Dec 30, 2015

I Will Build My Church

Establishment of The Church in Scripture Study

    I would like to present to you here some of the scripture that concerns the topic of The establishment of Christ's Church. After reading this study, go back to your bible and read the passages again. I am using the English Standard Version as well as my Ignatius RSV Study Bible for this article. Also note that the CCC or Catechism of The Catholic Church is also referenced. The links will be provided.

Let's begin!

"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” "Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19)

Jesus asks his disciples "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" Notice that "they" (the disciples) answer first, although giving incorrect answers. Then Jesus turns to "them" (specifically the 12 Apostles) saying, "But who do you say that I am?” When only Peter answers, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Notice that here and in many other instances Peter is shown speaking for the twelve and even more specifically the whole Church or all Christians. Jesus makes it know that Peters correct answer has been given by God. This passage clearly indicates Peter's capacity to make infallible teaching on behalf of the whole Church and the leaders of that Church, the twelve Apostles.

Therefore Christ says, "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this

rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 

Christ establishes his physical Church here on earth on Peter as his first representative (Deputy or Vicar) and the Apostles.

By Paul Rubens
Remember: Everything Christ did and is, was both physical as well as spiritual. He is both God and Man. (John chapter 1 clearly explains this spiritualness and physicalness of Christ's entire existence) He was born (physical), but conceived of the Holy Spirit (spiritual.) When he healed (spiritual) blind man he used mud (physical) and had the man wash. He could have just healed him with his power alone, but he chose as he always did and does to use matter. When he offered us forgiveness of sins and the hope of heaven, he was physically beaten, spit on and brutally killed in order for redemption to take place!

Likewise, when our Lord founded his Church it was to be a physical reality of his spiritual Church in heaven. In heaven there is Christ resurrected in Glory seated at the right hand of God The Father, and all the Saint's or God's children and members of his Church. On earth there is Peter (Pope or head Bishop) Christ's deputy or Vicar and the Apostles serving as fathers (Bishops, priests and deacons) over God's children who are members of his Church. In heaven like I already said, we have Christ's Glorified body!

Likewise, here on earth we have Jesus Christ truly present, and glorified, body, blood, soul, and divinity, in the Eucharist! For further study on the Eucharist in Scripture click here. And these are just a few examples. Even we as human beings are both spiritual and physical beings, because we have both a body and spiritual soul. This is precisely why Christ's Church is both spiritual as well as physical, in order to supply us with what we need for the sanctification of both our body and soul.

No one in the Church takes the place of Christ he is The head and founder of the Church. But, while he reigns from heaven through his Church here on earth he has appointed those by way of Apostolic Succession to feed his flock. (John 21-15-17)

Divine Protection

This Church which Christ states will be protected from the "gates of hell," will also, through Peter whom Jesus gives, "the keys of the kingdom of heaven," will have the authority of binding and loosing.

"The keys are a symbol of teaching authority (Lk 11:52). Jesus consecrates Peter as the Church's chief teacher, whose office will continue on through successors. The plural use of keys may imply a connection with the "gates" in (Matt 16:18) and mean that Peter's position includes, among other things, the authority to release the righteous souls who are detained in Hades but destined for heaven.

In the OT Davidic empire, the king appointed a cabinet of ministers for specific tasks in the kingdom (1 Kings 4:1-6; 2 Kings 18:37). Of these, a prime minister was elevated to unique status of authority, ranking second only to the king. This government structure was common among kingdoms in the ancient Near East (cf. Gen 41:39-43; Esther 3:1-2). Jesus here evokes (Is 22:15-25), where the prime minister's office is handed on to a successor by the symbolic act of handing on the "key of the house [i.e., kingdom] of David" (Is 22:22).

In Matthew, Jesus is the new Davidic king, who appoints Peter the prime minister over the kingdom of heaven in the Church. As in (Is 22), Peter's position is designed for him and his successors; the office is meant to endure as long as the kingdom itself. Entrusted with the keys, Peter wields Christ's own royal authority (cf. Rev 1:18; 3:7).

Whatever you bind and loose: Familiar language in early Jewish literature. The metaphor carries several connotations: (1) It signifies teaching authority and the ability to render binding decisions. Rabbis were said to make "binding" interpretations of the Law. (2) It denotes authority to include or exclude members of a religious community. (3) It signals the forgiveness of sins (Tg Neof in Gen 4:7). The verb loose is used this way in (Rev 1:5 translated "freed") and by the early Church Fathers (cf. Jn 20:23). Peter is thus invested with Christ's authority as the kingdom's chief teacher and administrator; through him heaven governs the Church on earth (cf. Jn 21:15-17; 1 Tim 3:15; CCC 553, 1445)." (The Ignatius RSV study bible New Testament)

More on Binding and Loosing...

We see this again in Christ's church in Matthew. Speaking to the Apostles specifically, "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matt 18:17-18) 

"Matthew 18:17 the Church: Mentioned only here and in (Matt 16:18) in the Gospels. Whereas (Matt 16:18) envisions Peter's authority over the universal Church, this verse (18:17) pertains to a local congregation of Christians. Gentile . . . tax collector: Two groups generally despised by first-century Jews. The choice of these terms suggest that Jesus requires a policy of non-association with those who are disciplined by leaders of the Church (cf. 1 Cor 5:9-13; 2 Cor 6:14-15).

