Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Minute Meditations From The Popes

I directed my soul to wisdom, and in purity I found her. With her I gained understanding from the first.
-Sir 51:20

Ideals, if they are authentic, if they are human, are not dreams: they are duties, especially for us Christians.
The more the sounds of the storm disturb the horizon of our history, the more such ideals must grip our attention. And ideals are energies; they are hopes.
-Pope Paul VI

Help me never to become so cynical, O Lord, that I stop dreaming. Let me never stop aiming for my ideals, even when I know that I might fall short.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Study Notes For Midterm

Here are my study notes for my Philosophy of the Human Person midterm tomorrow:

1) What kind of a definition is man is a rational animal?

Man is a rational animal is a species-genus definition.

Explain how this definition works.

It works by describing something by it’s species and it’s genus. You first find out the genus. Animal would be the genus. Then find out what the species is in the genus. The man is a species of genus. There must be a species defining characteristic for the man. Rational would be the species defining characteristic.

What is meant by species defining characteristic?

By species defining characteristic, we mean the one characteristic that a species within the genus has that no other species within that genus possesses.

Can beings outside the genus have the species defining characteristic?


2) Explain as fully as you can what we call the ‘pet problem.’

The pet problem stems from coming up with a species defining characteristic. Pet lovers will insist that in some way their animal can do whatever a human does. Take rational as the defining characteristic for man. First we must say what we define rational to be. If we say it’s the ability to have language or free choice, then someone will say that apes and cats can communicate and it surely seems like they have free choice.. No matter what we say rational means, someone will say that there pet has it.

3) If someone accepts the definition that man is a rational animal, why must he hold that the difference between a rock and an ape is greater than the difference between an ape and a human being?

Because an ape and a human being are both members of the same genus:Animal, whereas a rock and an ape belong to two totally different classifications. So the greater difference would have to be with an ape and a rock.

Explain the points I made if they instead hold that rationality is sufficient to make the difference between an ape and a human being greater.

What makes a human person an animal in the first place? Every human is a person, but not every person is a human being. God is three persons. Angels and God are not animals (they have no bodies.) Thus, a person cannot be connected to animals. If rationality is connected to Person, one must say that Humans have something other animals don’t, yet God and Angels have. That would bring God and Angels to the level of mere animals. We are not so certain that rationality is only exclusive in humans. You don’t get a Person by taking an animal and adding rationality!

Man is not a rational animal. Man is an incarnate spirit.

4) Explain as fully as you can what intentionality is.

First of all intentionality has nothing to do with someone intending to do something. Intentionality is simply the subject and object relationships that occur in the consciousness of human beings. Husserl added to the definition by stating that subject/object relationships could only exist in acts that are meaningful and rational. In order for an act to be intentional one must be aware of it. Seeing a tree, remembering what I did yesterday, and despising something are all intentional. Love, hate, and sorrow are all intentions (their presence in my mind is a subject/object relationship).

How is it related to the notion of subjectivity?

Subjectivity is the activity of the "I" as a subject that does the things that "I"’s do. What a subject does is its subjectivity. For something to exist as an object, the subject must first be aware of it. With the awareness of the object the act of the awareness by the subject makes the act intentional.

What is the difference between an intentional act and a conscious state?

An example of a conscious state would be dizziness. A person knows that they are dizzy, but they dizziness is not an act. A person can’t dizzy something. An intentional act would be to hate. If you hate someone, there must be someone for you to hate and you must be aware that you hate that someone.

By my explanation of intentionality are animals capable of intentional acts?

No, because animals are not subjects. They do not have self-consciousness. In order to have self-consciousness you must have a self. Only beings with a self can be a subject.

5) Explain what I said a self is.

Self- is what I understand myself to be. It is the "I" or "me" I have always known myself to be. The self is unchangeable. The "I" is constant while everything around it changes (body, memories, etc.). The central part of being a person is being an "I". Each "I" is distinctly different from every other "I". There can only be one "me". All non-persons lack an "I".

Why by this explanation would animals not have self-consciousness?

Because an animal does not have a self to be conscious of. An Ape has not an "I", therefore an ape cannot be a subject. So if an ape looks at a person, the person is not the object that the ape sees because an ape doesn’t understand itself as a subject. An ape can’t say "I see" as in an object. Only persons have a self because only persons are "I"’s.

6) What do the notions of self and intentionality have to do with the notion of a person?

To be a person is to be an "I". A person is a subject. "I"’s do something. We act as persons. We engage in subject/object relationships.

Reasoning: can’t be a part of rationality because God and Angels can’t reason. Reasoning is distinctly a human trait.

Persons (Human, God, Angels) are rational.

Reasoning is not a part of rationality.

I also have a final exam on Friday. Gotta love mini summer sessions where they cram 14 weeks into 2 1/2 !

Minute Meditations From The Popes

Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven.
-Jn 20:22-23

The sacrament of mercy and of forgiveness has to be lived out with a feeling of great confidence in Divine salvation and a sincere desire for conversion.
We must seek in it reconciliation with God and with our brothers and sisters.
-Pope John Paul II

O Lord, help me to appreciate the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the powerful gift it is. Teach me to avail myself of the Sacrament often and to invite others to share in the peace that I find in it.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

It's Not A Right, It's A Privilege

I just read this article and think it's ridiculous!

Nowhere do we see in the Bible a woman being a priest. There is a reason for that.

A priest acts In Persona Christi (In the person of Christ). Christ was not a female, so a female cannot act in Christ's person! Also, the greek word for priest is presbyteroi, which means bearded one. As Scott Hahn says, when women start growing beards, they can become priests.

The sentence I am most dismayed at in the article is this:

``The reality of women priests is historical,'' said Rue, a professor of both women's studies and religious studies at San Jose State University. ``It's a birthright women have.''

First of all, woman priests are not historical.

God's original intention was for the father of the family to be a Priest, Prophet, and King. The firstborn son inherited the title. If anyone has a right to the priesthood, it is the firstborn sons of antiquity. However, because of the sinfulness of the firstborns, they lost their right to the priesthood.

After that, the Levites ordained themselves as priests by slaughtering the 3,000 who worshipped the golden calf. But God never intended for just the Levites to be priests. This was a temporary designation until the True High Priest (Christ) came.

When Christ came he established a new priesthood with the 12 Apostles which was more like God's original priesthood.

Second, the priesthood is not a right. It is a privilege! No one has the right to be a priest. Whether a woman, a homosexual, or heterosexual. I'm sorry but that's just absurd! That's like telling God that we, as created beings, have the right (and there is nothing God can do about it) to act as priests in the priesthood that He established!

Not anyone can be a priest. To be a priest is to be set apart as a leader to God's people. A priest is called to a higher standard of holiness. Yes, they are sinners like the rest of us, but nonetheless they are called to a holier life. To say someone has a right to be a priest is an insult to the priests who are truly called and who sacrifice their lives to be leaders who bring people to Christ.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Friday, May 26, 2006

Minute Meditations From The Popes

Leave your gift before the altar, and go first to be reconciled with your brother.
-Mt 5:24

One of the first good works that flows from faith is one that is so desperately needed in this place and everywhere.
It is the work of reconciliation: reconciliation with God and reconciliation with one another.
Pope John Paul II

O Lord, pour Your peace into my heart that I may experience Your healing love. Let me share that love with those who are wounded and broken as a knowing and willing instrument of Your peace.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Real Jesus

Catholics need to follow Jesus. Not a Jesus that they have invented for themselves, but the real Jesus.

That means not supporting abortion, artificial contraception , embryonic stem cell research, gay marriage, euthanasia, and other things that the Church has condemned!

One would think that what I am saying would be a given. Yet, liberals insist on proclaiming a Jesus that did not exist in the Gospels. For example, you should see the comments I got when I did a post on this at the Catholic Catechism Dialogue Blog.

The Church has it's authority from Christ. When you disobey the Church, you disobey Christ!

Ascension Thursday

Your life is hidden now with Christ in God.Father, all those you gave me I would have in my company where I am, to see this glory of mine. (Jn 17:24) Happy are they who now have as their advocate before God their judge in person; happy are they who have interceding for them the one whom we must adore equally with the Father, to whom he himself addresses this prayer. The Father cannot refuse to grant this desire which his lips expressed (Ps 21:3), for he is united with him in his will, in his power, since he is one and the same God. All those you gave me I would have in my company where I am. What assurance for those who have faith, what confidence for the believers! ... The saints, whose youth is renewed like the eagles (Ps 103:5) soar as with eagles wings. (Isa 40:31)

… On that day, Christ was lifted up before the eyes of the disciples in a cloud which took him from their sight. (Acts 1:9) He strove to draw their hearts to follow him by making himself loved by them, and he promised them through the example of his body that their body could be lifted up in the same way Today, Christ in truth mounted a cherub and flew, borne on the wings of the wind, (Ps 18:11) which is to say, he goes beyond the power of the angels. And yet, in his condescendence before your weakness, as an eagle hovering over its brood, he wants to receive you and to bear you up on his pinions. (Deut 32:11) Some people fly with Christ by means of contemplation; for you, let it at least be through love.

Brother, since Christ your treasure was lifted up to heaven today, may your heart also be there (Mt 6:21). Your origin is from there, and that is where you will find your inheritance (Ps 16:6); from there you are awaiting the Savior (Phil 3:20).

