Sunday, February 6, 2011

*BEST OF DTB #56* The Catholic Defender: Constantine, first Catholic Head of State

During one of our field operations, we were on a 30 day rotation at Grafenwoehr Germany where we were supporting live fire ranges.
I had my entire track vehicles located at different ranges and I was at range 301, a helicopter range.
That was interesting to watch them in attack mode as they hit their targets with great precision.
We were set up for a week rotation as our Soldiers were going through these ranges. Communication was maintained through the safety tower as we waited near the base at the tower always on the ready! When everyone else is training, for the Medic, it is always real world as accidents can always happen.

One day, a Captain ran towards my position at the back of my vehicle. I was sitting in the track studying some material and quickly responded to the cry for help. I grabbed my trusty old M-5 Aid Bag and ran to the scene. A German National working for the United States Government, had collapsed in a back shed with chest pain.

He could not understand English and I could not understand German. I asked a series of Questions through an interpreter. I first wanted to know how long he had chest pain. As I was asking this from him, I was checking his blood pressure and pulse. Taking a subjective look at the patient. His Blood pressure was very high and his pulse was racing.

I asked him if he had been seen by a doctor before for chest pain. He responded "no". I asked if he had chest pain before? He replied "yes" as he continued to point to his chest. He stated that he would occasionally have such pain when he would work. He said that he never felt he needed a doctor before as the pain would subside with rest.
I asked him how long he had these kinds of episodes? His response was "two years". From what I was seeing, I believed he was suffering from 'unstable angina pectoris' and that he was quickly heading for a massive heart attack.
Up to this point, he had been dealing with angina pectorus but was never diagnosed. I began to encourage him to let us take him to the hospital but he didn't want to go. It was like he wanted me to give him something for the pain, the pressure he felt in his chest. I began to implore him to go to the hospital now!
I stressed to the interpreter the importance for him to go now and after a couple of minutes we took him to the hospital. When he got to the Emergency Room, he developed into a full blown heart attack. He survived, but had he not been where he was, he would have died out there in that shed. I saved his life simply by knowing the vital signs and some practical information I have through my training.
The next day, I had a four star General land at our site by helicopter to congratulate me on saving a life. About two hours later, a two star General landed by helicopter and awarded me with the impact ARCOM. As the General was flying away from our site, I radioed my team of medics what had just happened.
One of my Soldiers standing up in the back of his track with the back hatch opened was questioning the validity of my story. He was in total disbelief. As he was speaking, a helicopter flying overhead began to hover above the track near the position of my medic. As he looked up to the helicopter, it was the General giving him a smile and a salute as my Soldier was staring in great disbelief and awe.
It wasn't long after that the Command responded to the information being transmitted over the radio and was asking for clarification on what was happening. I would have another General arrive to my position, several Colonels, Majors, Captains wanting to take a picture with me next to my track. This was a most amazing thing.
The next day, while I was still at Range 301, someone had distributed some anti-Catholic material to my troops. They in turn presented this to me. I couldn't believe it. When we went back from the ranges to the main post for a break, I was hoping to run into this individual who had been passing this "information" for me. My prayer was answered quickly as that very evening, he ran into me at the shower.
He was a 'Baptist' deacon who wanted to challenge me for my Catholic beliefs. I was more than willing to comply as we debated issues before the shower, during the shower and after the shower. We had to have talked for more that 2 hours. He was under the belief that Constantine was the founder of the Catholic Faith, he even thought that Constantine was the first Pope?
Bishop Sheen once said that there were not 100 people who hate the Catholic Faith for what it is, but there were millions of people who hate the Catholic Faith for what they think it is. There are many people who have been taught to reject the Catholic Faith. In protesting the Catholic Church they believe in a new doctrine developed and implemented by Martin Luther called, 'Sola Scriptura'.
As he communicated his statements in what he believed about Constantine, I countered his arguments by explaining the lost history he was not taught or aware of. The Catholic Faith was established by Christ.
To understand the Catholic Faith, the Papacy, you would have to understand the foundation laid by Judaism. That the Keys given to the Household of King David (Isaiah 22) Jesus as the 'Son of David', superseded the keys and gave them to his 'Royal Stewart', Simon, Son of Bar-Jona (Matthew 16:19).
The keys designated an office. In the Old Testament, the 'Chief Stewart' held the authority in the absence of the King. Ourside of the King, he was the authority, "when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open. I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family; On him shall hang all the glory of his family: descendants and offspring, all the little dishes, from bowls to jugs" (Isaiah 22:22-24).
Jesus, in giving the keys to St. Peter, Matthew 16: 19 continues, "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven". What was a temporal kingdom God established in King David, Jesus established a universal and eternal Kingdom through a new Covenant.
The Household of David was warned in Jeremiah 31:31-34, "The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant and I had to show myself their master..."