Matthew 18:18 whatever you bind . . . loose: In (Matt 16:19), Peter was invested with Christ's authority as the visible head of the Church. A derivative—but subordinate—authority is given also to the apostles as royal ministers in the kingdom. Jesus' authority in this context is related to Church discipline; by extension, it is also a sacramental authority to forgive sins (cf. Jn 20:23; CCC 553, 1444)." (The Ignatius RSV study bible New Testament)

Later in Matthew, "And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)

Using the authority that has been given to the Apostles by Christ he then commands them to "make disciples" by "baptizing" in the Trinitarian name. Jesus promises that he would be with "them" (the Apostles) until the end! Christ's church will last until he comes again. Peter, the Apostles and those who succeed them will also have this authority, guidance and protection. Note: Obviously Jesus knows that the Apostles themselves will not live on earth forever. This is why he said, "teaching them" (future disciples and leaders in the Church) "to observe all that I have commanded you," the "you" being the Apostles. We see this same transmission throughout the bible in various places.

"You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men a who will be able to teach others also." (2 Tim 2:2) 

Baptism or Else...

"And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."
(Mark 16:15-16)

Jesus like in (Matthew 28:18-20) gives the Apostles (The Church) a command to go preach and baptize. He stresses the importance of believing (a spiritual act) and being baptized (a physical act.) "Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

He does this through the Sacraments thanks be to God!

Authoritative Church and The Holy Spirit

Speaking to the seventy-two laborers Jesus sent out he says, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16) Keep in mind that these laborers are ones whom have been taught correct doctrine handed down to them by Christ.

"He who hears you hears me: The messengers of Jesus carry his authority wherever they go. To reject them is to reject both the Father and the Son (Jn 12:48-49; 13:20). Jesus confers an even greater share of his royal, priestly, and prophetic authority upon the apostles before his Ascension (Mt 28:18-20) (CCC 87, 858)." (The Ignatius RSV study bible New Testament)

Matthew 28:18-20 quoted above...

Speaking to the Apostles and therefore to the members of The Church.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."  (John 14:15-26)

Our Lord confirms that his Church will be guided by The Holy Spirit and that the world in general will not have him or be guided by him. But, those of his Church through the Apostles will have access to him. Christ has not left us as orphans to fend for ourselves especially regarding matters of faith and morality. He has given us a Church to teach us correct doctrine feeding us spirituality as well as physically. For more information on how Christ feeds us through his Church click here.

More to Come...

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you." (John 16:12-15)

Christ's Church will speak with the authority of God through The Holy Spirit! And will faithfully glorify Christ and give what belongs to Christ like salvation, forgiveness of sins, and correct teachings to his followers. He does all of this through the Sacraments of the Catholic (Universal) Church!

This next verse kinda brings it all home. St. Paul is writing to Timothy about the Church and how people and leaders in the Church should conduct themselves. Paul reminds us that his good council through The Church is efficacious to is followers and that they should listen to him because The Church which he represents is the pillar of Truth!

"I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, pillar and buttress of the truth." (1 Tim 3:14-15)

In Conclusion...

Obviously, there is so much more I could say, but there is a lot of Scripture to go through already. What I want to stress here is that Christ in fact built a Church and this Church is both spiritual and physical, the continuity of Christ's actions in scripture proves it. Like I said before in the Remember section. Everything Christ did and does is both spiritual as well as physical, even to the point of creating you and me. To say that he stopped with the creation and mission of his Church is to say Christ lacks continuity in what he does! To say that the physical reality of his spiritual Church some how disintegrated along with the death's of the Apostles denies what is said in Scripture and what has been witnessed throughout history! We know that Christ lacks nothing and is no fool who built upon sand (Matt 7-24-27.) What Christ builds lasts and what he says is no lie!!

Believe it!

Sincerely Joanne Utke

Further look at Church teaching...

Sections of The Catechism referenced by Ignatius Study Bible: New Testament plus a couple extra. The bold numbers are for the place the passage holds in the Catechism. Notice certain others are reference for your further study. I have included the scriptures rather than the footnote numbers for your convenience.

(CCC 87) Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: “He who hears you, hears me,” the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.

(CCC 551) From the beginning of his public life Jesus chose certain men, twelve in number, to be with him and to participate in his mission. (Cf. Mk 3:13–19) He gives the Twelve a share in his authority and “sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal.” (Lk 9:2) They remain associated for ever with Christ’s kingdom, for through them he directs the Church: (858, 765) As my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Lk 22:29–30)

(CCC 552) Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve; (Cf. Mk 3:16; 9:2; Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5) Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”Our Lord then declared to him: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18) Christ, the “living stone,” (1 Pet 2:4) thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakeable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it. (Cf. Lk 22:32) (880, 153, 442, 424)

(CCC 553) Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:19) The “power of the keys”designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: “Feed my sheep.” (Jn 21:15–17; cf. 10:11) The power to “bind and loose”connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles (Cf. Mt 18:18) and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.

(CCC 858) Jesus is the Father’s Emissary. From the beginning of his ministry, he “called to him those whom he desired;.... And he appointed twelve, whom also he named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach.” (Mk 3:13-14) From then on, they would also be his “emissaries” (Greek apostoloi). In them, Christ continues his own mission: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” (Jn 20:21; cf. 13:20;) The apostles’ ministry is the continuation of his mission; Jesus said to the Twelve: “he who receives you receives me.” (Mt 10:40; cf. Lk 10:16.)

(CCC 1444) In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:19; cf. Mt 18:18; 28:16-20) “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head.” (981)

(CCC 1445) The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God. (553) The sacrament of forgiveness

Dec 17, 2015

Is it Lights Out For Pope Francis?

Are you upset with Pope Francis like many Catholics are about the recent Vatican light show? Are you suspicious and offended by his actions and decisions? In this Podcast, Catholic apologist Bobby Hesley discusses the controversy surrounding the recent Vatican light show "Fiat Lux: Illuminating Our Common Home"
Did Pope Francis take it too far on this one? Is he out of touch? Join Bobby as he tries to make sense of this controversy.