-Blessed Guerric of Igny (around 1080 1157), Cistercian abbot Sermon for the Ascension.

Minute Meditations From The Popes

Mind the things that are above, not the things that are on earth.
-Col. 3:2

Reflection:Christianity is the meeting point of earth and heaven. It lays claim to the whole person, body and soul, intellect and will.
It calls people to raise their minds above the changing conditions of this earthly existence and reach upward for the eternal life of heaven.
-Pope John XXIII

O Lord, help me to always remember that my Faith is not simply a set of agreed upon beliefs. It is a truth that cuts to the marrow of my bones, a truth that must be lived every moment of my life.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sts. Dominic And Francis

Legend says that Dominic received a vision of a beggar who, like Dominic, would do great things for the Faith. Dominic met the beggar the next day. He embraced him and said, "You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us." The beggar was Saint Francis of Assisi.

St. Dominic and St. Francis have again come together....

...at Franciscan University of Steubenville!

I have just learned today that a new Third Order of Preachers chapter (Blessed Jordan Pro Chapter) is being formed here.

I talked with the moderator today and I hope to get things rolling very shortly!

Hat tip to Frank for the picture.

Socrates In Purgatory?

A couple of days ago I posted a philosophical question: Is Socrates in Purgatory? The post had some good comments and I argued one way, but now I would like to recant that argument.

Let me explain.

You see, my Philosophy of the Human Person professor, (Dr. Roberts) teaches the class in a very frustrating way. He tells us something and then builds upon it for a couple of days and then tells us that it is the wrong position. After that he gives us the correct position. Needless to say, this not only causes much confusion, but it means I have to go back through all my notes and cross out a lot of presuppositions that aren’t valid.

That being said…

Socrates COULD be in Purgatory. Saying that he wasn’t and that it would have to be Socrates’ soul that is in Purgatory because Socrates names the union of the body and soul and when Socrates dies the soul separates from the body, is based on the presupposition that a human being is a rational animal. However, saying that a human being is a rational animal is false.

A human being is an incarnate spirit.

Animals consist of only a body and soul. Humans have more than just a body and soul. We also have a spirit!

The spirit names the capacity and activity of conforming what we do to un-natural principles. The spirit is the non-natural side of human.

By natural, we mean things having to do with matter/body and psychology/mind.

A human can’t be defined by only natural terms (or laws). A human is supernatural (above nature).

“Nature is what we are put in the world to rise above.”
-Katherine Hepburn in The African Queen.

You see, the body isn’t required for us to be a person. It is required for us, however, to be a complete person.

Persons have a self. Animals don’t!

By “self” we mean: the “me” or “I” I’ve always understood myself to be. The central part of being a person is to have an “I”. Non-persons do not have an “I”.

So I (myself, Danny, Socrates [himself]) can in fact be in Purgatory!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Random Thoughts

I got my first issue of First Things today.

I love going to a Catholic University!

I love being Catholic!

My Philosophy of the Human Person class is going great.

I wish I had more time to read. This sleep thing keeps getting in the way.

I am applying to be a youth minister in the Diocese of Pittsburgh!

I bought Scott Hahn's book Letter and Spirit today! (And my wife approved the purchase!!)

Josef Pieper is awesome!

I could spend weeks in the John Paul II Library (at Franciscan University of Steubenville). Just send a St. Bernard to the second floor (theology section) with a roast beef sandwich in it's barrel!

It's late. I'm tired.

The Primacy Of Peter

I had originally posted this at Scripture Scribes, but I have a feeling more people will see it here. Does anyone even read the Scripture Scribes blog?

Matthew 16.

This is the Chapter that Protestants have such a hard time with.

I am convinced, though, that if they took the time to really figure out what is going on here they would clearly see that Peter is the first among the Apostles and that the papacy is bestowed upon him by Christ!

In this chapter, Peter professes Christ to be "the Son of the living God." Then Christ gives him the name Peter or Petros in Greek. Then Christ says that "upon this rock" (Petra in Greek) he will build his Church.

Some Protestants (although recently there have been some well known Protestant scholars who side with the Catholic view) will try to say here that Christ calls Peter Petros-meaning "rock" or "little stone" in Greek (stressing the "little stone)-and that Christ is referring to himself when he says Petra-meaning "big rock" in Greek. This however is absurd for two reasons.

1) In the Greek, Petra is feminine and Petros is the masculine version. Christ would not have called Peter by the feminine version of the word, but rather the masculine since Peter is a male. Christ didn't speak Greek though, he spoke Aramaic, so Matthew in translating Aramaic to Greek is merely displaying proper Greek translation. Which brings us to the second point...

2) In the original Aramaic (which Jesus spoke), Jesus would have called Peter Cephas which is the Aramaic word for rock whether masculine or feminine.

So it is plain to see that Peter is Cephas. The rock upon which the Church is built!

Another dead give away for Peter's primacy is that Jesus gives Peter the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and tells him that whatever he binds on earth shall be bound in Heaven and whatever he looses on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.

Keys denote authority. Whoever has the keys to a kingdom is the Prime-Minister, which is an office that has succession. Jesus here is re-establishing the Davidic Kingdom that God promised would last forever.

In the Davidic Kingdom there were twelve ministers with one of the ministers being the Prime-Minister who held the keys and had the authority to rule over the kingdom when the king was not present. The Prime-Minister was the greatest in all the kingdom with only the king himself being above him.

When Jesus tells Peter, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" He is quoting from Isaiah 22:13-23:

"13: and behold, joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine. "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." 14: The LORD of hosts has revealed himself in my ears: "Surely this iniquity will not be forgiven you till you die," says the Lord GOD of hosts. 15: Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, "Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the household, and say to him: 16: What have you to do here and whom have you here, that you have hewn here a tomb for yourself, you who hew a tomb on the height, and carve a habitation for yourself in the rock? 17: Behold, the LORD will hurl you away violently, O you strong man. He will seize firm hold on you, 18: and whirl you round and round, and throw you like a ball into a wide land; there you shall die, and there shall be your splendid chariots, you shame of your master's house. 19: I will thrust you from your office, and you will be cast down from your station. 20: In that day I will call my servant Eli'akim the son of Hilki'ah, 21: and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. 22: And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. 23: And I will fasten him like a peg in a sure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father's house. "

In this passage Eliakim is taking the place of the the old Prime-Minister, Shebna. Notice that he is given the "key to the house of David" (which is the keys to the kingdom), granted authority, and told "he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open."

Sound familiar? Of course it does!

And Protestants said that the establishment of the pope is not in the Bible!

Minute Meditations From The Popes

And the glory that You have given Me, I have given to them, that they may be one, even as We are.
-Jn 17:23

The longing of Christ's Heart [that all be one] must be our invitation. We must dedicate ourselves anew to the task of establishing among Catholics a firm and abiding love and witness to that unity which is the first mark of the Church.
-Pope John XXIII

O Lord, let me be a source of unity in my own parish. Let me be an example of a willingness to forgive and to work with those who can at times be difficult.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Meditations On Philosophy

In my brief time studying philosophy, I am compelled to say it is very much like systematic theology.

In order to get to the final revealed truth, you have to first understand a basic principle and then continue building upon it until you reach the conclusion.

It seems to me that systematic theology would be in a sense philosophical theology.

Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how it seems to me.


Saint Of The Day: Saint Godric

Godric was born in 1069 at Walpole, Norfolk, England.

An adventurous seafaring man, he spent his youth in travel both on land and sea as a peddler and merchant mariner first along the coast of the British Isles, then throughout Europe.

Sometime sailor, sometime ship's captain, he lived a seafarer's life of the day, and it was hardly a religious one. He was known to drink, fight, chase women, con customers, and in a contemporary manuscript, was referred to as a "pirate".

He was converted upon visiting Lindisfarne during a voyage, and being touched by the life of Saint Cuthbert. He was a pilgrim to Jerusalem and the holy lands, Saintiago de Compostela, the shrine of Saint Gaul in Provence, and to Rome.

As a self-imposed austerity, and a way to always remember Christ's lowering himself to become human, Godric never wore shoes, regardless of the season.

He lived as a hermit in the holy lands, and worked in a hospital near Jerusalem. He was also a hermit for nearly sixty years at Finchale, County Durham, England, first in a cave, then later in a more formal hermitage; he was led to its site by a vision of Saint Cuthbert.

It was a rough life, living barefoot in mud and wattle hut, wearing a hair shirt under a metal breastplate, standing in icy waters to control his lust, living for a while off berries and roots, and being badly beaten by Scottish raiders who strangely thought he had a hidden treasure.

He was known for his close familiarity with wild animals, his supernatural visions, his gift of prophecy, and ability to know of events occurring hundreds or thousands of miles away.

He died in 1170 at Finchale, County Durham, England of natural causes.

For a great book on the saint, read Godric by Frederick Buechner. It has one of the best openings to a book that I have ever read! Here is the first paragraph:

"Five friends I had, and two of them snakes. Tune and Fairweather they were, thick round as a man’s arm, my bedmates and playfellows, keeper’s of my skimped hearth and hermit’s heart till in a grim pet I bade them go that day and nevermore to come again, nevermore to hiss their snakelove when they saw me drawing near or coil themselves for warmth about my shaggy legs. They went. They never came again."

