Friday, March 30, 2007

Ask A Father

Q: St. Maximus of Turin, Christ on the Cross attributes Psalm 22 to Himself when he quotes the first lines of the psalm: "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" But later on, the psalm says: "But I am a worm, an no man..." Why would Our Lord and Savior call Himself a "worm"?
A: Why the Lord of every creature should wish to be compared to a worm is something that we can ascribe first of all to humility, which is the saints' greatest virtue. This is why holy Moses acknowledges before God that he is an irrational animal and David often characterizes himself as a flea. But I think that what the Lord says ought to be taken more literally, since a worm is procreated with no admixture of a foreign substance but from the virgin earth alone. Consequently a worm is comparable to the Lord, since the Savior Himself is begotten from the virgin Mary alone. We also read in the books of Moses that worms were bred from manna. The comparison is clearly a worthy and good one- the worm produced from manna and the Lord Christ begotten of a virgin. Why should I not rather say that Mary herself is manna? For she is subtle, splendid, sweet, and virginal; coming in a heavenly way she gave forth a food sweeter than honey to all the peoples of the churches, and whoever fails to eat and feed upon it will be unable to have life in him. The Lord Himself says: Unless a person eat my flesh and drink my blood he will not have life in him, but instead that very food will be turned into a judgment, as the Apostle says: Whoever eats and drinks unworthily..... This was prophesied in a veiled manner to the children of Israel in the Old Testament. For to those acting against the divine precepts worms were produced from the manna- that is, revengers and judges of stubbornness. This similitude points to Christ the Lord, whom the one who has neglected to consume the delightful food and sweet drink will have as his judge, as He Himself says: For the Father does not judge anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son. And that worm and judge are one and the same is shown by the prophet when he speaks of sinners: Their worm shall not die and their fire shall not be quenched until the present day.

Ask A Father

Q: St. Jerome, what would you say to a mother who was reluctant to allow her daughter to enter religious life?
A: "Why, mother, begrudge your daughter her virginity? She was nourished by your milk, taken from your body; she grew in your embrace. You kept her safe by your protecting love. Are you angry because she was unwilling to be a soldier's bride, but would be the bride of the King? She has bestowed a great honor upon you: you have become a mother-in-law of God."

Our Advocate

"Holy Mary, help the miserable, strengthen the discouraged, comfort the sorrowful, pray for your people, plead for your clergy, intercede for all women consecrated to God."

-St. Augustine

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sparse Posting

I have four papers due within the next month, thus my posting will most likely be pretty meager.

Two of the topics I am working on are:
-The Church Fathers Marian interpretation of the Old Testament.
-The Mariology of Pope Benedict XVI.

Currently, my living room is filled with stacks of the works of the Fathers of the Church. I couldn't think of a better way to spend my time researching in between studying for classes!

Ask A Father

Q: St. John Damascene, why do we call the Blessed Virgin Mary, Theotokos: Mother of God?
A: For, as He who was born of her is true God, so is she truly Mother of God who gave who gave birth to the true God who took His flesh from her. Now, we do not say that God was born of her in the sense that the divinity of the Word had its beginning of being from her, but in the sense that God the Word Himself, who was timelessly begotten of the Father before the ages and exists without beginning and eternally with the Father and the Holy Ghost, did in the last days come for our salvation to dwell in her womb and of her was, without undergoing change, made flesh and born. For the holy Virgin did not give birth to a mere man but to true God, and not to God simply, but to God made flesh. And He did not bring His body down from heaven and come through as through a channel, but assumed from her a body consubstantial with us and subsisting in Himself.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A "Yes" From Nazareth To Calvary

"In this Lenten season, we more frequently contemplate the Madonna who on Calvary sealed the 'yes' pronounced at Nazareth. United to Jesus, the Witness of the Father's love, Mary lived the martyrdom of the soul. Let us invoke her intercession with trust, that the Church, faithful to its mission, gives to the whole world a courageous testimony to the love of God."

-Pope Benedict XVI at yesterday's Angelus talk.

"Death From Eve, Life From Mary"

"The word of the devil had entered Eve, building death; the word of God, the builder of life, had also to find its way into a virgin, so that what had hastened towards perdition through (feminine) sex should turn back towards life through the same sex. Eve believed the serpent; Mary believed Gabriel. The sin which the former committed through believing (the devil), the latter corrected through her faith."


The Solemnity Of The Annunciation

The Annunciation is one of the seeds for the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. The Archangel Gabriel greets Our Blessed Lady as "Full of Grace." He gives her a new title and announces that Mary will be a mother to the Savior of the world; God-made-man.
At the Annunciation we see the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14: "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel."

This is an extraordinary moment in salvation history for the very fact that God, the creator of the world, humbled himself and became man inside the perfect womb of Mary which He Himself had created. God did not need to use a mere creation in His mission of salvation, but He chose to do so. God enacted what the early Church Fathers called recirculation: As death entered the world through a man, a woman, and a tree; so it was fitting that our redemption came about by a man, a woman, and a tree. Thus, Christ chose His mother (who albeit a perfect creation is still a creation nevertheless) to actively participate in the redemption of the world.

Mary’s "yes" to the Archangel is a "yes" for all humanity. She mediates Christ to the world. St. Bernard said that the whole world waited to hear Mary’s "yes." Her "yes" was the most important "yes" in all of history. With it she gave consent for God to dwell within her. She became the tabernacle of the Word; the ark of the New Covenant! For Mary, the Annunciation is a type of anticipated Pentecost where the Holy Spirit, her spouse, overshadows her. The uncreated Immaculate Conception overshadows the created Immaculate Conception. The two become one.

