How St Francis differed from Martin Luther or Catholic Reform vs. Protestant Reform

How did Saint Francis’ reformation of the Catholic Church (“Francis, rebuild my Church”) differ from Martin Luther’s “reformation”?

For Audio Podcast version of: “My True Opinion of Martin Luther” click here.

Essentially, Francis teaches us that we cannot fight heresy by creating new heresies. Francis always submitted to the Church, the popes, and the bishops.

Whenever “reformation” begins to the buck against the institutional Church, more heresy arises. For example, in many regards the Monophysite heresy (i.e. “Christ has one nature”) was an over-reaction to the Nestorian heresy (i.e. “Christ is two persons”). The Catholic Church has always sought to aim directly at the truth, and not merely at the destruction of error. Too often the refutation of error crosses over into further error.

Similarly, Luther and Calvin sought to displace misunderstandings about grace and merit (i.e. the faulty nominalism spawned by William of Ockham) by creating an alternate vision of grace and merit (which ironically embraced Ockham’s nominalism and repackaged it). Luther’s “solution” was in fact heretical. A quick fix is often faulty. Duct tape can “fix” almost anything – but it eventually gives way to other problems.

The annals of Church history are filled with Catholic Reformers: Paul, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, Maximus, John Damascene, Pope Gregory VII, Francis, Dominic, Catherine of Sienna, Ignatius, Teresa of Avila, et al. Each of these Catholic Reformers retained the unity of Christ’s Church, submitted to church leadership, and patiently brought about renewal. In many cases, each experienced active persecution from other Christians and even fell under the suspicion of heresy. However, their humility and silence eventually vindicated their cause as advocates for the evangelical truth of Christ’s doctrine.

Saint Francis of Assisi is perhaps one of the best examples of patience in the cause of reform. When St Francis went to Rome to seek recognition from the Pope, the Pope dismissed him impatiently and told him to go “lie down with the pigs.”

After a little while, Francis returned smeared with swine feces and stinking to high heaven. When the Pope objected, Francis answered, “I obeyed your words and merely did as you said. I lay down with the pigs.” Suddenly the Pope realized that this was a holy man who was willing to obey even in the face of humiliation. The Pope listened to Francis’ vision for renewal and the rest is history.

When rebuffed by the pope, Saint Francis could have appealed to Sacred Scripture, showing this his pattern of life was poor and lowly like that of Christ. He might even have contrasted his own “biblical life” against the extravagance of the Papal court. Francis may even have rightly rebuked the abbots, bishops, and cardinals for lacking evangelical witness. Instead, Francis followed the path of Christ. He allowed himself to be misunderstood and maligned, knowing that God would bring about his vindication…and God always does.

Contrast Saint Francis to Martin Luther. Luther did not visit Rome for confirmation of his cause, nor did he respect the structures of the Church. In fact, Cardinal Cajetan met privately with Luther and explained how Luther might modify his message so that Cajetan could have it approved by the Roman Curia. If Luther had moved more slowly and charitably, he may have become “Saint” Martin Luther.

Unfortunately, Luther was adamant and stiff-necked. He would not attempt compromise. If the Pope would not agree with him, then he would reject the papacy. Period. Luther would not tolerate any authority that failed to support him immediately and without question. Consequently, when the papal bull arrived, Luther burned it publicly and began to curse the pope as Antichrist.

Note the difference between Francis and Luther. The former moved slowly and humbly. The latter acted independently and rashly. Consequently, the history of Protestantism is marked by rash and hasty division – there are now 36,000 Protestant denominations.

As the Apostle James wrote: “the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God” (Jas 1:20). History shows that God does not use “hot-heads” to guide His Church into righteousness. God chooses those who are little, meek, and humble – for such is the kingdom of Heaven.

Herein lies the mystery of Catholic Reform.

St Michael vs. Lucifer: Why St Michael Won!

Catholic Video Lesson

Saint Michael was one of the lower angels. Lucifer was the highest angel. How did Lucifer fall and how did Saint Michael get his name (Mi Cha El?).

Here’s a free video from the New Saint Thomas Institute on the subject of Satan and Michael. You’ll learn about the creation of the angels, the fall of Satan according to Saint Augustine, and the reason Saint Michael is called “Mi Cha El.”

Don’t see the video? Click here to watch it.

Are you not yet a Member of the New Saint Thomas Institute? If not, Fall Enrollment is now open. Join well over 3,000 Members of the New Saint Thomas Institute from all over the world as we study Catholic theology together.

There are limited spots and our tuition sale is limited. We also have a bunch of great bonuses for this fall. Want to join? Learn by clicking here.

