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Review - The Fourth Cup

Catholic Teaching


Purgatory is an interesting subject. The word 'purgatory' is not mentioned in the Bible, and the 800-page Catechism of the Catholic Church devotes only one page (three paragraphs) to purgatory. Nevertheless it is important. We know we must pray for the dead as we are told this several times in Sacred Scripture. From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers and much more for them Many people practice almsgiving, indulgences and works of penance for the dead.

The act of almsgiving is one argument anti-Catholics often use to attack purgatory. They state the Catholic Church makes money from promulgating the doctrine. Without purgatory, the claim asserts, the Church would go broke. Of course, those of us who attend Church services and know the ridiculously low stipends collected for a Mass intention understand this is completely false.

Some Fundamentalists also charge the word 'purgatory' is nowhere found in Scripture. This is true, and yet it does not disprove the existence of purgatory or the fact that belief in it has always been part of Church teaching since the apostles. The words 'Trinity' and 'Incarnation' aren't in Scripture either, yet those doctrines are clearly taught in it. Likewise, Scripture teaches that purgatory exists, even if it doesn't use that word, and even if 1 Peter 3:19 refers to a place other than purgatory.

Why do souls go to purgatory? They go there to be cleansed, for "nothing unclean shall enter [heaven]" (Rev. 21:27). Anyone who has not been completely freed of sin and its effects is, to some extent, unclean. We need to be cleansed completely before we can enter Heaven. Catholic theology takes seriously the notion that "nothing unclean shall enter heaven." From this it is inferred that a less than cleansed soul needs to be cleansed or "purged" of its remaining imperfections. The cleansing occurs in purgatory. The necessity of the purging is taught in other passages of Scripture, such as 2 Thessalonians 2:13, which declares that God chose us "to be saved through sanctification by the Spirit." Sanctification is not an option. It is an absolute requirement, as Hebrews 12:14 states that we must strive "for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord."

The study of Purgatory in the general sense is interesting in that the beliefs throughout time range from none at all to places existing within the physical universe. In 1206, a peasant in England claimed that Saint Julian took him on a tour of Purgatory. He gave precise details. In Dante's fourteenth-century work, The Divine Comedy, Purgatory is depicted as a mountain in the Southern hemisphere. In 1999, Pope John Paul II referred to Purgatory as "a condition of existence. Saint Catherine of Genoa pictured Purgatory as a location in space.

The Latin Rite of the Catholic Church does not teach the suffering of purgatory is imposed by God. Among the many theologians who attempt to explain purgatory, one might maintain it is the burning regret one feels when one's life is revealed in full after death, and the remorse which precedes putting this behind one and passing on to the state of blessedness. Knowing the acts of love those on earth are offering for one might conceivably make more bearable the remorse. Jim Fritz

Biological Sex, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity


BIOLOGICAL SEX is determined at conception by inheritance of two sex chromosomes, one from each parent. Two X chromosomes, i.e., XX produce a female child; XY inheritance produces a male.

Genes on X and Y chromosomes influence formation of ovaries and testes, respectively.

Testosterone produced by the testes influence development of male organ systems and the brain; in females, absence of testosterone influences development of female organs and brain.

Rare genetic defects cause developmental issues not related to homosexuality.


SEXUAL ORIENTATION is one's enduring pattern of behaviors and sexual attraction (hetero- homo- bi- sexual) and one's sense of identity (male/female).

Over 96% of the population is heterosexual; 3.8% identify as homo- or bi- sexual.


GENDER is how one feels about oneself sexually. Over 99% of the population equates their gender with their biological sex; approximately 0.3% (or less) identify as transgender, identifying opposite their biological sex.

Science has not identified a genetic cause ("gay gene"/"born that way") for homosexuality or transgenderism. Both sexual orientation and gender identity appear to develop by some unknown mechanism with a degree of changeability throughout life. 80% of adolescent males and 50% of females who admit varying levels of same sex attraction identify as heterosexual by adulthood. Of the few children who identify as the opposite sex (transgenderism/gender dysphoria), 80-95% re-identify with their biological sex by adulthood. This is especially so with counseling and therapy (e.g., playing with others of one's biological sex).

