Laar<: Hi Rev, we have seen a couple of your conversations go viral. Can you put them in video form for those of us in Europe?
Fr Louis Cecilia: Thanks, my greetings to the brethren. I have thought about that, but I’m afraid because if the size is too big people may not download. The lockdown with its resultant financial constraints.
Cota : But Fr, when we say God of the living and not of the dead, it beats my imagination because God himself says He has power over death?
Fr Louis Cecilia: Good question my dearest brother. Many things continue to beat our imaginations since we’re on a journey to acquire knowledge. We don’t know it all.
Anyway, in the context of the saints (those in heaven); by “the living and the dead” it may imply those who died and are with Him. We, therefore, see death as a passage (transition). Moreover, those in purgatory, in so far as they have not experienced the beatific vision, can be enumerated among the “dead” with the hope of them joining the “living ” (saints) someday. But the “dead”, as in the sense of those who reject God and choose hell (that is rejection of His love and salvation), they cannot be counted as the “dead of God” since they have chosen a path different from what God marked for the “living”.
Kindly read 1Peter 3:19-20 ” Jesus went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison (Hades or ‘hell’ as a place of the dead but not “Hell ” with capital “H” as separation from God, where Satan and his cohorts belong).
In the creed we profess “he descended into hell 1Pet 3:19: on the third day he rose from the dead…”. In sum God as “God of the living and the dead” implies that He is Lord over those of us who still live here on, the saints in heaven, and the souls who are yet to be drawn to him (those in purgatory). The dead as those who are separated eternally from God’s love have their own “god” Satan.
Is it clear?
Sipa: Fr, does suffering come from God? Can a Christian know the source of his suffering?
Fr Louis Cecilia: Suffering is a broad area; we need a week to digest it. However, let me break your question and then pray that may God grant us another time to treat it.
1. Suffering as a consequence of original sin (that is, as a result of man’s fall). Then:
2. Suffering as participation in the saving work of Jesus Christ.
Under the first, we must understand it as what we bring upon ourselves as a result of our creatureliness. When we make many wrong choices especially without the guidance of God, and at times without the help genuine man of God who may serve as our spiritual guide, then these may happen. Both Old and New Testaments have myriads of examples. What comes to mind is Josh 7; about the story of Achan. His action brought suffering and disaster to himself and his entire family. We also read of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. The sufferings described in those chapters couldn’t have come from God. It came from the wrong moves and choices of both Achan in Josh 7 and Ananias with his wife in Acts 5.
Unfortunately, today, many people are still making wrong choices regarding their faith. They listen to every person no matter his/her background. You can shipwreck your faith and have severe consequences if the one who leads you is not operating with a genuine spirit. I know many people whose businesses have collapsed because their monies were being siphoned spiritually by these magicians and occultic guys parading as pastors. Marriages are breaking because of friends and people we associate with. Jobs are collapsing because of wrong decisions and bad advice. People are killing to get political power (and they will suffer for it). All these types of sufferings have got nothing to do with God.
Suffering as participation in the saving work of Jesus Christ means trials, temptations, injustices, evil, and even death, that a Christian may have to endure. These may come to the Christian so that enduring them may lead to his/her personal sanctification, that of others and most importantly for his/her salvation (in the future). This interpretation will be foolish to many modern preachers. You may have heard people say Christians should not suffer; I don’t know the type of suffering they mean anyway.
The call to be a Christian, is a call to be with Christ, a call to follow him. Can any preacher doubt this? How then do you interpret “being with Christ” or “following Christ” without suffering? (that is not from the Holy Scriptures we are using).
I’ll give you some instances:
We read in Mark 3:14 that Jesus “appointed the twelve that they might be with Him and also send them to preach”. “ina õusin met’autou…” in Greek “that they might be with Him. How can one be with Christ and expect not to suffer?
They’ll quickly jump to his death in John 19:28,30 and quote “tetélestai” Jesus said “it is finished!!”. Indeed, it is “finished”; what the Father asked him to accomplish, John 19:28 uses tetélestai before Jesus pronounced it again in 19:30. Those who interpret this to mean that suffering is finished are doing a lot of disservice to God’s children. Let’s add quickly that Jesus died before the early Christians were persecuted, right? Acts 8:1. Why did He allow Christians to suffer persecution if it was finished? Stephen had been stoned in Acts 7:54-60 and James will be beheaded in Acts 12:2 etc.
In fact, Paul himself after his “conversion”, that is his call to follow Christ, had his own share of sufferings, injustices, trials and several death attempts. Please read 2Cor 11:23-33 “I am with far more greater labours, far imprisonments, worse beatings, and numerous brushes with death”. (Continue reading up to verse 33). For Paul, despite his strong faith, was so traumatised by his sufferings that he prayed and begged God to take them from him. Do you know the response he got? 2Cor 12:9 “my grace is sufficient for you…”. We are content with sufferings, insults, hardships, persecutions for the sake of Christ, 2Cor 12:10.
The Christian faith is beautiful and has many beautiful things for us now but especially in the future. Let’s not be deceived by those who “chocolate” this wonderful message, hiding from us its core and essence.