The Christmas Story!

The Christmas Story!: Merry Christmas! Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of the Christ. The holiday was established officially by the Chu...

Dec 8, 2015

Rest In Peace Sister

I wrote this in the days following my younger sisters death on October 20th 2015. My prayers go out to all those who have experienced similar situations, God have Mercy!

Rest In Peace Sister

     Dear friends, sadly the other day my younger sister Elizabeth at age 32 passed away. For those of you who don't know, she was unfortunately like so many people who are on the streets and on drugs.

Despite my family's best efforts, her earthly life was lost to that destructive life style. The drugs caused her severe mental illness and she didn't talk much. Fortunately, we did see her often and would give her water and food when she really needed it. We would tell her how much we all loved her and that we wanted her to get better. We would remind her that help was out there and all she needed to do was ask for it and be willing to receive it. When she was lucid she wanted help, but the drugs would pull her back in.

 She was a teachers aid to severely handicapped youth at Beyer High school for about 6 years. She loved taking care of them. She was the kind of person who would change adult diapers and she did everyday as a TA. She had a desire to help people and was a giving person. In her twenties she attended MJC and Chapman University and became a college graduate with a BA. She wanted to be a special needs teacher. She died broken, hungry and lonely yet we are thankful it wasn't worse.

God is good!

We have hope in his Mercy!

 With her recent destructive lifestyle aside she still was a child of God and loved perfectly by him. And, "We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures, we are the sum of our Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son" (St. John Paul II) In her earlier years she was baptized as a Catholic (born again of water and spirit Jn 3:5) and received the Sacraments all the way to confirmation.

When she was doing better she did go to confession, and she prayed the Divine Mercy prayer. She believed in Jesus and in his Church. Attached to those acts of faith are Christ's promises of mercy and life with him (Mark 16:16, Jn 3:15.)

It is by faith in Christ that we know she will be OK. We are comforted and at peace knowing that God has and is extending his mercy to my sister. "God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-- by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:4-5) 

Purgatory is God's mercy!

 On behalf of my parents and family I want to say thank you for your support and offers of help. We appreciate your care, prayers and concern for our family during this time. Please also pray for my/our sister. "It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins. ( 2 Mac 12: 46) 

 On behalf of my/our sister Elizabeth and all those we have lost to drugs and sin, here with us or in purgatory, we can pray

Psalm 51. 

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit." 


Thanks for reading

Defending the Virgin Mary | Teachings on Mary

Awesome talk full of Scripture and Truth! I recommend this to anyone who loves our Lord.

Bobby Hesley delivers a power-packed introduction to explaining and defending Marian teaching. Recorded LIVE at the Word and Life Conference in Pompano Beach Florida.

Dec 6, 2015

And I give them life everlasting!

Taking a look at John's Gospel chapters 6 and 10. About sheep and food :)

   After reading this article go directly to your Bible and read both chapters prayerfully. I think there are some similarities. I am using the Douay Rheims translation for this article.

As you read these scriptures THINK about what it means to "believe" in Christ.

Ask yourself, what is my Lord and Savior asking me to believe about him?

Do you believe his Words?

Do you doubt our Lords Words and means to effect your salvation?

Do you believe what our Lord says in John 6 is possible?

Take it and read! See for yourself. May our Lord open our eyes to him who is truth, amen.

John 10:

"Jesus therefore said to them again: Amen, amen I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All others, as many as have come, are thieves and robbers: and the sheep heard them not. I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved: and he shall go in, and go out, and shall find pastures. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep: And the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep. 
I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me. As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep. And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd. Therefore doth the Father love me: because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it away from me: but I lay it down of myself, and I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again. This commandment have I received of my Father." (Jan 10:7-18)

Jesus here in chapter 10 speaks about his followers which are likened to sheep. Christ is The good Shepherd. He will gather together his flock from among the Jews and Gentiles. He loves his sheep perfectly, watches over them perfectly, protects them perfectly, even gives his life up for them perfectly, and as you will see in John 6, feeds them perfectly!

His sheep know him personally and faithfully. Christ's flock believes in him and what he says!

"And it was the feast of the dedication at Jerusalem: and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon's porch. The Jews therefore came round about him, and said to him: How long dost thou hold our souls in suspense? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them: I speak to you, and you believe not: the works that I do in the name of my Father, they give testimony of me. But you do not believe, because you are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice: and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them life everlasting; and they shall not perish for ever, and no man shall pluck them out of my hand. That which my Father hath given me, is greater than all: and no one can snatch them out of the hand of my Father. I and the Father are one." ( Jn 10: 22-30)

"And I give them life everlasting"

Of course being a part of Christ's flock has it's perks. But, how will He give his sheep life everlasting? To answer this we can look back in John's gospel to chapter 6 and just let our Lord answer that.

John 6:
"Jesus answered them, and said: Amen, amen I say to you, you seek me, not because you have seen miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you. For him hath God, the Father, sealed." (Jan 6:26-27)

He tells those following him that all they want is more food. They are hungry sheep and look to their master to feed them, but they don't yet get how he will feed them. Here Jesus is setting the scene for his most difficult teaching, a teaching that will bring a schism. To have everlasting life we need everlasting food. Also, "Sealed" reminds me of "I give them life everlasting; and they shall not perish for ever, and no man shall pluck them out of my hand," in chapter 10.

"They said therefore unto him: What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? Jesus answered, and said to them: This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he hath sent. They said therefore to him: What sign therefore dost thou shew, that we may see, and may believe thee? What dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you; Moses gave you not bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world. They said therefore unto him: Lord, give us always this bread." (Jn 6:28-34)

Yes, Lord give us this bread always!

