144,000: What’s in a number? Not you, for one thing

February 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Since its inception in 1881, the Watchtower Bible and Tract society, A.K.A. Jehovah’s Witnesses, has proclaimed that only 144,000 human beings will go to heaven. They get that number, of course, from Revelation 14:1-5, where we read that they are those

who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are chaste; it is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes; these have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are spotless.

They are identified as “male virgins” who have not defiled themselves with women (οὗτοί εἰσιν οἳ μετὰ γυναικῶν οὐκ ἐμολύνθησαν παρθένοι). Not surprisingly, that tidbit is not significant to Jehovah’s Witnesses, who concentrate on the fact that this literal number — only 144,000 and not a person more — will be the exclusive beneficiaries of heaven. Everyone else, including virtually all Jehovah’s Witnesses, will have to settle for paradise earth.

You’ll see in their literature many depictions of shiny, happy people endlessly picking fruit and petting animals on paradise earth. This video points out a real problem for the Watchtower that stems from, on the one hand, its insistence that only 144,000 will go to heaven and yet, on the other hand, quite a few more than that number have (cumulatively) partaken in the organization’s memorial “communion service,” consuming unleavened bread and wine — something reserved solely for those who will be among the 144,000 in heaven.

Something’s gotta give. Either the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society will eventually have to abandon its claim regarding the relatively tiny number who will be admitted to heaven, or they will have to somehow break the bad news to all the credulous Witnesses who have been partaking of the religion’s communion service thinking that they had gotten the Golden Ticket when, in fact, they really didn’t.

Just imagine the shock these poor folks are in for when the time comes and they don’t get to go to heaven but are stuck picking fruit and petting animals forever on paradise earth. Oh, and by the way, all of you who aren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses are totally shafted. Not only, according to the Watchtower, do you have no shot at heaven, you have no shot at living on paradise earth either. So, you’d better pick whatever fruit and pet whichever animals you can now, before it’s too late.

Jehovah’s Witnesses Memorial 2009 from Watchtower Comments on Vimeo.

Ay, oh, way to go (with more snow), Ohio

February 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Yes, I know it’s still February, so I have no reasonable expectation of anything but winter weather right now. But the 2010-2011 winter seems to have started earlier and been harder than usual. We had lots of wind and rain here in Central Ohio last night (I admit that drifting off to sleep to the sound of the steady clatter of rain against the windows and the wind rushing through the pine trees outside our bedroom window is rather nice), though the rain turned to sleet, and then to snow, this morning. I’m glad I’m inside, warm and dry, sipping my morning coffee, and watching through my office window as everything starts turning white again. I actually do like the snow and wintry weather (I posted a few thoughts about that last fall, when the fall colors heralded the approach of Old Man Winter), but I confess that after endless weeks of gray, dreary weather, I’m looking forward to seeing some spring sunshine. A thought that plays on my mind a lot on days like this is “There will be only light and warmth and beauty in heaven.” On a day like today, the prospect of eternal, perfect, “heavenly weather” is more than a little appealing!

Greece Fire

February 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

As you know, Greece has been in a state of tumult for the past year as protests against the government’s efforts to curb its profligate spending have convulsed the country, especially in Athens. Personally, I don’t have much sympathy at all for government workers who refuse to face realty and tighten their own belts in the face of unsustainable government budget excesses that literally not only have bankrupted their country but, given that Greece is already a badly limping member of the EU, have seriously strained the general fiscal health of the Union as a whole. When annual expenditures far exceed income, something’s gotta give. The worrisome aspect of this simmering Greek unrest is, in my view, how similar it appears to be to what could easily happen here in the United States if some kind of fiscal sanity and restraint (not to mention a return to grown-up behavior by certain fatuous lawmakers) doesn’t soon re-take control of our governmental brain. The last few days’ worth of budget-related turbulence in Wisconsin has all the earmarks of the beginnings of what you see here in this video. Obviously, we can all hope and pray that it won’t happen here, that significant numbers of agitated American citizens won’t degenerate into the violence currently wracking Greece. But I’m not so sure. As the situation in Greece shows, it doesn’t take much of a spark to ignite a fire. And fires, let’s remember, often get out of control and burn things down very quickly.

Christchurch Quake Map

February 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Yesterday’s big quake in Christchurch, New Zealand, has Kiwis reeling from the destruction, injuries, and deaths it left in its wake. I had always heard that NZ was located on a rather seismologically active zone, though when I visited there years ago, I didn’t feel anything. But until I watched this fascinating and rather startling computer-generated model of just how frequently the Christchurch area is hit by quakes, I really had no idea the extent of the subterranean turmoil at work there. Check it out. It obviously will take a while to cycle through the last 6 months of quake activity, so if you want to see what’s been happening in just the last week leading up to yesterday’s Big Quake, click the beneath the headline in the top center.

P.S. To all my visitors from New Zealand, please know that you all have my promise of prayers for your protection.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Rest In Peace

February 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

I was only 12 when, in January of 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its hideous  7-2 decision that legal abortion is a “constitutional right” that may not be infringed.  One of the most prolific abortion doctors of that era, one who has estimated that he personally performed in excess of 60,000 abortions, was Dr. Bernard Nathanson.

