St. Nicholas has come to bring gifts and punch heretics!

A few weeks ago, on December 6th, we celebrated the Feast of St. Nicholas. As we approach Christmas day I would like to revisit some of the famous stories about this great saint. MY favorite story of St. Nicholas deals with his presence at the Council of Nicaea where he slapped the heretic Arius for his denial of the two natures of Christ!  Here is Dr. Taylor Marshall, of, retelling the story:

BUT, of course, my children much prefer the other famous stories of St. Nicholas or ʻSanta Clausʻ which is a rough distortion of his name. The Pictorial Lives of the Saints (Shea, J.G., 1887recounts one of his famous stories here:  

"ST. NICHOLAS - Throughout his life he retained the bright and guileless manners of his early years, and showed himself the special protector of the innocent and the wronged. Nicholas once heard that a person who had fallen into poverty intended to abandon his three daughters to a life of sin. Determined, if possible, to save their innocence, the Saint went out by night, and, taking with him a bag of gold, flung it into the window of the sleeping father and hurried off. He, on awaking, deemed the gift a godsend, and with it dowered his eldest child. The Saint, overjoyed at his success, made like venture for the second daughter; but the third time, as he stole away, the father, who was watching, overtook him and kissed his feet, saying: “Nicholas, why dost thou conceal thyself from me? Thou art my helper, and he who has delivered my soul and my daughters’ from hell.” 

It is from these and many other stories of St. Nicholas that he is known for his generosity and care of the young and innocent. Many customs were formed throughout the centuries involving the Feast of St. Nicholas and has, though thoroughly commercialized, resulted in some of the ʻSanta Clausʻ traditions that the secular world embraces today. There are  many Advent Traditions, however, that still properly honor this great Saint on the day of or on the eve of his Feast day, December 6th. Here are few mentioned in ʻAround the Year with the TRAPP FAMILYʻ, Maria Augusta Trapp, 1955. Pantheon Books :

"While in some places the children only put their shoes on the window sill on the eve of St. Nicholas' Day and find them filled with candies, cookies, oranges, and dried fruit the next morning (but only the good ones; the bad ones find a switch), in other parts St. Nicholas comes in person. On the eve of December 5th . . . The holy bishop (Father of the house dressed as St. Nicholas), in his pontifical vestments, accompanied by Krampus, would enter the room while everybody stood up reverently. . . He calls each member of the household forward, rewarding the good and admonishing the less good. The good children will get a package of sweets, whereas Krampus aims at the legs of the children who did not deserve one. After everyone has received his due, the holy bishop addresses a few words of general admonition to the whole family, acting as a precursor to the One Who is to come, drawing their thoughts toward Christmas, asking them to prepare their hearts for the coming of the Holy Child."

image from The Pictorial Lives of the Saints (Shea, J.G., 1887). Public Domain

Pope Melchiades on the Sacrament of Confirmation

Some non-catholics claim that Confirmation is an unnecessary sacrament because they see it as one in the same with Baptism.

However, from the earliest of Christian times, Christians understood verses such as Acts 8:14-17; Acts 19:5-6; Eph. 1:13; Eph. 4:30 as referring to a separate and important sacrament

"The Holy Ghost, Who comes down on the waters of Baptism bearing salvation in His flight, bestows at the font, the fullness of innocence; but in Confirmation He confers an increase of grace. In Baptism we are born again unto life; after Baptism we are strengthened" - Pope Melchiades (~311 A.D.) (From STh., III q.72 a.1 resp.)

image from the 'Public domain' (Picture of Holy Card)

Building Fortitude in the face of adversity

I want to share a quick story about my son and the tremendous courage he found last month during the Naga Grappling tournament - 

During his No-Gi competition he lost to a young boy who was very intense, strong, quick, and determined. He was dominated by the well trained young boy. . . . . 

When his Gi competition came around D3 (His nickname) ended up, in his final match, having to fight for 2nd place against the same boy. . . D3 was not happy. He was scared of the boy and came to me in tears asking me to pull him out of the competition. He begged me to call it quits so that he didn't have to fight against the boy who dominated him so badly the first time around. . .

I felt horrible for him but I knew it was an amazing opportunity in his young life to find courage. I challenged him to be strong and to be brave. He asked for the intercession of his favorite saint, St. Michael the Archangel. . . And he went out to the mat and fought! 3 minutes later not only had he overcome his fear but he also won by 10 points!

I am proud of him and I am blessed to have been there the moment he found great courage to take on his fear 

Mahalo to coach Eric Goo and all the other coaches at Mad Tiger Academy for not only teaching him the techniques to win but helping instill in him the fortitude to get up when he is knocked down, to overcome adversity, and to fight on!

