The article, “For some Wiccans, Halloween can be a real witch”, by Daniel Burke states
“(CNN) — Like lots of people, when October 31 rolls around, Trey Capnerhurst dons a pointy hat and doles out candy to children who darken the door of her cottage in Alberta.”
American Institute Health Care Professionals‘s insight:
It is amazing, as in this article, how secular society trivalizes Wicca and Witchcraft. As Christians, we are warned about these dark arts throughout Scripture.
The idea of good witches is most alarming. The very fact, that Neo-Paganism incurs spells from “deities” and other masquerading demons is scary. These unions with dark entities are far from good and can only produce evil-even with the best intentions.
It is also alarming how this article points out how Halloween corresponds with Samhein but makes no mention of child sacrfice of the druids.
Christian Counselors must be on alert for these lies regarding witchcraft and neo-paganism and must warn their spiritual children to be weary of any occultic practice, even if supposed good intentions correspond with it.
I cannot believe for a second that one can delve with these dark entities and still be truly good.
Do you want to take Christian Counseling Courses: The Papacy
Christian Counselors from different theological backgrounds may have differing opinions on the Papacy. Some may see it as the vicar of Christ on Earth, while others may see it as a self entitled and political position. Some may sway in the middle and call it a Christian symbol on Earth. Whatever the case, Christian’s views on the Papacy usually direct their overall Christian world view on the essence of what “church” is or as theologians call it, Ecclesiology.
Some extremists may denounce the Papacy as the “whore of Babylon” while devout Catholics will defend the infallibility of the Pontiff as Christ’s successor, but what can the papacy be for the Christian world—so divided?
Please review the following ideas on this divided issue. In the meantime, if you wish to take Christian Counseling courses, then review the program.
From a Catholic Perspective
As Francis I takes the throne of Peter, orthodox catholicism views the role of the pope as the successor of Peter. They believe the Pope is the leader of the Church and in spiritual matters only cannot error. This is especially the case when the Pope speaks from the throne of Peter. Catholics do not believe the pope is perfect or is incapable of sin. In fact, the Church has had many evil men sit on the throne of Peter throughout the centuries.
Liberal Catholics will attack the divine founding of the Petrine ministry and even the belief in infallibility which was declared at the First Vatican Council in the Nineteenth Century.
While Catholics see the Pope as the successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ, they do not consider him to replace Jesus. In fact, the head of the Church is Christ and not the Pope.
From a Protestant Perspective
The position among Protestants is very complicated. Some forms of Protestantism recognize a hierachy while other grass root elements of Protestantism possess no hierarchy. Obviously, Anglicans would have a better understanding and appreciation for the Petrine Ministry than Baptists. Some Protestants view the Pope as an important symbol of Christianity but do not follow his legal authority while others view him as the seat of the Antichrist.
For the most part, Protestantism denies a special priesthood that is beyond that of the universal priesthood of Baptism. For these reasons, the relevance of the Pope is not seen as important to them and their spiritual relationship with Jesus.
From an Orthodox Perspective
The Orthodox have never denied the power of this Western Patriarch in the affairs of the Western Church but they do question his universal authority. Before the schism, the Pope was seen as a first among equals. The five Patriarchal Sees of Rome, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria and Constantinople ruled the early Church. The successor of Peter was acknowledged in Rome but his political power did not filter into the management of the other autonomous churches. As Rome became more powerful, the See of Rome became more prestigious which led to political dissention. After the fall of Rome, the East especially resented Roman pride as Rome became a stable to the barbarians. Through cultural and political shifts, the two churches fell away from each other. While some Eastern Churches retain union with Rome, most of the East remains separated, not recognizing the Pope’s legal authority outside of his See. They possible could view him as a center of unity but any matters of authority within their churches would be rejected.
A non-Christian Perspective
For non-Christians, especially Jews, Muslims, and Easterners, the Pope plays a pivotal role as a statemen for religious and human dignity. While the Papacy is not free from political corruption and bad political decisions within its past, it still for the most part, especially in recent years, proven to be a champion of the poor and those who are afflicted and have no voice.
What Does History Have to Say?
