Daily Archives: March 5, 2013

Newt Gingrich: Personal Reflections on Pope Benedict XVI

Let me say up front that I have a very personal feeling about Pope Benedict XVI’s retirement.

The Holy Father’s visit to Washington, D.C. in 2008 changed my life.

It was seeing him at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception which changed my curiosity into my becoming Catholic.

Let me explain.

For years, I would attend church with Callista (who was born and raised Catholic and is a longtime member of the Choir of the Basilica). As a non-Catholic I supported her deep commitment to the Church.

Further, Callista and I made a movie about Pope John Paul II and his pilgrimage to Poland in 1979. Nine Days that Changed the World is a remarkable film about this historic visit, which created a revolution of conscience that transformed Poland and fundamentally reshaped the spiritual and political landscape of the 20th Century. In producing this movie, I became even more intrigued with the amazing life of Pope John Paul II.

I gradually became more and more interested in the Catholic Church as an institution and in the Eucharist as the centerpiece of Catholic worship.

Of course, as a historian, I had studied the Church over the centuries including its strengths and weaknesses.

Having grown up Lutheran, serving as a Protestant acolyte in military chapels while my dad was in the Army, and becoming a Baptist in graduate school, I was pretty steeped in the history of the Reformation and the Protestant approach to God.

It was the weekly experience of the Catholic Church which had a steadily growing impact on me. The sense of community and reaffirmation of Christ’s sacrifice and love every Sunday — strengthened by my study of the extraordinary leadership and evangelism of Pope John Paul II drew me closer to the Church.

And yet the intellectual curiosity had not converted into an emotional bond — until Pope Benedict XVI came to Washington, D.C. in 2008.

During this visit, the Bishops gathered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for Vespers with the Holy Father

The Choir of the Basilica was invited to sing for Vespers. As a spouse of a choir member, I was invited to come to the Basilica. Spouses were allowed to sit in the large Upper Church while the Choir, the hierarchy, and the Pope were in an intimate Crypt Church below (which was good for the Choir because the Crypt Church is both beautiful and has extraordinary acoustics). Here, we watched the Vesper Service on large screen televisions.

To our surprise, the Holy Father, came through the sanctuary and visited with guests in the Upper Church. There was clearly joy in his eyes – it was absolutely stunning. His theme for the visit was “Christ our Hope” which I certainly thought captured the heart of Christianity in three words. His interaction with people was joyous as he communicated God’s love.

I was really surprised by the intense personal happiness Pope Benedict XVI conveyed. I had previously seen him as an intellectual German theologian (one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century) but not as an emotional evangelist like Pope John Paul II.

Yet here the Holy Father was visibly enjoying, indeed thrilled, by his chance to bring Christ’s message of salvation to the United States.

That night at dinner I told Monsignor Walter Rossi, the Rector of the Basilica and our good friend, that I wanted to become Catholic.

So you can see why I was deeply moved by the announcement that for the first time since 1415, a Pope would resign (and that occasion involved a political solution to having multiple Popes during the Avignon period) and for the first time since 1294 (and to the best of our knowledge only the second time in history) a Pope would resign because of age and energy.

In his last meeting with the Cardinals, Pope Benedict XVI noted “One of you is the future Pope, whom I today promise my unconditional reverence and obedience.”

This is a unique historic moment for the Catholic Church.

It is also a deeply personal moment for me.

Last night the Choir of the Basilica, led by Dr. Peter Latona, offered “Truth and Beauty: A Musical Tribute to Pope Benedict XVI.” Their wonderful music was interspersed with quotes from the Holy Father. (It was broadcast by EWTN).

Allow me to close with one example of his deep faith: “Love is the light — and in the end, the only light — that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. Love is possible, and we are able to practice it because we are created in the image of God. To experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world — this is the invitation I would like to extend.”

Pope Benedict may have retired, but his words will live on forever.