Our Lady’s "yes" at the Annunciation is also a "yes" to Christ’s entire mission of redemption, including Calvary. She does not give a separate "yes" in the offering of her Son upon the Cross, but rather her "yes" is a universal fiat. She says, "Let it be done unto me according to thy word." Even if that means sacrificing her Son for the sake of the world and having a sword mystically pierce her heart as well. As Christ was crucified physically at Calvary, Mary was spiritually crucified with her Son. For this reason the early Church Fathers describe the Incarnation as redemption anticipated and begun. For this reason also, we hail Mary as co-redemptrix: the woman with the redeemer.

"[Mary] offered her virginal womb for the incarnation of God's word. At the annunciation Mary conceived the Son of God in the physical reality of his body and blood, thus anticipating within herself what to some degree happens sacramentally in every believer who receives, under the signs of bread and wine, the Lord's body and blood."
-John Paul II

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ask A Father

Q: St. John Chrysostom, what is a parable?
A: A parable is a saying, an example, a reproach, as when [the psalmist] says, "You have made us a parable among the nations, a shaking of the head among the peoples" (Ps 44:14). A parable is also a riddle, which many call a question, suggesting something not immediately clear from the words but containing a meaning hidden within, like that spoken by Samson, "From the eater came forth food, and from the strong something sweet" (Judg 14:14), and Solomon, "You will understand both a parable and an obscure saying" (Prov 1:6). A parable also means a comparison: "He proposed another parable to them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a man sowing good seed" (Mat 13:24). A parable also means a figure of speech: "Son of man, tell them this proverb: The great eagle, the one with big wings" (Ezek 17:1-3), meaning by eagle the king. A parable also means a type, or likeness, as Paul also shows in the words, "By faith he sacrificed Isaac when put to the test, the one in receipt of the promises offered up his only-begotten; whence also in figure he received him back" (Heb 11:17,19)- that is, in type and in likeness.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Mary Co-Redemptrix

"O remarkable Virgin, our only remedy,
Whom God filled with the wealth of the world.
You merited to hold your Maker in your womb
And gave birth to God, conceiving in faith.
By this new birth, you will wash the world from sin
And by your sacred offspring, you will give birth to God.
The Son you bore, O Virgin Mary,
Cured what Eve bore: the human race's woes."

-Venantius Fortunatus in his hymn In laudem sanctae Mariae.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Ask A Father

Q: St. Jerome, some people say that the Church doesn't like women. Is this because Satan tricked Eve, the woman responsible for bringing original sin to mankind? Is this true? Does the Church hate women?
A: Observe the cleverness of the ancient foe. He ferociously preyed upon the substance of the just man [Job]....He left him nothing but his tongue and his wife, so that one tempted him while the other blasphemed. The devil remembered the old trick by which he had once ensnared Adam through the woman....thinking that he could always trap men by using woman. But he did not consider that, if a man was ruined by a woman once, now the whole world has been saved through a woman. You are thinking of Eve, but consider Mary: the former drove us out of paradise; the latter leads us back to heaven.

Fall Classes

I registered today for my Fall classes. They are as follows:

-Teachings of Vatican II taught by Fr. Dan Pattee, TOR
-Catholic Theology of Tradition and Development of Doctrine taught by Dr. Stephen Hildebrand
-New Testament Wisdom: The Epistle to the Hebrews taught by Fr. James Swetnam, SJ

I am extremely excited about the Epistle to the Hebrews class! Not that the other two classes won't be great, but the Hebrews class is being taught by Fr. Swetnam, who not only is a world class scholar, but the Epistle to the Hebrews is his specialization!

I myself love the Epistle to the Hebrews (check out a paper I wrote on the theology of Christ's priesthood in Hebrews which I wrote last semester) and to be able to study it with Fr. Swetnam is truly a blessing!

Truly, to be studying at Franciscan University is a wonderful blessing!

Another blessing beyond compare is also to be Catholic! I can't say that enough. This Easter Vigil it will be my one year anniversary of entering the Church and I absolutely love being apart of the fullness of the Faith and all the beauty and treasure it has to offer for loving and serving Our Lord Jesus Christ! This is the Church He founded upon Peter and the Apostles. What a glorious act of Christ's Love is Holy Mother Church!

Would that all would experience Her joy!

Ask A Father

Q: St. Jerome, how would you answer Protestants who, following your interlocutor Helvidius, deny the Perpetual Virginity of Our Blessed Lady by using Mt 1:18?
A: Regarding the words of the Gospel: "Before they came together, she was found to be with child by the power of the Holy Spirit", [Helvidius] observes: "No one, when speaking about someone who is not going to eat lunch, says, 'Before he ate lunch.'"

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Should I accuse him of lack of experience or just carelessness? Suppose someone should say, "Before eating lunch at the harbor, I set sail for Africa." Would this mean that his statement could not be valid unless he had to eat lunch at the harbor some day? Or if we wished to say, "The apostle Paul, before departing for Spain, was put in chains in Rome." Or to say- which is quite likely -"Helvidius, before repenting, was struck down by death."

Now does Paul have to go to Spain immediately upon his release? Must Helvidius repent after his death, even though Scripture says, "In the underworld who will give you praise?" (Ps 6:5)? Although the preposition "before" often indicates a consequence, sometimes it merely shows what was being planned beforehand.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ask A Father