Because statistically there is a slight familial tendency for homosexuality, there is the presumption of a weak genetic predisposition to homosexuality that will NOT be expressed without external factors. Any genetic predisposition is not thought to be decisive.

How, or why then, do homo- bi-sexuality and transgenderism develop?

Studies do not show abnormal hormone levels in LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) individuals.

Interviews with LGBT individuals show a high incidence of childhood abuse, physical, emotional, sexual: boys primarily by males, girls by either males or females, at rates two to three times of that in the general population.

Childhood sexual assault is reported by 59% of gay men and 76% of lesbians. These assaults may be from peers or adult predators, including family members and other trusted people.

Over 2/3 of teen males, and 1/3 of teen females, did NOT identify as homosexual until after the assaults.

In addition, LGBT report higher rates of childhood stressful environments and dysfunctional families, often extremely so.

It is of interest that studies did not investigate the effect of homo-bi-sexual positive role models on sexual orientation of children and adults.



Compared to the general population, lesbians, gays and bisexuals report increased rates of anxiety, substance abuse and depression. Suicide attempts are 2.5 times higher than in the general population, and up to 4.3 times higher for bisexual males. Among high school LGBT students, suicide attempts are up to seven times that of the general population, while rates for bisexual males are reported as high as 10-20%.

The younger the age when one self-identified as LGBT, the higher the rate of suicide attempt. Interestingly, research does not show that harassment and discrimination contribute significantly to anxiety, depression and suicide.

The LGBT population has higher rates of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, especially gonorrhea, syphilis and herpes, with lesbians having lower rates than gay and bisexual males.

Serious mental health issues are even higher for transgender individuals: 41% attempt suicide, compared with 4.6% in the general population. That is approximately a 9-fold increase.

The American College of Pediatricians (ACP) states that transgenderism is a mental illness, a psychological problem, and current efforts leading children to identify opposite their biological sex is child abuse. The ACP reiterates that transgenderism in children is usually self-correcting, and the transgender lifestyle so difficult that it must not be supported or encouraged.

In particular, sex-reassignment efforts are destructive. Unfortunately, for adolescents and even children as young as 9 years old, there is currently a trend to administer puberty-blocking medications allowing the child to more easily identify as the opposite sex. These treatments are to be followed by the administration of hormones of the opposite sex (testosterones or estrogens) at age 16.

While these therapists contend such treatments are "safe" and "reversible," there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. On the contrary, such therapy has actually been shown to increase rates of mental problems for transgender persons. Research shows nearly 5 times higher rates of attempted suicide and nearly 19% likelihood of death by suicide.

In addition, Drs. Hruz, Mayer and McHugh have written and even testified to the US Supreme Court that such medical interventions put these children at increased risk of: disfiguring acne, weight gain, high blood pressure, abnormal glucose tolerance, breast cancer, liver and gall bladder disease, osteoporosis, high triglycerides, blood clots and cardiovascular disease.

In addition, these therapies are likely to interfere with the full organization and maturation of the brain. Such children will also be rendered sterile.

Sex reassignment surgery carries many risks, including a high rate of pelvic blood clots, which can be fatal. Permanent urinary incontinence is a frequent consequence. Structural and nerve damage are typical side effects of such surgeries.

When Dr. Paul McHugh was Chief of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital, this hospital used to do sex reassignment surgeries. Dr. McHugh put a stop to it there, based upon appallingly poor outcomes, especially the high rate of post-surgical suicide.



The Catholic Church has always taught that non-heterosexual activity is disordered and morally wrong. However, all such persons are to be treated with respect and compassion as fellow children of our God. And the mere feelings of same sex attraction are not in themselves sinful.

LGBT individuals are called to a life of celibacy.

However, in light of findings showing that family dysfunction and childhood abuse contribute significantly to one's self identity as LGBT, it should be an urgent necessity for the Church to do all in Her power to address those underlying problems, fostering loving, stable marriages and attacking drug and alcohol abuse and sexual predatory behavior, not only in the Church but in the political system.

We must be even stronger advocates for family and children.

In the political arena as well as in the Church, we must strongly argue against interventions that encourage transgender identity in children.