His followers still are looking to be fed. Some typology going on here. Moses who is a type of Christ fed his people with miraculous bread from heaven, so Christ also will. But, here Jesus wants his flock to understand that the food that he will provide is superior and much more miraculous then what Moses provided.

Note: In typology the type is never greater than what is being prefigured. For example. Moses is a type of Christ and Christ is greater than Moses. The manna which fed God's people is a type of the bread Christ will feed his sheep. If the manna was real, miraculous bread from heaven, then how much more real, and miraculous will Christ's bread be? In fact Christ specifically pointed out how much more superior his bread is in (Jn 6:28-34) already quoted. In other words. The manna wasn't a symbolic bread, it was real bread from heaven! It is biblically inconsistent to think that Christ's bread would be merely a symbol of what he is saying in John 6 when the manna was not.

THINK about that!

Keep reading: Here is the part where The good Shepherd feeds his sheep (followers) perfectly.

"And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, that you also have seen me, and you believe not." (Jn 6:35-36)

Speaking to those who did not hear his voice and believe. And those who believe (like sheep) will come to him. Jesus tells us that "he that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst." Certainly, he didn't only mean this to those who knew him personally then. What he is implying is a miraculous food that will feed his flock throughout all times, until he comes again. He also reminds us the importance of believing. Ask yourself what is he wanting us to believe in order to never thirst or be hungry? Obviously he isn't just talking about everyday ordinary food - food that parishes. There is so much more going on here.

"All that the Father giveth to me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me, I will not cast out. Because I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me. Now this is the will of the Father who sent me: that of all that he hath given me, I should lose nothing; but should raise it up again in the last day. And this is the will of my Father that sent me: that every one who seeth the Son, and believeth in him, may have life everlasting, and I will raise him up in the last day." (Jn  6:37-40)

Our Lord is asking us to see him, and believe!

More doubters and unbelievers. There are some in chapter 10 too in verse 19 and so on. 

Keep reading It's getting good!

"The Jews therefore murmured at him, because he had said: I am the living bread which came down from heaven. And they said: Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How then saith he, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered, and said to them: Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him; and I will raise him up in the last day. It is written in the prophets: And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard of the Father, and hath learned, cometh to me. Not that any man hath seen the Father; but he who is of God, he hath seen the Father. Amen, amen I say unto you: He that believeth in me, hath everlasting life." (Jn 6:41- 47)

Believe what Lord?

 "I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (Jn 6:48-52)

Have you ever wondered at that? More of that typology going on here. Remember when I said, "Moses who is a type of Christ fed his people with miraculous bread from heaven, so Christ also will." And, "Jesus wants his flock to understand that the food that he will provide is superior and much more miraculous then what Moses provided."

Jesus explains further with a more intensified language and more typology.

He's serious folks!

"Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever." (Jn 6:53-58)

Schism anyone?

When we continue reading in John 6 we see that Jesus has created yet another dissension as seen in John 10:19. Although here in John 6 we see that it is more like a schism. The first schism among our Lord's followers and it was the Words of Christ (because they didn't believe) that provoked it.

Ask yourself: If our Lord was only speaking symbolically, and actually didn't intend to feed his sheep his very own flesh and blood then why would he a) use such seriously strong language and b) risk a schism among his followers? Notice he didn't call them back, our Lord accepted the schism, because his Words are serious he meant what he said, and if his teachings cause a schism because his so called sheep don't want to believe then so be it!

He's not going to make us believe and he is certainly not going to change his teachings to fit our comfort level, or make it easier to believe. Our Lord means what he says and he offers us a choice to accept his teachings or not.

"This saying is hard, and who can hear it?"

"Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it? But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you? If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that did not believe, and who he was, that would betray him. And he said: Therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father." (Jn 6:60-65)

His followers were having trouble with this teaching and for good reason. Many of them were Jews and the eating of blood and human flesh is forbidden! They wondered if he was for real, and how it was going to be possible. Was he talking cannibalism? Jesus tells us that it is God who will help us to understand and it is by the power of God that we will believe.

We must ask God to help us with this!

They just walked away?

"After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him. Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus answered them: Have not I chosen you twelve; and one of you is a devil? Now he meant Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon: for this same was about to betray him, whereas he was one of the twelve.(Jn 6:66-71)

They "walked no more with him." Here after he explained this hard to understand teaching (telling them that somehow he would give them his real flesh and blood as food) many just walked away.  Many of his disciples just couldn't wrap their heads around it so they just left. They lacked faith in Christ's words and did not believe and joined the schism. Our Lord reminds us later in John's Gospel about belief, "blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed." (Jn 20:29) Christ wants faith!

"To whom shall we go?"

To be fair to the text, not all of Christ's followers walked away doubting and disbelieving. Some stayed despite their lack of understanding. They just loved our Lord and believed in him!

They didn't understand how, but they knew that if that is what he says then I am sure he has a plan. Peter and the twelve just believed and trusted! They recognized the means that Christ would use to grant them and us eternal life and they trusted that it would play out according to God's plan.

Ask yourself: Do you trust and believe like the Apostles and thos who followed their lead?

Or do you doubt and disbelieve like those who walked away?

Ok, so what about verse 63? 

"It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life." 

Many people use this verse to debunk everything our Lord said as literal and apply to his words a spiritual meaning only. They may say, "see he was talking symbolically the whole time and verse 63 proves it."

But, does it? Our Lord says, "It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing." First of all there are a couple things going on in this verse I admit, but it's not Jesus saying, "relax I was only speaking symbolically."