Something Great Is Brewing

Click here to check it out!

Hat tip to Michael Barber of Singing In The Reign.

Minute Meditations From The Popes

But I press on, hoping to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me.
-Phil 3:12

Whatever an individual person's journey of faith and acceptance of it, no one is passive.
Each one must work to improve the lot of others and thus make progress along the way of the Gospel.
-Pope John Paul II

O Lord, teach me what I should do to further the spread of the Gospel. Let Your Spirit speak to my heart with words of wisdom and courage, and enable me to respond with great passion.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Prodigal Son Returns

Today on the feast of Saint Bernardino of Siena, Frank Pate will be entering back into communion with the Catholic Church!

Frank was a "cradle Catholic turned Baptist turned Anglican." He also attended the same Anglican Church that I did in Tallahassee, FL.

Now he has made his journey back home. It is a great pleasure to move his blog from the Anglican list to the Catholic list.

How fitting it is as well that he returns today on the feast of St. Bernardino, who was a Franciscan priest, as Frank was a TOR Franciscan as an Anglican and I believe will continue to pursue the lay order of Franciscans in the Catholic Church.

Stop by his blog And Also With You and tell him how glad we are to have him back!

Minute Meditations From The Popes

For the Lord hears the poor, and He does not spurn His own who are in bonds.
-Ps 69:34

In the Divine Master's school we shall remember to love poverty and the poor.
We shall love the poor in order to devote special interest to them, whether they be persons, classes, or nations in need of love and aid.
-Pope Paul VI

Lord Jesus, You reached out to the poor in a special way, and You called them God's chosen ones. Grant me the grace to see the poor and needy with Your eyes and to love them with Your compassion.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Minute Meditations From The Popes

Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you.
-Jn 16:23

Pray like Jesus. Pray intently. Pray today, always in the confident communion that prayer has established between us and the Father.
Because it is to a father, it is to the Father that our humble voice is addressed.
-Pope Paul VI

Heavenly Father, I lift up my heart to You. I lift up my life to You. Entrust me in Your truth, so that I may conform my life entirely to Your will.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Philosophical Question Of The Day

Is Socrates in Purgatory?

Minute Meditations From The Popes

When you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast.
-Sir 2:2

The fundamental lesson of humility is that it neither wipes away the greatness of Christ nor reduces to nothingness our poor merit.
Humility is a moral attitude that does not destroy the values to which it is applied; it is a way to recognize and regain them.
-Pope Paul VI

Lord Jesus, You humbled Yourself in taking our flesh upon Yourself, and especially in dying upon the Cross. Teach me humility, so that my actions and words may always be filled with Your love.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

It Begins!

Today is my first day of Grad School! I have Philosophy of the Human Person class today and everyday this week...and everyday for the next two weeks following. Gotta love summer classes!

Hopefully we will be reading lots of Aquinas!

Happy Saint Brendan's Day!

Today is the feast of St. Brendan the Voyager!

In honor of this day I have made St. Brendan Co-Patron of Irish-Catholic and Dangerous blog!

Brendan was born in 460 at Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland. He is the brother of Saint Briga and was educated by St. Ita of Killeedy. In 512, he was ordained by Bishop St. Erc of Kerry. Brendan became a monk and built monastic cells at Ardfert, Shankeel, Aleth, Plouaret, Inchquin Island, and Annaghdown. He also founded a large monastery and monastic school at Clonfert. Legend says that this community had at least three thousand monks, and that their rule was dictated to Brendan by an angel.

There are many tales of Brendan and his voyages. He is described as travelling the high seas of the Atlantic, searching for the Isles of the Blessed, touching the Canaries, and even discovering America in the 6th century. It is possible that he actually made visits to Scotland and Wales. At one point Brendan and his fellow monks stop on a small island, celebrate Easter Mass, light a fire - and then learn the island is an enormous whale!

His friends and contemporaries included: Saint Columba, Saint Brendan of Birr, Saint Brigid, and Saint Enda of Arran.

St. Brendan died in 583.

He is the patron saint of boatmen; the diocese of Clonfert, Ireland; diocese of Kerry, Ireland; mariners; sailors; travellers; watermen; and whales.

For a great book on St. Brendan, I would highly recommend Brendan by Frederick Buechner.

Prayer to Saint Brendan

Dear Saint, to mention your name is to recall much travelling. It was in relation to voyages that you emerged as a popular Saint. The Irish became great travellers thus spreading their faith everywhere. Protect not only mariners but all who go down to the sea in ships. Amen.

Prayer for the Spirit of Saint Brendan

God of sea and land, you endowed your servant Brendan with a bold and adventurous spirit, to occupy himself for your business on the great waters, and revealed to him your wonders in the deep. Make us, who recall with thanksgiving his life and ministry, zealous to be pioneers and pilgrims for the faith of Christ. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Saint Brendan's Prayer

Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries, the soft comforts of home?
Shall I turn my back on my native land, and turn my face towards the sea?

Shall I put myself wholly at your mercy,
without silver, without a horse,
without fame, without honor?
Shall I throw myself wholly upon You,
without sword and shield, without food and drink,
without a bed to lie on?
Shall I say farewell to my beautiful land, placing myself under Your yoke?

Shall I pour out my heart to You, confessing my manifold sins and begging forgiveness,
tears streaming down my cheeks?
Shall I leave the prints of my knees on the sandy beach,
a record of my final prayer in my native land?

Shall I then suffer every kind of wound that the sea can inflict?
Shall I take my tiny boat across the wide sparkling ocean?
O King of the Glorious Heaven, shall I go of my own choice upon the sea?

O Christ, will You help me on the wild waves?

-Ascribed to Saint Brendan the Navigator before sailing across the Atlantic.

Minute Meditations From The Popes

Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
-Lk 2:42

How sweet, how consoling it is for us who wish to walk in the footsteps of the Lord to have before us Mary, her image, her remembrance, her kindness, her humility and purity, her greatness.
How close to us the Gospel is in the power that Mary personifies and radiates with human and superhuman splendor.
-Pope Paul VI

Mary, Mother and Model of the Church, pray for me. Guide me, protect me, console me, and teach me the ways of Your Son.

Bishop Wuerl To Be Archbishop of D.C.

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict on Tuesday named Donald W. Wuerl, bishop of Pittsburgh, to be the new archbishop of Washington D.C., one of the most prestigious posts in the American Catholic Church, the Vatican said.

Wuerl succeeds Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, 75, who is retiring after five years in the job.

The post of archbishop of Washington is one of the most influential in American Catholicism because of the regular contacts the prelate has with the White House and other branches of U.S. government.

Wuerl, 65, has been bishop of Pittsburgh since 1988. He was ordained a priest in 1966. Before moving to Pittsburgh, he served as assistant bishop in Seattle.
He speaks Italian, French and Spanish and earned degrees from Pontifical universities in Rome.

Traditionally, the archbishop of Washington is a cardinal, so Wuerl could likely be elevated to that high rank the next time the Pope creates cardinals.

Hat tip to Amy Welborn

Monday, May 15, 2006

Minute Meditations From The Popes

As the Father has love Me, i also have loved you. Abide in My love... Keep My commandments.
-Jn 15:9

In the special manifestation to St. Margaret Mary, Christ pointed to His Heart as the symbol by which we are drawn to recognize and to acknowledge His love.
At the same time, He constituted it as a sign and pledge of His mercy and His grace for the needs of the Church in our time.
-Pope Pius XII

As You showed St. Margaret Mary the greatness of Your love, Lord Jesus, so now reveal Your love to me. Let me know with certainty that You are Love Incarnate, and all You wish of me is to live in Your love.

Irish Saint Of The Day: Saint Dymphna

Dymphna was the daughter of a pagan Irish chieftain named Damon, and a beautiful devoted Christian woman whose name has not come down to us. Her mother died when Dymphna was fourteen.

Damon is said to have been afflicted with a mental illness, brought on by his grief. He searched the Western world for a woman to replace his wife, but none could. Returning home, he saw that his daughter was as beautiful as her mother, and maddened by grief, he made advances on her. She fought him off, then fled to Belgium with St. Gerebran, her confessor and family friend.

Dymphna's father searched for them, and his search led to Belgium. There an innkeeper refused to accept his money, knowing it was difficult to exchange. This told Damon that his daughter was close (it would be unusual for a village innkeeper to know a lot about foreign currency, and his knowledge indicated that he had recently seen it). The king concentrated his search in the area. When he found them in Gheel, he beheaded Gerebran and demanded that Dymphna return to Ireland with him. When she refused, he drew his sword and struck off her head.

She was then only fifteen years of age. Dymphna received the crown of martyrdom in defense of her purity about the year 620. She is the patron of those suffering from nervous and mental afflictions. Many miracles have taken place at her shrine, built on the spot where she was buried in Gheel, Belgium.

Check out Dymphna's Well for a cool blog that has St. Dymphna as it's patron!

Suffering Brings You Closer To God...

...That's what I had to keep reminding myself yesterday morning as I attended mass at St. Martha Parish in Akron, Ohio. I'm no Liturgics expert, but I'm very confident that there were many liturgical violations.