Barbara Margaret, PhD


Barbara Margaret is native of Baltimore, cradle Catholic, mother of two daughters and grandmother of three. She received a BS in medical technology in 1971 from Mt. St. Agnes College, Baltimore; registered, ASCP. She also obtained a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Maryland in 1983. Barbara has done microbiological research and taught for 12 years: microbiology at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry and School of Pharmacy; biology, microbiology, chemistry and human anatomy and physiology at Baltimore City Community College. She chaired the Department of Physical and Natural Sciences at BCCC for one year. She is now retired.



Dr. Paul W. Hruz. Professor, Washington University School of Medicine. Expertise, pediatrics.

Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer. Scholar in residence at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Professor at Arizona State University.

Dr. Paul R. McHugh. University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.



CD Review

The Fourth Cup

By Scott Hahn


Well-known Catholic theologian Dr. Scott Hahn explains Christ's Paschal Sacrifice on the cross as the fulfillment of the traditional fourth cup used in the celebration of the Jewish Passover meal. He draws a symbolic parallel to the Last Supper and Christ's death on Calvary. He shows how the Eucharist is not just a meal but a sacrifice and how the crucifixion completed the Jewish liturgy of the Passover at the Last Supper.

His focus was Christ in the Last Supper and in the Eucharist when He offers himself up as the new covenant Passover, and how the Eucharist and the Old Testament Passover are, in a sense, two sides of the same coin. He sees the Last Supper and Christ's sacrifice on Calvary and the Eucharist are all of one piece. When we think about how Christ instituted the Eucharist, we're taken back to the Upper Room where He and the disciples were celebrating the Passover, the most important feast in all the Jewish calendar.

The Old Testament tells the people when the tenth plague, the plague of the angel of death visiting death upon the firstborn sons in Egypt came, all firstborn sons would have died if not for the Passover. If you and your household, through the father slew a lamb, sprinkled the blood on the doorpost and ate the meal, when you awoke the next morning, your firstborn son would be alive. If you did not do this, your firstborn son would be dead. In other words, God's interest was in restoring the family purity and the family communion of His children, the people of Israel. The Passover was the bonding agent that brought it about through the blood of the lamb, that sacrifice. And so it was celebrated for thousands of years, and still is by Jews, as the sign of the Mosaic covenant.

Scott Hahn declares all of this is key to understanding the New Testament context of the Last Supper and our own Holy Eucharist because, when Christ institutes the Eucharist it takes place in the upper room at the Last Supper. And what are they doing but celebrating the Passover? Luke 22:15: "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you." So likewise in Mark chapter 14: "His disciples said to him, 'Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?' And He gave them instructions and the disciples set out and entered the city and found it as He had told them and they prepared the Passover."

As we read about the Last Supper in Mark 14:22ff we read, "And as they were eating He took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them and said, 'Take; this is my body. And He took a cup and when He had given thanks (the Greek word for this is "eucharisto") He gave it to them and they all drank of it, and He said to them, 'This is my blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many." And then He adds a rather unusual statement: "Truly I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." When they had sung a hymn, they went out into the night to the Mount of Olives. Now that might not seem very significant to you, but to scholars who study the gospel accounts of the Passover in the upper room, there's a big problem. Why? Because we know the way the Passover has been celebrated for centuries, for millennia; it's a very ancient liturgy, it's well known, and it's no secret. Jews still celebrate it according to the same structure. There are four cups that represent the structure of the Passover. The first cup of wine is the blessing of the festival day, it's the kiddush cup. The second cup of wine occurs really at the beginning of the Passover liturgy itself, and that includes the singing of psalm 113. And then the third cup, the cup of blessing which involves the actual meal, the unleavened bread and so on. And then, before the fourth cup, they sing the great hil-el psalms: 114, 115, 116, 117 and 118. And having sung those psalms they proceed to the fourth cup which for all practical purposes is the climax of the Passover.

So what did Jesus do at the last Supper? According to the gospel, after the third cup Jesus says, "I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until I am entering into the kingdom of God." And it says, "Then they sang the psalms." Every Jew who knows the liturgy would expect the grace and the blessing before the fourth cup which climaxed and consummated the Passover. But no, the gospel accounts say they sang the psalms and went out into the night. They did not drink the fourth cup. We read in Mark 14:32, "They went out to a place called Gethsemane and He said to his disciples, 'Sit here while I pray.' He took with Him Peter, James and John and began to be greatly distressed and troubled, and He said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful even unto death."

