Click on the above link to see the USCCB’s website evangelizing marriage, called For Your Marriage.
It’s a great website with some insightful articles and statistics and explanations of how the Church views marriage and just what couples are being invited into. This is exactly the type of resource that we need a lot more of. The sad fact is that in our crazy culture so many people don’t get marriage. Just how closely tied up your new relationship with each other is with your relationship with God often gets drastically overlooked. We say our prayers thanking God for finding the perfect spouse and then sort of forget that He is now a part of that relationship. Forever. To spend months planning a wedding - years dreaming about it - and then just go through the motions not really understanding what is happening sacramentally is nothing short of a tragedy in my eyes. I’ve been an altar server at weddings where the couple came faithfully to be united before God, and served at weddings where the couple really just came to the Church to appease the parents and take pretty pictures. The difference is night and day. But God is so wonderfully faithful. He’s still there in the prayers. He still invites the couple deeper. Hopefully websites like this will help remind them of that invitation!
The Wall Street Journal: Much of the film portrays a skeptical Colin O’Donoghue having a crisis of faith. Did you have a similar struggle with doubt?
That part is actually fictionalized. I would say this. The first few weeks in Rome, I was very skeptical about what I was seeing in terms of the manifestations. Were they really real or was it a placebo effect or what people thought they were supposed to do? Because they were so over the top compared to anything I’d ever experienced.
I hear a lot of priests don’t really believe in physical manifestations. Is that true?
Yes, I would say that’s accurate.
What sold you that it was real?
As time went on, it was clear that this was the intense suffering of people in terms of diabolical investment and infestation of a person’s physical life.
If you were skeptical, why did you pursue exorcism training in the first place?
The bishop appointed me, just before I went on my sabbatical to Rome. It was several months after receiving a letter from the holy father, just before he died, requesting that every bishop in the United States select and train an exorcist. So I naively said that I could do that. I took the course in Rome.
Was there any field training? Or was it mostly in-class theory? Slides?
There was no hands on. I found the course very good, but I knew I had to go and get an apprenticeship.
I was surprised to discover that the Vatican actually takes mental illness into account when diagnosing possession. How do you personally make that determination about, say, schizophrenia? Do you have any psych training?
I’m an entrepreneur in that respect. When you don’t know what you’re doing, go ask and go find people that have those strengths. When I got back from Rome, I built a team. I have a clinician, a physician and a psychiatrist. All practicing Catholics who believe in the possibility of satanic existence. And two priests. I also have other people I call on an ad hoc basis when I need advice.
Sounds like a Vatican A-team. What other specialists do you consult with?
When people think they’re seeing demons and other things, I had to find a toxicologist and ask what are the side effects of meth use that I should be aware of and how long do they last? The exorcist has to be the ultimate skeptic. That’s why I had no problem with Colin’s portrayal because he’s the icon of more people or not that don’t believe.
How often do you encounter actual possessions?
Possession really refers to a complete takeover of the body by a demon. Those are very rare, and I want to make sure I don’t want to mix that up with other lesser infestations.
How can you tell the difference?
The difference between somebody that’s actually being possessed is that they can’t function or take care of themselves. They can’t get into a car and drive because they’re so dysfunctional. With a lesser diabolical attachment, people can have a job, take their kids to school. Often, there’s nothing diabolically wrong.
Have you actually witnessed the symptoms they show in the film? Speaking different languages and identifying things they’ve never seen?
Oh, yes. In one instance of a total possession, a man said things he has no reason to say about his life that actually end up happening later. His limbs take on demonstrative tremors. Another woman spoke in languages she had no proficiency in whatsoever.
Do you ever address the demon directly?
The last thing you want to do is talk to the demon because they’ll lead you on a wild goose chase. You don’t want to have fun with them, or strike up a friendship or ask to work it out. You just ask what their name is and say, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave.”
What did you think of the film?
I found it to be very emotional because part of my story was being told on the screen. I also thought they portrayed human side to the priesthood very well. When that woman gets killed in the beginning and Colin, even though he’s a deacon [a subordinate below priest], hears her confession. Deacons aren’t permitted to do that but in an emergency like that, I would have done the same thing, had I been in his shoes.
“Let us invoke the Holy Spirit, the eternal youth of the Church: may he make each one aware of the urgent need to offer a consistent and courageous Gospel witness so that there may always be saints who make the Church resplendent, like a bride, ever pure and beautiful, without spot or wrinkle, who can attract the world irresistibly to Christ and to his salvation.”—Pope Benedict XVI, Jan. 2010. (via becket)
Not Jesus or Mary; not Mary or Jesus. Neither Jesus without Mary; nor Mary without Jesus. Neither only Jesus, but also Mary; not only Mary, but also Jesus. Always Jesus and Mary; always Mary and Jesus. To Mary by Jesus: Behold, your mother! (Jn 19:27). To Jesus by Mary: Do whatever he…
We cannot bring to the world the Good News which is Christ himself in person if we ourselves are not deeply united with Christ, if we do not know Him profoundly, personally, if we do not live on His words. - Pope Benedict XVI
“We must not forget that the more we love God and are constant in prayer, the more we will truly love those who are around us, those who are close to us, because we will be able to see in every person the face of the Lord, who loves without limits or distinctions. Mysticism does not create distances with others; it does not create an abstract life, but brings one closer to others because one begins to see and act with the eyes, with the heart of God.”—Pope Benedict XVI (via thecatholicgirl)
These guys have an interesting vision of the Liturgy, actually very close to what has always been taught in the Catholic Church. Very interesting to see our protestant brothers, through genuine prayer, rediscovering the spiritual treasures of the Church.