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Saint Hubert – Patron Saint of Bowhunters (and Jagermeister)

Whenever I talk about hunting, I get critics who think I’m a mean red-neck killer. Before the critics cast their stones, let it be know that I hunt because:

saint Hubertus taylor marshall bowhunting

  1. Hunting provides organic, grass-fed, hormone free meat for my family of 8 children.
  2. It feels exhilarating to serve food to your family that you trained for, hunted, butchered, prepared, and cooked.
  3. I like having a tangible connection with the food that I prepare and eat.
  4. Hunting is the #1 way to promote funding for wildlife conservation.
  5. I love the outdoors.
  6. It’s a craft or an art that requires practice and dedication.
  7. All of our ancestors did it.

We were recently discussing the Troops of Saint George achievement in “Hunting” and I suggested that we focus on Saint Hubert, the patron saint of hunting:

Saint Hubertus was born around the year AD 656. Saint Hubert’s wife (the daughter of a count) died giving birth to their son who would eventually become a bishop. Heartbroken by the death of his wife, Saint Hubert retreated from the court and gave himself up entirely to hunting.

On Good Friday morning, when the faithful were crowding the churches, Hubert went hunting. As he was pursuing a magnificent stag, the animal turned and he beheld a crucifix standing between its antlers, while he heard a voice saying:
St.Hubert Ottawa“Hubert, unless thou turn to the Lord, and lead an holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into Hell”.

Hubert dismounted, prostrated himself and said, “Lord, what would Thou have me do?” He received the answer, “Go and seek Lambert [bishop of Maastricht-Liège, Tongeren], and he will instruct you.”

He was condemned by God not for hunting but for withdrawing from the world and shirking his duties as a member of court and as a Christian (he was out hunting on Good Friday!).

Saint Hubertus is honored among hunters as the father of ethical hunting behavior. It is said that Saint Hubertus established the hunting principle of conserving wildlife, not killing a mother with its young, and preferring older bucks and bulls past their breeding prime. He also advocated only shooting an animal when a humane, clean and quick kill is assured.

After leaving the wilderness as a hunter, he became a priest and eventually the successor bishop to his master Saint Lambert of Maastricht. He was famous for his asceticism and preaching.

He is thus the patron saint of hunters, and bowhunters in particular.

For those interested, here’s a podcast I did about one of my hunts for Indian Nilgai.

Question: Share your thoughts about ethical hunting and/or Saint Hubert. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Fun facts:

  • Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died while on a hunt for the members of the International Order of St. Hubertus.
  • The Jägermeister logo is taken from the vision of Saint Hubertus. Jägermeister means “master hunter.”

jagermeister

 

St Clare: Virgin Warrior against Islamic Terror!

You may think that a medieval shieldmaiden looked like this:

lagertha

But in reality, she looks like Saint Clare of Assisi:

st clare assisi

St Clare is a Virgin Warrior against Islamic Terror!

In AD 1240, Saint Clare shielded her convent from Muslims through the power of the Eucharist.

The Muslims (and the Vikings) were increasingly aware that Catholic convents contained gold, treasure, and…virgins.

As the Muslims invaded the walls of her convent, Saint Clare of Assisi entered into spiritual battle and she took up the most powerful shield known to men or angels:

“By imperial order, regiments of Saracen soldiers and bowmen were stationed there (the convent of San Damiano in Assisi, Italy), massed like bees, ready to devastate the encampments and seize the cities. Once, during an enemy attack against Assisi, city beloved of the Lord, and while the army was approaching the gates, the fierce Saracens invaded San Damiano, entered the confines of the monastery and even the very cloister of the virgins. The women swooned in terror, their voices trembling with fear as they cried to their Holy Mother Clare.

Saint Clare, with a fearless heart, commanded them to lead her, sick as she was, to the enemy, preceded by a silver and ivory monstrance in which the Body of the Holy of Holies was kept with great devotion. And prostrating herself before the Lord, she spoke tearfully to her Christ:

‘Behold, my Lord, is it possible You want to deliver into the hands of pagans Your defenseless handmaids, whom I have taught out of love for You? I pray You, Lord, protect these Your handmaids whom I cannot now save by myself.’

Suddenly a voice like that of a child resounded in her ears from the tabernacle: ‘I will always protect you!’ ‘My Lord,’ she added, ‘if it is Your wish, protect also this city which is sustained by Your love.’ Christ replied, ‘It will have to undergo trials, but it will be defended by My protection.’

Then the virgin, raising a face bathed in tears, comforted the sisters: ‘I assure you, daughters, that you will suffer no evil; only have faith in Christ.’

