Upcoming Events

School of Discipleship

8 week course, Fall 2018

St. Paul, MN

sponsored by Catechetical Institute

more scheduled events


Pilgrimage Updates!

January 9-23, 2019 Annual Holy Land Pilgrimage

SOLD OUT! To be put on a waiting list, a completed registration form and deposit required. Contact travel agent for more information. Bonnie Lane 952-474-0903 or Tricia Stoltz 952-679-8888 or goldeneagletraveltours@msn.com. Click here for more information, brochure and registration form.

Please view Cavins Tours photo gallery for a glimpse of some of our past pilgrimages.

September 2019 St. John Paul 2 Pilgrimage to Poland

Registration is now open! This will fill quickly as space is limited. Fr. Josh Johnson of Baton Rouge will be our Spiritual Director for the September 9-20, 2019 pilgrimage. We will visit many significant places connected to St. John Paul 2, St. Faustina and other saints as well as a visit to Auschwitz. Brochure and registation form.

January 2020 Annual Holy Land Pilgrimage

Registration will begin in March of 2019.


Here is what a recent pilgrim had to say about our annual Holy Land pilgrimage! 

 Thank you for a most wonderful, spiritual experience these past 2 weeks. The pilgrimage surpassed any expectations I had. Your teachings, Jeff, were so meaningful at each site. You are able to pull together all the history, the spirituality, the geography of the area, the archeological aspects, etc. so well to make the whole story make sense. You have challenged us to grow spiritually not only with questions to ask ourselves, but ways to ponder those question in our lives, and the wonderful "weapons" we have to tackle them, grow from them, and make necessary changes in our lives so that we may be better disciples of the Lord and spread the Good News to others. Certainly my times in adoration, and daily prayer will be enriched because of this Holy Land experience. ~~ Barb K

Please feel free to contact us at Cavins Tours phone number --763-420-1074.



A Plethora of Purgatory Ponderings

Many questions regarding purgatory have been asked during this study: "Who believes in purgatory?" "What is the teaching regarding it?" "What is it like?" "How do you get out?" "When did it come into existence?" "What are some Scriptural references to it?" And, above all, "What exactly is it?" (Just to name a few!) Luckily for us, Jeff will be addressing purgatory in lecture 7, so be sure not to play hookey that day! Until then, here's a brief description to answer the specific questions posed:

First let us define purgatory:

Purgatory refers to a temporary state of purification for those who have died in the state of grace but still need to get rid of any lingering imperfections (venial sins, earthly attachments, self-will) before entering the perfection of heaven. (CCC1030-1032) It is an application of the graces merited for us by Jesus on the cross, so that we might be made pure before entering heaven, and can be thought of as the final stage of sanctification (i.e., the process by which we become holy) This stage of sanctification is an immersion into the love of Christ, which removes the residue of imperfection, cleansing us from the stain of sin. In the simplest analogy, it's like showering and donning our best attire before we meet the King.

The Church has never defined the exact nature of purgatory in reference to space and time; such as, what kind of "place" it is or "how long it lasts." For space and time are merely human images used in an attempt to describe the mystery of eternal life.

The Church does clearly teach that purgatory is the final purification of the elect and is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. (CCC 1030) Sadly, many of our Protestant brothers and sisters, and many Catholics as well, misunderstand this teaching, and believe purgatory to be a place of punishment rather than a state of purification. This misunderstanding is rooted in the middle ages when the notion of fire as a symbol of purification became associated with punishment after death. Through exaggerated preaching and artwork, the image of purgatory became that of a minor version of hell, the only difference being that purgatory is temporary. This misguided image of purgatory as a painful fire burning punishment spread in the Western Church and unfortunately continues to smolder in the minds of many today. In contrast to this image of old, today's theologians consider purgatory as a positive process and believe that the pain associated with the process of purification isn't a torturous pain, but rather the pain felt as "the person 'burns' with remorse because he or she is separated from God who is infinite goodness and joy. This separation, though temporary, is the result of a person's own actions on earth." (This Is Our Faith, Michael Francis Pennock, Ave Maria Press, 1989)

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Catholic doctrine of purgatory supposes the fact that some die with smaller faults for which there was no true repentance, and also the fact that the temporal penalty due to sin is in times not wholly paid in this life. The proofs for the Catholic position, both in Scripture and in Tradition, are bound up also with the practice of praying for the dead. For why pray for the dead, if there be no belief in the power of prayer to afford solace to those who as yet are excluded from the sight of God?