I should have known it was going to be bad when I walked in and saw this:

Yes, that is carpet you see and yes that is gold lame curtains (I don't know how to get an accent mark over the "e" in lame, but the word without the accent is a perfect description). To the right of the picture is more lame curtains flowing from the ceiling down and around a crucifix.

When I saw all this, I instantly thought of Mahony fest!

Now, I must explain, that the outside appearance is that of a nice red brick church. If I had seen the inside first, I would not have gone there. Also, we arrived ten minutes before the service began and we had no clue where any other Catholic churches were, so we stayed, hoping that it wouldn't be so bad.

It was.

To begin with, there was absolutely no reverence shown prior to the beginning of mass. People were talking to one another as if they were about to watch a movie at a movie theatre. Forget about being respectful to people trying to pray. There was also talking during the offertory.

One of the worse parts was when the priest sang the entire Eucharistic prayer (up to the Our Father) as if he was singing show tunes. Even the prayers were sung in that manner with the chorus, I mean congregation singing the response a la Broadway.

After the Agnus Dei (which was a horrible arrangement as well. What ever happened to Gregorian Chant?!) the congregation remained standing instead of kneeling and stayed standing until they got in line for communion.

Through the whole mass I kept praying for the parish and the priest that they would realize their errors and would show due reverence to God in their worship. I was also very thankful that the sacraments work ex opere operato.

I did a little research on St. Martha's Parish of Akron, Ohio and I found some things that confirm my suspicions.

First I took a look at their website and saw that they have listed under their Caring Ministries: Gay & Lesbian Catholics & Families.

Then I did a google search and found this website and this article. St. Martha's is listed on both.

I guess the only thing I can do now is to continue to pray for them and look for a different church to go to the next time I visit my Uncle in Akron.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Gone For The Weekend

I am going to visit my Uncle this weekend. He had surgery on Tuesday to fix the problems he was having with his intestines. The good news is that the surgery went well and should alleviate the constant pain he was having. They also looked to see if there was any cancer coming back when they were operating and they didn't find anything new! Once he recovers they will continue with chemotherapy. Thank you all for your prayers and I ask for continued prayers as well.

See you Sunday!

Quote Of The Day

“I am angry because my Protestant past lied to me. They said that Catholics never heard the Gospel and yet I heard in there they said three times ‘Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world have mercy on me.’ I’ve never heard the Gospel proclaimed more clearly in my life than in that Catholic mass. And they lied to me that these are not my brothers and sisters in Christ. These are my brothers and sisters in Christ! And I am just as mad at the Catholics because they are so ecumenically sensitive they never had the guts to tell me I was wrong. They keep their faith to themselves. They didn’t care to tell me that I was not in the fullness of the faith. I would have been Catholic ten years ago if someone had told me!”

-Janet Ray (wife of apologist Stephen Ray) after her first Catholic mass.

Minute Meditations From The Popes

This is indeed a grace, if you endure the pain of unjust suffering because you are conscious of God.
-1 Pt 2:19

Suffering is a necessary ingredient of holiness. Love is like it.
The love that Christ teaches us and that He first lived to give us an example is a merciful love, a love that atones and saves through suffering.
-Pope John Paul II

Lord Jesus, so often when people are in pain, they feel as if they are abandoned or are being punished. Help me to see Your love in those moments of doubt and join my suffering to Your own.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Oprah A Moral And Spiritual Leader?

I just read this article from yahoo news and I feel like I'm going to vomit!

In the article there are quotes such as:

"She's a really hip and materialistic Mother Teresa"

Umm...Blessed Teresa of Calcutta is the last person I would compare Oprah to! The thought that anyone would even utter such words, makes me think that they interviewed this person at an insane asylum or maybe a Scientology gathering.

"She's a moral monitor, using herself as the template against which she measures the decency of a nation"

Moral monitor?! So, living with a guy for however many years and refusing to be married is good morals? Maybe in the Episcopal Church, but not in real life!

And if it's true that she uses herself as a "template against which she measures the deceny of a nation" I have two things to say:

1) No wonder America is so morally screwed up!
2) Isn't pride one of the seven deadly sins?

"Love her or loathe her, Winfrey has become proof that you can't be too rich, too thin or too committed to rising to your place in the world."

"No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24).

"I think that if this were the equivalent of the Middle Ages and we were to fast-forward 1,200 years, scholars would definitely think that this Oprah person was a deity, if not a canonized being."

I think not.

Oprah may be a moral and spiritual leader of some wacko sect, but not for Christianity. Here's some more revealing quotes from the article:

"After two decades of searching for her authentic self - exploring New Age theories..."

"One of Winfrey's most appealing subtexts is that she's anti-institutional, says Chris Altrock, minister of Highland Street Church of Christ in Memphis. He says Winfrey believes there are many paths to God, not just one. After doing his doctoral research three years ago on postmodernism religion, a religious era that began in the 1970s as Christians became deeply interested in spirituality and less interested in any established church, he came up with what he calls "The Church of Oprah," referring to the culture that has created her."

"People who have no religion relate to her"

Oh, and they even manage to bash the Catholic Church in the article.

Why Do We Worship On Sunday Instead Of Saturday?

Here is a compilation from Scripture Catholic of answers from Scripture and Church Fathers:


Isaiah 1:13 - God begins to reveal His displeasure with the Sabbath.

Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2,9; John 20:1,19- the Gospel writers purposely reveal Jesus' resurrection and appearances were on Sunday. This is because Sunday had now become the most important day in the life of the Church.

Acts 20:7 - this text shows the apostolic tradition of gathering together to celebrate the Eucharist on Sunday, the "first day of the week." Luke documents the principle worship was on Sunday because this was one of the departures from the Jewish form of worship.

1 Cor. 16:2 - Paul instructs the Corinthians to make contributions to the churches "on the first day of the week," which is Sunday. This is because the primary day of Christian worship is Sunday.

Col. 2:16-17 - Paul teaches that the Sabbath was only a shadow of what was fulfilled in Christ, and says "let no one pass judgment any more over a Sabbath."

2 Thess. 2:15 - we are to hold fast to apostolic tradition, whether it is oral or written. The 2,000 year-old tradition of the Church is that the apostles changed the Sabbath day of worship from Saturday to Sunday.

Heb. 4:8-9 - regarding the day of rest, if Joshua had given rest, God would not later speak of "another day," which is Sunday, the new Sabbath. Sunday is the first day of the week and the first day of the new creation brought about by our Lord's resurrection, which was on Sunday.

Heb. 7:12 - when there is a change in the priesthood, there is a change in the law as well. Because we have a new Priest and a new sacrifice, we also have a new day of worship, which is Sunday.

Rev 1:10 - John specifically points out that he witnesses the heavenly Eucharistic liturgy on Sunday, the Lord's day, the new day of rest in Christ.

Matt. 16:19; 18:18 - whatever the Church binds on earth is bound in heaven. Since the resurrection, Mass has been principally celebrated on Sunday.

Tradition / Church Fathers

On the Lord's own day, assemble in common to break bread and offer thanks, but first confess your sins so that your sacrifice may be pure."
Didache, 14 (A.D. 90).

"If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death--whom some deny, by which mystery we have obtained faith, and therefore endure, that we may be found the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master."
Ignatius, To the Magnesians, 9:1 (A.D. 110).

"The seventh day, therefore, is proclaimed a rest--abstraction from ills--preparing for the Primal Day,[The Lord's Day] our true rest; which, in truth, is the first creation of light, in which all things are viewed and possessed. From this day the first wisdom and knowledge illuminate us. For the light of truth--a light true, casting no shadow, is the Spirit of God indivisibly divided to all, who are sanctified by faith, holding the place of a luminary, in order to the knowledge of real existences. By following Him, therefore, through our whole life, we become impossible; and this is to rest."
Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 6:16 (A.D. 202).

"In fine, let him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed as a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day because of the threat of death, teach us that, for the time past, righteous men kept the Sabbath, or practiced circumcision, and were thus rendered "friends of God." For if circumcision purges a man since God made Adam uncircumcised, why did He not circumcise him, even after his sinning, if circumcision purges? At all events, in settling him in paradise, He appointed one uncircumcised as colonist of paradise. Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised, and inobservant of the Sabbath, consequently his offspring also, Abel, offering Him sacrifices, uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, was by Him commended; while He accepted what he was offering in simplicity of heart, and reprobated the sacrifice of his brother Cain, who was not rightly dividing what he was offering. Noah also, uncircumcised--yes, and inobservant of the Sabbath--God freed from the deluge. For Enoch, too, most righteous man, uncircumcised and in-observant of the Sabbath, He translated from this world; who did not first taste death, in order that, being a candidate for eternal life, he might by this time show us that we also may, without the burden of the law of Moses, please God." Tertullian, An answer to the Jews, 2 (A.D. 203).

"The apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be service, and the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and the oblation: because on the first day of the week our Lord rose from the lace of the dead and on the first day of the week He arose upon the world, and on the first day of the week He ascended up to heaven, and on the first day of the week He will appear at last with the angels of heaven."
Teaching of the Apostles, 2 (A.D. 225).

"Hence it is not possible that the rest after the Sabbath should have come into existence from the seventh of our God; on the contrary, it is our Saviour who, after the pattern of His own rest, caused us to be made in the likeness of His death, and hence also of His resurrection."
Origen, Commentary on John, 2:27 (A.D. 229).