Q: Saint Aphrahat, in what way is Christ the New Moses?
A: "Moses was persecuted, as Jesus was persecuted. When Moses was born, they concealed him so that he might not be slain by his persecutors. When Jesus was born they carried him off in flight into Egypt so that Herod, his persecutor, might not slay him. In the days when Moses was born, children used to be drowned in the river; and at the birth of Jesus the children of Bethlehem and in the area were slain. To Moses God said: "Those who were seeking your life are dead " (Ex 4:19), and to Joseph the angel said in Egypt: "Arise, take up the child, and go into the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the life of the child are dead" (Mt 2:20). Moses brought out his people from slavery to Pharaoh; and Jesus delivered all nations from slavery to Satan… When Moses sacrificed the lamb, the firstborn of Egypt were slain; and when they crucified him, Jesus became the true lamb… Moses brought down manna for his people; and Jesus gave his body to the nations. Moses sweetened the bitter waters by wood; and Jesus sweetened our bitterness by his cross, by the wood of the tree of his crucifixion. Moses brought the Law down to his people; and Jesus gave his covenants to the nations. Moses conquered Amalek by the spreading out of his hands; and Jesus conquered Satan by the sign of his cross. Moses brought out water from the rock for his people; and Jesus sent Simon Peter (the rock) to carry his doctrine among the nations. Moses lifted up the veil from his face and spoke with God; and Jesus lifted up the veil from the face of the nations, that they might hear and receive his doctrine (2 Co 3:16). Moses laid his hand upon his messengers and they received priesthood; and Jesus laid his hands upon his apostles, and they received the Holy Spirit. Moses ascended the mountain and died there; and Jesus ascended into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of his Father."

Marian Figures Of The Old Testament: Deborah

-We encounter Deborah in Judges 4: 4-25. She is under extreme danger, yet she leads her people to salvation from the Canaanites. She leads Barak and a small army against the powerful Sisera. Deborah has a very co-redemptive role. She is a Warrior Queen who leads her people into battle and protects them.

-Mary as the Gebirah (Queen Mother) intercedes for the salvation of her people. She is rightly seen as the Queen of Martyrs. She risks her whole life in leading the battle for salvation. The Mother forms Christ for His mission of redemption.
-The actions of Jael in the story of Deborah is a reference to Gen 3:15; the crushing of the head of the serpent.

-Deborah also sings a canticle of praise.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Cesare Cardinal Baronio's Canonization Cause Revived

The virtue of patience is hard to come by in any day or age, but the extraordinary example of Cardinal Cesare Baronio should give us all heart. Not only did he dedicate long hard hours to his studies and writing, and suffer the ceaseless practical jokes of St. Philip Neri, but additionally his cause for canonization has been stalled since 1745 when Pope Benedict XIV conferred on him the title of venerable. But Cardinal Baronio's spirit of forbearance has paid off. This year, the 400th anniversary of his death, Cardinal Baronio's case has been reopened by the general attorney of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, known as the Oratorians. "Peace and obedience" was the motto of this extraordinary man, and he lived both virtues throughout his life in such an exemplary manner that Pope John XXIII, an admirer of Cardinal Baronio's, took the same words and inverted them to become his own dictum. While his contemporary St. Peter Canisius traveled to heretical hot spots to preach -- personifying the daring, brilliant charism of the Jesuits -- Cardinal Baronio embodied the nurturing nature of the Oratorians by remaining stably in his parish, and writing steadily as he tended to his flock. Both men, however, gave a troubled world the tools to perceive the truth. St. Peter Canisius wrote the first catechism and Cardinal Baronio wrote 12 volumes of meticulously researched Church history.

Cesare Baronio was born near Naples in 1538 to a poor but noble family. At the age of 19 he came to Rome to study law at the Rome University and found lodgings in Piazza Farnese around the corner from the Church of San Gerolamo della Carità where Father Philip Neri lived. The young student was soon introduced to his saintly neighbor and, attracted by the great magnet of Father Neri's holiness, he started to frequent the oratory. Father Neri recognized the immense potential in Baronio and took an interest in his formation. Although Baronio's natural inclination lent toward subjects such as death and final judgment, Father Neri called him back to the here and now by setting him to study Church history. Baronio knew he was called to the priesthood, but wanted to join one of the new orders such as the Jesuits or Theatines, and to live among his brothers in the priesthood. After much discernment, however, he was ordained a secular priest in 1564. He took up his ministry in the Church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, the Florentine national church in Rome in the care of Father Neri. Together with two other priests, they were the nucleus of the congregation of the Oratorians which was officially established in 1575. Every day Father Baronio went from preaching and hearing confessions at San Giovanni to tending the sick and moribund at the hospital of Santo Spirito, and then returned home to cook for community of the Oratorians. When he realized that the kitchen duty was always left for him, Father Baronio's patience and good humor came to the fore and he inscribed above his oven "Caesar Baronius coquus perpetuus," "Cesare Baronio, cook in perpetuity."

Father Neri saw the many honors conferred on Father Baronio as a danger to his humility, and so the future saint would play tricks on the young priest to keep him from becoming too proud of his accomplishments. Father Neri once told Father Baronio to sing Psalm 51 "Miserere" at a wedding, although it was reserved for Good Friday or funerals. The startled guests looked at Father Baronio with disgust, but he took the lesson to heart, and always remained gentle and unassuming. While Pope Gregory XIII was reforming the Julian calendar in 1580 to fashion the Gregorian version still in use today, he set Father Baronio to reorganize the liturgical calendar, entrusting him with the task of revising the stories of the saints and martyrs. The Roman Martyrology has undergone numerous additions and alterations (the latest version was released in 2004). Father Baronio's careful work forms the basis of this beloved and useful book. During the writing of the martyrology, Father Baronio's passion for relics grew, and he was one of the first people to come running when the Catacombs of St. Priscilla was rediscovered in 1578.

He was elevated to cardinal in 1596. Although he was very poor, he took great pains to care for his titular church, St. Nereo and Achilleo. He even obtained the return of their relics which had been transferred to the Church of St. Hadrian. A scholar without intellectual arrogance, a cardinal who performed the humblest tasks for his fellow priests, a man inclined to solitude who spent most of his day caring for others, Cardinal Cesare Baronio offers a resonant example for our own time. To revive the memory and commemorate his great scholarly contributions, the Oratory has organized a year of special Masses with various members of the College of Cardinals, symposiums, concerts and conferences. Not bad for the humble house chef.

