You notice that many of my posts are theological, and biblical in nature. Although I am still a homeschooling mom and it is very much apart of our life, theology, and Christianity is my passion! Lately my posts have been theological in nature, you will see lots of posts about religion namely Christianity, and the bible. You can still search for homeschooling info in the linked key words on the right of the blog. My blog is very much a blog for home schooling of all kinds. It is my belief that home education is the starting point, and is one of the most important. As a homeschooling mom, I learn along side my kids, they ask questions, and we get the answers. We are also individuals with different interests. For my blog I want to write about what I have a passion for the most. I hope that you like what I post as much as I do. I have a passion for sharing what I have learned. Please don't forget to leave feedback in the comment section of each post. You can also visit me at facebook.com/joanneutke Thanks again :)

Feb 11, 2015

The Problem of Good and Evil

    The contents of this post about the question of good and evil was created Taken From The Enchiridion, or Handbook by Saint Augustine is addressed to Laurentius in answer to his questions. St. Augustine wrote it sometime after the death of St. Jerome (September 30, 420).The author usually calls the book “On Faith, Hope and Love,” because he treats the subject under these three heads cf.

This book is one of my favorites I encourage you to read it. It is like a 5th century Catechism or Apologetical works if you will and explains many Orthodox Christian teachings as understood by St. Augustine in the 5th century. For now here are a few awesome chapters for you to ponder on.

Chapter 11. What is Called Evil in the Universe is But the Absence of Good.

And in the universe, even that which is called evil, when it is regulated and put in its own place, only enhances our admiration of the good; for we enjoy and value the good more when we compare it with the evil. For the Almighty God, who, as even the heathen acknowledge, has supreme power over all things, being Himself supremely good, would never permit the existence of anything evil among His works, if He were not so omnipotent and good that He can bring good even out of evil. For what is that which we call evil but the absence of good? In the bodies of animals, disease and wounds mean nothing but the absence of health; for when a cure is effected, that does not mean that the evils which were present— namely, the diseases and wounds— go away from the body and dwell elsewhere: they altogether cease to exist; for the wound or disease is not a substance, but a defect in the fleshly substance,— the flesh itself being a substance, and therefore something good, of which those evils— that is, privations of the good which we call health— are accidents. Just in the same way, what are called vices in the soul are nothing but privations of natural good. And when they are cured, they are not transferred elsewhere: when they cease to exist in the healthy soul, they cannot exist anywhere else.

Chapter 12. All Beings Were Made Good, But Not Being Made Perfectly Good, are Liable to Corruption.

All things that exist, therefore, seeing that the Creator of them all is supremely good, are themselves good. But because they are not, like their Creator, supremely and unchangeably good, their good may be diminished and increased. But for good to be diminished is an evil, although, however much it may be diminished, it is necessary, if the being is to continue, that some good should remain to constitute the being. For however small or of whatever kind the being may be, the good which makes it a being cannot be destroyed without destroying the being itself. An uncorrupted nature is justly held in esteem. But if, still further, it be incorruptible, it is undoubtedly considered of still higher value. When it is corrupted, however, its corruption is an evil, because it is deprived of some sort of good. For if it be deprived of no good, it receives no injury; but it does receive injury, therefore it is deprived of good. Therefore, so long as a being is in process of corruption, there is in it some good of which it is being deprived; and if a part of the being should remain which cannot be corrupted, this will certainly be an incorruptible being, and accordingly the process of corruption will result in the manifestation of this great good. But if it do not cease to be corrupted, neither can it cease to possess good of which corruption may deprive it. But if it should be thoroughly and completely consumed by corruption, there will then be no good left, because there will be no being. Wherefore corruption can consume the good only by consuming the being. Every being, therefore, is a good; a great good, if it can not be corrupted; a little good, if it can: but in any case, only the foolish or ignorant will deny that it is a good. And if it be wholly consumed by corruption, then the corruption itself must cease to exist, as there is no being left in which it can dwell.

Chapter 13. There Can Be No Evil Where There is No Good; And an Evil Man is an Evil Good.