"It is the spirit that quickeneth." We are being reminded that this miraculous, spiritual food that Christ will give his flock is made possible by the Holy Spirit, it is the Spirit that will give life to his words and make this possible. It is the Spirit of God that will help us to believe Christ's Words. Just like he said, in verse 65 and elsewhere. It is God and the Holy Spirit that will give us the Grace possible to understand.

"the flesh profiteth nothing" Some people may read that part and take it to mean that Christ wasn't really talking about giving us his real flesh and blood to eat, only symbolically. But, I argue that's not the case. They assume that "flesh" here is referring to Christ's flesh. Are we to believe that Christ's flesh profits nothing? Let me remind you that the same flesh that our Lord says he will give for the life of the world as spiritual food is the same flesh that profited forgiveness of sins on the cross! And the same flesh that was assumed into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God!

What our Lord meant (and you can take it or leave it) was that without His Flesh as our True and Spiritual food, our flesh profits nothing! We can do nothing and are nothing without out our Lord who is the way, the truth and the life! (Jn 14:6) Remember what our Lord said earlier, "...Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you." (Jn 6:53)

We may not fully understand how, but we know why. And, we are told that this is how He will feed his sheep. Will we listen to his voice, and believe?

Will we follow him wherever he asks us to go?

Jesus Truly Present in The Blessed Sacrament of The Eucharist, I believe, help my unbelief, and the unbelief of those who want to follow you. Amen

Words From The Church...

 "At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us." (Catechism of The Catholic Church 1323 Article 3: The Sacrament of The Eucharist)

"At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's Body and Blood. Faithful to the Lord's command the Church continues to do, in his memory and until his glorious return, what he did on the eve of his Passion: "He took bread. . . ." "He took the cup filled with wine. . . ." The signs of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ; they continue also to signify the goodness of creation. Thus in the Offertory we give thanks to the Creator for bread and wine,154 fruit of the "work of human hands," but above all as "fruit of the earth" and "of the vine" - gifts of the Creator. The Church sees in the gesture of the king-priest Melchizedek, who "brought out bread and wine," a prefiguring of her own offering." (CCC 1333 also in Article 3) 

Sincerely, Joanne

If you like this or just want more food for thought please see my other studies like this one as well as the link for the Catechism which I highly recommend.

Also please subscribe with your email to the right of this blog and share with your friends below.

Thanks in advance!

Eucharist in Scripture Study Guide

John 6 New World Translation

Article 3: CCC The Sacrament of The Eucharist.

Dec 1, 2015

Become the Best Version of Yourself | Matthew Kelly

Awesome inspirational and motivational video by Matthew Kelly. Become the best version of yourself. The person God wants you to be.

BENEDICTA: Marian Chant from Norcia by The Monks of Norcia

Very beautiful I want to get the album. Check out their site for more information.

Nov 29, 2015

Advent: Reflecting on God's Presence Catholic Answers

Fr. Patrick Wainwright has been a priest of the Miles Christi religious order since 1997. A native of Argentina, he received a licentiate degree in philosophy from the Pontifical University of the Savior in Argentina. He has taught philosophy and theology at the seminary and university levels, and has preached dozens of retreats and missions since his ordination. Fr. Wainwright helped start a new Miles Christi religious house in Detroit in 2000, and has been exercising his ministry from there ever since.

Advent: Reflecting on God's Presence (Encore) | Catholic Answers

Nov 28, 2015

Ten Tips for a Peace-Filled Advent

Advent is beginning and we must prepare for the coming of the Lord. This year Learn what Advent is all about. Peace, forgiveness, sacrifice and preparation for the birth of the Savior, and mercy.
"I BESEECH you therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God." (Romans 12:1-2 DR)
"For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6 DR)

The link below offers some great advice on how to have that this Advent.

Ten Tips for a Peace-Filled Advent

Also check out...

Best Advent Ever Rediscover Mercy by Matthew Kelly. I signed up :)

Advent: Reflecting on God's Presence (encore audio)

Some technical information about Advent

History of The Advent Wreath

Music for Advent: 10 Advent Songs to Remind You It's Not Yet Christmas

Previous blog Article: The Christmas Story

Have a blessed Advent!

Nov 24, 2015

Inconsistantly Christian? How to Change

Paul Thomas and Lisa Campbell tackle the challenges of living out the Faith. A real blessing. I am learning so much from this audio.

Nov 23, 2015

Bobby Hesley’s Journey of the Cross

Witness the story of a young man from inner city Detroit whose faith in God enable him to become more than a conqueror. Gary Michuta talks to AoA team member Bobby Hesley about his faith journey. Bobby's powerful and grace-filled testimony reveals the strength of the Sacrament of Confirmation and the full scope of apologetics. If someone you know is going through a tough time in life, particularly those who have had a tough childhood, they will definitely want to hear this program

Nov 18, 2015

Peter Hitchens Journey Back To God

I just read this testimony by Peter Hitchens well known atheist author who found the Christianity of his youth.

A great read :)

"While I was making my gradual, hesitant way back to the altar-rail, my brother Christopher's passion against God grew more virulent and confident. As he has become more certain about the non-existence of God, I have become more convinced we cannot know such a thing in the way we know anything else, and so must choose whether to believe or not. I think it better by far to believe" (Peter Hitchens)


Nov 16, 2015

Top 10 Answers to the Protestant doctrine of “The Bible Alone”

Is Sola Scriptura biblical? Gary Michuta and Bob Hesley look at the most commonly cited Scripture used to promote "Sola Scriptura." Do these passages really teach that the Bible alone is the Christians' only authority on matter of Faith?

Nov 14, 2015

Two Awesome Conversion Stories

Steven and Paul’s Journey “Live” at the Holy Spirit Center

 Two Awesome conversion stories you will be blessed by. Steven and Paul's appearance at the Holy Spirit Center's "Why Be Catholic" conference. Talk about amazing grace...hear how God led Steven and Paul back to the Catholic Church.