The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory at the Councils of Florence (1439) and Trent (1563). Yet, before the Decrees of Florence and Trent, this doctrine -that many who have died are still in a place of purification and that prayers avail to help the dead- is seen in the very earliest Christian tradition. Tertullian "De corona militis" mentions prayers for the dead as an Apostolic ordinance, and in "De Monogamia" (cap. x, P. L., II, col. 912) he advises a widow "to pray for the soul of her husband, begging repose for him and participation in the first resurrection".

The Apostolic practice of praying for the dead continued on from Tertullian (c 211) through the teachings of Hippolytus (c235), Orgien (c254) and other Church Fathers and passed into the liturgy of the Church. This is as evident in the fourth century as it is in the twentieth. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechet. Mystog., V, 9, P.G., XXXIII, col. 1116) describing the liturgy, writes: "Then we pray for the Holy Fathers and Bishops that are dead; and in short for all those who have departed this life in our communion; believing that the souls of those for whom prayers are offered receive very great relief, while this holy and tremendous victim lies upon the altar."

Today the Church holds to those practices and teaches that the prayers offered in atonement for the dead, above all in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, can "help" those "in" purgatory attain the beatific vision of God (CCC 1032).

The doctrine of purgatory was held by pre-Christian Jews, post-Christian Jews, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox. It was not denied until the Protestant Reformation, and thus only Protestants deny it today.

Proofs in Scripture for the doctrine of purgatory are: 2 Macc 12:46, Matt 5:25-26, Matt12:32, 1 Cor 3:15, 2 Tim 1:16-18, 1Peter 3:18-20, 1 John 5:16-17 and one I'm sure we'll soon talk about, Rev 21:27 (Nothing unclean will be allowed to enter heaven.)


Catholic Apologetics

Did Jesus Have a Last Name, Matthew Pinto & Jason Evert

Catholic for a Reason, Scott Hahn, Ph.D., and Leon J. Suprenant, Jr.

This Is Our Faith, Michael Francis Pennock

Catholic Customs and Traditions, Greg Dues



Rev 8:9 Symbolism of 1/3

What is 1/3 symbolic of in Revelation 8:9?

It must be remembered that the structure of the book of Revelation is an entirely different treatment of time. It is not a neat linear chronological telling of events, but rather it is a different way of story telling that comes from a different vision of history. This approach is called recapitulative history. It means simply that the book returns to the same events recounted earlier to tell about them in a different way, each time portraying them with greater intensity.

With that in mind, we see that the three times in which judgment is poured out upon the wicked, the level of intensity increases: first, through the opening of the seven seals; then the sounding of the seven trumpets; and last, through the emptying of the seven bowls. In Revelation 6:8, the opening of the fourth seal, we are told that Death and Hades "were given power over 1/4 of the earth, to kill with the sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth." Thus, it would follow in recapitulative history that the next judgment, the sounding of the trumpets, would usher in a greater devastation -and that it does. "The devastation which the trumpets introduce is greater than that produced by the opening of the first four seals: a third of the earth is affected, not just a quarter."

(The Navarre Bible, Four Courts Press, 2003) And, as we move into the seven bowls of plagues (Rev 15-17) we witness divine justice. As the wrath of God on the followers of the beast intensifies, the punishment is increased to the total destruction of evil; and in heaven, songs of victory ring true as "the righteous rejoice to see their enemy overwhelmed and welcome the kingdom of God and the imminent marriage of the Lamb." (The Navarre Bible)

Kelly Wahlquist


Non-Christians and Salvation

Revelation reveals if we die in Christ we will be crowned and seated on thrones. For those who do not die in Christ (Non Christians), will they be crowned in the same glory?

In the Gospel of John, Jesus answers Nicodemus's question regarding the attainment of the Kingdom of God with, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit." (Jn 3:5) As Catholics, we affirm that Baptism is necessary for salvation, for through our Baptism we are immersed into the death of Christ and rise with him as a "new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17) -a creature "reborn of water and the Spirit.'"(CCC1257) The Catechism goes on to explain that God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments. Thus, Baptism is necessary for salvation; however, since Christ died for the salvation of all, there are those who can be saved without Baptism. Catechumens, those who strive to do God's will without ever knowing Jesus Christ, and those without the knowledge about the faith or to whom the Gospel has never been proclaimed are such examples. (CCC 1260)

The Council Fathers of Vatican II do not exclude anyone acting in good faith from the possibility of salvation. In the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), paragraph 16 the Council Fathers wrote:

"Nor is God remote from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, since he gives to all men life and breath and all things (cf. Acts 17:25-28), and since the Savior wills all men to be saved (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4). Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through dictates of their conscience'those too, may achieve eternal salvation.