Whether Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant, history does support a hierarchy within the early Church. Via apostolic succession, Francis can trace his roots back to Peter. While historians and scholars debate whether the See of Peter became eminent via political shifts or the words of Christ “On this rock I will build my Church” there remains enough evidence to support that the idea of a pope is central to Christianity prior to the Sixteenth Century.
So What is the Role of the Pope in the Universal Church?
If your a Christian, the papacy means alot to you regardless of denomination. It is a tradition and a guiding hand in many spiritual matters. Some issues may divide Christians, but the pope is a voice that is heard around the world as a symbol of Christian unity. While some may wish to forget the first 1600 years of Christianity, one cannot dismiss the driving power of the Papacy for better or worst. It is a Christian treasure for all to embrace–just to what degree depends on who you are.
If you are a non Christian, then the Papacy and its relevance depends upon who sits on the throne of Peter. For the most part, it is the responsibility of the Popes to defend all peoples. In many cases they are the only voice of the afflicted. Unfortunately this has not always been the case, but when a man of great integrity does become pope, it is a blessing for the whole world.
May God bless, Pope Francis–may he be a central voice for all Christians as he dispenses the Word of God and protects the poor and weak from the rich and powerful.
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Christian Counselors Can Use St. John The Baptist As A Paradigm of Fortitude
So many lose hope in Christ when their prayers are not answered the way they wish them to be answered. Christian Counselors face this everyday. The unrelenting questions of why did God not do this or do that.
Christians tend to relate to prayer as a contract. If I say this or do that, then God must answer this or that. As if a magical spell, they expect. And when that expectation fails, they either blame their own faith or curse the heavens. Some even doubt their faith. Such misunderstandings of Christianity lead to many lost souls.
One paradigm to emulate is St. John the Baptist. If any a man was close to Christ, it was this man who was not only a brother of Christ in faith but aslo physically a cousin by blood. St. John lived his life for God, offered everything and became the forerunner of the Messiah. He even baptized Jesus!
With such a lofty resume, St. John was still imprisoned. St. John was still beheaded. Yet, St. John, if anyone, would have a legitimate gripe with God, but he did not. He did not demand that his cousin and God made man, Jesus, save him. He did not curse God that the gates of Herod did not magically open for him at night. Instead, he accepted his cross. St. John accepted the will of the Father and submitted his will to him. Do not think for a moment, St. John did not fear death, or wished for rescue, but in his faith, his prayer joined with the will of the Father. This is a fortitude that we must emulate in our own pilgrim voyage on Earth. We cannot expect deliverance from everything, but what we can expect is God’s grace to carry us through it.
Even Christ, who desired to save St. John, could not for it was not the will of the Father. This same fortitude manifested in Christ when he submitted himself like a lamb to the slaughterers. In our sicknesses, crosses and pains we experience in life, we must learn if not now, soon, that prayer is not always about deliverance but for the most part acceptance of the situation–and when, if it does, when the Lord does spare us, let us give him praise, but no more praise than if he did not.
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By: Mark Moran, MA, SCC-C
The immense grief following a death of a family member can be excruciating and overbearing
and Christian counseling sessions may be needed.The absence of the loved one creates a void that is only natural. The grieving process becomes a reaction to an extreme bond of love. In many of these moments, the Christian may become so overburdened with grief that he or she feels abandoned by the Lord and left in the desolate desert of grief. No pithy sayings, no gestures, or no religious figures can remove the pain. Yet, in this inner turmoil, one should find relief in a God that mourns with us, suffers with us and at one time within the context of historical reality experienced the same piercing prongs of loss. The pains of grief associated with death and loss cannot be avoided, it is inevitable and it favors no one. It did not favor our Lord either who unjustly experienced its bite. Who are we to run from our cross if Lord of the universe himself could not turn away from them? Instead, it is prudent to imitate our Master in all, including grief.