Your Friend,

Newt

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Filed under Catholic Church, Newt Gingrich, Pope Benedict

Catholics and the Rapture

I believe the Scripture contains hints that a Rapture will occur as part of the Sixth Seal events and that these events, plus all of Revelation Chapter Seven, will mark the end of the Ages of the Christian Church on Earth.

I further believe the texts of Seal Seven and Letter Seven (Laodicea) predict a six month period of calm following the Rapture, when the Left Behind “who have ears to hear” will have time to respond to Jesus’ knocking on the doors to their hearts. This may involve them first breaking into the houses of the “religious fanatics” who suddenly disappeared in order to get hold of all the Bibles, books and DVDs we collected but that’s another story!

In the interests of not giving scandal, I thought that before I came right out and said in public, “I think the Bible predicts a Rapture event,” I had better check what the Roman Catholic Church does and does not teach about this stuff. I located two articles by Catholic theologians that each had serious enough bona fides that I felt I could print them out and give them a good deal of my attention.

1. Catholic Answers Tract: The Rapture @ http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-rapture

This article carries the important NIHIL OBSTAT and IMPRIMATUR stamps of approval.

2. Raptured or Not? A Catholic Understanding @ http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac1005.asp

This article was authored by a Franciscan professor of Old Testament, Semitic languages and biblical spirituality.

N.b., If you see stuff purporting to present Catholic teaching, please Please PLEASE check the bona fides before accepting it as definitive. I’ve seen some out-and-out lies presented in this “straw man” way. 

The pertinent section in the Catholic Catechism for our purposes is:

RCC Catechism 676

Millenarian doctrines have been kicking around for centuries. They come in different varieties, but are all based in Revelation 20:1-10. Today’s Christians are familiar with two forms:

  • Christian Millennialists who interpret these verses to mean that Jesus will return at end of the Great Tribulation, then rule here on Earth for a long time (usually 1000 years, hence the term millennialism), after which the dead will be raised, all souls will be judged, and God will inaugurate the new Heaven and the new Earth.
  • Social Justice Christians who interpret these verses to mean that human society can and should be perfected not through God’s grace, but through natural, usually political, means – e.g., Communism, Socialism. There are bucket loads of these folks in my church. They pay about as much attention to the Scriptures and the Catechism as they and their comrades on the Left pay to the Constitution. (Big names include Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius and, of course, their now-deceased “Lion of the Senate” Ted Kennedy.)

For Catholics, teachings about the Rapture tend to get thrown out with the bathwater, because they are included in many religious millennial interpretations. But the two things are actually quite separate and the Catholic Church only condemns the “Jesus will rule on Earth for a long time between the Second Coming and the Final Judgment” part. The Catholic Answers article says,

With respect to the rapture, Catholics certainly believe that the event of our gathering together to be with Christ will take place, though they do not generally use the word “rapture” to refer to this event (somewhat ironically, since the term “rapture” is derived from the text of the Latin Vulgate of 1 Thess. 4:17—”we will be caught up,” [Latin: rapiemur]).

Granted, this ingathering is usually understood to refer only to the one described at the Second Coming / Final Judgment, but there’s nothing inherent to the idea of an earlier ingathering that is condemned. What is problematic for Catholics is any interpretation that says:

  • Jesus will come back here more than once and/or that
  • His Second Coming will not be followed soon after by the Final Judgment.

The Rapture event I am seeing in the Sixth Seal and Chapter Seven avoids both of these problems. More on all this in my next installment.

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THE TUESDAY GRUDGE

Posted by Pauper Pete

 

Had our tax returns done today.Can somebody tell me how the social security TAX I paid for 45 years can be TAXED again?Now that I’m receiving the benefit?In all my years,this is the first time I’ve had to pay in,since I used to claim 0 dependents so I’d get a chunk back.I was too naive to realize the government wasn’t “giving” me anything.This was just the part of my money they didn’t use.I’m sure they plan to change all that here pretty soon.republicans_and_democrats_are_like_cats_and_dogs

 

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