So what do we see as the drama unfolds? According to Mark 15:23, what do some people offer our Lord on the way to Calvary after He is beaten and scourged and abused? They offer Him wine mingled with myrrh, which was an opiate, a painkiller, but He refused it. Why? Certainly because He was destined to accept the suffering for the sins of the world, but He had also said, "I will not taste of the fruit of the vine again until I come into the kingdom."

Why is Jesus wearing a seamless linen garment at the cross, when coincidently, that was customary for the priest to wear when he sacrificed the Passover? Jesus is the true priest, as well as the true victim.

And unlike the two thieves whose legs were broken to expedite death, His bones were not broken. Why? To fulfill the scripture, "None of His bones shall be broken." If you discovered a lamb you had taken to sacrifice for the Passover had a broken bone, it was unfit for the sacrifice. The only fit sacrifice was a lamb without broken bones.

John sees in this so much more than we can get into, but one thing in particular: Verse 28, "After this, at the very end of His cruel sufferings" Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, in order to fulfill the scriptures said, "I thirst". Now, he's been on the cross for hours. He'd been wracked with pain and dying of thirst for hours. But in order to fulfill the scripture He states, "I thirst."

A bowl of sour wine stood nearby. The executioners put a sponge of sour wine on a hyssop branch, -- the same kind of branch the Israelites used to sprinkle lamb's blood on the doorpost, and held it to His mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine He said the words that are spoken in the fourth cup consummation, "It is finished." And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit, his breath. The "it" is the Passover sacrifice. Because who is Jesus Christ? He is the sacrifice of Egypt, the firstborn son.

Here is the lamb, headed for the altar of the cross, dying as a righteous firstborn and as an unblemished lamb. The sacrifice of Christ began in the upper room. That's where the sacrifice began. But you not only had to drink the fourth cup, you had to eat the lamb.

It isn't enough to kill the lamb. The ultimate goal is to restore communion, to have fellowship with God restored. In the Old Testament any family that sacrificed a lamb and sprinkled the blood had to eat the lamb. You ate the lamb to reestablish and restore communion with your heavenly Father through His firstborn Son and Lamb. St. Paul recognizes that it's still the way it is in the new covenant, only with more glory. Why? Because Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us. We need to eat the Lamb. We need to receive the Lamb to restore communion and to complete the sacrifice and to keep the feast. In 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, "Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed and now let us celebrate the feast." And St. Paul describes how the Eucharist is to be celebrated, because it's the culmination of the Passover sacrifice.

As Scott Hahn states, "We are God's children, purchased with the Lamb's blood, and that Lamb is there for us to receive. The Lamb is a continual celebrant in heaven. He is our high priest and He is our king. He is our teacher, our prophet, and He is the one celebrant who leads the whole liturgical worship of the entire universe as an act of continual praise and offering through the Sacred Heart to the Father. All of us who are united to Him as members of His Mystical Body, our worship is only acceptable because of His sacrifice. He has covered our sins, He's made an expiation, and yet for the sacrifice to be complete, what must we do? We must receive Him."

St. John Vianny, the Cur of Ars, said, "To pray well there is no need to talk a lot. One knows that the good God is there in the holy tabernacle. One opens his heart to Him, one rejoices in His presence; this is the best prayer." Pope John Paul II, our Holy Father said, "I wish to reaffirm the fact that Eucharistic worship constitutes the soul of all Christian life. The visit to the Blessed Sacrament is the great treasure of the Catholic faith. It nourishes social love and gives us opportunities for adoration and thanksgiving, for reparation and supplication. It becomes a perfect and yet simple, loving prayer."

The CD, "The Fourth Cup" by Dr. Scott Hahn, is highly recommended and one which you will listen to many times. Dr. Hahn, who originally was very anti-Catholic, converted after doing this study on The Fourth Cup and realizing the Eucharist actually is Christ. He goes into more detail regarding this topic in his CD.

Jim Fritz

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