Friday, March 25, 2011

Upon the Annunciation and Passion Falling Upon One Day

Tamely, frail body, abstain today; today
My soul eats twice, Christ hither and away.
She sees Him man, so like God made in this,
That of them both a circle emblem is,
Whose first and last concur; this doubtful day
Of feast or fast, Christ came and went away;
She sees Him nothing twice at once, who’s all;
She sees a Cedar plant itself and fall,
Her Maker put to making, and the head
Of life at once not yet alive yet dead;
She sees at once the virgin mother stay
Reclused at home, public at Golgotha;
Sad and rejoiced she’s seen at once, and seen
At almost fifty and at scarce fifteen;
At once a Son is promised her, and gone;
Gabriel gives Christ to her, He her to John;
Not fully a mother, she’s in orbity,
At once receiver and the legacy;
All this, and all between, this day hath shown,
The abridgement of Christ’s story, which makes one
(As in plain maps, the furthest west is east)
Of the Angels’ Ave and Consummatum est.
How well the Church, God’s court of faculties,
Deals in some times and seldom joining these!
As by the self-fixed Pole we never do
Direct our course, but the next star thereto,
Which shows where the other is and which we say
(Because it strays not far) doth never stray,
So God by His Church, nearest to Him, we know
And stand firm, if we by her motion go;
His Spirit, as His fiery pillar doth
Lead, and His Church, as cloud, to one end both.
This Church, by letting these days join, hath shown
Death and conception in mankind is one:
Or ‘twas in Him the same humility
That He would be a man and leave to be:
Or as creation He had made, as God,
With the last judgment but one period,
His imitating Spouse would join in one
Manhood’s extremes: He shall come, He is gone:
Or as though the least of His pains, deeds, or words,
Would busy a life, she all this day affords;
This treasure then, in gross, my soul uplay,
And in my life retail it every day.

– John Donne, 1608

Monday, March 21, 2011

Ambrosiaster And Sola Fide

It has recently been brought to my attention that some Protestants are under the impression that the Church Father commonly called Ambrosiaster (due to his works having been mistaken for Ambrose’s up until the seventeenth century) was a proto-Lutheran in that they claim he taught the doctrine of salvation by Faith Alone (Sola Fide). 

Now, did Ambrosiaster use the phrase, Sola Fide? Sure. Did he mean by the phrase, Sola Fide, what Martin Luther and these Protestants mean by Sola Fide? I would argue in the negative.
I think the best place to show this would be to examine the verse in Scripture that Luther based his whole doctrine around—Romans 3:28:

“For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart
from the works of law.”

Luther took this verse and argued that what Paul is saying here is that man is justified (saved) by Faith alone and not at all by any kind of works (including good works, which includes upholding the Moral Law, i.e. the Ten Commandments, and upholding Christ’s commandments in the Sermon on the Mount. More will be said on this later).  I would argue that Ambrosiaster understands Paul correctly and Luther does not.

Ambrosiaster was a master of the Old Testament and the Jewish Laws. He had a keen insight on how the New Testament fulfills the Old, which enabled him to be an exegete of Paul that rivals the likes of Chrysostom, Augustine, and the Tyconius the Donatist. So if we want to understand how Ambrosiaster interprets Paul, we must look at the context of what Paul is saying here in and around Romans 3:28.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Father Makes Known His Son

'Simon Peter said: "Lord, it is good for us to be here!" What on earth are you saying, Peter? If we stay here who will bring to pass the prophecies of the prophets? Who will confirm the words of the heralds? Who will bring to completion the mysteries of the righteous? If we stay here, in whom will these words be fulfilled: "They pierced my hands and my feet"? To whom will the following be applied: "They shared my garments among them, cast lots for my robe"? (Ps 22[21], 17,19; Jn 19,24). Who will bring to pass the declaration of the Psalm: "For food they gave me poison and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink"? (69[68],22; Mt 27,34; Jn 19,29). Who will live out the statement: "Freed among the dead"? (Ps 87,6 Heb.) How will my promises be carried into effect, how will my Church be built?

And again Peter said: "Let us make here three tents : one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah". Sent to build the Church in the world, Peter wants to set up three tents on the mountain. As yet he only sees Christ as a man, he sets him on a level with Moses and Elijah. But Jesus will very soon show him he has no need of a tent. He was the one who, for forty years, set up a covering of cloud for the Fathers while they were dwelling in the wilderness (Ex 40,34).

"But while they were still speaking a bright cloud covered them with its shadow". Now, Simon, do you see this tent set up so effortlessly? This bright and shining tent dispels the heat without consisting of darkness! While the disciples still stood amazed, the Father's voice was heard from the cloud: "This is my Son, the Beloved, in whom is all my delight; listen to him!"... The Father was teaching the disciples that Moses' mission had been fulfilled: from now on they must listen to the Son . On the mountain the Father revealed to the apostles what was still hidden from them: "He who is" reveals "He who is" (Ex 3,14), the Father makes known his Son.'

-Saint Ephrem the Syrian

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Design

I've given in.

I've finally decided to upgrade my blog and give it a new style. This was prompted by my old comment provider, Echo, hiking up the prices of their services. Well, thanks to free market capitalism, I went elsewhere. I now have a new comment provider (which looks to be much better, anyways, and best of all free!), Disqus.

In the process of changing the design, I've also discovered that my blog roll provider is no longer in service! So, it is going to be a while before I have that back up and running.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think of the design. And yes, to my three readers, I hope to be blogging more frequently in the near future.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Judas And Social Justice

 “What our Lord says to Judas, he says to the world today: You seemingly are very interested in social justice. Why are you not concerned about individual justice? You love your neighbor, why do you not love God? This is the attitude of the world today. We have swung away from a period in which we were concerned with individual sanctification to the neglect of the social order.  Now we have gone to the extreme of being immersed with social justice, civil rights, and so forth, and we are not the least bit concerned about individual justice and the duty of paying honor and glory to God. If you march with a banner, if you protest, then your individual life may be impure, alcoholic, anything you please. That does not matter. Judas is the patron saint of those who divide that universal law of God: Love God and love neighbor.”

-Fulton J. Sheen

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Blessings And Curses

Dr. John Bergsma over at The Sacred Page has a great post on today's readings about how the Sermon on the Mount resembles Old Testament covenant documents, such as the book of Deuteronomy. Go check it out!