"Nor shall divine providence deny the assistance necessary for salvation to those who, without any fault of theirs, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God, and who, not without grace, strive to lead a good life."

That said, we must remember that just being Christian does not earn us our way into heaven. (Rom 3:20) "Salvation is the free gift of God through Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8-9; Rom 3:24-25; 6:23; CCC 161-169) but, we must accept and freely cooperate with this gift. (Phil 2:12-13; Gal 5:6; CCC1949)" For the reason that salvation is a gift, so too is Baptism a gift as it is conferred upon those who bring nothing of their own. In fact, St. Gregory of Nazianzus referred to Baptism as "God's most beautiful and magnificent gift." (Oratio 40, 3-4; PG 36,361C) Ultimately, we can only entrust the souls of those who die without the gift of Baptism (those who do not die in Christ) to the mercy of God (CCC 1261) remembering, that God's mercy is infinite and cannot be bound by human limitations.

References: Lumen Gentium; Second Vatican Council, Nov. 21, 1964; Catechism of the Catholic Church; Did Adam and Eve have Belly Buttons? And Did Jesus Have a Last Name? Matthew Pinto & Jason Evert; www.americancatholic.com


Delving Into Indulgences

Could you please address indulgences? Many people in our group are uncomfortable with "buying" their way into heaven. How are indulgences viewed in the Church today?

The things which probably make us the most uncomfortable in life are those things which we do not understand. We are always more comfortable with something of which we are knowledgeable than we are with that which we do not know. When dealing with the teachings of the Catholic Church, just the mere mention of indulgences tends to provoke a foreboding sense of discomfort in most Catholics. The reason for this unsettling feeling is two-fold: first, we suffer from a lack of knowledge of what an indulgence is, and second, we lack the realization of how biblical indulgences are.

The word indulgence is derived from the Latin word indulgeo meaning to be kind or tender. In the Old Testament (Isaiah 61:1) it was used to show a release from captivity or punishment. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church article 1471, an indulgence is "a remission of the temporal (meaning lasting a short time) punishment due to sins, whose guilt has already been forgiven." This remission of punishment is granted by the Church in the exercise of the power of the keys, a gift given to the Church by Christ and passed on through apostolic succession (Mt 16:19; John 20:21-23; CCC1478). Thus, it is God, through the Church who remits the temporal punishment. In the early Christian Church various sins were punished with long public penance, and the Church was often indulgent and "loosed" or freed the Christian from all or part of the punishment if they repented and performed certain works of charity. This 'freeing' of punishment is referred to as an indulgence and is described as either partial or plenary. A partial indulgence removes part of the temporal punishment due for sins and a plenary indulgence removes all of the temporal punishment.

To understand the usage of indulgences, one must first understand the consequences of sin. The ultimate consequence of sin is seen with grave sin (mortal sin) as it deprives us from communion with God. This privation is called the "eternal punishment" of sin and it means that we are incapable of eternal life (CCC 1472). Yet each sin, whether mortal or venial, carries with it a double liability: one of guilt and one of punishment. We see this in the story of the fall of our first parents and their first sin. Once Adam and Eve disobeyed God, guilt set in and they hid themselves out of shame (Gen 3:9-10). Then, punishment for their sin followed (Gen 3:16-22). Ultimately, they were removed from the presence of God (Gen 3:23-24). (This ability to live in communion with God was regained for us by Christ through his death and resurrection.)

Being that temporal punishment is not eternal; something must bring it to an end. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "Every sin entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth or after death in a state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called 'temporal punishment' of sin" (CCC 1472). Therefore, punishment due to sin may come here on earth in forms of various sufferings or after death in Purgatory.

Knowing that guilt and punishment are liabilities of sin, we can now better understand how the principles underlying Divine punishment and, in turn, indulgences are found in Scripture. One indication for eternal punishment is seen in Daniel 12:2, "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, those to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt." And, as previously mentioned, we see temporal punishment in Genesis 3:15 (the Protoevangelium) as God shows His mercy declaring a message of hope for humanity.

When one partakes in the sacrament of Penance and repents, the guilt of the sin is forgiven (Is 1:18) and the eternal punishment removed (Rom 5:9), but the temporal punishment due to sins remain. This is evident in 2 Sam 12:13-14 when David is confronted about his adultery. Even though David is forgiven, he still suffered the death of his son as well as other temporal punishments. Catholic On-line cites these other examples of temporal punishment suffered after the forgiveness of sins: Numbers 14:13-23; 20:12; 27:12-14.