Nov 13, 2015

Bobby Hesley on the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit

What are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit? Bobby Hesley explains, in this talk before a packed audience of young adults and teens, what they are and why they are important. I really enjoyed this talk I hope you do too!

Nov 12, 2015

The Illogicity of Atheism


    It is unreasonable and illogical to believe there is no God. Atheists believe that in truth there is no God. Their faith in that premise is sometimes so strong they may or may not even be open to new information. Their proof they say is their own logic and reasoning. Well, theists also claim logic and reason as their friend when thinking about the notion of the existence of God. In this post I will using logic, reasoning and a very simple philosophical argument prove the existence of God.

Check it out!

In order for the statement "there is no God" to be a truthful statement we would have to admit to have looked at all sides of the argument and every possible variable within the argument. We would have to admit to being omniscient. In other words we would have to be God, to know that there is no God.

Our first thought "there is no God" is actually canceled out by our second thought "only God could know that." Therefore God exists! To be honest human beings we can only say "I don't believe in God" or "I don't know if God exists." Not believing, or knowing is not proof. And not believing in God doesn't make him non existent anymore than believing in God makes him exist. God does not derive his existence from our willingness or unwillingness to believe.

Let's look at it one other way. 

We know that God can be viewed as "absolute truth." He himself being the source of all Truth in the Universe as theists believe. Simply put if God is the source of all things and the beginning of all things then he is also the source of that which is true (in accordance with fact or reality) in the universe.

So, in order for the statement "there is no absolute truth" to be true it would have to be absolutely true! Therefore once again are second thought cancels out our first and absolute truth also exists.

Done just proved the existence of God/absolute truth using logic and reasoning alone. Lol! I realize there is a lot more we could discuss about the existence of God, but I believe this is the simplest argument.

Thanks for reading!

Joanne Utke

For further reading see...

Atheism, God and The Proof

The Godless Delusion: A Catholic Challenge to Modern Atheism

An audio by Patrick Madrid on Atheism

Nov 10, 2015

The Gift of the Eucharist by Bobby Hesley

Great talk on the Eucharist by Bobby Hesley a well known parish speaker. This talk would make a great introduction to the Eucharist for beginners, as well for Catholics who need some new energy to rekindle your faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Bottom line this is an excellent talk and if you love Jesus, and want to be closer to him this talk is for you. Believe in the Eucharist!

 Also check out Bobby Hesley on the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Nov 9, 2015

Patrick Madrid on Atheism

Great audio with the best rational arguments for the existence of God. Patrick Madrid does a great job I highly recommend this for anyone who has ever questioned the existence of God or want to learn how to present rational arguments to atheists.

Check out what I feel is the simplest argument when trying to prove the existence of God using logic and reasoning alone.

The Illogicity of Atheism

Nov 2, 2015

Chair of Moses - Chair of Peter

Great video by Steve Ray about the Jewish Roots of the Papacy. A must watch and listen. You will learn so much! So get your coffee and take a seat :)

Oct 23, 2015

Prayers For Souls In Purgatory St. Gertrude


   Have you lost a loved one who passed away, or know someone who has? Prayers for souls in purgatory can help them! While we can derive great comfort from the hope that our loved ones are enjoying Eternal Life with God, it never hurts to pray for their souls in any case. 

In purgatory, the souls of many of those who have died in God’s grace undergo purification so that they may enter heaven.

The Prayer of St. Gertrude, below, is one of the most famous of the prayers for souls in purgatory. St. Gertrude the Great (pictured at left) was a Benedictine nun and mystic who lived in the 13th century. According to tradition, our Lord promised her that 1000 souls would be released from purgatory each time it is said devoutly. 

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.

Many of the Fathers of the Church, such as St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom, considered prayers for souls in purgatory to be essential. The church has endorsed the doctrine of purgatory from the Councils of Florence and Trent in the 15th and 16th centuries right up through Vatican II in the 1960’s...

Keep reading this article by

Prayers For Souls In Purgatory To Help Them Reach Their Heavenly Home

Remember November 2nd is All Soul's Day. Pray for them, pray for us!

Oct 12, 2015

Did The Pope Really Say Jesus Was A Failure?

    I've been seeing a lot of talk about how the Pope said that Jesus failed or that he was a failure. I am sure you've heard this too. Jimmy Akin did a post as about this too for Catholic Answers. You should also check that out.

I have a good idea that those spreading the claim in question probably didn't stop to actually read the official document. They are most likely repeating the words of those who also didn't read the official document.

 Here is the official quote in context. 

I am writing this to those who want to know the truth about what the Pope actually said and not rely on their own or others preconceived notions. Despite what people are saying he didn't say the cross was a failure. He didn't say christ's redemption was or is a failure. The Pop wouldn't say that because that would be wrong.

"We can get caught up measuring the value of our apostolic works by the standards of efficiency, good management and outward success which govern the business world. Not that these things are unimportant! We have been entrusted with a great responsibility, and God’s people rightly expect accountability from us. But the true worth of our apostolate is measured by the value it has in God’s eyes. To see and evaluate things from God’s perspective calls for constant conversion in the first days and years of our vocation and, need I say, it calls for great humility. The cross shows us a different way of measuring success. Ours is to plant the seeds: God sees to the fruits of our labors. And if at times our efforts and works seem to fail and produce no fruit, we need to remember that we are followers of Jesus… and his life, humanly speaking, ended in failure, in the failure of the cross."

Note the words "humanly speaking." He means that to those who didn't believe in Christ it seemed as though he was a failure. The Romans and the Jewish leadership wanted Christ dead and they got it! But they were unbelievers. To them Christ failed his mission little did they know his mission had only begun!

