Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ask A Father

Q: St. Basil, what's with all the kneeling and standing in the Mass?
A: Each time we kneel and get up again, we show by our gesture that we were pinned down by sin and the love of our Creator for us brought us back to heaven.

Baptism Saves

"How do we come to be Christians? Through faith, everyone says. How are we saved? Because we have been reborn from on high, through the grace of baptism. What other way could there be? Having gained the knowledge of this salvation brought about by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, are we about to let go the 'form of the teaching'? It certainly would be an appropriate moment to groan in grand style if perchance we were to find ourselves now further away from salvation than at the moment we first believed, if we were to renounce now what we received then. It is equally disastrous to die without baptism as it is to receive baptism and be short even one article of the traditional faith. As to the profession of faith which we set down at our baptism, when, leaving idolatry behind, we came to the living God, the person who does not at every moment keep it, and hold on to it during his whole life as to a solid protection, is alienating himself from God's promises by contradicting what he wrote in his own hand when he first professed the faith. For baptism is my life-principle and if the first of these days is the moment of rebirth, it is clear that the most precious words of all will be those expressed when I received the grace of adoption. Shall I, then, overcome by the foolish reasons of these people, betray the tradition which brought me to the light, which gave me the grace of knowing God, by which I have been made a child of God, whereas previously because of sin I was his enemy? Never!"

-St. Basil of Caesarea

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Priesthood Of Melchizedek

“In this self-subordination of Abram to Melchizedek there was the practical prediction of a royal priesthood which is higher than the priesthood entrusted to Abram’s descendants, the sons of Levi, and foreshadowed in the noble form of Melchizedek, who blessed as king and priest the patriarch whom God had called to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. The name of this royal priest is full of meaning: Melchizedek, i.e. King of Righteousness. Even though, judging from Josh. X.1, 3, where a much later king is called Adonizedek, i.e. Lord of Righteousness, this name may have been a standing title of the ancient kings of Salem, it no doubt originated with a king who ruled his people in righteousness, and was perfectly appropriate in the case of the Melchizedek mentioned here. There is no less significance in the name of the seat of his government, Salem, the peaceful or peace, since it shows that the capital of its kings was a citadel of peace, not only as a natural stronghold, but through the righteousness of its sovereign; for which reason David chose it as the seat of royalty in Israel; and Moriah, which formed part of it, was pointed out to Abraham by Jehovah as the place of sacrifice for the kingdom of God which was afterwards to be established. And, lastly, there was something very significant in the appearance in the midst of the degenerate tribes of Canaan of this king of righteousness, and priest of the true God of heaven and earth, without any account of his descent, or of the beginning and end of his life; so that he stands forth in the Scriptures, ‘without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.’ Although it by no means follows from this, however, that Melchizedek was a celestial being (the Logos, or an angel), or one of the primeval patriarchs (Enoch or Shem), as Church Fathers, Rabbins, and others have conjectured, and we can see in him nothing more than one, perhaps the last, of the witnesses and confessors of the early revelation of God, coming out into the light of history from the dark night of heathenism; yet this appearance does point to a priesthood of universal significance, and to a higher order of things, which existed at the commencement of the world, and is one day to be restored again. In all these respects, the noble form of this king of Salem and priest of the Most High God was a type of the God-King and eternal High Priest Jesus Christ; a thought which is expanded in Heb. Vii. on the basis of this account, and of the divine utterance revealed to David in the Spirit, that the King of Zion sitting at the right hand of Jehovah should be a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek (Ps. Cx. 4).”

-C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Pentateuch.

*emphasis mine.

Whether Or Not The Color Of Lemon-Lime Gatorade Can Be Classified As Green?

Wow, the more I read the Summa, the more Aquinas amazes me. He thought of everything!:

Objection 1. It would seem that Lemon-Lime Gatorade is in fact yellow, for it contains the dye Yellow 5.

Objection 2. It would seem that since lemon and lime are proper to yellow and green respectively, and that since green is a combination of both yellow and blue, that Lemon-Lime Gatorade is yellow, since it is predominately yellow.

On the contrary, the accidents of the color of Lemon-Lime Gatorade are interpreted differently by various people, in order to distinguish its form, which is made most manifest in the accident of taste. The variations in interpretation however cannot all be legitimate, for Lemon-Lime Gatorade is not a supernatural drink like the precious blood, in which the accidents are a veil. Therefore since the substance is absolute the accidents must be absolute, and therefore any variation is actually the effect of original sin which causes skewed judgments.