Upon seeing the courage of the sisters, the Saracens took flight and fled back over the walls they had scaled, unnerved by the strength of she who prayed. And Clare immediately admonished those who heard the voice I spoke of above, telling them severely: ‘Take care not to tell anyone about that voice while I am still alive, dearest daughters.’” (The History of Saint Clare the Virgin by Tommaso da Celano)

This episode is the reason that Saint Clare is so often depicted holding a Eucharistic monstrance (sometimes against the Muslim invaders in the photo below):

st_clare eucharist

I was recently at the tomb of Saint Clare in Assisi. I have a twin daughter named after Saint Clare and so this 800 year old saint from Assisi holds a special place in my heart. Here’s a photo of my with my twin daughters praying at the tomb of the Saint Clare:

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And me with my daughter named after Saint Clare still down in the crypt of Saint Clare of Assisi:Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 11.44.40 AM

And with another daughter sneaking in from below:

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St Clare is the patroness of television, and you can read about how she had a flat screen TV 800 years ago by clicking here.

Godspeed,
Taylor Marshall

5 Reasons Why Jewish Prof. Edith Stein Became a Catholic Nun

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (aka Edith Stein, 1891-1942) is a saint, nun, and martyr of the Catholic Church. I have studied her life (see the chapter related to her in my book The Crucified Rabbi) and have since distilled 5 speculative reasons why Professor Judith Stein went from Jewish Prof to Catholic Nun:

Saint_Edith_Stein

Islam Will Destroy Itself By Creating Christian Martyrs!

Nero did not understand it. Diocletian did not understand it.

God’s greatest love is unleashed into creation through martyrdom.

When a believer in Jesus Christ surrenders his life in death for witness of Christ, suddenly and immediately the power of the crucified Lord enters into the world.

Two “citizens” of the Islamic State beheaded the 86-year-old priest Father Jacques Hamel. Like Nero and Diocletian, the Islamic State does not comprehend the power they are fighting.

Fr Jacques Hamel pray for us!

Rome molested the Church. And Rome was overcome through martyrdom. Islam has been molesting Christianity for 1,400 years. And Islam will be defeated through martyrdom. It’s easy to day, but the difficult questions are these:

  1. Do I believe that God would give me the grace to die as faithfully as a martyr?
  2. Would I be willing for my children to demonstrate the witness of a martyr in the future?
  3. Would I rejoice to be a martyr as so many thousands of martyrs have in previous centuries?

It is helpful to remember that from AD 60 till AD 313, receiving sacramental baptism meant that you were enrolled for martyrdom. Every parish and every diocese on the planet during those years could name martyrs from their midst. Every Christian community possessed martyrs: Jerusalem, Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Carthage, Lyons, etc.

Martyrdom was so common that Christianity underwent a crisis of identity after Constantine legalized Christianity: Can Christians truly be Christian without the reality of impending martyrdom?

The monastic revolution of the 4th and 5th centuries was a response to this identity crisis – the monastics sought to regain the danger and asceticism of carrying the cross.

For me personally, this is a moment of personal crisis. I wrote books about Christ. I record podcasts and videos about Christ. I talk about Christ frequently. But am I ready for this to happen to me:

…two Islamic State knifemen who cut the priest’s throat after bursting into a French church and taking nuns and worshippers hostage before being shot dead by police.

Question: What about you? Do you feel ready? What if it comes to this in the West? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Father Jacques Hamel, pray for us.

Elijah as a Type of Triple Baptism and Pentecost

Triple baptism and Pentecost’s baptism of fire are prefigured in Elijah’s challenge by fire to the 450 prophets of Baal. Here’s the account from 1 King 18 and I’ll note the important features as you read through it:

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 11.03.33 AM

30 Then Eli′jah said to all the people, “Come near to me”; and all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; 31 Eli′jah took twelve stones [prefigures the 12 Apostles], according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”; 32 and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed [2 measures of seed comes again with Elisha as a prophetic sign in 2 Kings 7]. 33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the burnt offering, and on the wood.” 34 And he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time [triple pouring on the sacrifice with water – as a kind of baptism]. 35 And the water ran round about the altar, and filled the trench also with water.

36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that thou, O Lord, art God, and that thou hast turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. [here we have a prefigurement of Pentecost with the fire coming down from Heaven upon the “baptized sacrifice”] 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” 40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Ba′al; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and killed them there.

The Church East and West conforms to a triple affusion (pouring) or triple immersion (dunking) with the recognition of the three Divine Persons of the Trinity. Prophetically, Elijah has the attendants pour water on the slaughtered sacrifice three times. It’s also no accident that Saint John the Baptist was the “new Elijah” teaching a new baptism.

Elijah poured water on the sacrifice to show that God’s fire is so hot and powerful that water cannot prevent it from burning the sacrifice.

I recently spoke of the life of the follower of Jesus as “being on sacrificial fire” (click here to read “Do you have fire in your soul?”). You may also want to listen to my presentation on on the apocryphal 1 Enoch and Tongues of fire here.

There is a connection between the mystery of water (baptism in Christ) and the mystery of fire (confirmation or chrismation in Christ), as Saint John the Baptist relates in his speaking of baptism by water and fire.