"On the seventh day He rested from all His works, and blessed it, and sanctified it. On the former day we are accustomed to fast rigorously, that on the Lord's day we may go forth to our bread with giving of thanks. And let the parasceve become a rigorous fast, lest we should appear to observe any Sabbath with the Jews, which Christ Himself, the Lord of the Sabbath, says by His prophets that 'His soul hateth;' which Sabbath He in His body abolished."
Victorinus, On the Creation of the World (A.D. 300).

"They did not care about circumcision of the body, neither do we. They did not care about observing Sabbaths, nor do we."
Eusebius, Church History, 1:4,8 (A.D. 312).

"Also that day which is holy and blessed in everything, which possesses the name of Christ, namely the Lord's day, having risen upon us on the fourth of Pharmuthi (Mar. 30), let us afterwards keep the holy feast of Pentecost."
Athanasius, Epistle 9:11 (A.D. 335).

"Fall not away either into the sect of the Samaritans, or into Judaism: for Jesus Christ henceforth hath ransomed thee. Stand aloof from all observance of Sabbaths, and from calling any indifferent meats common or unclean."
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 4:37 (A.D. 350).

"Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ."
Council of Laodicea, Canon 29 (A.D. 360).

"For many other observances of the Churches, which are due to tradition, have acquired the authority of the written law, as for instance the practice of dipping the head three times in the layer, and then, after leaving the water, of tasting mingled milk and honey in representation of infancy; and, again, the practices of standing up in worship on the Lord's day, and ceasing from fasting every Pentecost; and there are many other unwritten practices which have won their place through reason and custom. So you see we follow the practice of the Church, although it may be clear that a person was baptized before the Spirit was invoked."
Jerome, Dialogue against the Luciferians, 8 (A.D. 382).

"Then as one whom they must respect, there will be the presbyter among them and this will contribute to the security of the estate. There will be constant prayers there through thee hymns and Communions through thee; the Oblation on each Lord's Day."
John Chrysostom, Acts of the Apostles, Homily 18 (A.D. 388).

"And on the day of our Lord's resurrection, which is the Lord's day, meet more diligently, sending praise to God that made the universe by Jesus, and sent Him to us, and condescended to let Him suffer, and raised Him from the dead. Otherwise what apology will he make to God who does not assemble on that day to hear the saving word concerning the resurrection, on which we pray thrice standing in memory of Him who arose in three days, in which is performed the reading of the prophets, the preaching of the Gospel, the oblation of the sacrifice, the gift of the holy food?"
Apostolic Constitutions, 2,7:59 (A.D. 400).

"Well, now, I should like to be told what there is in these ten commandments, except the observance of the Sabbath, which ought not to be kept by a Christian,--whether it prohibit the making and worshipping of idols and of any other gods than the one true God, or the taking of God's name in vain; or prescribe honour to parents; or give warning against fornication, murder, theft, false witness, adultery, or coveting other men's property? Which of these commandments would any one say that the Christian ought not to keep? Is it possible to contend that it is not the law which was written on those two tables that the apostle describes as 'the letter that killeth,' but the law of circumcision and the other sacred rites which are now abolished? But then how can we think so, when in the law occurs this precept, 'Thou shall not covet,' by which very commandment, notwithstanding its being holy, just, and good, 'sin,' says the apostle, 'deceived me, and by it slew me?' What else can this be than 'the letter' that 'killeth'?"
Augustine, Spirit and the Letter, 23:14 (A.D. 412).

"He [Constantine] also enjoined the observance of the day termed the Lord's day, which the Jews call the first day of the week, and which the pagans dedicate to the sun, as likewise the day before the seventh, and commanded that no judicial or other business should be transacted on those days, but that God should be served with prayers and supplications. He honored the Lord's day, because on it Christ arose from the dead, and the day above mentioned, because on it he was crucified."
Sozomon, Ecclesiastical History, 1:8 (A.D. 443).

"It has come to my ears that certain men of perverse spirit have sown among you some things that are wrong and opposed to the holy faith, so as to forbid any work being done on the Sabbath day. What else can I call these but preachers of Antichrist, who, when he comes, will cause the Sabbath day as well as the Lord's day to be kept free from all work. For, because he pretends to die and rise again, he wishes the Lord's day to be had in reverence; and, because he compels the people to judaize that he may bring back the outward rite of the law, and subject the per-tidy of the Jews to himself, he wishes the Sabbath to be observed. For this which is said by the prophet, 'Ye shall bring in no burden through your gates on the Sabbath day', could be held to as long as it was lawful for the law to be observed according to the letter. But after that the grace of Almighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ has appeared, the commandments of the law which were spoken figuratively cannot be kept according to the letter. For, if any one says that this about the Sabbath is to be kept, he must needs say that carnal sacrifices are to be offered: he must say too that the commandment about the circumcision of the body is still to be retained. But let him hear the Apostle Paul saying in opposition to him, 'If ye be circumcised, Christ profiteth you nothing.’”
Pope Gregory the Great [regn. A.D. 590-604], To the Roman Citizens, Epistle 13:1 (A.D. 597).

It's A Rat's Life

I noticed that I am moving up in the Truth Laid Bare Ecosystem. I am now an adorable little rodent! Talk about staying humble. Although, this probably means I am one of Nârwen Lewis' favorite blogs!

Minute Meditations From The Popes

I the Lord, am your God. And you shall make and keep yourselves holy, because I am holy.
-Lv 11:44

All are called to holiness, and it is possible to all. It is an invitation from the heart of God the Father Who sanctifies and divinizes us through the grace merited by Christ.
This grace is sustained by His Spirit, nourished by the Sacraments, and transmitted by the Church.
-Pope Paul VI

Lord God, I do not consider myself to be holy, and yet You call me to holiness. Teach me Your ways and guide me so that I may respond to the call to be holy as You are holy.

Question Of The Day

Why do Fundamentalists take every part of the Bible literally except when Jesus says that we must eat His flesh and Drink His blood or we will have no life in us and that whoever does eat His flesh and drink His blood will have eternal life?

Apologetics For Free

A couple of months ago, I did a blog post about free apologetics tapes and cd's by John Martignoni.

Well, now he has done something even better!

Over at Bible Christian Society, there are free downloads of all his cd's! You can now listen to free apologetics without having to wait a couple of days for them to be mailed to you. I've listened to all of them and they are great! So quit reading this blog and go download them!....(and when you are done, you can come back here and read....please.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Mike Aquilina's Top 20 Patristic Books

1. The Spirit of Early Christian Thought by Robert Louis Wilken.

2. The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries by Rodney Stark.

3. The Church of the Fathers by John Henry Newman.

4. The Spirituality of the New Testament and the Fathers by Louis Bouyer.

5. The Celebration of the Eucharist by Enrico Mazza.

6. In Procession Before the World: Martyrdom as Public Liturgy in Early Christianity by Robin Darling Young.

7. The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), vol. 1 in The Christian Tradition by Jaroslav Pelikan.

8. Face to Face: Portraits of the Divine in Early Christianity by Robin Margaret Jensen.

9. The Christians as the Romans Saw Them by Robert Louis Wilken.

10. Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought by Luigi Gambero.

11. An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine by John Henry Newman.

12. Easter in the Early Church: An Anthology of Jewish and Early Christian Texts by Raniero Cantalamessa.

13. Patrology (four volumes) by Johannes Quasten.

14. Fathers of the Church by Hubertus Drobner.

15. Early Christian Doctrines by J.N.D. Kelly
16. The Theology of Jewish Christianity by Jean Danielou.

17. In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity by Oskar Skarsaune.

18. Symbols of Church and Kingdom: A Study in Early Syriac Tradition by Robert Murray.

19. Letter and Spirit: From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy by Scott Hahn.

20. Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words by Rod Bennett.

Check out his site, The Way of the Fathers, for all your Patristic ponderings!

Fundamentalist Interpretation

Fundamentalist interpretation starts from the principle that the Bible, being the word of God, inspired and free from error, should be read and interpreted literally in all its details. But by "literal interpretation" it understands a naively literalist interpretation, one, that is to say, which excludes every effort at understanding the Bible that takes account of its historical origins and development. It is opposed, therefore, to the use of the historical-critical method, as indeed to the use of any other scientific method for the interpretation of Scripture.

The fundamentalist interpretation had its origin at the time of the Reformation, arising out of a concern for fidelity to the literal meaning of Scripture. After the century of the Enlightenment it emerged in Protestantism as a bulwark against liberal exegesis.

The actual term "fundamentalist" is connected directly with the American Biblical Congress held at Niagara, N.Y., in 1895. At this meeting, conservative Protestant exegetes defined "five points of fundamentalism": the verbal inerrancy of Scripture, the divinity of Christ, his virginal birth, the doctrine of vicarious expiation and the bodily resurrection at the time of the second coming of Christ. As the fundamentalist way of reading the Bible spread to other parts of the world, it gave rise to other ways of interpretation, equally "literalist," in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. As the 20th century comes to an end, this kind of interpretation is winning more and more adherents, in religious groups and sects, as also among Catholics.