Accordingly, there is nothing of what we call evil, if there be nothing good. But a good which is wholly without evil is a perfect good. A good, on the other hand, which contains evil is a faulty or imperfect good; and there can be no evil where there is no good. From all this we arrive at the curious result: that since every being, so far as it is a being, is good, when we say that a faulty being is an evil being, we just seem to say that what is good is evil, and that nothing but what is good can be evil, seeing that every being is good, and that no evil can exist except in a being. Nothing, then, can be evil except something which is good. And although this, when stated, seems to be a contradiction, yet the strictness of reasoning leaves us no escape from the conclusion. We must, however, beware of incurring the prophetic condemnation: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.” And yet our Lord says: “An evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil.” Now, what is evil man but an evil being? For a man is a being. Now, if a man is a good thing because he is a being, what is an evil man but an evil good? Yet, when we accurately distinguish these two things, we find that it is not because he is a man that he is an evil, or because he is wicked that he is a good; but that he is a good because he is a man, and an evil because he is wicked. Whoever, then, says, “To be a man is an evil,” or, “To be wicked is a good,” falls under the prophetic denunciation: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil!” For he condemns the work of God, which is the man, and praises the defect of man, which is the wickedness. Therefore every being, even if it be a defective one, in so far as it is a being is good, and in so far as it is defective is evil.

Chapter 14. Good and Evil are an Exception to the Rule that Contrary Attributes Cannot Be Predicated of the Same Subject. Evil Springs Up in What is Good, and Cannot Exist Except in What is Good.

Accordingly, in the case of these contraries which we call good and evil, the rule of thelogicians, that two contraries cannot be predicated at the same time of the same thing, does not hold. No weather is at the same time dark and bright: no food or drink is at the same time sweet and bitter: no body is at the same time and in the same place black and white: none is at the same time and in the same place deformed and beautiful. And this rule is found to hold in regard to many, indeed nearly all, contraries, that they cannot exist at the same time in any one thing. But although no one can doubt that good and evil are contraries, not only can they exist at the same time, but evil cannot exist without good, or in anything that is not good. Good, however, can exist without evil. For a man or an angel can exist without being wicked; but nothing can be wicked except a man or an angel: and so far as he is a man or an angel, he is good; so far as he is wicked, he is an evil. And these two contraries are so far co-existent, that if good did not exist in what is evil, neither could evil exist; because corruption could not have either a place to dwell in, or a source to spring from, if there were nothing that could be corrupted; and nothing can be corrupted except what is good, for corruption is nothing else but the destruction of good. From what is good, then, evils arose, and except in what is good they do not exist; nor was there any other source from which any evil nature could arise. For if there were, then, in so far as this was a being, it was certainly a good: and a being which was incorruptible would be a great good; and even one which was corruptible must be to some extent a good, for only by corrupting what was good in it could corruption do it harm.

Chapter 15. The Preceding Argument is in No Wise Inconsistent with the Saying of Our Lord: “A Good Tree Cannot Bring Forth Evil Fruit.”

But when we say that evil springs out of good, let it not be thought that this contradicts our Lord's saying: “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.” For, as He who is the Truth says, you cannot gather grapes of thorns, because grapes do not grow on thorns. But we see that on good soil both vines and thorns may be grown. And in the same way, just as an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit, so an evil will cannot produce good works. But from the nature of man, which is good, may spring either a good or an evil will. And certainly there was at first no source from which an evil will could spring, except the nature of angel or of man, which was good. And our Lord Himself clearly shows this in the very same place where He speaks about the tree and its fruit. For He says: “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt,” — clearly enough warning us that evil fruits do not grow on a good tree, nor good fruits on an evil tree; but that nevertheless the ground itself, by which He meant those whom He was then addressing, might grow either kind of trees.

Chapter 16. It is Not Essential to Man's Happiness that He Should Know the Causes of Physical Convulsions; But It Is, that He Should Know the Causes of Good and Evil.