I answer that, green is God’s favorite color, (Genesis 1:11-12, 8:11, 9:3, 30:37, 41:3-18, Exodus 9:31, 10:15, Leviticus 2:14, etc.) and he hates yellow for it is an unclean pagan color. (Leviticus 13:30-36, Proverbs 23:31, Jerimas 30:6) Since there is no question that Lemon-Lime Gatorade is good, it must necessarily be green, unlike Lemonade Gatorade, which is an abomination against the Almighty. However since no offical judgment on this matter from the Holy See has been made I must confess that the question can still be disputed, and I submit absolutely to the future judgments of the Church's Infallible Magisterium.

Reply to objection 1. Yellow 5 is only added to mask the true color of the Gatorade which is in fact dark green, and the dye merely weakens the intensity of the greenness.

Reply to objection 2. green must necessarily be the predominate color, since Yellow dye was used for psychological reasons, so that people would not think they were drinking a pure lime drink.

Hat tip to Alex Cooper

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Quote Of The Day

"If there is a God, Cardinal Richelieu has a lot to answer for. If there be none, he certainly has had a successful career."

-Pope Urban VIII

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hebrews 4.12-13

In Hebrews 4.12, we read “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged μάχαιραν, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

This verse is very often quoted and always the “word of God” is thought of as meaning “Scripture.” Yet in the context of Hebrews, the author is not talking about Scripture at all.

Μάχαιραν in this verse is normally translated as “sword.” However, we need to go back and look at the context that this verse is in; entering into God’s rest and the quote from Heb. 4.8:
“For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not speak later of another day.”

In Joshua 5.2 God says to Joshua, "Make flint knives and circumcise the people of Israel again the second time." The word in the Septuagint that is used for “flint knives” is μάχαιραν.
The people need to be circumcised before entering the Promised Land and receiving God’s rest. Yet, this isn’t the definitive rest of God. This rest only comes with Christ and the circumcision of the heart. We see this in Ezekiel 44.6-7 “Thus says the Lord GOD: O house of Israel, let there be an end to all your abominations, in admitting foreigners, uncircumcised in heart” and Collosians 2.11 “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ.”

Thus μάχαιραν in this context is better translated as “knife.” And the “word of God” is the λόγος, Christ, who is a living two-edged knife that circumcises the heart allowing us to enter into the Heavenly rest of God, which is the definitive rest.
Then we have verse 13: “And no creature is invisible before him, but all things are naked and exposed to his eyes, with whom on our behalf is the word.”

The “him” in verse 13 refers to God. “Exposed” in Greek has two meanings. The first is a technical term for establishing a wrestling hold on a person. The second is in reference to a sacrificial victim. The neck of the sacrificial victim is exposed in order to be slit with a knife.

“Naked” here refers to the naked neck exposed to God’s eyes.

“With whom on our behalf is the word”: πρὸς pro\s ὃν o(\n ἡμῖν h(mi=n ὁ o( λόγος . The Logos is with God on our behalf. Christ was a victim in a sacrifice and the result of this sacrifice is that He is now with God interceding on our behalf. His expiatory sacrifice satisfied for our sins in the past. But we keep sinning, so Christ intercedes in Heaven for us. Paul continues his argument in verse 14 by saying, “having therefore a great high priest.” Christ has gone through the Heavens and is now interceding for us as the Great High Priest!

In conclusion, Hebrews 4.12-13 shows us the two sides of Christ. We see Him in verse 12 as the Logos performing the efficacious work of the Son in the Sacrament of Baptism in which we receive a circumcision of the heart and enter into God’s rest. Verse 13 shows the efficacious work of the Logos interceding for us as High Priest. Hebrews 4.12 and 4.13 describes the two different functions of the same Logos; the Logos that is like a two-edged knife!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Primacy Of Rome

"We have considered that it ought to be announced that although all the Catholic Churches spread abroad through the world compromise but one bridal chamber of Christ, nevertheless, the holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront not by the conciliar decisions of other Churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: 'You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church....' The first See, therefore, is that of Peter the Apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it."

-Pope Damasus I

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sweet Deal!

Today the campus library here at Franciscan University had a used book sale. For the grand total of $10, I purchased:

-All Ten Volumes of the Catholic Layman's Library
-Henri Daniel-Rops' Jesus and His Times
-47 issues of First Things ranging from 1998-2003

I love used books! Not to mention, if I keep finding great deals like this, my wife won't have to complain that I spend all my money on books.

Revelation 12

"This passage from the Apocalypse has reference to the Church: 'And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.' The features of the vision are borrowed from Mary; Mary is not taken merely as an ordinary example or even as a prototype of the Church, but as a prototype that is organically united to the Church and radically concerns and represents it, and also works both in it and through it.