His thriving abortion practice made him both a wealthy man and a haunted man who was tortured by a guilty conscience which refused to let him rest. Eventually, in 1979, he couldn’t take it any longer. He publicly repented and renounced his “pro-choice” allegiance,  ceased carrying out his ghastly hecatombs, and embraced the pro-life cause. An atheist Jew his whole life, Dr. Nathanson also converted to the Catholic Church and henceforth devoted his life to exposing the evil of abortion. Most likely, you know him from his powerful Pro-Life film, “The Silent Scream.”

His landmark best-selling book, The Hand of God: A Journey From Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor Who Changed His Mind,” had a profoundly invogorating and encouraging effect on Pro-Lifers everywhere. If you haven’t read it, you really need to read it — especially now that Dr. Nathanson has died at the age of 84. May he rest in peace. And may the souls of all the babies he aborted intercede for him, imploring God’s mercy and forgiveness. I myself  join my humble prayers to theirs and to those of countless Pro-Life men and women everywhere who are grateful for this man’s integrity and courage.

Being for the benefit of parishes in Texas

February 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

“Having been some days in preparation, a splendid time
is guaranteed for all . . .”
What a wonderful and action-packed several days I had in Texas last week!
My sincere thanks to all of  you who were able to attend my talks in Coppell and San Antonio. We had capacity crowds at each venue, about 500 on Thursday night at St. Ann’s, and about 500 on Friday evening and again on Saturday at Blessed Sacrament Parish in San Antonio. (I really like the adoration chapel there.) On Saturday, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller joined us in the late morning to greet the people and encourage them to study their Catholic Faith and know how to share it with others. After that, he sat in the back row and listened to the latter half of my talk on the sacraments. What an honor for all of us to have him in our midst.
It was great to be able to meet several of you in person. Thanks for coming up to introduce yourselves, take pictures, etc. And I’d like to say a special “Thank You!” to Cori and Michael Hyland for their help and conviviality while I was in Dallas; to Martha Fernández-Sardina for the same, as well as her hurculean efforts to plan and promote the events in SA, to Dennis Dixon for his taking time to be there while in the midst of a very difficult trial (God bless you, brother), and all the others who in ways seen and unseen, especially by your prayers, assisted and encouraged me in my work on this trip. Thank you!
— Patrick
P.S. If those of you living in various parts of the country would like to arrange for me to speak at a parish in your area, it’s not hard to set up. Go to the “Speaking” section of the nav bar above for details on how to organize an event like this where you live.

Filling in for Patrick Coffin again on “The Catholic Answers Live” radio show

February 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Well, as it happens, Patrick Coffin is still sick with strep throat, so I’ll be filling in for him again this evening as guest host of the “Catholic Answers Live” radio show for the first hour and, for the 2nd hour, I’ll be playing the dual roles of both host and guest. I guess I’ll interview myself. Anyway, if you’re interested in tuning in this evening, it runs from 6-8 ET. I hope you can tune in.

The Fathers Know
Best (DVD)

February 14, 2011 by  
Filed under DVD's, Featured, Products

In this presentation, delivered to a capacity audience of 650 people at the 2010 “Deep in History Conference,” Patrick Madrid explains what the early Church Fathers taught regarding the relationship between Scripture, Tradition, and the Church. Among other key points, he quotes the Fathers in their own words to document the fact that they did not hold the view of sola Scriptura in the sense that the Protestant Reformers asserted it.

As patristics scholar Yves Congar, O.P. stated it, the while believing in “a material sufficiency of Scripture, the Fathers and medieval theologians affirmed its formal insufficiency. Scripture, they held, does not itself suffice to yield its true meaning; it must be read within the Church, within Tradition. Scripture itself is sovereign and is not subject to any rule which could judge it. But it does not itself fulfill all the functions that are necessary for fixing the faith of Christians. Moreover, Scripture itself does not claim to be an exclusive rule.”

This hour-long presentation offers an overview of the patristic record which corroborates Fr. Congar’s description.

How to Do Apologetics (MP4 Video)

February 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Digital Downloads, Featured, Products

In this digital downloadable video, veteran Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid explains the basics of how to engage in apologetics with non-Catholics. Drawing on his 24-year history of work in the field of defending the Faith, including numerous public debates with Protestant ministers, Mormon leaders, and other non-Catholic spokesmen, Patrick walks you through the ten key “do’s and don’ts” of defending the Faith.

This professionally filmed seminar at a large parish in San Diego includes teaching on the following themes: 1) Why you should explain and defend the Faith, 2) how to check if your ego is getting in the way, 3) Listening creatively to the arguments non-Catholics raise so you kind discover their real reasons, 4) the proven “secret weapon” for neutralizing “Bible-only” arguments, and much more!

Celibacy and the Priesthood MP3

February 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Digital Downloads, Products

Patrick Madrid and Fr. Ray Ryland tackle the complex and controversial subject of celibacy in the priesthood, presenting the facts about its history and meaning. Together, they dispose of common myths (such as that it was instituted only in the tenth century) and show why this is a wise discipline. Fr. Ryland, a married clergy convert from Protestantism who is a professor of theology emeritus at Franciscan University of Steubenville, offers a superb analysis of the causes of the current priestly moral scandals and explains why eliminating celibacy won’t resolve either the priest shortage or the current moral scandals. This audio set will help you understand thereal issues that the pundits and critics only talk around. A perfect gift for your priest friends!

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