Now, in view of these considerations, when we are pleased with that line of Maro, “Happy the man who has attained to the knowledge of the causes of things,” we should not suppose that it is necessary to happiness to know the causes of the great physical convulsions, causes which lie hidden in the most secret recesses of nature's kingdom, “whence comes the earthquake whose force makes the deep seas to swell and burst their barriers, and again to return upon themselves and settle down.” But we ought to know the causes of good and evil as far as man may in this life know them, in order to avoid the mistakes and troubles of which this life is so full. For our aim must always be to reach that state of happiness in which no trouble shall distress us, and no error mislead us. If we must know the causes of physical convulsions, there are none which it concerns us more to know than those which affect our own health. But seeing that, in our ignorance of these, we are fain to resort to physicians, it would seem that we might bear with considerable patience our ignorance of the secrets that lie hidden in the earth and heavens.

Chapter 17. The Nature of Error. All Error is Not Hurtful, Though It is Man's Duty as Far as Possible to Avoid It.

For although we ought with the greatest possible care to avoid error, not only in great but even in little things, and although we cannot err except through ignorance, it does not follow that, if a man is ignorant of a thing, he must immediately fall into error. That is rather the fate of the man who thinks he knows what he does not know. For he accepts what is false as if it were true, and that is the essence of error. But it is a point of very great importance what the subject is in regard to which a man makes a mistake. For on one and the same subject we rightly prefer an instructed man to an ignorant one, and a man who is not in error to one who is. In the case of different subjects, however—that is, when one man knows one thing, and another a different thing, and when what the former knows is useful, and what the latter knows is not so useful, or is actually hurtful—who would not, in regard to the things the latter knows, prefer the ignorance of the former to the knowledge of the latter? For there are points on which ignorance is better than knowledge. And in the same way, it has sometimes been an advantage to depart from the right way—in travelling, however, not in morals. It has happened to myself to take the wrong road where two ways met, so that I did not pass by the place where an armed band of Donatists lay in wait for me. Yet I arrived at the place whither I was bent, though by a roundabout route; and when I heard of the ambush, I congratulated myself on my mistake, and gave thanks to God for it. Now, who would not rather be the traveller who made a mistake like this, than the highwayman who made no mistake? And hence, perhaps, it is that the prince of poets puts these words into the mouth of a lover in misery: “How I am undone, how I have been carried away by an evil error!” for there is an error which is good, as it not merely does no harm, but produces some actual advantage. But when we look more closely into the nature of truth, and consider that to err is just to take the false for the true, and the true for the false, or to hold what is certain as uncertain, and what is uncertain as certain, and that error in the soul is hideous and repulsive just in proportion as it appears fair and plausible when we utter it, or assent to it, saying, “Yea, yea; Nay, nay,”— surely this life that we live is wretched indeed, if only on this account, that sometimes, in order to preserve it, it is necessary to fall into error. God forbid that such should be that other life, where truth itself is the life of the soul, where no one deceives, and no one is deceived. But here men deceive and are deceived, and they are more to be pitied when they lead others astray than when they are themselves led astray by putting trust in liars. Yet so much does a rational soul shrink from what is false, and so earnestly does it struggle against error, that even those who love to deceive are most unwilling to be deceived. For the liar does not think that he errs, but that he leads another who trusts him into error. And certainly he does not err in regard to the matter about which he lies, if he himself knows the truth; but he is deceived in this, that he thinks his lie does him no harm, whereas every sin is more hurtful to the sinner than to the sinned against.

Source. Translated by J.F. Shaw. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 3. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887.)

I hope you have enjoyed the wonderful words of St. Augustine's book. He is considered a doctor of the church and his insights have been enjoyed for about 1500 years now!

Sincerely Joanne Utke :)

Works Salvation

I have titled this Works Salvation not because that is a real teaching, but that non-Catholics wrongly assume that it is a real teaching.

So lets begin!

        We are saved by faith in Christ! Salvation is a free gift which out of love God has given us. It is free because we didn't do anything to earn it and didn't ask for it. Christ died for us so that this free gift could be given to us.

We are saved by faith in Christ and that faith in Christ is only true, is only justified, by what we do with it. Our faith is not something to keep to our self. Faith is meant to be acted on or it will not save us! It is the difference between a dead faith absent of Grace given by the Holy Spirit and a living faith that is made alive by the Holy Spirit.

So far I think non-Catholics will agree with this!

 As it says in James 2:17 "So also faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead." 

There is a couple verses commonly quoted by non-Catholics to prove faith alone salvation in Rom 3:28 "For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law."