We should note: (1) the woman brings forth a son, who is none other than Christ, 'who was to rule all nations with an iron rod.' This can be applied to Mary only. (2) Next to the woman the dragon (the serpent) appears, which persecutes her and her Son, without being able to harm them. A clear allusion to the protevangelium. (3) Then it is not in the style of Sacred Scripture to personify abstract things in any other way but through real persons, who are treated as types. (4) The typical and organic mutual relations between Mary and the Church lie, in general, and in particular also with regard to this text, in the firm and universal tradition of the Church.

Accordingly the heavenly glory of the woman, expressed in this great sign, must in the first place be traced to Mary, who is prophesied by Isaias as the divine sign. In her each single feature of the vision is of itself obvious, having almost no ground without the thought of her. The main feature is the woman being clothed with the sun, through which she receives her place in the sun, thus being in the center of the heavens, and for that very reason the moon lies under her feet, while she carries the twelve stars of the zodiac above her as a crown. These grand features find in Mary their realization in the fact that she was clothed with the sun of the godhead in the conception of the Logos. As a result of it she is exalted above the baseness and changeableness of the sublunary world and also excels its beauty. Finally, all heavenly beings and powers, the angels in particular, but also the human beings, of whom first of all the twelve apostles come to mind, gather round her, just as the apostles were also outwardly united with her during the beseeching for and receiving of the Holy Ghost.

The pains of childbirth, ascribed to the woman, find their supplication in Mary, only so far as she has cooperated through co-sufferings in the second birth of Christ, through His death and Resurrection, and at the same time in His third birth in the faithful."

-Matthias Scheeben in Mariology.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Our Lady Of Sorrows

"When she was asked to become the mother of the Messiah, Mary's faith enabled her to give a humble and generous response.... Mary's faith was frequently tested during the public life of Jesus, especially when she witnessed the rejection of her Son. At the foot of the Cross, her pilgrimage of faith had its moment of most severe testing. Mary continued to believe that, because Jesus was the Son of God, his sacrifice would bring salvation to humanity."

-Pope John Paul II.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Today in the mail I received a copy of the magazine Commonweal. Curiously enough it came the same day as my First Things magazine. Now, I didn't order Commonweal and anyone who knows me, should know that I would not read such a magazine. I have a sneaky suspicion that the editors of Commonweal may have gotten a hold of the mailing list of First Things subscribers and sent a copy to all of the people on the list in hopes of swaying them with their rubbish in order to gain new subscribers. I flipped through Commonweal for about a minute to see what garbage they had in it and when I reached the absolute point of repulsion (somewhere in the middle of reading an article by former Tablet writer, John Wilkins), I tossed it in the trash where it belonged!

Nice try Commonweal. Thanks, but...No Thanks!

On second of my housemates might have signed me up for a subscription as a joke. I sure hope they wouldn't waste their money like that!

Sunday, September 09, 2007


"Does ecumenism consist in confessing or in hiding the truth? Ought [we] to explain Catholic doctrine, or the doctrine of our separated brethren?.... Hiding the truth hurts both us and those separated from us. It hurts us, because we appear as hypocrites. It hurts those who are separated from us because it makes them appear weak and capable of being offended by the truth.....Let us profess our faith openly. Let us be the teachers we are in the Church by teaching with clarity, and not hiding what is true."

-Bishop Giocondo Grotti of Acre e Purus, Brazil, Oct. 27, 1962.


"Limbo was never a defined truth of faith. Personally -and here I am speaking more as a theologian and not as Prefect of the Congregation- I would abandon it since it was only a theological hypothesis. It formed part of a secondary thesis in support of a truth which is absolutely of first significance for faith, namely, the importance of baptism. To put it in the words of Jesus to Nicodemus: 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God' (Jn 3:5). One should not hesitate to give up the idea of 'limbo' if need be (and it is worth noting that the very theologians who proposed 'limbo' also said that parents could spare the child limbo by desiring its baptism and through prayer); but the concern behind it myst not be surrendered. Baptism has never been a side issue for faith; it is not now, nor will it ever be."

-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in Feast of Faith

Church Music

"A Church which only makes use of 'utility music' has fallen for what is, in fact, useless and becomes useless herself. For her mission is a far higher one. As the Old Testament speaks of the Temple, the Church is to be the place of 'glory' and, as such, too, the place where mankind's cry of distress is brought to the ear of God. The Church must not settle down with what is merely comfortable and serviceable at the parish level; she must arouse the voice of the cosmos itself, making it too glorious, beautiful, habitable and beloved."