Next time you hear a claim that the Pope or a Pope said
something blasphemous simply ask for their source and read the official documents. Chances are they are mistaken and have not read it either.

Read the official document here.

By Joanne Utke

Oct 11, 2015

Embracing Halloween

   I felt this article touched on All Hallows Eve (Halloween) in a wonderful way and from a Catholic Christian perspective. I hope it can help you put Halloween in the correct perspective. Also see my Halloween article or just share this post with both great articles. 

    "As we near All Hallows Eve, aka Halloween, we fired some questions at the walking encyclopedia that is Father Steve Grunow, and he responded with everything you ever wanted to know about Halloween and its deeply Catholic roots.
QUESTION: I always figured that Halloween had pagan roots, but you are telling me they are Catholic. Huh? How so?
Fr. Steve: The origin and traditional customs associated with Halloween require no other explanation than that they are examples of the kinds of festivity that served as a means of celebrating the various holy days of the Catholic Liturgical Year. This includes everything from masquerades, feasting, and the associations of a given day of the year with supernatural or spiritual truths.
I would draw a distinction between the violent, macabre imagery that characterizes the modern appropriation of Halloween as a kind of secular celebration and the more traditional customs that are characteristic of a Catholic cultural ethos. The descent of Halloween into the madness of an annual fright fest is a relatively recent development, but the true substance of Halloween belongs to the Church. Halloween (or “All Hallows Eve”) is the festive precursor to the celebration of the Church’s public commemoration of All Saints Day.
There has been an appropriation of the festivities of Halloween by modern pagans, but please understand that modern paganism is precisely modern and should be distinguished from the cults of ancient religions. The origins and practices of the modern paganism do not extend farther back than the late nineteenth century. Also, remember, the term “pagan” is a slippery one. What does it mean? The worship of the gods and goddesses from long ago? Those cults have long since passed away with the cultural matrix that once supported the world views that were the conditions for their possibility. You can’t just reinvent those cults without the culture that supported them..." 
Keep reading at

Oct 7, 2015

Enchiridion of Saint Augustine

The Enchiridion On Faith, Hope, And Love By Saint Augustine A.D. 420 (5th century)

     This post is about one of my favorite books. I have it in Kindle form and in audio from from You can also read it online via several different websites.

New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia and Catholic Treasury are two other great sources for this book. You can read chapters 11-17 concerning the topic of Good and Evil here on my blog.

I love his explanations so profound and beautifully written!

I like to read it and listen to it on my phone at least once a year. Saint Augustine is my buddy in Christ and I have learned a lot from him. His Enchiridion is a 5th century Catechism/Apologetic handbook. In fact Enchiridion is Greek for handbook although it was first written in Latin the common language in the 5th century and one Augustine spoke most fluently. It outlines the main tenents of the Christian faith as understood by Augustine and the Church in the 5th century. Augustine was Bishop of Hippo. He is also considered an early father and doctor of the Church. In this book Saint Augustine doesn't deviate from unanimously held doctrine in Christian orthodoxy on matters such as the Divinity of Christ, which he explains nicely, God, good and evil, faith and works, angels, and so much more.

"You are anxious, you say, that I should write a sort of handbook for you, which you might always keep beside you, containing answers to the questions you put, viz.: what ought to be man'schief end in life; what he ought, in view of the various heresies, chiefly to avoid; to what extent religion is supported by reason; what there is in reason that lends no support to faith, when faith stands alone; what is the starting-point, what the goal, of religion; what is the sum of the whole body of doctrine; what is the sure and proper foundation of the catholic faith. Now, undoubtedly, you will know the answers to all these questions, if you know thoroughly the proper objects of faith, hope, and love. For these must be the chief, nay, the exclusive objects of pursuit in religion. He who speaks against these is either a total stranger to the name of Christ, or is a heretic. These are to be defended by reason, which must have its starting-point either in the bodily senses or in the intuitions of the mind. And what we have neither had experience of through our bodily senses, nor have been able to reach through the intellect, must undoubtedly bebelieved on the testimony of those witnesses by whom the Scriptures, justly called divine, were written; and who by divine assistance were enabled, either through bodily sense orintellectual perception, to see or to foresee the things in question." (Chapter 4)

Good stuff!

I want to encourage everyone to read and listen to his wonderful words and insights into scripture and Christian teaching. May he be a blessing in your life as he has been in mine.

Sincerely Joanne Utke

Saint Augustine Restless Heart

Sep 30, 2015

The Elevation of Mary

     She was saved in a unique way by the free gift of Grace at her own conception. This is called the Immaculate Conception. It refers to a unique salvation reserved
Mary because of the role she would play in salvation history. Jesus as
Scripture states, was like us except in sin. (Hebrews 4:15, 2 Cor 5:21)
It's simple. The Word of God cannot be contained in that which is unholy, or full of sin! 

Therefore it is logical! 

   Christ's mother had to be preserved from all stain of sin in order to contain that which is without sin. Can the unholy contain which is holy? Who on earth is suitable to contain in her womb The Word of God? The words of Jesus in this next verse come to mind.
"Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” (Matt 9:17 ESV)

There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus' mother who is "blessed among women" was preserved from sin at her conception and preserved from sin throughout her life. It is precisely because of that special and unique salvation that she lived her whole life without sin.  

She was the first faithful Christian! 

Mary was the first to believe in Jesus Christ, and because of him she surrendered herself completely to God, when she said,“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38 ESV)  

All Have Sinned...

   But the scriptures say, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23.) 