Marian Figures Of The Old Testament: Miriam

Miriam is the one Mary of the Old Testament and her name prefigures that of Our Blessed Mother.

-She is the sister of Moses, who is the liberator of the chosen people.
Miriam is close to the work of Moses, she is even allowed to come to the tent of meeting. All this prefigures Our Lady’s Coredemption, working close with the liberator of all humanity.
-Miriam is also linked to the supreme lawgiver of the OT, foreshadowing Christ, the ultimate lawgiver and fulfiller.
-Miriam is sister of high priest Aaron, who prefigures Christ the Great High Priest.

-Miriam is also a prophetess who offers a canticle of praise after the Exodus, which foreshadows Mary’s Magnificant making her Queen of the prophets.

-Miriam also mediates for the mediator before he becomes in action the mediator, by following the baby Moses going down the Nile. Her presence close to the Egyptian princess allows Moses to be nursed by his own mother. Mary as well mediates for the mediator by her fiat, giving to the world its Savior!

Ask A Father

Q: St. Augustine, which one of Our Lord's miracles do you think is the greatest to be preached?
A: "Among all the miracles wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ, the resurrection of Lazarus holds a foremost place in preaching. But if we consider attentively who did it, our duty is to rejoice rather than to wonder. A man was raised up by Him who made man: for He is the only One of the Father, by whom, as you know, all things were made. And if all things were made by Him, what wonder is it that one was raised by Him, when so many are daily brought into the world by His power?...

Thou hast just heard that the Lord Jesus raised a dead man to life; and that is sufficient to let thee know that, were He so pleased, He might raise all the dead to life. And, indeed this very work has He reserved in His own hands till the end of the world. For while you have heard that by a great miracle He raised one from the tomb who had been dead four days, "the hour is coming," as He Himself saith, "in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth." He raised one who was putrid, and yet in that putrid carcase there was still the form of limbs; but at the last day He will by a word reconstitute ashes into human flesh. But it was needful then to do only some such deeds, that we, receiving them as tokens of His power, may put our trust in Him, and be preparing for that resurrection which shall be to life and not to judgment. So, indeed, He saith, "The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."...

If we turn our thoughts to the still more wonderful works of Christ, every one that believeth riseth again: if we all consider, and understand that more horrifying kind of death, every one who sinneth dies. But every man is afraid of the death of the flesh; few, of the death of the soul. In regard to the death of the flesh, which must certainly come some time, all are on their guard against its approach: this is the source of all their labor. Man, destined to die, labors to avert his dying; and yet man, destined to live for ever, labors not to cease from sinning. And when he labors to avoid dying, he labors to no purpose, for its only result will be to put off death for a while, not to escape it; but if he refrain from sinning, his toil will cease, and he shall live for ever. Oh that we could arouse men, and be ourselves aroused along with them, to be as great lovers of the life that abideth, as men are of that which passeth away!"

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"You Can't Be Both Catholic And Pro-Abortion"

That's the message Hon. Robert K. Dornan, one of the few Catholics in Congress who actually practice their Faith, delivered to Catholic Politicians. Read it all here!

The Flood Waters Of God's Mercy

"In the Old Testament we read that at the time of Noah, since the entire human race was corrupt and full of lawlessness, the floodgates of the sky were opened and for forty days heavy rain poured down on the earth; symbolically, the earth received the water for forty days. It is more a baptism that it received rather than a flood: a baptism that washed away the sinners' iniquity and saved Noah's justice. In the same way then the Lord today, as at that time, gives us this time of Lent so that during the same number of days, the floodgates may open and flood us with the flood waters of God's mercy. And once washed by the salutary waters of baptism, the sacrament will illuminate us; as in the past, the waters will take away the iniquity of our sins and confirm the justice of our virtues.

The situation of today is similar to the one at the time of Noah. The baptism is a flood for the sinner and a consecration for those who are faithful. In baptism the Lord saves justice and destroys injustice. We see this clearly through the example of the apostle Paul: before being purified by the spiritual precepts, he was a persecutor and blasphemer. Once washed by the heavenly rain of baptism, the blasphemer died as well as the persecutor and Saul too; only then did Paul, the apostle, the just one, come to life ...Anybody who lives Lent religiously and respects the Lord's commandments, will see sin die in him and grace live; he will die as a sinner and live as a just man, just as if one succeeded the other."

-Saint Maxim of Turin.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Ask A Father

Q: Gregory of Nazianzus, is there any difference between the will of the Son and of the Father?
A: "There is no difference at all between the will of the Son and of the Father. For the Son is the image of the goodness [of God], according to the beauty of the original. When someone gazes into a mirror...., his image conforms in every detail to the original that caused the image in the mirror. The mirror-image cannot move unless the movement originates in the original. And when the original moves, the mirror-image, by necessity, moves in the same way.
Just so is the Lord, 'the image of the invisible God', immediately and inseparably united to the Father whose will he obeys in every moment. The Father wills something. The Son, who is in the Father, wills the same as the Father; or more precisely: he himself becomes the will of the Father. For if he possesses in himself all that the Father possesses, then there is nothing in the Father that he would not possess. And if he has in himself all that belongs to the Father, or rather: the Father himself, and with the Father everything that belongs to the Father, then he also possesses in himself the will of the Father in its entirety."

Ask A Father

Q: Gregory of Nazianzus, why is Jesus called the "image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15)?
A: "He is called 'image' because he is of the same essence as the Father and springs from him, while the Father does not spring from him. It is true that it is the nature of every image to be a likeness of an original, but here we have more. Normally, there is the lifeless [image] of a living being, but here we have the living [image] of a living being, much more similar than Seth is similar to Adam, or the offspring to his parent. Noncomposite things by their nature do not resemble each other in this but not in that; instead, one thing as a whole is a likeness of another as a whole, or rather: the one is identical to the other; it is not an imitation."