Finally, what can anything be more challenging than suffering or trial, than being asked to pray for people who hate you or treat you badly?? Matt 5:44 .
I will address how to know that one’s suffering comes from God, when next we have the opportunity.
Sipa: Ok, Thanks. The interpretation above is even enough. But we shall wait for the next opportunity.
Fr Louis Cecilia: NO problem.
Kobby: Fr. please any relations between suffering, coronavirus, and the end times or rapture?
Fr Louis Cecilia: You know what? I definitely knew the next questions after suffering, would definitely be linked to coronavirus….
Fr Louis Cecilia: to begin this, I must commend some people (pastors and scholars who have given perspectives and opinions about this issue. Some scriptural errors and blunders have occurred, and this is where I will like to discuss these. I don’t want to venture into what I haven’t read, because as at now, I have not received instructions from God.
But let me take off this way; In Matt 24:3 the disciples privately asked Jesus about when the destruction of the Temple was to take place. In fact, it was Jesus who had spoken about the destruction of the Temple in Matt 24:1-2 ” You see all these things, do you not? Amen, I say to you, there will be not left here a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down” (New American Bible Revised Edition. All my quotations are from here, NABRE is the abbreviation).
Jesus continued, “many will come in my name ( watch out! some are already in Ghana), you will hear of wars and reports of wars; but don’t be alarmed… these must happen …there will be famines and earthquakes…many false prophets will arise and deceive many…. because of increase in lawlessness …the love of many will grow cold.”
These must happen; the Greek word used is “dei” meaning “it is necessary”. It is the same word Jesus used when He predicted His suffering in Mark 8:31 “dei ton huion tou anthõpou polla pathein…” ( it is necessary for or it is a must for the son of man to suffer many things) This shows that it is a must or necessary for calamities both in the world and in church to happen before the “end of the world will come”, Matt 24:14.
There are three things to note:
1. The discourse on the destruction of the Temple Matt 24:1-14.
2. The great desolation Matt 24:15-28
3. The coming of the Son of man Matt 24:29-31
Later, the lesson about the fig tree Matt 24:32-35.
Then in Matt 24:36 we have this famous phrase: “But that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
What is funny is that, many people hold the opinion and interpret that, by this statement, Jesus does not know the end time or day. This mistake happens when one takes 24:36 out of context. The other mistake is when the prediction of the Temple is confused with the Great desolation. We must take them one after the other.
About the end time. Jesus knows it, He’s ubiquitous and omniscient. Go back to Matt 24:29; He gave signs of the coming of the Son of man. (I’ll explain 24:29-31, later so that you don’t get confused). What He does in Matt 24:36 is to avoid what I call “a convenient Christianity”; that is, asking for a specific time when He will return so that you can plan towards it. Many people would have lived fake, ordinary lives. they would have lived lawlessly then “wiped their lips” just 3 days to the Lord’s return. It is like children, who when they know that their parents will return a week from today, (Saturday) after being away for some days. They will turn the house into a playground, for parties and any kind of use you can imagine. Then lo and behold, Thursday evening they start cleaning the house and putting everything in order before the parents’ return. Christ wants us all to be VIGILANT as if He is returning now or tomorrow. (kindly read Luke 12:35-47, The parable there, is just like the children misbehaving in their parent’s absence)
Cati: So, those who have linked the virus to the end of the world are wrong? Do you call it false teaching?
Fr Louis Cecilia: Wrong they are! but false teaching may be too strong word. But if they persist, one has no option than to describe them as false teachings. However, in so far as they can link it with the evil desire of a few people to dominate the world, they are right in that regard. Scripture reveals how individual nations one after the other have tried to “suppress”, “harm” and annihilate God’s chosen people seen previously as “Israel” and later all Christians. From the slavery in Egypt, then the Babylonian and Assyrian dominations, later the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans, we see how these past kingdoms were destroyed since they tried to suppress the chosen people. (Dan 2:1-49).
In their place (the past kingdoms) God has established His kingdom which shall have no end. Dan 2: 35b “But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” Daniel adds “In the lifetime of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people; rather it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and put an end to them…; this new kingdom shall stand forever.”
Fred: Fr please can you try a live presentation of this topic? I think the world must hear this please??
Fr Louis Cecilia: Yes Fred, it’s possible, but I must wait for the “kairos” which is determined by God.
Kobby: “kairos” ?? I have heard many people use it. What is it?
Fr Louis Cecilia: Sacred Scripture uses several terms to describe TIME. We have “hõra” as in a period, e.g. an hour, see Matt 24:36; then Chronos (Acts 27:7), from which we get chronology, meaning an amount of time, or time as it rolls on. Then “Kairos” – that is “decisive point” (Mark 1:15) or opportunity/period divinely ordained. God fixes it, read Titus 1:3.