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in Feast of Faith.

The Beautiful Is Essential To Theology

"A theologian who does not love art, poetry, music, and nature can be dangerous. Blindness and deafness toward the beautiful are not incidental: they necessarily are reflected in his theology"

-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in The Ratzinger Report.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Little History Lesson....

Did you know that the first translation of the King James Version that came out in 1611 included the Deuterocanonical books?

Well, they did.

Did you also know that the Deuterocanonical books have always been a part of the Catholic canon and that they are included in the Septuagint, which is what Jesus and His Apostles quote from in the New Testament?

Yup, it's true.

And here's the kicker....guess what version of the Bible the King James Version was largely based upon?

The Douay-Rheims Bible! A Catholic translation that was translated from the Latin Vulgate into English in the years 1582 and 1609.

Those are the facts. Check 'em out for yourself!

Look To Mary

...especially on this day of the celebration of her birth!

Come On Home

The Traditional Anglican Communion seems to be moving closer to reunification with Rome! Let us continue to pray for them and for all Christians to be one.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Honor Your Bishop!

"Follow the bishop, all of you, as Jesus Christ follows his Father, and the presbyterium as the Apostles. As for the deacons, respect them as the Law of God. Let no one do anything with reference to the Church without the bishop. Only that Eucharist may be regarded as legitimate which is celebrated with the bishop or his delegate presiding. Where the bishop is, there let the community be, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. Without the bishop, you are allowed neither to baptize nor to hold an agape celebration. Whatever he approves is fine in God's sight so that all that is done may be legitimized and certain. It is reasonable to start being sensible again and, while there is still time, to repent and come back to God. It is good to honor God and the bishop. The one who honors the bishop will be honored by God. The one who does something and hides it from the bishop serves the Devil."

-St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans.

What Really Happened At The Council Of Nicaea

Here's a hint: It involves St. Nick, Arius, and a Smackdown!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What Would Tertullian Say To The Sola Scriptura Crowd?

Sola Scriptura Man: I go by the Bible alone. I am my own authority in interpreting the Bible also!

Tertullian: "By what authority, pray? Prove it. If you are a prophet, predict something. If you are an apostle, preach in public. If you are an apostolic man, agree with the Apostles. If you are an ordinary Christian, believe what has been handed down. If you are none of the above, then, with good reason I say: Drop dead! For you are already dead, you who are no Christian, not accepting the faith that makes us Christians....What was handed down was true as it was handed down by those commissioned to do so. Thus, by rejecting what was handed down, you have rejected the truth. You had no right to do that."

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Bishop: Source of Unity

"Keep yourselves from harmful plants which Jesus Christ does not raise because they were not planted by the Father. WHat I found among you was not schism but a sort of weeding out process. All those who belong to God and Jesus Christ are with the bishop. All those who repent and come back to the unity of the Church, these will also be God's that they may live according to Jesus Christ. 'Do not be deceived,' brothers, if anyone promotes schism, 'he will have no part in the Kingdom of God.' (1 Cor 6:8-10) If anyone follows an alien faith, he is not in agreement with the Passion of Christ. Be very careful to participate in a single Eucharist: for there is only one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and a single cup by which we are united in his blood, a single altar and a single bishop with the presbyters and deacons, my fellow servants. Whatever you do, do it God's way."

-St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Philadelphians.

Support For Pauline Authorship Of Hebrews

In the Greek East the near unanimous consensus concerning the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews was that it was written by St. Paul. It is significant to note also that Clement of Alexandria not only held Pauline authorship, but even stated that the stylistic differences between this epistle and Paul’s others was due to Luke translating the letter from the original Hebrew to Greek. In Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History we have this account:

“The Epistle to the Hebrews he (Clement) attributes to Paul, but says that it was written for Hebrews in their own language, and then accurately translated by Luke and published for Greek readers. Hence, in the Greek version of this epistle we find the same stylistic color as in the Acts. The usual opening---‘Paul, an apostle’--- was omitted, with good reason. As Clement says:

‘In writing to Hebrews already prejudiced against him and suspicious of him, he was far too sensible to put them off at the start by naming himself….Now, as the blessed presbyter used to say, the Lord, the apostle of the Almighty, was sent to the Hebrews; so through modesty Paul, knowing that he had been sent to the Gentiles, does not describe himself as an apostle of the Hebrews, first because he so reverenced the Lord, and secondly because he was going outside his province in writing to the Hebrews too, when he was an ambassador and apostle of the Gentiles.’”