The Defining Properties Of The Divine Persons Of The Trinity According To Gregory of Nyssa

-Holy Spirit: "he is known after and with the Son, and...he subsists in procession from the Father [hyphestanai]."

-The Son: "he, through and in himself, reveals the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father, and...he, the only begotten one, shines as light from the unbegotten light [from the Father]."

-The Father: "Regarding God the Almighty, it is the unique property of his hypostasis that he is Father, and that his being is entirely uncaused [hypostenai]."

The Feast of St. Joseph, Husband Of Mary

"Joseph became the guardian, the administrator, and the legal defender of the divine house whose chief he was. And during the whole course of his life he fulfilled those charges and those duties. He set himself to protect with a mighty love and a daily solicitude his spouse and the Divine Infant; regularly by his work he earned what was necessary for the one and the other for nourishment and clothing; he guarded from death the Child threatened by a monarch's jealousy…; in the miseries of the journey and in the bitternesses of exile he was ever the companion, the assistance, and the upholder of the Virgin and of Jesus.

Now the divine house which Joseph ruled with the authority of a father, contained within its limits the scarce-born Church. From the same fact that the most holy Virgin is the mother of Jesus Christ is she the mother of all Christians whom she bore on Mount Calvary amid the supreme throes of the Redemption; Jesus Christ is, in a manner, the first-born of Christians, who by the adoption and Redemption are his brothers. (Rm 8:29)

And for such reasons the Blessed Patriarch looks upon the multitude of Christians who make up the Church as confided specially to his trust - this limitless family spread over the earth, over which, because he is the spouse of Mary and the Father of Jesus Christ he holds, as it were, a paternal authority. It is, then, natural and worthy that as the Blessed Joseph ministered to all the needs of the family at Nazareth and girt it about with his protection, he should now cover with the cloak of his heavenly patronage and defend the Church of Jesus Christ."

-Leo XIII in his Encyclical Quanquam pluries.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Patrick: The Original Irish-Catholic And Dangerous

St. Patrick who was brought to Ireland as a teenager, found himself a stranger in a strange land. He managed to escape, but had dreams that summoned him back to Ireland. He seemed to hear "the Voice of the Irish" calling him to what would be his lifelong mission for God: the conversion of the Irish. Patrick gave his entire life for this cause. He was a devout man of prayer with a love for the Word of God. St. Patrick was also a contemporary of St. Augustine of Hippo, and like him dealt with Pelagian heresy. His Confession (as well as his life) is heavily influenced by St. Paul. As truly as St. Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles, St. Patrick was Ireland’s Apostle.

Here is a prayer from his Confession:
"For this sun which we now see rises each day for us at his command, yet it will never reign, nor will its splendor last forever. On the contrary, all who worship it today will be doomed to dreadful punishment. But we who believe and adore the true sun that is Christ, who will never die, nor ‘will those who have done his will’ but ‘abide forever, just as Christ himself will abide for all eternity’: who reigns with God the Father all-powerful, and with the Holy Spirit before time began, and now and through all ages of ages. Amen."

This is a very special St. Patrick’s Day for me this year because, although I have always been Irish, this is the first St. Patrick’s Day where I have also been Catholic! I have always been drawn to St. Patrick and when I came into the Church last Easter Vigil, I chose Patrick as my confirmation name.

So on this Feast of St. Patrick, I raise a pint to St. Patrick, Pope Benedict XVI, and to You!

Friday, March 16, 2007

St. Patrick's Successor Challenges Faithful

In a St. Patrick’s Day message the Primate of All Ireland has exhorted his people to honor the great saint’s spiritual legacy. “For in my own heart I sincerely know that Patrick’s spiritual presence is very much with us,” said Archbishop Sean Brady.

Archbishop Brady-- who is St. Patrick’s successor as Archbishop of Armagh-- said that celebrations should go beyond the usual parades and parties, and explore the rich religious heritage that he left to Ireland. He recommended reading St. Patrick’s Confession of Grace, and imitating the saint’s life of attentive prayer and compassion for others. The archbishop suggested:
See how these traits of Patrick nourish and inspire your own life as a disciple
of Christ; compassionate love for all, no matter who; willingness to forgive,
whoever caused him grief or pain; constant prayerfulness from the heart;
attentiveness to the inner voice of the guiding Holy Spirit; courage in
overcoming all obstacles to his work; devotion to reading the Bible in ways that
guided him to the best course of action.

“The challenge for all of us is to be consistent and coherent,” Archbishop Brady said; “not just in honoring Patrick with our lips and our parades but with our hearts and lives.”

A Wee Bit Of Humor

It is said that when an Irishman dies, before he goes to his final judgement, he is judged by St. Patrick.

So when Jimmy Doogan from Pittsburgh died, he was not surprised to find himself standing before the Apostle of Ireland himself.

St. Patrick asked, "Is there any good you did in your life? What way did you bring Christ to the world?"

Jimmy thought for a while and couldn't think of anything good he had done.

St. Patrick said to him, "Surely now, ya must have done some good in your lifetime!"

Jimmy thought a little more and then replied, "Well, I did give a dime to a bum once."

St. Patrick looked at Jimmy with shock and amazement. "Oh dear. I'm not sure what to say about that. Give me a second while I go and consult with St. Peter."

St. Patrick found St. Peter by the pearly gates and told him about the dime. St. Peter thought for a moment, reached into his pocket, pulled out a dime and gave it to St. Patrick saying, "Give him his dime back and tell him to go to Hell!"

Patrick's Mission

"I came to the Irish people to preach the Gospel and endure the taunts of unbelievers, putting up with reproaches about my earthly pilgrimage, suffering many persecutions, even bondage, and losing my birthright of freedom for the benefit of others.