We do this every day. We wash our food and then we place it in the fire. When you slaughter animals, you wash the meat and then cook it. The many mikvehs of the Old Covenant were washings to prepare the believer for becoming a burnt sacrifice for God.

Hence, Christ’s baptism is a preparation for His burnt sacrifice (crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, pentecost).

The priest washes his hands ceremonially because his hands are about to hold the burning coal of the sacrificial body of Christ.

In the Solemn High Mass (pre 1970), the priest sprinkled the faithful in the pews – to prepare them to become a burning sacrifice.

And of course, we will all be “salted with fire” when we die. It’s just a matter of whether we burn in this life (as sacrificial love) or burn some in the next age (in the purgatorial fires of 1 Cor 3:15).

Make your life into a bonfire.

Godspeed,

Taylor

PS: If you want to learn more about Old Testament and Jewish origins of Catholic sacraments and Catholic theology, check out my book The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholicism.

Video Class: St Justin Martyr and Tatian the Heretic

Today is the feast day of the Saint Justin Martyr of Rome. Below is a sample lesson video from the New Saint Thomas Institute featuring a brief bio of Saint Justin Martyr, an analysis of his contribution to Catholic Theology and a brief intro to one of his students named Tatian who became a heretic. Saint Justin Martyr, pray for us!

Question: Do you have questions about Saint Justin Martyr? If so leave a comment. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The 3 Kinds of Faith? Which do you have?

The Latin Church Fathers (beginning with Augustine) speak of three levels of faith in God:

  1. credere Deum (“to believe that God is”): This is simply to believe that God exists. The devils have this kind of faith, as Saint James explains in James 2.
  2. credere Deo (“to believe toward God”): This is to trust God. If God says, “Jesus is God’s Son,” then you believe it. If God says, “I am your shepherd. I will take care of you.” You believe it.
  3. credere in Deum (in Latin, literally: “to believe into God”): This is more difficult to translate but it implies motion into God. This is placing faith, trust, even yourself into God. This is the highest form of faith.

Saint Augustine says that credere in Deum (level 3) is actually placing “yourself into God.” In the moments and seasons of tragedy, depression, dark nights, betrayal, confusion, bankruptcy, divorce, cancer, and death, this highest form of faith transcends simply believing that God exists or believing His statements.

Pain and Believing into God

“Believing into God” or “credere in Deum” (not “in Deo” – a huge difference in Latin) is what I often teach to myself and to others who are hurt so deeply.

In the moments and seasons of tragedy, you have to push everything and your own pain and soul into the bleeding side wound of Jesus and just camp out there. That spiritual movement of going into the Heart of Jesus is the highest form of faith. It is the only thing that can restore peace, sanity, and joy. I’ve been there. It’s true.

Caravaggio Thomas Wound Christ

Explore the three levels of faith. Where are you? Honestly I have moved up and down the ladder. Sometimes we can be satisfied with level 2 (credere Deo). Even if life is good, try to move beyond this daily and pray for the faith credere in Deum – to believe into God.

Godspeed,

Taylor Marshall

Is St George Still a Saint? What about the Dragon?

April 23 is the feast of Saint George. So I put together a super post on Saint George:

Saint George

Saint George Podcast

Have you ever debated whether Saint George is real or historical? If so, then this Catholic podcast is for you: Is Saint George (and Saint Christopher) still a Saint?.mp3

Sword and Serpent: My Best-Selling Novel about Saint George is on sale this weekend

Looking for a Catholic fiction page-turner? I published a #1 best-selling historical fiction novel about Saint George and the Dragon (plus St Christopher, Emperor Constantine, Diocletian, et al.) titled Sword and Serpent

Father Dwight Longenecker wrote a glowing review of Sword and Serpent here.

Here’s the book trailer for Sword and Serpent on YouTube:

The novel is now on sale for this April 23 weekend on Kindle and in paperback. Click here to get a copy:

sword and serpent look inside

You can also download the free “Sword and Serpent Study Guide” (an explanation of the historical features of the book and its saints) at swordandserpent.com.

Troops of Saint George: Outdoor Adventure for Catholic Men and Sons

Looking for a Catholic alternative to scouting? In 2013 I founded a Catholic outdoor adventure fraternity for priests, deacons, fathers and sons – and dedicated it to Saint George. We have 40 active troops. Please visit our website and consider starting a Troop of Saint George at your parish. We have a starter kit for dads and for priests to help you get started:

TSG group photo

Click here to visit the Troops of Saint George website.

Saint George’s Skull in Rome

Saint George’s skull is in Rome and I visited him last summer in Rome. If you’d like to go on pilgrimage with me for a NSTI Catholic Theology Pilgrimage to Rome and Italy this summer, please click here to reserve your spot.

Happy feast of Saint George!!!

Saint George pray for us,

Taylor Marshall