The opinion that St. Paul wrote his epistle in Hebrew and it was later translated into Greek by Luke became the traditional opinion of the medieval Western Church, as apparent by St. Thomas’ commentary on the epistle.

The defense of Pauline authorship came to the West with both St. Jerome and St. Augustine. In 397 at the Council of Carthage, the Epistle to the Hebrews was canonically recognized as one of Paul’s letters.

Theodore of Mopsuestia, in the Fragments on the Epistle to the Hebrews, offers his commentary on why Paul left his name of the letter:

“Paul did not write as to unbelievers who had acquired an implacable hatred against him but to believers who have shared all things that it is necessary to share. He writes not to those who are simple in their faith but to those who are demonstrating in their works the solidity of their faith and the keenness of their virtue, as the contents of the epistle show. Consequently, the epistle must have been delivered to them as one of Paul’s epistles, for if this were not the case the things written would not benefit them. Again, in addition to these consideration the things written at the end of the epistle prove what I am stating: ‘I appeal to you, brethren’ he says, ‘bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.’ But to whom did he write, ‘I appeal to you’ if those things were not the reason the letter was sent to them? Then he adds, ‘You should understand that our brother Timothy has been released with whom I shall see you if he comes soon.’ Clearly you see that Timothy was the one who has delivered the epistle Paul wrote, with whom Paul clearly promises also to see them, if Timothy returns. What then is the reason for Paul not appending his name? It is evident and very clear. Both Barnabas and Paul divided the preaching task with the disciples of the blessed Peter. [This was] not so that the former could teach some doctrines and the latter others---for there is one goal---but so that Paul and Barnabas might lead to faith some from the Gentiles while Peter and his disciples would lead some from the Jews to faith, deeming this division more expedient because at that time there was still a powerful rivalry due to the custom of the Jews (based on their law) who did not permit themselves to consort with Gentiles. Then some of the apostles had dealings with the Gentiles, while others with the circumcised. But those who had come to faith in all probability deemed the teachers and apostles to be shared by both communities. Thus, when Paul wrote to the Gentiles, he in all likelihood commands them as their apostle, but when he writes to the Hebrews, he does not.”

Also, in the prologue of the Fragments on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Severian of Gabala not only explains why Paul left off his name, but matter of factly states that it was originally written in Hebrew:

“The heretics say that this epistle is not Paul’s, and they offer as their first proof of this that his name is not superscribed as in the other epistles. Second, his vocabulary is different, that is, it is foreign to Paul’s customary word choice and usage. One must know, however, that Paul was hated by the Jews on the grounds that he was teaching apostasy from the law, and having been endangered for this reason in Jerusalem and having scarcely escaped, he was sent to Rome. Therefore, writing something useful to the Hebrews, he does not append his name, so that they might not lose any advantage they could have derived from the letter because of their hatred against him. And he writes to them in the tongue of the Hebrews, which was also translated by one of his disciples---by Luke or more likely by Clement who is mentioned. For this reason the vocabulary is different. And this has been investigated by previous generations, and Eusebius of Pamphilus, a historian of those things in preceding and contemporary generations, made mention of the investigation, and it still seemed to our fathers, the predecessors of the bishops, that the epistle was Paul’s.”

Another big clue to Pauline authorship is that St. Paul ends the epistle to the Hebrews with a form of “Grace be with you”, just as he does in all of his other letters! Theodoret of Cyr confirms:

“He appended the usual conclusion, invoking on them a share in grace. As for us, let us sing the praises of the giver of old laws and new. And let us pray to receive grace from him so that by observing the divine laws we may attain the promised goods, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom with the Father and the all-holy Spirit be glory, now and forever, for ages of ages. Amen.”

Thus, following the received Tradition I hold that St. Paul wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews in Hebrew and it was later translated by St. Luke into Greek and the reason St. Paul left his name off was due to jurisdictional purposes and because the Jews were out to kill Paul and would not have read anything with his name attached. Yet, I do recognize the difficulty with the tradition that the epistle was originally written in Hebrew as mentioned by Taylor Marshall:

“…it is highly unlikely that it was originally written in Hebrew because the OT quotations in Hebrews are from the Septuagint and must be so since the argument in the first few chapters depends on the Septuagintal reading of a certain Psalm..”

I am hesitant to take an approach of a hermeneutics of suspicion concerning the tradition on this matter. I feel that the support among the Fathers is wide enough and they were closer to the time of the epistle’s original writing. Also, the support of Eastern Greek authors for the Hebrew as the original language seems to be significant. Hence there must be a way, in light of the tradition, to reconcile this difficulty. That will have to be the fruit or further research.