Doesn't that include Mary? To answer that I argue that Rom 3:23 isn't speaking of a literal "all" but can be considered a hyperbole. 
A hyperbole is an extreme exaggeration used to make a point. It is like the opposite of “understatement.” It is from a Greek word meaning “excess.” Like when we say things like, "everyone will be there!" We don't actually mean everyone, but a lot of people. I believe that is what's going on in Romans 3:23. 

Romans 3:23 says, "all have sinned" but we already know that there is exceptions to that verse. Obviously Jesus isn't included in Romans 3:23, because he never sinned. (Hebrews 4:15, 2 Cor 5:21) Also unborn babies, new born babies, small children, and anyone who has not yet sinned for whatever reason, etc... are also not included in the "all" of this verse, because they haven't sinned. There are many exceptions to Romans 3:23. Since we know that to be true why couldn't Mary the Mother of Jesus also be an exception? My point is you can't say that Romans 3:23 includes Mary when she could possibly be one of many exceptions to it :) 

The question is how do you know she isn't?

"Not all without exception (every human being), but all without distinction (Jews and Gentiles alike, 3:9; 10:12). That there are exceptions is clear: Jesus was sinless; children below the age of reason do not willfully commit sin; and tradition holds that Mary, by the grace of God, lived her entire life unstained by sin." (From the footnotes of my Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: RSV New Testament)

Don't Catholics elevate Mary?

Yes, but not to the point of deifying her and not to the point of worship. Mary deserves honor, love, respect as the Mother of the our Lord. We are called to imitate Christ and he loved his mother perfectly, he honored her following perfectly the fourth commandment. (Ex 20:12, Ephesians 6:2) We are to honor, and love Mary as our own Mother, as Christ does. See, Do Catholics worship Mary?

"And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"(Luke 1:41-43 ESV)

The Sacred Scripture elevates Mary in the same way our Lord (who is the Word) does. Likewise the Catholic Church elevates her to the same status, no more, no less! If you think otherwise you are mistaken as to the true teachings of the Church! In Luke Mary is "blessed among women."  And in a most prophetic statement Mary declares, "For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed"  These words spoken in sacred scripture are fulfilled by those faithful Christians who honor, love, and call her blessed!

And, What About that Mother of God thing?

Notice that in Luke 1:43 Elizabeth after she was "filled with the Holy Spirit" in verse 42 calls Mary "the Mother of my Lord!" In other words the mother of my God, since Elizabeth's Lord is God and Jesus in Mary's womb is God, it goes that she is the Mother of God.

It's in Scripture folks! 

This is why the Church since the first centuries of Christianity have affirmed that Mary is the Mother of God! In early Christianity the Greek title Theotokos, or "God bearer" as translated was used to show Mary's unique motherhood. 

"The Virgin Mary, being obedient to his word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God" (Irenaeus in his Against Heresies, 5:19:1 [A.D. 189]). 

Although Mary is the Mother of God, she is not his mother in the sense that she is older than God or the source of her Son’s divinity, or the source of God for that matter, for she is neither. Rather, the Church says that she is the Mother of God in the sense that she carried in her womb a divine person, Jesus Christ, God "in the flesh" (2 John 7, cf. John 1:14) and in the sense that she contributed the genetic matter to the human form God took in Jesus Christ. For more information and early church quotes  about the Mother of God, like Irenaeus. I highly recommend you read, Mary: Mother of God.

The Catechism of The Catholic Church explains it this way...

490 To become the mother of the Savior, Mary "was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role."132 The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as "full of grace".133 In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God's grace.

491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God,134 was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.135

492 The "splendor of an entirely unique holiness" by which Mary is "enriched from the first instant of her conception" comes wholly from Christ: she is "redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son".136 The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person "in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" and chose her "in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love".137

493 The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God "the All-Holy" (Panagia), and celebrate her as "free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature".138 By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.

"Let it be done to me according to your word. . ."

494 At the announcement that she would give birth to "the Son of the Most High" without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that "with God nothing will be impossible": "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word."139 Thus, giving her consent to God's word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God's grace:140 

As St. Irenaeus says, "Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race."141Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert. . .: "The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith."142 Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary "the Mother of the living" and frequently claim: "Death through Eve, life through Mary."143

I want to encourage you to read the whole article 3 and paragraph 2 of The Catechism of The Catholic Church.

Such a beautiful doctrine I just want you all to know about it!

In Conclusion...

Sure the Catholic Church elevates Mary above all other women in history. The Scriptures do. The early Church Fathers do in their writings! Why shouldn't we? She is "blessed among women!" She is the Mother of our Lord who is God incarnate! He was conceived in her womb taking on her flesh to be his own. She raised him, loved him, and was the first to believe in him! When our savior was hanging on that cross she was there too once again as she always had been, loving him, believing in him and following him.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (Jn 3:16 ESV) 

On that day when her son was hanging on that cross she saw her baby boy and remembered the day (the Annunciation) she consented in faith to be his Mother. You see Mary also gave us something, she gave us her son! And Christ's only concern as he died was us, and his Mother! 

"When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home." (Jn 19:26-27 ESV)

Will you as a beloved disciple take her home also? 

Everything Mary is, every title the Church gives her is in relationship to her son. She owes it all to God as we all do! It's always about Christ. He wants us to love and honor her. When we do that we love and honor him! Likewise she wants to bring us to her son, our brother! And she never stops telling us Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn 2:5 ESV)

I hope you liked the article or at least found it informative regarding what the Catholic Church actually teaches regarding the elevation of Mary. There is so much more I could say. Consider this a start and open your heart and your home to Mary as Christ would want you to.

Remember to check out the links on this article for more information. Good stuff! Also get the awesome book by Tim Staples Behold Your Mother - A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines learn so much more about our Lord's Mother!

Joanne Utke

Additional Information