I say this because I have realised that most people speaking about this issue in relation to the end times are behaving like News Networks. What I mean is this; we risk leading people astray than speaking God’s will to them if we rush to project our imaginations and thoughts just to please people. It’s better to wait upon the Lord, make sure you have heard right than to rush and speak and later come and apologise for errors made. News Networks behave like this. They always want to be the first to break a news. At times they don’t care if it is fake or real, once an apology can be made, they go ahead. But a man of God, a prophet of our time, can’t be behaving like a “BREAKING NEWS” broadcaster. Always wanting to be the first to speak about issues, at times without any revelation from God. Anyone who does that only do so from the figment of his imagination.
Moreover, any man or woman of God who links coronavirus with the end times should demonstrate that he or she believes the end is near. How can you tell people the end is near yet still glut for material wealth? People who listen to me talk about the end time will be convinced, when they see a change in my lifestyle. For instance, in the New life (heaven), we shall not be riding cars, nor be using aeroplanes, nor iPhones. The moment I start linking the virus to the end times, there must be a complete revolution. I must sell these and start taking care of the poor. I must fix my gaze on heaven (Col 3:1-2) where Christ is seated hoping that I will be admitted into His presence. To be preaching about the end times and still living like the “Sadducees” in what people may describe as “filthy rich conditions” is definitely incongruous with the message about the end times.
Sofia: Fr Ceci, my friend asked me why we burn incense in the church, any help??
Fr Louis Cecilia: Can we finish the end time talk before we come to INCENSE?? What do you think???
All: Can you say something brief about it? So we can use the next opportunity to discuss Coronavirus, Antichrist and all.
Fr Louis Cecilia: Eh! All these? Ah well. I must obey….
All: Yes, there are a lot of stories circulating about the church which disturb us.
Fr Louis Cecilia: Haha. why should a police officer be worried about the uniform of the military man and criticise him for not wearing black as he wears? Why should “churches” which don’t use incense be worried and speak ignorantly on a subject they don’t know? (this is on a lighter side…)
Fr Louis Cecilia: The Church has used incense since its inception. Way back in Exo 30:1-10 God instructed Moses to build an altar of incense. Incense was to be burnt every morning Ex 30:7-8. This was an altar dedicated only for the burning of incense. Moreover, in Ex 30:34 God gave the instructions for the type of incense to be burnt for him. He even prohibited the people from making such incense for personal use Ex 30:38.
Sofia: But Fr, all these are in the Old Testament ooo. Jesus didn’t burn incense oo
Fr Louis Cecilia: And so? you don’t believe? Haha. Jesus didn’t burn incense?? Hahaha. Incense was to be burnt for him rather. Who is disturbing you? Ask the person whether Jesus paid tithe, or whether He celebrated his pastors’ anniversary.
Anyway, in the New Testament, we read in Luke 1:9-10 Zechariah (father of John the Baptist), was ministering to the Lord, that is, burning incense to the Lord when the angel appeared to him. The angel said “your prayer has been answered, Luke 1:13. If the work of burning incense was evil why was his prayer answered at that particular time?
At the birth of Jesus, incense was one of the gifts presented by the wise men, Matt 2:11. Spiritually or theologically, that gift symbolized that the evil ( Herod and all those who sought to kill Jesus) that surrounded Jesus at his birth would be crushed. The presentation of the incense was a sign that evil had been defeated.
Finally, let me add that in Ps 141:2, the Psalmist says, “May my prayer rise before you like incense…”. The Holy Church believes that the use of incense and its ascent or rise into the skies is always a symbol of prayers rising to God. In the Mass for instance, at consecration, a lot of incense is used. At the time when the priest extends his hands over the bread and wine and invites the Holy Spirit to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus, you see altar servers or ministers waft or throw the thurible. As God descends into the bread and wine the “incense must cover his arrival” as smoke covered his descent on the mountain in Exo 20:1. Man cannot see God with his naked eyes us he (God) descend into the bread and wine. The incense serves to cover this descent of God on the altar and indeed to whole church at large.
Moreover, you can also burn incense at home, but it shouldn’t be the type specially consecrated and used for worship in Church. I will recommend burning or use of incense for certain specific prayer needs but let’s talk about that later.
Remember that prayer is answered at the time of burning incense, but not every type of incense. There are “occultic and other demonic practices where people use incense. Some even take them to the church to ask the priest to bless for them. I remember an incident where a “so- called pastor” instructed his people to buy the hosts (bread used for consecration at Mass) to bring them for blessing. They did so and kept the remaining in the refrigerators enjoying them like a leftover food from a party. Someone asked me if he could bring such bread for me to bless for him so that he can eat it “nkakra kakra” (to be eating it in bits and pieces; maybe until Christ returned). You may guess my response….
Let’s be on the lookout please; many people are using some religious articles in unchristian ways. They criticize us for using them, yet they believe that they have some sort of magic which helps. You may see people using different types of candles, wearing cassocks, burning incense, etc in movies. Don’t be deceived, these evil things they do have got nothing to do with our sacred practices.
All: Brief “mpo nie”, if this response is your brief then we shall bring our beds when next we meet.
Fr Louis Cecilia: Kindly carry your Bibles any time you appear here.
Continue to pray for and with me, please.