If I am worthy, I am ready also to give up my life, without hesitation and most willingly, for Christ's name. I want to spend myself for that country, even in death, if the Lord should grant me this favor.

It is among that people that I want to wait for the promise made by him, who assuredly never tells a lie. He makes this promise in the Gospel: 'They shall come from the east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.' This is our faith: believers are to come from the whole world."

-From the Confession of Saint Patrick

Marian Figures Of The Old Testament: Rachel

Rachel is the wife of Jacob.

-The beauty of Rachel enraptures Jacob and foreshadows Our Lady, who is Totus Pulchra: Total Beauty. Mary Most Holy is beautiful because she loves. Her love is the unconditional love of a mother. If we are to become beautiful, we must imitate Our Blessed Mother and Love!

-Jacob meets Rachel when she is leading her flock of lambs to the well. This shepherdess image is parallel to the apparition of Our Lady of All Nations.

-Rachel as mother of Joseph, prefigures Mary as Mother of Jesus. Joseph is sold into slavery which leads to the ultimate redemption of her people. The mother suffers in this process.
Other children put him in bondage. Likewise we are the other children who put Christ in bondage which causes the heart of Mary to be pierced at Calvary.

-Rachel is mother of two sons. The first born is Joseph. The second born is Benjamin.
Scripture tells us that Rachel gives birth to Joseph in great joy. As does Mary give birth to Jesus, not in pain, but in ecstatic joy.

The second son Benjamin, Rachel gives birth to in great suffering. Benjamin in Hebrew is Benoni which means "Son of suffering." This foreshadows Mary’s role as co-redemptrix in giving birth to her second child, the Church. She does this with great suffering.

Children Of God

"With Baptism we become children of God in His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Rising from the waters of the baptismal font, every Christian hears again the voice that was once heard on the banks of the Jordan River: 'You are my beloved Son; with You I am well pleased' (Lk 3:22). From this comes the understanding that one has been brought into association with the beloved Son, becoming a child of adoption (cf. Gal 4:4-7) and a brother or sister of Christ. In this way the eternal plan of the Father for each person is realized in history: 'For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brethren' (Rom 8:29)."

-John Paul II in the Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Marian Figures Of The Old Testament: Rebekah

-Rebekah receives a blessing as she leaves to take Isaac as her husband: "Our sister be the mother of the thousands and ten thousands...."

-Rebekah intercedes to protect the line of patriarchs from her unworthy son, Esau.
She intercedes for Jacob, dressing him to resemble Esau.

Marian parallels:

-Mary is the Spiritual Mother of all peoples.
-Mary dresses us in the likeness of Christ so that we can receive the inheritance of the Father!
-Mary intercedes for us in Heaven as Queen.

Spiritual Warfare

"If the wars of the Old Testament were not the symbol of spiritual battles, I think that the historical books of the Jews would never have been transmitted to Christ's disciples, he who came to teach us peace. The Apostles would never have transmitted them as a reading to be done in the assemblies. What use would such descriptions of wars have to those who listen Jesus tell them 'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you' , or for those to whom Paul orders: 'do not look for revenge' and 'Why not rather put up with injustice? Why not rather let yourselves be cheated?'.

Paul knows well enough that we are not supposed to do war anymore – not in a physical way – but that we are supposed to fight a great battle in our soul, against our spiritual enemies. As a commander in chief, he gives out his orders to Christ's soldiers: 'Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil'. And so that we may find in the acts of our ancestors the models of spiritual wars, he wished that we were read in assembly the story of their achievements. Since we are spiritual - we who learn that 'the law is spiritual' - we then may approach this reading by 'describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms'. In this way we may consider, through these nations that have visibly attacked Israel, what is the power of these nations of spiritual enemies, of these 'evil spirits in the heavens', who start wars against the Church of the Lord, the new Israel."


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Marian Figures Of The Old Testament: Sarah

Sarah is the free wife of Abraham, unlike Hagar who is the slave wife. Sarah has her name changed from Sar'ai to Sarah. She is sterile, but becomes pregnant by a miracle. She is the mother of only one child: Isaac.

Marian parallels:

-Mary is free in saying yes to the mission of the messiah.
-Mary is addressed by a new name given by the Archangel Gabriel: "Full of Grace."
-Mary gives birth by a miracle and becomes pregnant by a miracle.
-Mary has only one firstborn.

-Sarah is also a foreshadowing of the New Covenant made through the blood of circumcision. Mary becomes the reality of the New Covenant through the blood of Christ.

-Sarah in Gen 17, is called the Mother of all Nations.
This is mother of all nations is a foreshadowing of Mary as Spiritual Mother of All Nations (or Lady of All Nations) which corresponds to the apparitions of Our Lady of All Nations at Amsterdam which have been approved by the local bishop.

-With all the Old Testament figures of Mary, there are also dissimilarities. For instance, when Sarah is told that she will become pregnant she laughs and doubts God. Mary as the antithesis, gives her trusting fiat for all of humanity.

Believe What You Profess

If St. Cyprian had read the post below this one, he would probably say this:

"To put on the name of Christ, and not to go in the way of Christ, what else is it but a mockery of the divine name, but a desertion of the way of salvation..."

-Saint Cyprian in his Treatise on jealousy and envy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Fr. Euteneuer Speaks Out

In this clip from Fox News, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer admonished Sean Hannity for being a professed Catholic in the public square while openly rejecting the doctrines of Catholicism.

The reaction that Hannity gave (as well as others) to Fr. Thomas' admonishment was the same reaction I received for this post about Mark Wahlberg's profession of the faith while cohabiting with his girlfriend, with whom he has two children.

