Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Found: The Bones of St. Paul

This Post was taken from Thomas Moore's Blog, American Papist-Not Your Average Catholic. Cool Finding . . .


Again, a story that slipped through my fingers.
Happily, St. Paul did not manage to permanently slip through the fingers of the Church (it seems):

Pope Benedict XVI said last night that bone fragments found inside the tomb of St Paul in Rome had been carbon dated for the first time, "confirming the unanimous and uncontested tradition that they are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul".He said that archaeologists had inserted a probe into the white marble sarcophagus under the Basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls which has been revered for centuries as the tomb of St Paul.The pontiff said: "Small fragments of bone were carbon dated by experts who knew nothing about their provenance and results showed they were from someone who lived between the 1st and 2nd century.

This seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that these are the mortal remains of Paul the Apostle."The Pope, who said the discovery "fills our souls with great emotion", made the unexpected announcement during Vespers at St Paul's Basilica last night, marking the end of the Pauline year held in honour of the apostle. He said that as well as bone fragments, archaeologists had found grains of red incense, a piece of purple linen with gold sequins and a blue fabric with linen filaments in the tomb. (UK Times)

St. Paul: always full of surprises!

Can we say "pilgrimage site"?Related: New Discoveries. Why St. Paul Was Given a Philosopher's Face by Sandro Magister:

"The oldest depiction of the apostle has been found just a short distance from his tomb, which is also the object of new investigations. The Church wanted to represent him as the Christian Plato. A daring decision. And still extremely relevant, even today"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Gospel of John: Unity of Christendom

John 17:20-23: v20 "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me."

The Reformation principle of "each man with a Bible and his own interpretation" has brought about the tragic results we see today among numerous Christian denominations. There are over 30,000 divisions and denominations in Christendom that are ripping and tearing the Body of Christ.
In the Gospel of John, Chapter 17, notice that Jesus prays for the future generations of Christians, that they be "One" and "Perfected in Unity", not ripped apart by divisions and denominations. Those who continue to "protest' against the Catholic Church are like a nation that divides into tens of thousands of competing, disagreeing factions but that still claims to have an invisible unity. St. Paul also condemns factions and divisions in the Church in his first letter to the Corinthians. All of this has unfortunately lead to the new and radical theology of the "invisible Church", where one only needs his bible and love for Christ. No Church, no community, no gathering, "just me and Jesus, and my bible." Where will the results of Sola Scriptura lead to next?

About a year after his Ninety-Five Theses, Martin Luther wrote a letter to Pope Leo X about his concern of the schism brought about by his teachings. Luther in writing to Pope Leo X said, "I never approved of a schism, nor will I approve of it for all eternity. . That the Roman Church is more honored by God than all others is not to be doubted. . Though nowadays everything is in a wretched state, it is no ground for separating from the Church. On the Contrary, the worse things are going, the more should we hold close to her, for it is not by separating from the Church tha twe can make her better. . There is no sin, no amount of evil, which should be permitted to dissolve the bond of charity or break the bond of unity of the Body."

[1] Letter of Martin Luther to Pope Leo X. January 6, 1519. Patrick O'Hare. The Facts about Luther, pg 256.

[2] Crossing The Tiber. Stephen K. Ray. Ignatius.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

New statistics show U.S. Catholics increase in numbers

From the Catholic News Agency. Read full article here

The 2009 Official Catholic Directory has released new statistics on the Catholic population. The directory shows that there are 68.1 million Catholics in the United States, an increase of about one million from the previous year which maintains Catholics as 22 percent of the U.S. population.

The directory, also known as the Kenedy Directory, reports that there are 41,489 diocesan and religious order priests, 60,715 religious sisters, 4,905 religious brothers and 16,935 permanent deacons. In 2008 there were 887,145 infant baptisms, 42,629 adult baptisms, and 81,775 baptized Christians who entered full communion with the Church. The Kenedy Directory lists 18,674 parishes, including 91 new parishes, and 189 seminaries with 4,973 students.

Over 722,000 students are in high school religious education programs, while over three million are in elementary school religious ed.

There are 6,133 Catholic elementary schools and 1.6 million students. The country’s 1,341 Catholic high schools educate over 674,000 students, while 234 Catholic colleges and universities serve, over 795,000 students.

U.S. Catholic hospitals number 562 and serve almost 85.3 million patients, while 3009 Catholic social service centers assist 27.2 million people annually.

According to a press release from the U.S. bishops' conference, Catholic organizations in the United States provide an estimated $28.2 billion in services through institutions represented by the Catholic Health Association ($5.7 billion), Catholic Charities USA ($3.5 billion), and the National Catholic Education Association ($19.8 billion).

These figures do not include assistance provided through parishes and other organizations such as the Knights of Columbus.