This pic above is of D3 after his competition with his medals with his godfather. The big smile on D3's face for his hard fought effort is well deserved! 

Here is a video montage of tournament. It has clips of matches of both my children and myself

My daughter won her match, D3 lost BUT he defeated the same opponent later in his Gi competition. My opponent and I were tied on points but I lost that one by ref's decision. All in all they were great matches!

Sunset on Oahu's North Shore

This was my 1st attempt at recording a time-lapsed sunset. I messed up on getting a straight horizon BUT it still came out nicely. Mahalo e Ke Akua for our beautiful island home!

'Donʻt be a HERETIC!' - Ebionism

Ebionism is an  an odd mixture of Christianity and Judaism which was one of the earliest of the Christological heresies that taught that Jesus was NOT divine but was just a 'good' man

The Ebionites also "accepted only the “Gospel of the Hebrews,” adhered to the Mosaic law, and condemned the Apostle St. Paul as an apostate from the Law. . . .Concerning the birth of Christ they were divided. Some admitted His supernatural birth of a virgin; others held that Christ was only man and the son of Joseph and Mary." (Thein, J., 1900. Ecclesiastical Dictionary)

Ebionism is alive and well in modern times. Sometimes it is taught unintentionally and sometimes it is taught with malicious intent. It can be heard in catechism classes, in seminaries, and even from the pulpit sometimes :( Be firm in knowing that Jesus Christ IS the DIVINE 2nd person of the Blessed Trinity. Any teaching to the contrary is heresy!

Two of my favorite Bible verses to combat Ebionism are:

John 1:1,14 - "In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and the Word was God. . .And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us"

Colossians 2:9 - "For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily"

image from the 'Public domain' via wikimedia commons.  Sermon on the Mount

Also see other 'Don't be a Heretic' posts here: Gallicanism / Ebionism

St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

St. Robert Bellarmine is the Patron Saint of Catechists and has inspired my desire to continually deepen my knowledge of the Faith and to share the Faith with all those who will hear it.  Here is a short reflection on the life of this great saint from ʻSaints and Feasts of the Liturgical Year' (Tylenda, J.N., 2003)

"St. Robert Bellarmine was the greatest theologian of his age and an intrepid defender of the Church. He was born on October 4, 1542, in Montepulciano, in central Italy. On his mother’s side, he was the nephew of Pope Marcellus II (1555). Robert entered the Society of Jesus in 1560 and did his ecclesiastical studies in Rome (1560–63), Padua (1567–69), and Louvain (1569–70). In this last city, though he was not yet a priest, he delivered Latin sermons every Sunday to the university community. After ordination, he was appointed (1570) professor of theology at the Jesuit school in Louvain, and because this was the time when the Reformation doctrines of Luther and Calvin were fast spreading through Europe, he taught his classes with a view to answering the objections the Reformers brought against the Church. In 1577, he was transferred to Rome, where he was given the chair of “controversial theology.” His lectures, which treated the theological disputes that were then dividing the Church, were eventually published under the title Controversies. In 1597, Pope Clement VIII made him his theological adviser; and two years later (1599), a cardinal and appointed him to serve on several congregations. In 1602, he became Archbishop of Capua, but upon the election of Pope Paul V in 1605, he was asked to remain in Rome and again be a papal adviser. He fulfilled the same office under Pope Gregory XV (1621–23). Due to failing health, he received papal permission to retire to the Jesuit novitiate in Rome, and there he died on September 17, 1621. He was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1930. In recognition of his theological writings, Pope Pius XI also declared (1931) him a doctor of the Church. The prayer in today’s Mass refers to St. Robert’s God-given wisdom, which he used in defending the faith."

image from the 'Public domain' via wikimedia commons. St. Robert Bellarmine. 16th Century

The Biblical Basis of the parts of the Holy Mass (7 of 7)

Our Father Who art in Heaven. Mt 6:9
1. Hallowed be Thy Name. Mt 6:9
2. Thy Kingdom come. Mt 6:10
3. Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Mt 6:10
4. Give us this day our daily bread. Lu 11:3
5. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive others that trespass against us. Mt 6:12
6. And lead us not into temptation. Mt 6:13
7. But deliver us from evil. Amen. Mt 6:13
P. The peace of God be with you.Ro 15:33
R. And with thy spirit. 2 Ti 4:22

While putting the Particle into the Chalice. Jn 6:56

Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world, Jn 1:29
Have mercy on us. Is 33:2
Strike your breast three times Lu 18:13
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you. Jn 15:27.

Mt 8:8; Ps 115:12–13; Ps 17:4

To 12:6
P. The Lord be with you. 2 Ti 3:16
R. And with thy spirit. 2 Ti 4:22.