First I would like to note that I received many un-charitable and un-Christian responses to that post which is why comments are now to be moderated. I would also like to take the time to acknowledge and thank Brian who disagreed with me and yet commented with civility and in a Christian manner.

The problem with Mr. Wahlberg and Mr. Hannity's claim to be serious and practicing Catholics is that they do not follow the Church's teachings and doctrines. In Hannity's case, he openly defies the Catholic Church's doctrines. Now if these people were ordinary private individuals, they would still need to think about their views on doctrine before calling themselves Catholics, but since they are in the public limelight, they are under a greater obligation to take the faith they profess seriously lest they cause scandal to the faithful.

To be perfectly clear, I am not in anyway attacking the character of these gentleman, I am merely stating that if a person is going to profess to be Catholic, especially in the public square, they must hold all the doctrines of the Catholic Church. For that is the very definition of being Catholic. As someone on the radio said, "Cafeteria Catholics have been around for hundreds of years....they are called 'Lutherans' or 'Anglicans' or 'Methodists.'"

Bravo to Fr. Thomas for taking his vocation seriously and defending the Faith!

Interesting Endnote

While perusing through the endnotes of Sacramentum Caritatis, I came upon this:

"(150) Taking into account ancient and venerable customs and the wishes expressed by the Synod Fathers, I have asked the competent curial offices to study the possibility of moving the sign of peace to another place, such as before the presentation of the gifts at the altar. To do so would also serve as a significant reminder of the Lord's insistence that we be reconciled with others before offering our gifts to God (cf. Mt 5:23 ff.); cf. Propositio 23."

It's interesting to note that the sign of peace is before the presentation of the gifts at the altar in the Anglican liturgy. That seems to me to be a good place for it. As Pope Benedict points out, it fits more in line with what is taught in the Gospels. I'm curious as to whether the early Christians did it the way the Anglicans do or as the current practice is in the Catholic Church. If it did change, when did this take place? Perhaps someone who is familiar with the history of the liturgy would be able to shed some light on the subject.

In any case, after having read the Pope's exhortation, I get the sense that a "reform of the reform" is imminent with not only the upcoming motu proprio, but also the Pope's expressed will that seminarians "receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant."

The Witness of Martyrdom

"The first and fundamental mission that we receive from the sacred mysteries we celebrate is that of bearing witness by our lives. The wonder we experience at the gift God has made to us in Christ gives new impulse to our lives and commits us to becoming witnesses of his love. We become witnesses when, through our actions, words and way of being, Another makes himself present. Witness could be described as the means by which the truth of God's love comes to men and women in history, inviting them to accept freely this radical newness. Through witness, God lays himself open, one might say, to the risk of human freedom. Jesus himself is the faithful and true witness (cf. Rev 1:5; 3:14), the one who came to testify to the truth (cf. Jn 18:37). Here I would like to reflect on a notion dear to the early Christians, which also speaks eloquently to us today: namely, witness even to the offering of one's own life, to the point of martyrdom. Throughout the history of the Church, this has always been seen as the culmination of the new spiritual worship: "Offer your bodies" (Rom 12:1). One thinks, for example, of the account of the martyrdom of Saint Polycarp of Smyrna, a disciple of Saint John: the entire drama is described as a liturgy, with the martyr himself becoming Eucharist. We might also recall the eucharistic imagery with which Saint Ignatius of Antioch describes his own imminent martyrdom: he sees himself as "God's wheat" and desires to become in martyrdom "Christ's pure bread." The Christian who offers his life in martyrdom enters into full communion with the Pasch of Jesus Christ and thus becomes Eucharist with him. Today too, the Church does not lack martyrs who offer the supreme witness to God's love. Even if the test of martyrdom is not asked of us, we know that worship pleasing to God demands that we should be inwardly prepared for it. Such worship culminates in the joyful and convincing testimony of a consistent Christian life, wherever the Lord calls us to be his witnesses."

-Pope Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis.

Mystagogical Catechesis

I just read this from Pope Benedict's Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis that came out today and thought that it goes great with this post I made earlier today. I actually wrote the post on Friday while on the airplane to Orlando without any knowledge that Benedict would give a treatment to mystagogy in his Apostolic Exhortation. Hence the reason for my excitement!

Also, if any of my classmates from Theological Foundations are reading, pay close attention. You will find that this benefits you greatly!:

The Church's great liturgical tradition teaches us that fruitful participation in the liturgy requires that one be personally conformed to the mystery being celebrated, offering one's life to God in unity with the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of the whole world. For this reason, the Synod of Bishops asked that the faithful be helped to make their interior dispositions correspond to their gestures and words. Otherwise, however carefully planned and executed our liturgies may be, they would risk falling into a certain ritualism. Hence the need to provide an education in eucharistic faith capable of enabling the faithful to live personally what they celebrate. Given the vital importance of this personal and conscious participatio, what methods of formation are needed? The Synod Fathers unanimously indicated, in this regard, a mystagogical approach to catechesis, which would lead the faithful to understand more deeply the mysteries being celebrated. In particular, given the close relationship between the ars celebrandi and an actuosa participatio, it must first be said that "the best catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist itself, celebrated well." By its nature, the liturgy can be pedagogically effective in helping the faithful to enter more deeply into the mystery being celebrated. That is why, in the Church's most ancient tradition, the process of Christian formation always had an experiential character. While not neglecting a systematic understanding of the content of the faith, it centred on a vital and convincing encounter with Christ, as proclaimed by authentic witnesses. It is first and foremost the witness who introduces others to the mysteries. Naturally, this initial encounter gains depth through catechesis and finds its source and summit in the celebration of the Eucharist. This basic structure of the Christian experience calls for a process of mystagogy which should always respect three elements:

a) It interprets the rites in the light of the events of our salvation, in accordance with the Church's living tradition. The celebration of the Eucharist, in its infinite richness, makes constant reference to salvation history. In Christ crucified and risen, we truly celebrate the one who has united all things in himself (cf. Eph 1:10). From the beginning, the Christian community has interpreted the events of Jesus' life, and the Paschal Mystery in particular, in relation to the entire history of the Old Testament.