Fundamentalism is right to insist on the divine inspiration of the Bible, the inerrancy of the word of God and other biblical truths included in its five fundamental points. But its way of presenting these truths is rooted in an ideology which is not biblical, whatever the proponents of this approach might say. For it demands an unshakable adherence to rigid doctrinal points of view and imposes, as the only source of teaching for Christian life and salvation, a reading of the Bible which rejects all questioning and any kind of critical research.

The basic problem with fundamentalist interpretation of this kind is that, refusing to take into account the historical character of biblical revelation, it makes itself incapable of accepting the full truth of the incarnation itself. As regards relationships with God, fundamentalism seeks to escape any closeness of the divine and the human. It refuses to admit that the inspired word of God has been expressed in human language and that this word has been expressed, under divine inspiration, by human authors possessed of limited capacities and resources. For this reason, it tends to treat the biblical text as if it had been dictated word for word by the Spirit. It fails to recognize that the word of God has been formulated in language and expression conditioned by various periods. It pays no attention to the literary forms and to the human ways of thinking to be found in the biblical texts, many of which are the result of a process extending over long periods of time and bearing the mark of very diverse historical situations.

Fundamentalism also places undue stress upon the inerrancy of certain details in the biblical texts, especially in what concerns historical events or supposedly scientific truth. It often historicizes material which from the start never claimed to be historical. It considers historical everything that is reported or recounted with verbs in the past tense, failing to take the necessary account of the possibility of symbolic or figurative meaning.

Fundamentalism often shows a tendency to ignore or to deny the problems presented by the biblical text in its original Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek form. It is often narrowly bound to one fixed translation, whether old or present-day. By the same token it fails to take account of the "re-readings" () of certain texts which are found within the Bible itself.

In what concerns the Gospels, fundamentalism does not take into account the development of the Gospel tradition, but naively confuses the final stage of this tradition (what the evangelists have written) with the initial (the words and deeds of the historical Jesus). At the same time fundamentalism neglects an important fact: The way in which the first Christian communities themselves understood the impact produced by Jesus of Nazareth and his message. But it is precisely there that we find a witness to the apostolic origin of the Christian faith and its direct expression. Fundamentalism thus misrepresents the call voiced by the Gospel itself.

Fundamentalism likewise tends to adopt very narrow points of view. It accepts the literal reality of an ancient, out-of-date cosmology simply because it is found expressed in the Bible; this blocks any dialogue with a broader way of seeing the relationship between culture and faith. Its relying upon a non-critical reading of certain texts of the Bible serves to reinforce political ideas and social attitudes that are marked by prejudices—racism, for example—quite contrary to the Christian Gospel.

Finally, in its attachment to the principle "Scripture alone," fundamentalism separates the interpretation of the Bible from the tradition, which, guided by the Spirit, has authentically developed in union with Scripture in the heart of the community of faith. It fails to realize that the New Testament took form within the Christian church and that it is the Holy Scripture of this church, the existence of which preceded the composition of the texts. Because of this, fundamentalism is often anti-church, it considers of little importance the creeds, the doctrines and liturgical practices which have become part of church tradition, as well as the teaching function of the church itself. It presents itself as a form of private interpretation which does not acknowledge that the church is founded on the Bible and draws its life and inspiration from Scripture.

The fundamentalist approach is dangerous, for it is attractive to people who look to the Bible for ready answers to the problems of life. It can deceive these people, offering them interpretations that are pious but illusory, instead of telling them that the Bible does not necessarily contain an immediate answer to each and every problem. Without saying as much in so many words, fundamentalism actually invites people to a kind of intellectual suicide. It injects into life a false certitude, for it unwittingly confuses the divine substance of the biblical message with what are in fact its human limitations.

-From The Pontifical Biblical Commission's The Interpretation Of The Bible In The Church.

Quote Of The Day

The study of the Bible is, as it were, the soul of theology, as the Second Vatican Council says, borrowing a phrase from Pope Leo XIII (Dei Verbum, 24). This study is never finished; each age must in its own way newly seek to understand the sacred books.

-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Minute Meditations From The Popes

She watches over household matters and eats not her food in idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed.
-Prov 31:27-28

The rearing and education of children should be the joint task of the father and mother, and there is certainly progress to be made in order that men should take their part in this task to a greater degree.
But it is only too clear that the role of the woman remains an essential one.
-Pope Paul VI

O Lord, now when the roles of parents are so often in confusion, help me to give of myself. Let me never do the minimum necessary, but rather always do the maximum.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Church Fathers And Purgatory

Compiled by Scripture Catholic

"And after the exhibition, Tryphaena again receives her. For her daughter Falconilla had died, and said to her in a dream: Mother, thou shaft have this stranger Thecla in my place, in order that she may pray concerning me, and that I may be transferred to the place of the just."
Acts of Paul and Thecla (A.D. 160).

"Abercius by name, I am a disciple of the chaste shepherd...He taught me…faithful writings...These words, I, Abercius, standing by, ordered to be inscribed. In truth, I was in the course of my seventy-second year. Let him who understands and believes this pray for Abercius."
Inscription of Abercius (A.D. 190).

"Without delay, on that very night, this was shown to me in a vision. I saw Dinocrates going out from a gloomy place, where also there were several others, and he was parched and very thirsty, with a filthy countenance and pallid colour, and the wound on his face which he had when he died. This Dinocrates had been my brother after the flesh, seven years of age? Who died miserably with disease...But I trusted that my prayer would bring help to his suffering; and I prayed for him every day until we passed over into the prison of the camp, for we were to fight in the camp-show. Then was the birth-day of Gets Caesar, and I made my prayer for my brother day and night, groaning and weeping that he might be granted to me. Then, on the day on which we remained in fetters, this was shown to me. I saw that that place which I had formerly observed to be in gloom was now bright; and Dinocrates, with a clean body well clad, was finding refreshment. And where there had been a wound, I saw a scar; and that pool which I had before seen, I saw now with its margin lowered even to the boy's navel. And one drew water from the pool incessantly, and upon its brink was a goblet filled with water; and Dinocrates drew near and began to drink from it, and the goblet did not fail. And when he was satisfied, he went away from the water to play joyously, after the manner of children, and I awoke. Then I understood that he was translated from the place of punishment."
The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitias, 2:3-4 (A.D. 202).

"Accordingly the believer, through great discipline, divesting himself of the passions, passes to the mansion which is better than the former one, viz., to the greatest torment, taking with him the characteristic of repentance from the sins he has committed after baptism. He is tortured then still more--not yet or not quite attaining what he sees others to have acquired. Besides, he is also ashamed of his transgressions. The greatest torments, indeed, are assigned to the believer. For God's righteousness is good, and His goodness is righteous. And though the punishments cease in the course of the completion of the expiation and purification of each one, yet those have very great and permanent grief who are found worthy of the other fold, on account of not being along with those that have been glorified through righteousness."
Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 6:14 (post A.D. 202).

"[T]hat allegory of the Lord which is extremely clear and simple in its meaning, and ought to be from the first understood in its plain and natural sense...Then, again, should you be disposed to apply the term 'adversary' to the devil, you are advised by the (Lord's) injunction, while you are in the way with him, 'to make even with him such a compact as may be deemed compatible with the requirements of your true faith. Now the compact you have made respecting him is to renounce him, and his pomp, and his angels. Such is your agreement in this matter. Now the friendly understanding you will have to carry out must arise from your observance of the compact: you must never think of getting back any of the things which you have abjured, and have restored to him, lest he should summon you as a fraudulent man, and a transgressor of your agreement, before God the Judge (for in this light do we read of him, in another passage, as 'the accuser of the brethren,' or saints, where reference is made to the actual practice of legal prosecution); and lest this Judge deliver you over to the angel who is to execute the sentence, and he commit you to the prison of hell, out of which there will be no dismissal until the smallest even of your delinquencies be paid off in the period before the resurrection. What can be a more fitting sense than this? What a truer interpretation?"
Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul, 35 (A.D. 210).

"All souls, therefore; are shut up within Hades: do you admit this? It is true, whether you say yes or no: moreover, there are already experienced there punishments and consolations; and there you have a poor man and a rich...Moreover, the soul executes not all its operations with the ministration of the flesh; for the judgment of God pursues even simple cogitations and the merest volitions. 'Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.' Therefore, even for this cause it is most fitting that the soul, without at all waiting for the flesh, should be punished for what it has done without the partnership of the flesh. So, on the same principle, in return for the pious and kindly thoughts in which it shared not the help of the flesh, shall it without the flesh receive its consolation. In short, inasmuch as we understand 'the prison' pointed out in the Gospel to be Hades, and as we also interpret 'the uttermost farthing' to mean the very smallest offence which has to be recompensed there before the resurrection, no one will hesitate to believe that the soul undergoes in Hades some compensatory discipline, without prejudice to the full process of the resurrection, when the recompense will be administered through the flesh besides."
Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul, 58 (A.D. 210).

"As often as the anniversary comes round, we make offerings for the dead as birthday honours." Tertullian, The Chaplut, 3 (A.D. 211).

"[A] woman is more bound when her husband is dead...Indeed, she prays for his soul, and requests refreshment for him meanwhile, and fellowship (with him) in the first resurrection; and she offers (her sacrifice) on the anniversary of his falling asleep."
Tertullian, On Monogamy, 10 (A.D. 216).