Story of Lazarus in Relation to Christian Grief
The story of Lazarus supplies an excellent source of proper imitation in how a Christian should experience grief and loss of a loved one. It portrays the universal human condition of death and the grief that surrounds the loss of a loved one. As anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one, so did the family of Lazarus, as well as Lazarus’ close friend Jesus. In Scripture, it is mentioned twice how Christ wept the loss of a loved one. He wept the loss of his cousin, St. John the Baptist, and also wept the loss of Lazarus. It would be naïve to discount the numerous other losses our Lord experienced despite lack of scriptural reference. There is no doubt Jesus experienced the loss of his father, St. Joseph, his grandparents and many others who were dear to him. Like our own hearts, his heart was pierced with each loss. In these losses, he magnanimously displayed the dignity of proper Christian grieving. Not a “dignity” displayed by some cultures that is stoic or void of emotion, but a grief that portrayed a dignity of acceptance. The examination of the story of Lazarus will provide an excellent case study in how Christ handled himself and the family around him regarding the death of his dear friend. In this examination, the Christian will find many elements of proper grief and proper prayer regarding grief as found within the Christian tradition.
A question that is commonly sought, within the believing community that grieves a loss, involves the exclamation, “why do such bad things happen to good people?” The story of Lazarus illustrates not so much the answer to the question but the reality of it. A reality that, while not giving a philosophical answer, nonetheless, gives a comforting ease to the soul that one is not alone in his or grief. It also shows the griever that the grief is not only particular to them but in fact a universal condition; A universal condition that even the Lord’s closest friends were not spared, nor the Lord himself. Christ became the ultimate paradigm not only as the suffering servant on the cross, but also in everyday loss. Jesus in the story of Lazarus wept the loss of Lazarus and still today weeps the loss of all that are close to him. For those who believe in his resurrection, this cannot be denied. Does not his human heart beat viably in his resurrected body even today? Does not that heart still bleed for us in our darkest hour? Does not his humanity fused triumphantly with his divine nature still yearn and mourn with us? All of these questions can be answered in the affirmative. Just as he wept for Lazarus and comforted his friends who mutually mourned the loss of their friend, so Jesus continues to weep with us in our loss of our friends.
This is the amazing element of Christianity. The theology of Christianity preaches a God that can grieve via the fusion of a divine nature with a human nature. If the Incarnation had never happened, God would still love us deeply, but it would be impossible for a perfectly content being to suffer any personal pain with us. Other than the pure love that pours out of the divine in sympathetic concern, a divine nature cannot suffer personal loss. The divine being can only be slighted due to a proportionally error of sin against justice. This slight, however, is more legalistic than personal. In the end, the divine does produce infinite love but it cannot share in an intimate discourse of emotion that involves loss, suffering, and the intensity that exists between lovers. The human element of scripture in its poetry and attempt of understanding created an anthropomorphism of the divine. Human elements, human descriptions, and human traits were given to the divine to better describe God’s ways to the childlike human spirit. The Old Testament texts, while free from error, painted an image of a God they could relate with, discourse with, and interact with. While it is true the Lord spoke to the prophets of the Old Testament, it would be wrong to attest human like qualities to the divine that portray a lack of immutability or sometimes omniscience. This is not a glaring contradiction as some may feel in theology and scripture. The reality is God did interact with his creation but not to the point of an anthropomorphization of the divine. While one could contemplate that the Lord appeared in more simple ways to people, it seems more logical that the human writers of scripture attributed human qualities to God to better understand him. These qualities, however, distorted the nature of God and created an image that varies greatly differently from Thomistic metaphysics. The story of Moses and the Burning Bush in many ways captures a more true personification of the divine than any other story. Here we see an immutable, alpha-omega being who cares for his creation but is far from resembling anything human or capable of human emotion. Is it not possible in knowing the striking difference between human and divine nature that the Lord saw this impasse? Is it not possible that the Lord hoped to bridge this impasse through a fusion of the two natures? Is it not possible that via this fusion the Lord hoped to love us more intimately and to suffer and mourn with us? In response, it is possible and it was made possible through Jesus Christ.
With such consolation and knowledge that during loss, we do not suffer alone and that our Lord has become human, not only to redeem us, but to love us more intimately and share in our sufferings and grief, one can triumphantly see a gleam of light in the dark and gloomy clouds of grief. One can also triumphantly begin to carry his own cross with more certitude that this cross while heavy will ultimately lead one towards his or her own resurrection and happiness.