Jn 1:1–5; Jn 1:6–8; Jn 1:9–13; Jn 1:14
R. Thanks be to God.2 C 9:15.

(Post 7 of 7)

See all 7 posts here: Part 1 Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7

image via wikimedia commons Public Domain. Holy Mass

Is ʻwithholding obedienceʻ ever acceptable?

Being obedient to Authority IS , after all, a VERY Catholic thing! However, there are situations wherein obedience can be and sometimes ʻoughtʻ to be withheld. . .

St. Thomas defines Law as "an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community, and promulgated" (STh., I-II q.90 a.4 resp) From that definition we can clearly see that a truly BINDING law must be

1) reasonable
2) for the common good
3) come from a legitimate superior
4) must be properly promulgated

He also addresses the question of  "Whether Subjects are Bound to Obey Their Superiors in All Things?" (STh., II-II q.104 a.5) In that article St. Thomas clearly points out that we have the right to withhold obedience if the lawful authority is

1) acting outside his sphere of authority
2) acting contrary to the will of a legitimate higher authority (God included)
3) if his command is unjust

From those two articles we can summarize that we are allowed to withhold obedience in the following circumstances

1) If the command is contrary to the eternal law of God
2) If it is contrary to the will of some higher human authority
3) If the superior is acting outside his sphere of authority
4) If the command is unjust, that is: not conducive to the common good, unreasonable or not properly promulgated

image from the 'Public domain' via wikimedia commons. St. Thomas Aquinas. 1476 
(My summary post was masterfully presented by the late Mr. Michael Davies in 1983 in a lecture)
(His lecture and other lectures can be found at

The Biblical Basis of the parts of the Holy Mass (6 of 7)

OFFERTORY. 2 Pt 1:3; Ph 4:18

PRAYER. Ps 140:2–4

THE LAVABO. Ps 25:6–10

Reference made to
1. The Passion of our Lord. Mt 27:1
2. His Resurrection. Mt 28:1
3. His Ascension. Lu 24:51

Is 6:3; Mt 21:9; Mt 21:9.

(Saints invoked.)
1. The Blessed Virgin. Lu 1:27
2. St. Peter. Mt 4:18
3. St. Paul Ro 1:1
4. St. Andrew. Mt 10:2
5. St. James. Mt 10:3
6. St. John. Mt 10:3
7. St. Thomas. Mt 10:3
8. St. James. Mt 10:3
9. St. Philip. Mt 10:3
10. St. Bartholomew. Mt 10:3
11. St. Matthew. Mt 10:3
12. St. Simon. Mt 10:4
13. St. Thaddeus. Mt 10:3
14. St. Linus. 2 Ti 4:21
15. St. Clement. Ph 4:3

CONSECRATION.Mt 26:26; Lu 22:20; Mt 26:27–28. [The Mystery of Faith.—1 Ti 3:9.]

AFTER THE CONSECRATION.Reference made to the Sacrifices of
1. Abel. Ge 4:4
2. Abraham. Ge 22:1
3. Melchisedech. Ge 14:18

In which is mentioned
1. St. John. Ap 1:1
2. St. Stephen. Ac 6:8
3. St. Matthias. Ac 1:26
4. St. Barnabas. Ac 13:2
By reference. Ro 11:36

(Post 6 of 7)

See all 7 posts here: Part 1 Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7
image via Creative Commons License . Consecration at Solemn Pontifical Mass by Jim the Photographer
Source of Scripture references: ʻThe Divine Armory of Holy Scriptureʻ Vaughan, K. (1894)

The Biblical Basis of the parts of the Holy Mass (5 of 7)

1. I believe in One God, He 11:6 The Father 1 C 8:6 Almighty, Ap 1:8 Maker of heaven and earth, Ex 20:11 And of all things visible and invisible. Je 32:17

2. And in One Lord Ac 10:36 Jesus Mt 1:21 Christ, Jn 4:25 Then Only-Begotten Son of God, Jn 1:14 Born of the Father, before all ages; 1 Jn 4:9 God of God, Light of Light Jn 1:4 True God of true God, Jn 5:18 Begotten, not made, Jn 8:58 Consubstantial with the Father, Jn 10:30 By Whom all things were made. Jn 1:3

3. Who for us men and for our salvation Mt 1:21 Came down from Heaven, Jn 3:31 And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost Lu 1:35 Of the Virgin Mary, Lu 2:6–7 And was made man. Jn 1:14

4. He was crucified also for us; Mk 15:25 Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Mt 27:26 And was buried. Mt 27:60