"For if on the foundation of Christ you have built not only gold and silver and precious stones (1 Cor.,3); but also wood and hay and stubble, what do you expect when the soul shall be separated from the body? Would you enter into heaven with your wood and hay and stubble and thus defile the kingdom of God; or on account of these hindrances would you remain without and receive no reward for your gold and silver and precious stones; neither is this just. It remains then that you be committed to the fire which will burn the light materials; for our God to those who can comprehend heavenly things is called a cleansing fire. But this fire consumes not the creature, but what the creature has himself built, wood, and hay and stubble. It is manifest that the fire destroys the wood of our transgressions and then returns to us the reward of our great works."
Origen, Homilies on Jeremias, PG 13:445, 448 ( A.D. 244).

"For to adulterers even a time of repentance is granted by us, and peace is given. Yet virginity is not therefore deficient in the Church, nor does the glorious design of continence languish through the sins of others. The Church, crowned with so many virgins, flourishes; and chastity and modesty preserve the tenor of their glory. Nor is the vigour of continence broken down because repentance and pardon are facilitated to the adulterer. It is one thing to stand for pardon, another thing to attain to glory: it is one thing, when cast into prison, not to go out thence until one has paid the uttermost farthing; another thing at once to receive the wages of faith and courage. It is one thing, tortured by long suffering for sins, to be cleansed and long purged by fire; another to have purged all sins by suffering. It is one thing, in fine, to be in suspense till the sentence of God at the day of judgment; another to be at once crowned by the Lord."
Cyprian, To Antonianus, Epistle 51 (55):20 (A.D. 253).

"Let us pray for our brethren that are at rest in Christ, that God, the lover of mankind, who has received his soul, may forgive him every sin, voluntary and involuntary, and may be merciful and gracious to him, and give him his lot in the land of the pious that are sent into the bosom of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, with all those that have pleased Him and done His will from the beginning of the world, whence all sorrow, grief, and lamentation are banished."
Apostolic Constitutions, 8:4,41 (3rd Century).

"The same divine fire, therefore, with one and the same force and power, will both burn the wicked and will form them again, and will replace as much as it shall consume of their bodies, and will supply itself with eternal nourishment: which the poets transferred to the vulture of Tityus. Thus, without any wasting of bodies, which regain their substance, it will only burn and affect them with a sense of pain. But when He shall have judged the righteous, He will also try them with fire. Then they whose sins shall exceed either in weight or in number, shall be scorched by the fire and burnt: but they whom full justice and maturity of virtue has imbued will not perceive that fire; for they have something of God in themselves which repels and rejects the violence of the flame."
Lactantius, The Divine Institutes, 7:21 (A.D. 307).

"Then we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, that at their prayers and intercessions God would receive our petition. Then on behalf also of the Holy Fathers and Bishops who have fallen asleep before us, and in a word of all who in past years have fallen asleep among us, believing that it will be a very great benefit to the souls, for whom the supplication is put up, while that holy and most awful sacrifice is set forth. And I wish to persuade you by an illustration. For I know that many say, what is a soul profited, which departs from this world either with sins, or without sins, if it be commemorated in the prayer? For if a king were to banish certain who had given him of-fence, and then those who belong to them should weave a crown and offer it to him on behalf of those under punishment, would he not grant a remission of their penalties? In the same way we, when we offer to Him our supplications for those who have fallen asleep, though they be sinners, weave no crown, but offer up Christ sacrificed for our sins, propitiating our merciful God for them as well as for ourselves.”
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 23:9,10 (c. A.D. 350).

"I think that the noble athletes of God, who have wrestled all their lives with the invisible enemies, after they have escaped all of their persecutions and have come to the end of life, are examined by the prince of this world; and if they are found to have any wounds from their wrestling, any stains or effects of sin, they are detained. If, however they are found unwounded and without stain, they are, as unconquered, brought by Christ into their rest."
Basil, Homilies on the Psalms, 7:2 (ante A.D. 370).

"Lay me not with sweet spices: for this honour avails me not; Nor yet incense and perfumes: for the honour benefits me not. Burn sweet spices in the Holy Place: and me, even me, conduct to the grave with prayer. Give ye incense to God: and over me send up hymns. Instead of perfumes of spices: in prayer make remembrance of me."
Ephraem, His Testament (ante A.D. 373).

"Useful too is the prayer fashioned on their [the dead’s] behalf...it is useful, because in this world we often stumble either voluntarily or involuntarily."
Epiphanius, Panarion, 75:8 (A.D. 375).

"When he has quitted his body and the difference between virtue and vice is known he cannot approach God till the purging fire shall have cleansed the stains with which his soul was infested. That same fire in others will cancel the corruption of matter, and the propensity to evil." Gregory of Nyssa, Sermon on the Dead, PG 13:445,448 (ante A.D. 394).

"Give, Oh Lord, rest to Thy servant Theodosius, that rest Thou hast prepared for Thy saints....I love him, therefore will I follow him to the land of the living; I will not leave him till by my prayers and lamentations he shall be admitted unto the holy mount of the Lord,to which his deserts call him."
Ambrose, De obitu Theodosii, PL 16:1397 (A.D. 395).

"Other husbands scatter on the graves of their wives violets, roses, lilies, and purple flowers; and assuage the grief of their hearts by fulfilling this tender duty. Our dear Pammachius also waters the holy ashes and the revered bones of Paulina, but it is with the balm of almsgiving." Jerome, To Pammachius, Epistle 66:5 (A.D. 397).

"Weep for the unbelievers; weep for those who differ in nowise from them, those who depart hence without the illumination, without the seal! They indeed deserve our wailing, they deserve our groans; they are outside the Palace, with the culprits, with the condemned: for, "Verily I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven." Mourn for those who have died in wealth, and did not from their wealth think of any solace for their soul, who had power to wash away their sins and would not. Let us all weep for these in private and in public, but with propriety, with gravity, not so as to make exhibitions of ourselves; let us weep for these, not one day, or two, but all our life. Such tears spring not from senseless passion, but from true affection. The other sort are of senseless passion. For this cause they are quickly quenched, whereas if they spring from the fear of God, they always abide with us. Let us weep for these; let us assist them according to our power; let us think of some assistance for them, small though it be, yet still let us assist them. How and in what way? By praying and entreating others to make prayers for them, by continually giving to the poor on their behalf."
John Chrysostom, Homilies on Phillipians, 3 (ante A.D. 404).

"If the baptized person fulfills the obligations demanded of a Christian, he does well. If he does not--provided he keeps the faith, without which he would perish forever--no matter in what sin or impurity remains, he will be saved, as it were, by fire; as one who has built on the foundation, which is Christ, not gold, silver, and precious stones, but wood, hay straw, that is, not just and chasted works but wicked and unchaste works."
Augustine, Faith and Works, 1:1 (A.D. 413).

"Now on what ground does this person pray that he may not be 'rebuked in indignation, nor chastened in hot displeasure"? He speaks as if he would say unto God, 'Since the things which I already suffer are many in number, I pray Thee let them suffice;' and he begins to enumerate them, by way of satisfying God; offering what he suffers now, that he may not have to suffer worse evils hereafter."
Augustine, Exposition of the Psalms, 38(37):3 (A.D. 418).

"And it is not impossible that something of the same kind may take place even after this life. It is a matter that may be inquired into, and either ascertained or left doubtful, whether some believers shall pass through a kind of purgatorial fire, and in proportion as they have loved with more or less devotion the goods that perish, be less or more quickly delivered from it. This cannot, however, be the case of any of those of whom it is said, that they 'shall not inherit the kingdom of God,' unless after suitable repentance their sins be forgiven them. When I say 'suitable,' I mean that they are not to be unfruitful in almsgiving; for Holy Scripture lays so much stress on this virtue, that our Lord tells us beforehand, that He will ascribe no merit to those on His right hand but that they abound in it, and no defect to those on His left hand but their want of it, when He shall say to the former, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom," and to the latter, 'Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.'"
Augustine, Enchiridion, 69 (A.D. 421).

"During the time, moreover, which intervenes between a man's death and the final resurrection, the soul dwells in a hidden retreat, where it enjoys rest or suffers affliction just in proportion to the merit it has earned by the life which it led on earth."
Augustine, Enchiridion, 1099 (A.D. 421).

"For our part, we recognize that even in this life some punishments are purgatorial,--not, indeed, to those whose life is none the better, but rather the worse for them, but to those who are constrained by them to amend their life. All other punishments, whether temporal or eternal, inflicted as they are on every one by divine providence, are sent either on account of past sins, or of sins presently allowed in the life, or to exercise and reveal a man's graces. They may be inflicted by the instrumentality of bad men and angels as well as of the good. For even if any one suffers some hurt through another's wickedness or mistake, the man indeed sins whose ignorance or injustice does the harm; but God, who by His just though hidden judgment permits it to be done, sins not. But temporary punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by others after death, by others both now and then; but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But of those who suffer temporary punishments after death, all are not doomed to those everlasting pains which are to follow that judgment; for to some, as we have already said, what is not remitted in this world is remitted in the next, that is, they are not punished with the eternal punishment of the world to come."
Augustine, City of God, 21:13 (A.D. 426).