The idea of resurrection becomes another important theme in the story of Lazarus regarding Christian grief. As Christians, all profess the general resurrection of the dead upon Christ’s return. This is a primary dogma of the Christian faith and was solidified in Christ’s own resurrection who as the New Adam reversed the first death with the first resurrection. As followers of Christ, we also will share in this resurrection but only after death. Hence the greatest and most ironic belief in Christianity: through death comes life. Suffering and death are inevitable elements of the fallen and temporal reality of man, an element Christ voluntarily submitted himself to. The story of Lazarus presents a prefigurement of Christ’s resurrection and hints towards man’s own resurrection. The miracle Christ performed for Lazarus was done with compassion and love, but was also done, not only to show those present he was God, but also to foreshadow the resurrection of all in his name.
The resurrection of Lazarus, however, cannot be associated with the norm. It is obvious that when someone dies they remain dead. Jesus will not raise everyone from the dead nor answer everyone’s call, even his closest friends. This is not due to his lack of love for us but his knowledge of the reality of the universe. Christ can and sometimes does answer our deepest prayers but only within the confines of the Father’s will and for the most part within the confines of the laws of nature. This brings us to an interesting element within the story of Lazarus regarding Christian prayer in times of distress and deep anguish.
A miracle is an action by God that transcends the laws of nature. While the unbeliever attempts to expose miracles as unexplained natural phenomenon, the believer holds firmly to the obvious sight that God has intervened via prayer. However, to hold that miracles can be universal experiences for all believers is a dangerous avenue of thought. This reduces prayer to mere sorcery and control of the divine. Prayer does not guarantee or demand miracles. Prayer, on contrary, seeks the will of the divine. Miracles become an occasional fruit of prayer and faith if in concordance with the divine. Miracles associated with prayer are to be seen as gifts and especially so because when witnessed, they became testimony to God and his will. While a miracle is a beautiful thing, such as the raising of Lazarus or any modern day cure, one must be sure that within his or her petition the ultimate purpose of the prayer is conformity to the divine.
Unfortunately, this misunderstanding of prayer and the production of miracles has also led to other fallacies in addition to improper intention based prayer. In many circles the idea that a lack of miracles equates to a lack of faith or purity of the individual’s prayer. Pure prayer seeks God’s will. God’s will, for hidden reasons beyond the intellect of man, sometimes permits the miraculous and at other times does not. This has no bearing on the spirituality or faith of the grieving who prayer to the Lord. It merely has to do with the will of God. Christ taught us even to death, that in prayer, we must submit ourselves to the will of the Father. In doing so, he set the ultimate example and taught us how to perfectly pray and what to expect. This is obviously easier said than done, especially in our naïve and childlike understanding of God’s ways which in some cases answers our particular cries but in other cases mourns with us in the “unwanted” ending. Christian Counselors should help to guide people to proper understanding of this.
The story of Lazarus while having a “happy” ending, still paints the perfect image of Christian prayer in distress. If one notes, Jesus does not immediately travel to the family of Lazarus, nor does he heed the warnings of the disciples not to go to Lazarus. Christ, on the contrary, waits four days to the dismay of Lazarus’ family and by ultimately going also to the dismay of the disciples. In this regard, the miracle was performed according to the will of Christ and his Father, not to the immediate cry of those who mourned Lazarus. In our attachment to the deceased or those dying, do we not wish Christ to appear at our beckon call and do as we wish? Is this prayer? Is this even an understanding of death? A miraculous event, while desired, does not justify the prayer, but the acceptance of God’s will purifies the prayer. This purified prayer not only aids the spiritual distress of the loved one who is dying, but also elevates the heavy cross of the family. In prayer, this heavy cross is to be accepted and offered in concordance with the suffering of Christ who sits with them in the darkest hour. This does not promise a release of the pain, but shows that the energy associated with the loss is channeled in the proper direction, which is towards God. In this suffering and potential “bad ending”, our prayer while seeking a different route, is still open to the final fate which can triumphantly be faced, albeit in tears. This alone is miraculous for it transforms a natural event of death into a spiritual resurrection where the loved one who is lost receives the spiritual help he needs and the loved ones who are grieving receive the spiritual graces to carry their cross. In the end, unlike the family of Lazarus, our prayers must be open to Christ’s will. To view and possibly take Christian Counseling courses, click here.