5. The third day He rose again Mt 28:6 According to the Scriptures. 1 C 15:4

6. And ascended into Heaven, Lu 24:51 Sitteth at the right hand of the Father. Mk 16:19

7. And He shall come again with glory Mt 25:31 To judge both the living and the dead; 2 Ti 4:1 Of whose Kingdom there shall be no end. Lu 1:33

8. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, Jn 14:26 The Lord (Compare with Ac 28:25), Is 6:8 Giver of Life, Ro 8:2 Who proceedeth from the Father Jn 15:26 And the Son. Ro 8:9 Who, together with the Father and the Son, is adored and glorified. Ap 4:8 Who spake by the Prophets. 2 Pt 1:21

9. And in One Jn 10:16 Holy Ep 5:26 Catholic Ro 10:18 Apostolic Church. Ep 2:20

10. I Confess one Baptism Ep 4:5 For the remission of sins. Ac 2:38

11. And I look for the Resurrection of the dead. Ro 6:5

12. And the Life of the world to come. Mt 25:34

* The next post in this series will cover the biblical basis of the 'Offertory until the Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus'

(Post 5 of 7)

See all 7 posts here: Part 1 Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7
image via wikipaintings in the Public Domain. Mass of St John of Mathaa
Source of Scripture references: ʻThe Divine Armory of Holy Scriptureʻ Vaughan, K. (1894)

St. Augustine on the Churchʻs Authoritative Interpretation of Revelation

"For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church." - St. Augustine, Contra epistolam Manichaei, 5, 6: PL 42, 176

(A note in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers collection says that this statement is "one of the earliest distinct assertions of the dependence of the Scriptures for authority on the Church") 

What are the ʻEvangelical Counsels'?

Those who enter the consecrated life (Religious brothers and sisters) make a public religious vow declaring their desire to seek a ʻmore intimate' consecration to Christ. This vow includes the profession of the ʻEvangelical Counsels' (cf. CCC 914 - 916)

The ʻEvangelical Counsels', or Counsels of the Gospel, are three:"Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. They have been recommended by Christ in particular as means of perfection. By voluntary poverty, the right of possession and free disposal of property is renounced. Perfect chastity, which voluntarily renounces not only unlawful pleasures but even the married life, is recommended by our Lord in the following words: “There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it” (Matt. 19:12). Perfect obedienceunder a spiritual superior has for its object the perfect regulation of such actions as of themselves are not prescribed and regulated by any law. By such obedience our will is not only preserved from transgressions and forced to the performance of many acts of self-sacrifice, but also, by the fact of being subjected to the will of God’s representative on earth, it is wholly conformed with the divine will." (Thein, J. (1900). In Ecclesiastical Dictionary)

St. Thomas Aquinas explains how these councils, though not necessary for salvation, are means to perfection

"Secondarily and instrumentally, however, perfection consists in the observance of the counsels, all of which, like the commandments, are directed to charity; yet not in the same way. For the commandments, other than the precepts of charity, are directed to the removal of things contrary to charity, with which, namely, charity is incompatible, whereas the counsels are directed to the removal of things that hinder the act of charity, and yet are not contrary to charity, such as marriage, the occupation of worldly business, and so forth. Hence Augustine says (Enchir. cxxi.): Whatever things God commands, for instance, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ and whatever are not commanded, yet suggested by a special counsel, for instance, ‘It is good for a man not to touch a woman,’ are then done aright when they are referred to the love of God, and of our neighbour for God’s sake, both in this world and in the world to come. Hence it is that in the Conferences of the Fathers (Coll.i., cap. vii.) the abbot Moses says: Fastings, watchings, meditating on the Scriptures, penury and loss of all one’s wealth, these are not perfection but means to perfection, since not in them does the school of perfection find its end, but through them it achieves its end, and he had already said that we endeavour to ascend by these steps to the perfection of charity." (STh., II-II q.184 a.3)

image via wikipaintings in the Public Domain. Nuns convent of the Sacred Heart in Rome

Encouragement from St. Thomas More

“The times are never so bad that a good man cannot live in them.” - St. Thomas More

image via wikimedia commons in the Public Domain. St. Thomas More

Even the punished were allowed meat & wine on Sundays!

It was a custom in some ages of the Church to hand down, as punishment, a restriction on eating meat and drinking wine. However, this punishment was often lifted on Sundays. At the council of Tribur in 895, lead by several Archbishops under Pope Sergius, it was declared as a penance that the: "penitent might not eat meat nor drink wine, except on Sundays and festivals.

(Landon, E. H. (1909). In A Manual of Councils of the Holy Catholic Church. Edinburgh: John Grant.)

image via wikipaintings in the Public Domain. The Council