"But since she has this certainty regarding no man, she prays for all her enemies who yet live in this world; and yet she is not heard in behalf of all. But she is heard in the case of those only who, though they oppose the Church, are yet predestinated to become her sons through her intercession...For some of the dead, indeed, the prayer of the Church or of pious individuals is heard; but it is for those who, having been regenerated in Christ, did not spend their life so wickedly that they can be judged unworthy of such compassion, nor so well that they can be considered to have no need of it. As also, after the resurrection, there will be some of the dead to whom, after they have endured the pains proper to the spirits of the dead, mercy shall be accorded, and acquittal from the punishment of the eternal fire. For were there not some whose sins, though not remitted in this life, shall be remitted in that which is to come, it could not be truly said, "They shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in that which is to come.' But when the Judge of quick and dead has said, 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,' and to those on the other side, 'Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels,' and 'These shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life,' it were excessively presumptuous to say that the punishment of any of those whom God has said shall go away into eternal punishment shall not be eternal, and so bring either despair or doubt upon the corresponding promise of life eternal."
Augustine, City of God,2 1:24 (A.D. 426).

"If we neither give thanks to God in tribulations nor redeem our own sins by good works, we shall have to remain in that purgatorian fire as long as it takes for those above-mentioned lesser sins to be consumed like wood and straw and hay."
Ceasar of Arles, Sermon 179 (104):2 (A.D. 542).

"Each one will be presented to the Judge exactly as he was when he departed this life. Yet, there must be a cleansing fire before judgment, because of some minor faults that may remain to be purged away. Does not Christ, the Truth, say that if anyone blasphemes against the Holy Spirit he shall not be forgiven 'either in this world or in the world to come'(Mt. 12:32)? From this statement we learn that some sins can be forgiven in this world and some in the world to come. For, if forgiveness is refused for a particular sin, we conclude logically that it is granted for others. This must apply, as I said, to slight transgressions."
Gregory the Great [regn. A.D. 590-604], Dialogues, 4:39 (A.D. 594).

Quote Of The Day

"We are compelled to concede to the Papists that they have the Word of GOD, that we received it from them, and that without them, we should have no knowledge of it at all."

-Martin Luther, commentary on St. John.

Religious Orders

There are so many religious orders, that it's hard to keep track!
My favorite order is the Dominicans, the Order of Preachers, because I love proclaiming the Faith and St. Dominic's order (in my opinion) does it the best!

My question to all the readers of Irish-Catholic And Dangerous is what is your favorite religious order and why?
Minute Meditations From The Popes

Yet it was our infirmities that He bore, our sufferings that He endured.
-Is 53:4

The Good News is this: that God loves us. He became human to share in our life and to share His life with us.
He walks with us every step of the way, taking our concerns as His own, for He cares about us.
-Pope Paul VI

O Lord, when I think of the things You have done and do for me, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. You are so good, so loving. Let my every breath, my every heartbeat remind me to thank You once again.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Quote Of The Day

"The Church's liturgy is where the Bible finds its natural (or rather supernatural) habitat!"

-Dr. Scott Hahn
Minute Meditations From The Popes

On the contrary, whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.
-Mt. 20:26

It is love that led Christ to serve, to give His life as a ransom for many. The word "to serve" no longer means an insupportable degradation of the human being's dignity.
In the sense Christ gave it, service acquires the highest moral value -dominion of self, heroism, sacrifice, boundless love.
-Pope Paul VI

Teach me, O Lord, that the measure of success in my life is how much I have loved. Let me love more each day of my life, until I finally come home to You, Who are pure love.

Friday, May 05, 2006

My Plans For This Weekend...

...Have changed. I was supposed to be in Ohio visiting my uncle who has cancer, but I got a call from my aunt half way there telling me that she was taking him to the hospital because he had a fever and other adverse reactions due to the chemotherapy. Hopefully, he will feel better so we can reschedule for next weekend.

I ask that you please keep my uncle in your prayers. When he first found out about the cancer (colon cancer), they operated on him and were able to remove most of it. He is now undergoing 48 weeks of chemotherapy to get rid of whatever is left over. So far he hasn't done well with it. This is his second time having to go to the emergency room since the chemotherapy began on the 19th of April.

Although I am extremely disappointed at not being able to see my uncle this weekend, it does allow me to attend a Scott Hahn lecture in nearby Erie, PA at St. George Catholic Church.

As much as I love listening to lectures by Scott Hahn, I would still rather be visiting my uncle.
It's the Church's Bible

by Dr. Jeff Mirus, special to CatholicCulture.org
May 5, 2006

In a recent issue of First Things editor Richard John Neuhaus criticized the New American Bible and commented on some problems plaguing modern Biblical translations in general. One of the contributors to the revised NAB wrote in to defend the scholarship of the translators. Fr. Neuhaus replied that the Bible is “the Church’s Bible, not the Bible of the academic guild.” What can this possibly mean?

Determining Meaning

One of the examples Fr. Neuhaus used was Genesis 1:1-3. What has been traditionally rendered as “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” has recently been changed to “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,” which fails to capture the full force of the Christian understanding of “the beginning”. Of course, this is not so much a quarrel over the translation of a particular verse as over a trend. For example, we see a similar loss of force in the Christian understanding of Psalm 23:6. In this verse, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” becomes “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.”

Richard J. Clifford, SJ of the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, the defender of the NAB in this instance, argues that scholars rightly based their new Genesis translation on such things as “the phraseology of comparable Near Eastern cosmogonies, and the Masoretic vocalization” of the text. He further notes that at the time of the psalms, Israel “had no belief in life after death in a modern sense”, and one cannot push later interpretations onto early texts. “Tradition,” says Fr. Clifford, “should not determine biblical translation.” This seems quite sound.

A Unique Text

But is it really? It is certainly true that a translator ought not to impose on the text a meaning that it cannot bear, no matter what his theological presuppositions lead him to prefer the text should say. But when the language used can admit of a variety of interpretations, or when the meaning simply isn’t completely clear, translators face an unusual challenge with Scripture. The challenge is to remember that the Holy Spirit is the primary author. It is, therefore, the Holy Spirit’s mind the translator must ultimately try to read, not the mind of the human agent who drafted the text.

With apologies to Fr. Clifford, tradition can and must affect how Scripture is translated. Tradition is reflective of Faith which, in turn, is reflective of the mind of the Holy Spirit. Knowing more about the truths the Holy Spirit wishes to convey than did the original human authors of the Old Testament, the Church sometimes comes to see a particular fullness of meaning in a Scriptural verse which a good translator is bound to respect. In other words, the role of the translator is not to do his best to return us to the understanding of reality held by the human agent who penned each ancient book. Rather, the translator must attempt to translate in such a manner that the greatest possible range of meaning inspired by the Holy Spirit is conveyed.

This is a daunting but not an impossible task. It is possible precisely because “it is the Church’s Bible, not the Bible of the academic guild.” In other words, what may sound to some like petulance on the part of Fr. Neuhaus is not petulance at all. It is, in fact, the sine qua non of Biblical translation. Without this precise attitude, the Bible becomes just another book, one of a great many interesting products of the human mind.

For Years to Come

Take the translation of Psalm 23:6. The verse employs a Hebraism perhaps best translated as “for length of days”, which is not an idiomatic expression in English, though it can be (and has been) translated that way, with perhaps not unsatisfactory results. Now, among many possible choices for translation of this Hebraism, let us consider two: “forever” (the traditional translation) and “for years to come” (in the NAB). Which is better?

Admittedly, the question is not simple. It seems reasonable that the Hebrew refers to a great length of time. But if we consider the sketchy understanding of the after-life in those days, we naturally think a little harder about whether it really means “forever”. Given the Hebrew propensity for poetic intensification or even hyperbole, however, we can see that “forever” might well have been understood at the time in an accommodated sense, even without a full theological understanding. Thus, for example, on our wedding days we all expect to be married forever. Even, perhaps, forever and a day.

What to do? Well, the Church knows something about the mind of the Holy Spirit that the human author didn’t know. The Church knows that we will ultimately dwell in the house of the Lord forever in the fullest eschatological sense, and the Church also knows that this is one of several layers of meaning the Holy Spirit intended in this text. Because the Church knows this, as reflected in the tradition of her interpretation, it is the translator’s job to select a phraseology which is faithful to the literal text without unnecessarily obscuring this richer meaning.

Clearly, then, the translation “for years to come” fails. And it fails precisely because it divorces Scripture from the mind of the Holy Spirit, insisting instead that its meaning is exhausted by the conceptual limitations of the human agent who penned the words in a particular time and place. The translation “forever”, in contrast, leaves the text open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to whom all the sequential stages of Revelation are equally present. And it does this without imposing upon the actual words a meaning which they cannot bear.

The Church’s Bible

I’ve emphasized several times in other contexts (with no originality whatsoever) that the Bible must be interpreted in the heart of the Church. Because no language, especially no ancient language, can be translated into another with exact correspondence, translation is in part an act of interpretation. The richer the text, the more difficult it becomes to convey in the new language all the shades of meaning present in the original. This task becomes even more difficult when the translator himself, perhaps inevitably, does not perceive all the meanings the text contains.

In dealing with the works of a living author, of course, the translator should consult the author. But this is also possible with Scripture, for which purpose there is only one way to consult the Holy Spirit. Now we understand what Fr. Neuhaus means when he says: “It’s the Church’s Bible.”