b) A mystagogical catechesis must also be concerned with presenting the meaning of the signs contained in the rites. This is particularly important in a highly technological age like our own, which risks losing the ability to appreciate signs and symbols. More than simply conveying information, a mystagogical catechesis should be capable of making the faithful more sensitive to the language of signs and gestures which, together with the word, make up the rite.

c) Finally, a mystagogical catechesis must be concerned with bringing out the significance of the rites for the Christian life in all its dimensions – work and responsibility, thoughts and emotions, activity and repose. Part of the mystagogical process is to demonstrate how the mysteries celebrated in the rite are linked to the missionary responsibility of the faithful. The mature fruit of mystagogy is an awareness that one's life is being progressively transformed by the holy mysteries being celebrated. The aim of all Christian education, moreover, is to train the believer in an adult faith that can make him a "new creation", capable of bearing witness in his surroundings to the Christian hope that inspires him.

Liturgical Aesthetics

"Everything related to the Eucharist should be marked by beauty."

-Pope Benedict XVI in the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis.

The Blessed Virgin Mary And Lent

Here is a great meditation on Our Lady's maternal mediation that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I gave during the Lenten Season of 1998.


The Lutheran doctrine of Consubstantiation means that at the words of consecration, the substance of the bread becomes Christ alongside the substance of bread.

This is problematic for a couple of reasons.

First, is that it is unscriptural. Christ said, "This is my body." He did not say, "This is my body and bread."
At the words of consecration, the substance is completely changed into the body of Christ. The substance is entirely Jesus with the accidents (appearances) of bread and wine. This is what is meant by the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Any other view of what happens at the words of consecration is unscriptural and a distortion of the Sacrament.

Another major problem with Consubstantiation concerns adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. When we adore Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, we give to Christ latria. Latria is adoration or worship reserved for God alone. If we adore the Blessed Sacrament and Consubstantiation is true, then we are committing partial idolatry. For we would be adoring Christ as well as the bread which remains alongside Christ in the host.

Sacramentum Caritatis

Pope Benedict's Apostolic Exhortation, The Sacrament of Charity, is a beautiful exposition of the Eucharist. I strongly encourage everyone to read it!

Thankfully for me, it came out during my Spring Break. For others who may have work and other obligations which do not permit an entire reading in one sitting, I would suggest reading it in parts. Whatever it takes, read the whole thing!

Mystagogy And The Multiplication Of The Loaves

The Gospel stories of Jesus multiplying the loaves have a deeper meaning than what is on the surface. They were included in the Gospel accounts for there deep theological and liturgical meaning. Out of all the deeds Jesus did in His lifetime, certain ones are depicted by the Evangelists in order to shed light on the liturgical actions already occurring within the early Christian communities. This is called mystagogy: a typology of the Sacraments. It reveals the deeper meaning behind the sign of the Sacrament.

In the story of the multiplication of the loaves, we are told that the people are hungry and have no food. Jesus takes the bread, blesses it (or gives thanks), and breaks it. This is the same action that Christ did at the Last Supper and which the priest does in the Mass at the words of consecration. The deeper reality of the Eucharist is that Christ takes the Heavenly bread of His Body, blesses it and breaks it in order so that it may be given to the faithful as spiritual food. The Body of Christ is life giving bread. It is the New Manna of which, if we eat, we will have everlasting life.

Christ performed this miracle (along with others) to point towards and prepare the Apostles for the Last Supper where He institutes the Sacrament of His Precious Body and Blood. The early Christians who read this account of the multiplication of loaves told by the Evangelists, would immediately recognize it as the Holy Eucharist and understand that Christ's giving of His Body and Blood fulfills our spiritual hunger, sustaining our souls and filling us with the very life of our Lord and Savior.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Together With Christ

"Together they [Christ and Mary] accomplished the task of man's redemption....both offered up one and the same sacrifice to God: She in the blood of her heart. He in the blood of the that, together with Christ, she obtained a common effect in the salvation of the world."

-Arnold of Chartres.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Swiss Accidentally Invade Liechtenstein

I know this has nothing to do with theology, but it was just too good to pass up!

Of course Liechtenstein wasn't worried. The Swiss wouldn't attack anyone. To be perfectly honest, I didn't even think they had an army. Who needs an army when you are perpetually neutral?

2008: Important Year For Biblical Studies

Two important events are coming up next year for Biblical studies:

1) Pope Benedict has announced that the theme for the 2008 World Synod of Bishops will be "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."

2) It has been proposed to Pope Benedict that from June 29, 2008 to June 29, 2009 be declared the Year of St. Paul.

Benedict has not made an official decision yet, but he was pleased with the proposal.

June 29 is the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

I will post more on the subject as more information comes out. In the meantime, Read Your Bible!

And for great and free! online Bible studies, check out the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology's website.

St. Francis Would Be Proud!

Fred Nassiri, an Iranian-American music producer and convert to Catholicism, met on March 1 with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State.

Nassiri, who was raised in Iran but moved to the US, made a large fortune in a designer-clothing and music production business based in Las Vegas before converting to the Catholic faith. He has spent months traveling the world, on his own “peace tour,” and now says that he wants to leave his entire fortune to the poor in order to become a Franciscan.

“I bring to the Vatican a testimony of faith and a devotion to the Franciscan cause,” Nassiri said of his meeting with the Secretary of State. “All of my wealth is destined to the poor.”

Explaining his new approach to life, the entrepreneur remarked: “Who has many resources, has many duties towards his neighbor.” [source]