And in Rom 4:4 "Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due." In both verses Saint Paul is talking about works of the Mosaic law specifically which Christians are not bound and will not save us, again we can all agree on that. Paul is also making the point that a free gift is not something that we have worked for, but is a gift.

In the book of Romans and in many others Abraham is *justified by his faith* that worked in him to cause obedience to God, not that he did it perfectly. Paul is making it clear to readers that it was his faith and not his works that counted him righteous. We can see that by reading the whole chapter and the whole book, But I don't think we disagree on that, yet it is still a good book to read.

We also see in Rom 2:6 "He will render to each one according to his works:" Rom 2:13 "For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified."

These verses in Romans seem to contradict the other two Romans verses (3:28, 4:4) as stated above about how we are not justified by works. We can see however that there is a type of works (Christian works) that *justifies our faith in Christ that saves us* or we have a dead faith (a dead faith will not save us) as already stated from James. Works of mercy, charity (like prayer), love, proclaiming the Gospel, and I will add the Sacraments like baptism, all of which make our faith alive!

We must learn to discern both types of works talked about in scripture to get the proper meaning of a text. The book of Romans and James are good examples of both types of works being used throughout the texts, yet we see this throughout the New Testament.

John 14:12 "“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father."

If you are a non-Catholic reading this you should know that what I am showing you here is traditional Catholic teaching about salvation. For the record the Catholic Church has never, and will never teach "works salvation", we are not saved by works as non-Catholics wrongly assume the Church teaches.

The Catholic teaching on this is *we are saved by Grace through faith, and our faith is justified by our Christian works* it is a living faith in Christ that saves us not a dead one!

We can look at John 1:17 "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." This is how we are saved I know you the non-Catholic Christian agrees and this is Catholic teaching just so you know.

Regarding the salvation of the Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians Acts 15:11 "But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

Rom 3:23-25 "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins."

Concerning the free gift of salvation through Grace (Christ) and the justification through Grace. Rom 5:15-16 "But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification."

Rom 5:21 "so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Christ is the Grace that has appeared for our Salvation through faith in him! Titus 2:11 "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,"

The Grace of God who is Christ has appeared to bring us the free gift of salvation by Grace through faith in him and all that he taught us to do if we love him. Obviously if we don't love Christ we won't be good Christians and we won't do his works! The flip side of that is we aren't saved if our faith is not justified by our works. Remember the book of James a dead faith will not save us!

All of this is biblical and it is authentic Catholic teaching which non-Catholic Christians tend to agree with! I hope that you can now see how you don't actually disagree with the Catholic teaching on Salvation, now that you know what that actually is.

There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church. (Bishop Fulton J. Sheen 1895-1979)

The Church in her own words

"The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus' proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man. Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God's merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals. *Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God's righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ.* Righteousness (or "justice") here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us. Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:" (Catechism of the Catholic Church Article 2 Grace and Justification selections 1990-1992)

In conclusion.

Non-Catholics often and wrongly assume that the Catholic Church teaches "Works Salvation" as many like to call it. They assume without ever reading the Catechism or talking with faithful knowledgeable Catholics that the Church teaches that we are saved by works.

I hope that after this you the non-Catholic will never again wrongly teach myths such as this to people! I also hope the words here can inspire you to learn more about what the Church actually teaches by reading the Catechism. Don't get your information about the Catholic Church form non-Catholic, or x-Catholics who is most likely only repeating what they heard another non-Catholic wrongly say. 

If you want to know for real what the Church teaches please go to the Catechism of the Catholic Church you can read it free online. I think you will be surprised at how bible centered and Christ centered her teachings are and how much you as a Christian (after looking at scripture) will actually agree with.

If you are Catholic already I hope this helps you understand what the Church teaches about Salvation that way when someone tries to tell you about "works salvation" you know how to answer them.

We all love Christ and want to do God's will and imitating Christ by doing "the works that he does."  This is what Saint James meant in his letter when he said, "You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." James 2:24. He is talking about Christian works like I stated before which justifies our faith in Christ and is made possible by Grace.

We don't want to suppress the truth and it is our duty to teach the truth, but first we must know what that is. I believe (as do all faithful Catholics) that the fullness of that Truth is Christ! That fullness is only found fully accessible to us in the teachings and Sacraments of the Catholic Church!

