any clearer in Matthew 23:37: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!" As God, Jesus clearly desired to gather his children, Israel, but they would not. If the Calvinist view of predestination were true, God never willed to gather them at all. Jesus got it wrong here. If he truly willed to gather them, they would have been gathered!

Grace Is Sufficient

But what about Romans 9:18-19? "Therefore he hath mercy on whom he will; and whom he will, he hardeneth. Thou wilt say therefore to me: ‘Why doth he then find fault? For who resisteth his will?’" (D-R).

To be sure: there is a certain mystery involved in God’s predestined plan. We could ask many unanswerable questions. For example, why does God give more grace to some than others (see Rom 12:6, 1 Pt 4:10)? Why does God allow someone to be born and live knowing they will eventually choose to reject him and go to hell (see Rom 9:22)? This is precisely what Paul is talking about when he refers to "vessels of wrath made for destruction" (Rom 9:22).

We could go on. Why doesn’t God give the one rejecting him more grace? It may be true that if God had given more grace to someone in hell, he would have made it to heaven. The only response to questions like these truly is: "But who are you, a man, to answer back to God?" However, he errs who takes this to the point of turning God into an unjust God. Even if some are given more grace than others, everyone is given sufficient grace to be saved. That is clear in Scripture, as Titus 2:11 tells us: "the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men " If God did not give a man sufficient grace to be saved, then God would truly be unjust in condemning him. There is no mystery there at all.

The Price of Freedom

The good news is that St. Paul has already told us precisely who God "hardens" in Romans 1:24-28:

God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity . . . because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator . . . For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions . . . And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up . . .
God’s will is immutable; therefore, God’s will is always accomplished. The mistake is to reject free will because of this truth. We have already seen that it is God’s will for all to be saved (2 Pt 3:9, cf. 1 Tm 2:4, 1 Jn 2:1-2). But it is also true that some men will not be saved (cf. Mt 7:13, 25:46; Rv 21:8). This implies the freedom to choose to serve God or not (cf. Dt 28:15, Mt 19:17-22). All of this must be understood within God’s predestined plan. How do we reconcile all of this? We conclude that God’s will has an antecedent and a consequent nature. It is God’s antecedent will that all be saved. However, as a consequence of God’s gift of free will, some reject God’s antecedent will. It then becomes God’s consequent will for that soul to go to hell. God’s will is accomplished and our free will, which is revealed in Scripture, is preserved. It is God’s predestined plan for us to have free will (CCC 600).

Tim Staplesis Director of Apologetics and Evangelization here at Catholic Answers, but he was not always Catholic. Tim was raised a Southern Baptist. Although he fell away from the faith of his childhood, Tim came back to faith in Christ during his late teen years through the witness of...

more...