The pope is easily the most well known figure of the Catholic world. His quotations and thoughts are consistently front page news in our newspapers, and millions of people flock to see him when he travels. It is a far cry from beginnings of the Church, when accepting the office of the papacy meant almost certain death in the face of constant Roman persecution (many of the popes were martyred). Where did this office come from? Was it a human invention or something Christ desired for His Church? To better understand the papacy we need to go to Caesarea-Philippi, where Jesus spoke his now famous words to St. Peter, who before this was named Simon:
“And so I say to you, you are Peter [Rock], and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19).
Before we get into the meaning of the passage, it would be wise to take a closer look at where Jesus said these words, the city of Caesarea-Philippi. This city is the northern most point Jesus ever took his disciples, what was the significance of this city? The city was built upon a large rock, with a temple to Caesar Augustus on the pinnacle of the mountain. The area is also a source of water for the Jordan river, which provided water for nearly all of Israel. Jesus changes the name of Simon to Peter, which literally means rock, while standing in front of a huge rock. The rock had a pagan temple on top of it, and Jesus is making Peter the rock on which He will build His Church. The rock provided water for the Jordan river, and Peter would be the rock of the Church that will spring forth truth, life, and salvation for God’s people. As we can see, the location of this saying complements and adds to the power of Jesus’ words.
Now that we have seen why the setting of Jesus’ words is so important, let’s look again at the verses in more detail. At the time of this saying, Peter was known as Simon, and Jesus changes his name to Kephas, which is Aramaic for rock. Whenever someone has their name changed in the Bible, it always comes with a new mission and identity. Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, Saul became Paul, and here Simon becomes Rock. Jesus then states that He will build His Church on Peter, and promises that the “gates of the netherworld” shall never prevail against the Church.
What are the keys of Heaven that have the power to bind and loose that Jesus speaks of? Jesus here is making a connection to the book of Isaiah and the office of the royal steward. The office of the royal steward functioned in the absence of the leader, and it was the second most powerful post in Eastern kingdoms (second only to the King himself). Another important feature of the position was that it was never vacant; if someone passed away another person was appointed to the position. Peter here is being appointed by Christ as steward of the kingdom Jesus is building, the Church. Jesus is giving His own authority to Peter to lead the Church. Jesus has ascended into Heaven, until He returns Peter and his successors will act in His place. Jesus is the invisible head of the Church, Peter and his successors are the visible head of the Church.
Tradition and the witness of the early Church universally holds that St. Peter travelled to Rome and served as bishop there. This actually makes sense, because Peter committed himself to spreading the Gospel to the Jewish people. Rome had a huge Jewish population; these Jews had previously left the Holy Land when Israel was conquered by foreign enemies. Peter served as bishop there for many years, with tradition holding that he was martyred by the Emperor Nero. St. Linus became the next bishop of Rome, and thus is considered to be the second pope.
How did St. Peter exercise his authority in the early Church? Do we have any evidence that he held a special role as the Church grew? The best source we have is probably during the Council of Jerusalem, a council recorded by St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles:
“The apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter [whether gentiles should be circumcised when entering the Church]. After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to them, “My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the holy Spirit just as he did us. He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts. Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they.” The whole assembly fell silent, and they listened while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders God had worked among the Gentiles through them.”
As we can see, after much debate had taken place, Peter rises and makes his case. The whole assembly fell silent, and no one objected to Peter’s argument even though the room had been full of debate only a moment before. This clearly shows us that Peter held a special role from the very beginning of the Church.
As we can see, the papacy is a great gift to the Church. Its origins are found on the cliffs of Caesarea Philippi when Jesus changed Simon’s name to Kephas (Peter) which in English means rock. Jesus used the imagery of the royal servant position well known to his Jewish audience, and Peter exercised his unique authority among the apostles in the first major Church debate in Jerusalem. The office of the bishop of Rome can be traced over nearly 2,000 years of Christian history to our present Pope Benedict XVI. It is the longest dynasty in Western civilization, clearly showing that Jesus built His Church on a very solid “rock”.
Some really interesting thoughts in this article. I really agree with a lot of it. I think I really kindled my faith with many of the “apologetics” that the article cites. After a while though, I saw that it did lead to Pharisee-ism, and wasn’t holistic enough in its approach to the Christian life. The Church has a blue print for good formation of the Christian person when it comes to those it prepares for priesthood: the “Four Pillars” found in JP II’s Pastores Dabo Vobis, Human, Intellectual, Spiritual, and Pastoral. It seems as though there must be a way to adapt this to the laity as well. There is a tendency for people to discount the intellectual, or for people to only give value to the intellectual… balance in everything right?