Rom 1:18 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth"

God bless you and may Grace be with you always!

Sincerely Joanne Utke

Dec 23, 2014

God's Birthday

                                                 Christmas and God's Birthday

       Is December 25 really the true date of Christ's birth?

Was December 25 chosen to replace pagan celebrations like Saturnalia or Natalis Solis Invicti which means Birthday of the Unconquered Sun?

The answers to these and many other questions about the date of Christmas explained in this wonderful ebook called God's Birthday by Taylor R. Marshall. A must read for the holidays for any one who questions the date of Christ's birth!

I suggest that you get this book right away Taylor Marshall does an awesome job  in this book! Every year I read about Christmas and the debates over the date of December 25, but no one puts it into such common sense as Taylor.

This book is short it is an ebook, but it is packed with historical facts proving the date of December 25 for the birth of Christ. I also learned some other interesting dates in this book.

Did you know that Christ is believed to have died and been conceived on the same day March 25? I also learned that Saint Hyppolytus' in his works titles Chronicon the earth is said to be created on what is identified as March 25, 5500 B.C.!

There is one for the creationists :)

"Thus, March 25 was identified by the Church Fathers as the Creation date of the universe, as the date of the Annunciation and Incarnation of Christ, and also as the date of  the Death of Christ our Savior."

This makes 9 months earlier from March 25 exactly December 25!

Every year I am reminded about the many Christmas nay sayers out there who do not want to believe that Christ was born on December 25. These same people tend to shoot out all of the other myths concerning Christmas as well, for one reason or another.

I have found that there is more proof to support a December 25 birthday for our Lord than any other date. But, don't take my word for it. You can read the book and see the proof for your self.

I strongly encourage you to get this ebook by Taylor Marshall especially if you have any dought about the birthday of Christ. This book is also a must read for those who believe that December 25 is not really Christ's birthday.

Anyway, thank you Taylor Marshall for writing this book! Get God's Birthday ebook for FREE a limited time only! Just click the link and in the post there is a link to get the book.

Thanks for reading my post :)

Joanne Utke

Dec 22, 2014

Holy Day Season

Have a Happy Holy Day Season!  

    Christ's life is a mystery that we can begin to understand with the help of the Holy Spirit leading us through the scriptures with the eyes of faith. This Christmas lets continue to contemplate on Christ's life starting with his birth! The Catechism can help. Also read the Gospels especially the Nativity story. A great thing to do with the family this Christmas. I have a past post about The Christmas Story that takes a look at Christmas in Luke's Gospel please take a look.

Christmas is a season about giving and charity, but not just material things. Ultimately Christmas in about Christ. Christmas is about giving of yourself to others just like Christ did. Anyone can give a store bought gift, but does everyone always give of them self? After we have learned about the birth of the savior of the world and how to give of our self to others just as Christ did we go on to Lent when we can put all of this into practice.

Then we have Easter when we can learn about and contemplate on the death and resurrection of Christ. We are reminded about his life, death, and resurrection and can live it through the Church.. We should use this to again be Christ like giving of our self to others. I want to urge you every year to get out your bibles and don't just live through the Holy Days like everyone else, but read about it in Scriptures and then really live it as well.

I would have to say that the Christmas season is my favorite time of year. It is a great time to get together with family and friends. It is an even better time to share Christ with others which can give us a good start for the new year. God knows that we need a reminder to be Christ like and we need this reminder many times each and every year. I am constantly reminded of Christ and I contently live to imitate him in my life. I also always fail at this. 

Here is a Scripture that I have on my white board as I write this post; 
    "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:1-2) 

In conclusion I hope that we can all be not just observers of the holidays, but active participants in mind, body and spirit. This is my goal anyway. I don't want to just do the holidays. I want to understand them and see Christ in them and do as Saint Paul says in the Ephesians verse "be imitators of God" and "walk in love." If we open our eyes to Christ we will see him everywhere and I think that is what he wants. I feel that this is how we can come to really know him.  

Please check out my The Christmas Story post as well as The Season for Giving and Charity. There is also some links to activity posts specific for the holidays.

I also did a nice post about Hanukkah if you would like to check it out. 

Thank you for reading!