God is speaking to the Passover that was a perpetual Memorial for the Jews to keep in honor of this covenant.
Jesus transforms the Passover meal establishing the 'new covenant', "While they were eating (the Passover meal) Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, 'take and eat; this is my body. Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, 'Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins"(Matthew 26:26-28).
The cup of blessing we share at Mass (1 Corinthians 10:16) was the third cup in the Passover meal. There was a 4th cup associated with the Passover meal that was not presented at the Last Supper. Jesus waited till the appropriete time on the cross (John 19:30).
When Jesus said, "It is finished", he was speaking that the work had been done, through his sacrificial act, the new covenant was now initiated. To understand the Mass, you have to know something of the Old Testament foundations.
As I continued to explain these mysteries of truth, my opponent danced around looking for something solid to find to show his point of view. He tried to lay the foundation that Constantine brought in paganism into the Church. He presented the fact that Catholics pray for the dead believing this came from Constantine.
Again, to understand the Catholic Faith, you must have an understanding of the Old Testament foundation. From 2 Maccabees 12:42, it states, "Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be blotted out. The text goes on to say regarding the prayer for those fallen, "But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin".
In sharing this scripture, I shared with him 1 Peter 3:18, "For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now".
Before the Lord's sacrifice, heaven was closed and everyone in the Old Testament up to this crucifixion scene, the spirits of all who were saved were in this 'State'. With this understanding, did this teaching close with the New Testament? Absolutely not! Can we find in the New Testament evidence of praying for the dead indicating belief that the saved had a 'State' of preservation for the great day when Jesus returns? Yes there is!
Jesus states, "And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come". This age we are living in through this covenant is the 'age of grace', when Jesus returns that will end. When we die we enter in eternity, we enter the next age.
When Jesus returns at the 'Parousia' the next age will end and 'Purgatory' (prison 1 Peter 3:19) will cease forever. St. Paul was very aware of this when he writes, "May the Lord grant mercy to the family of Onesiphorus because he often gave me new heart and was not ashamed of my chains. But when he came to Rome, he promply searched for me and found me. May the Lord grant him mercy from the Lord on that day. And know very well the services he rendered in Ephesus".
St. Paul's belief clearly lays the foundation of the promised resurrection and the Lord's return. With the end of this 'age' the Lord's mercy for those saved who had been 'asleep', will be granted and realized. Notice that this is far before Constantine.

Constantine was a Roman Emperor who eventually became the first Catholic Head of State. He became a Christian largely through the influence of his Mother, St. Helenia. As a pagan, he burned some Bishops to the stake in front of their churches. He learned to respect these Catholic leaders for their strength and their faith.
As he opened up to the truth of the Christians, Our Lord granted him a sign he saw in the sky that said, "by this sign you shall conquer". He saw a cross in the sky and because of this vision, he placed a cross on the shields of his Soldiers before a major battle with a rival, Maxentius, the self-appointed Ceasar who controlled Italy and Africa.
With Constantine's victory, he secured the Roman Empire. After his conversion to the Catholic Faith, he published his famous 'Edict of Milan' that gave Christians freedom and reversed the Roman law that made Christianity illegal going all the way back to Christ. Constantine laid down the foundations for which Europe and the new World would later build upon. The idea of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of the truth, which is the hope of true happiness.
Unfortunately, some preachers have accused Constantine with forcing people to become Christians. This is completely false as history reveals he was tolerant to the paganism he himself rejected. He gave the Church freedom to openly practice the Faith so the Church came out of the catacombs, the caves, the homes and in honor of the martyrs built cathedrals and churches to honor the heros of the faith.
When Constantine came on the scene, the Pope was St. Sylvester I who was the 32nd successor of St. Peter. The practices of the Catholic Church before Constantine did not change after Constantine in it's substance but through his conversion, the Church was able to come out into the open.
What our Protestant friends may not realize is that during the first 3 hundred years of the Faith, it was greatly subdued and persecuted, but if you go back into the catacombs, you will see where the people invoked the Saint's for their intercession. The first 34 Popes were all martyrs all the way up to Constantine. St. Sylvester I was an older man, weary from years of persecution as were the Bishops at the time. They would die before renouncing Christ or allowing false doctrines to enter the Household of God.
Going back to the debate, I answered his issues one after another for a considerable amount of time. The next day the Battalion Chaplain came to me wondering what I had done to the young man. He said I had rocked this guy's world. I had taken what he had thought was concrete evidence and totally blew him away.
My purpose was to explain the truth to him so he would not go on continuing spreading falsehoods. St. Paul states, "...I may hear news of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind struggling together for the faith of the gospel, not intimidated in any way by your opponents" (Philippians 1:27-28).
St. Peter was the first Pope!

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