Friday, October 11, 2019

This is the time of year that Jesus took Peter, James and John up Mount Tabor to witness the Transfiguration. Mass at the top (homily here.) The mountain is 1900 feet above the planes below and once I started at the bottom and went straight to the top to see how long it would take. It took me 55 minutes.

When we’re done, everyone says “It was going to be here, can we stay?” But we cannot stay because we have to get to Cana to renew our wedding vows which is always a highlight of the trip for couples.

From there to the cave in Nazareth where it all began! Here the Annunciation took place. We pray the 1st Joyful Mystery in the place the Angel Gabriel stood! The words of the Rosary were spoken by the angel for the first time HERE—and here God became man. The Incarnation did not begin in Bethlehem it was in Nazareth.

We got back to the hotel early so people had free time for swimming, having a glass of wine while looking out over the sea and relaxing.

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What is “Organized Religion”?

by Steve Ray on October 11, 2019

Hey Steve: while I was on a business trip I had a good conversation with my friends, one who is agnostic and the other an Evangelical.  Both of them agreed they didn’t believe in “organized religion”.  From your Protestant background is there a specific meaning to that term or is it just another way to describe the Catholic Church.  I thought Jesus was very organized having 12 apostles and when they replaced Judas and the first council etc…. Those are things in my mind that describe an organized way of a belief system.  Or am I off on this.  Reply when it’s convenient.

centralbaptistchurch2Hello Friend: “Organized religion” has nothing to do with being organized. Used in a negative manner, it refers to a government, denomination, or authority that has become institutionalized and that subsequently attempts to intrude into your life — ruling over you.

“Organized religion” is something (an institution or government) that steps in, takes authority and expects something of the person — something that interrupts or circumvents the simple, personal relationship they supposedly have with Jesus. The Evangelical often thinks of Christianity as a purely vertical relationship — me and Jesus. They forget that Jesus said, “I will build my Church!”

Because the evangelical often rejects an institutional, hierarchical “Church” or any “man-made” authority over them — outside the Bible Alone —  “organized religion” is seen as a man-made institution that arrogates authority for itself — trying to take the place of Jesus. The gospel was once “pure, simple, Bible-only, and non-institutional. “Organized religion” is seen as the opposite of, or even opposed to, an “authentic, personal relationship with Jesus.

Unhappily, this cliché about organized religion is unbiblical and unworkable. Jesus said he would build his Church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matt 16:18). He also said if there are problems between Christians they should “take it to the Church” as the final step, as in taking it to the Supreme Court. In order to have this kind of authority a church would have to be “organized,” be all over the whole earth and have authority over all Christians. If not, it makes a farse of Jesus’ words.

St. Paul also set up “organized religion” when he established churches across the Roman Empire with bishops, priests and deacons. This can clearly be seen in the writings of the very first Christians — one Church, organized from Rome and unified throughout the world. Sounds like the organized religion known as the Catholic Church to me.