As Catholics, we know that Christ paid the price for our sins. His sacrifice alone opened heaven to us, but it did not relieve us of our obligations to repair the harm done through our own sins. In other words, we recognize that we can never "buy" our way into heaven, for Christ alone expiated our sins once and for all by His sacrifice on the cross. However, we are responsible to fulfill our obligation of the temporal punishment due to our sin after we have been forgiven. Unfortunately the concept that one could "buy" indulgences and therefore purchase his way into heaven on his own merit fueled the fire for the Protestant Reformation; but, it was never the teaching of the Church. Indulgences were never sold with the sanction of the theology of the Church, yet that's not to say that unscrupulous individuals didn't abuse the lack of knowledge of the faithful when pertaining to almsgiving and its relationship to indulgences. The Catholic Encyclopedia states, "It is easy to see how the abuses crept in. Among the good works which might be encouraged by being made the condition of an indulgence, almsgiving would naturally hold a conspicuous place." It is well to observe that in these purposes there is nothing essentially evil. To give money to God or to the poor is a praiseworthy act, and, when it is done from right motives, it will surely not go unrewarded. This is seen in Scripture as Jesus bestows a special blessing upon the widow who gave her last coins to the Temple in Jerusalem. We wouldn't accuse the poor widow of "buying" a blessing from our Lord and so too we should not be uncomfortable with receiving an indulgence. For we now know that an indulgence is something that cannot be bought nor can it buy our way into heaven, rather it is simply a way that the faithful can obtain the remission of temporal punishment resulting from sin. (CCC1498)

To learn more about indulgences read Indulgentiarum Doctrina by Pope Paul VI, which can be found at the EWTN link in the document library. Also, don't miss the sessions in Catholicism 101 that deal with the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Communion of Saints!


Lion of Judah

At session 3 we talked about the significance of Jesus portrayed as a Lamb. What is the significance of Him being portrayed as a lion? Besides in Jeremiah is this the image of the risen Christ? We see the Lion in our media and hear of him in our music.

The "Lion of the Tribe of Judah" is the Messianic title applied to Christ to symbolize strength, majestic power, and victory. The lion itself is the emblem of dignity and courage. Afraid of no other animal, it has the ability to dominate all other species. With its great power, agility, and strength, it truly is the king of all beasts and a brilliant symbol of the King of kings. The origin of this title is seen in Genesis 49 as Jacob gathers his sons: the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel. Once around him, he delivers his blessing, a blessing which becomes the initial prophecy of the future Kingdom of God on earth as it foretells the supremacy of the tribe of Judah, which finds its ultimate fulfillment in the "Root of David", Jesus Christ. Jacob praises Judah describing him in the image of a young lion, Gur Aryeh. "Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: He stooped down, he crouched as a lion, And as a lioness; who shall rouse him up?" (Gen 49:9) This blessing, of great importance, is intensified by the fact that it did not go to the first born son, but rather to the young lion who patiently crouched in the shadows as his brothers before him eagerly pounced on worldly temptations without repentance. Judah was no stranger himself to the snares of temptation and sin, but unlike his brothers his heart was transformed by the suffering of his sin. This conversion led to the ultimate reward being bestowed upon him in Gen 49:10. "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet." Taken literally, one pictures Judah going to his grave holding a scepter in his tightly closed fist, but in view of the customs and colloquialism during the time of Jacob, the meaning of this idiom is understood as, there shall always be a king from the lineage of Judah. This prophecy looks forward not only to an earthly dynasty, but also to the royal dynasty of the Messiah as it continues, "until Shiloh comes: And unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be."

The Jews from the time of Jacob understood this blessing to mean that the Messiah would come from the line of Judah. Their belief, rooted in the covenant God first made with Noah's family and then with Abraham's tribe, held that the messiah would come like a lion with great religious zeal, strength, and military power and defeat the enemies of the Jewish nation. This military victory would usher in a time of justice and peace and yield Israel the most powerful and indestructible kingdom. The original audience of book of Revelation would have recognized the "Lion of the tribe of Judah" as the Messiah and would have received much encouragement in learning. "The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed, enabling him to open the scroll with seven seals." (Rev 5:5) They would have seen this passage as the fulfillment of prophecy and understood that the redemptive victory had been won for them by Jesus Christ, who fulfills the title "Lion of the Tribe of Judah" and is the ultimate King of kings!