Wednesday, January 14, 2015

As Catholics, Let Us Reject The "Deuterocanonicals"!

It always bothers me when I hear someone speak about the “Deuterocanonical” books of the Old Testament. It bothers me even more when Catholics do it.

The eminent Protestant professor Walter Kaiser has a fantastic book, which I highly recommend, called The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant.  In it, he talks about the Old Testament Canon, and this is where I disagree with his otherwise solid book.

Kaiser and other Protestants affirm only 39 books of the Old Testament as Canonical (they leave out Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus [also known as Sirach], Baruch, and 1 and 2 Maccabees), whereas Catholics hold that there are 46 books. Kaiser asks the question:

“Who…made the decision as to what books were to be included in the canon and what were the criteria that were used?” 

He answers his question by stating, “The answer we could give is that there is no evidence that any group, council, or any other religious or nonreligious body made such a decision, much less left a clue as to what their criteria were.” 

Historically, this is simply false. 

The Christian Canon of the Old Testament was established first in 382 at the Council of Rome, which was held under Pope Damasus. Here is what is has to say:

“Likewise it has been said: Now indeed we must treat of the divine Scriptures, what the universal Catholic Church accepts and what she ought to shun.

The order of the Old Testament begins here: Genesis one book, Exodus one book, Leviticus one book, Numbers one book, Deuteronomy one book, Josue Nave one book, Judges one book, Ruth one book, Kings four books (meaning 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings), Paralipomenon two books (1 and 2 Chronicles), Psalms one book, Solomon three books, Proverbs one book, Ecclesiastes one book, Canticle of Canticles one book, likewise Wisdom one book, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) one book.
Likewise the order of the Prophets. Isaias one book, Jeremias one book (Baruch is included here), with Ginoth, that is, with his lamentations, Ezechiel one book, Daniel one book, Osee (Hosea) one book, Amos one book, Micheas (Micah) one book, Joel one book, Abdias (Obadiah) one book, Jonas (Jonah) one book, Nahum one book, Habacuc one book, Sophonias (Zephaniah) one book, Aggeus (Haggai) one book, Zacharias one book, Malachias one book.
Likewise the order of the histories. Job one book, Tobias one book, Esdras two books (Ezra and Nehemiah), Esther one book, Judith one book, Machabees two books."

Notice that there isn’t any talk of a “second-canon” or “deuterocanonical” books. There was only ONE canon of Sacred Scripture. The seven books that the Protestants reject never had a secondary status! 

The later councils of Hippo and Carthage (393 and 397) both affirmed the same books as being canonical. 

Then in 405, Pope Innocent I in his epistle “Consulenti tibi” to Exuperius, Bishop of Toulouse, enumerates the same books that were listed at Rome, Hippo, and Carthage as being canonical. From here on until 1442 there is no more talk of the canon amongst the Popes or councils of the Church.

The Council of Florence in 1442 lists the same as has been listed previously, again with no mention of a second canon. 

Then in 1546, at the Council of Trent, the Church reaffirms the list found at Florence in reaction against the Protestants taking out of the seven books mentioned previously. 

Thus, history witnesses against Kaiser’s claim that “At the Council of Trent (A.D. 1546), the Roman Catholic Church also added as canonical [the seven books]…though always with a secondary or deuterocanonical status.”[1]
So let us Catholics fervently reject the term “Deuterocanonical” and only speak of the Canon! There has always only been ONE canon, and one alone.

[1] To Kaiser’s credit, he does not try to invoke the oft used myth that a council of rabbis took place at Jamnia which settled the Hebrew canon in 90 A.D. Instead, he firmly rejects the notion and states that all that took place at Jamnia was a discussion on how to interpret the books of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. There was no mention of their canonical status. On top of all that, if Jamnia did settle the Jewish canon, which it did not, why would the Church be bound to accept it? It wouldn’t and any notion that it should is to be rejected as ludicrous.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

If I Taught An Upper Level Undergrad/Masters Sacraments Course

I was asked by a friend of mine yesterday who will be teaching a course on the Sacraments next semester what books I would recommend. They are as follows:

General Sacraments:
-"Swear to God: The Promise and Power of the Sacraments" by Scott Hahn (This covers all the Sacraments and brings in their relation with covenant oaths. It is strong on Scripture, Patristics, and the Magisterium. It is also an easy read.)
-"Christ, and His Sacraments" by Thomas Donlan, O.P., Francis L.B. Cunningham, O.P., and Augustine Rock, O.P. (This is written by three Domincans, how can you go wrong with a book like that! ;-) This covers all the Sacraments and deals with causality, the sign value of the Sacraments, and all that good stuff. It is presented in a systematic manner with due attention to Scripture, the Fathers, and of course, St. Thomas. This is one of my go-to texts on Sacraments. It is an older text, but still available on Amazon here.
-"On the Mysteries" by Ambrose (A must read!)
-"The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy" by Dionysius the Areopagite (Very good! This combined with Ambrose gives a very good understanding of the Sacraments in the Early Church.)
-"Defence of the Seven Sacraments" by Henry VIII (I know, I know, but this was written before he split with Rome and is a good defense against Luther's innovations. Plus, it is rumored to have been ghost-written by St. Thomas More!)

Specific Sacraments:
-"On Baptism Against the Donatists" by Augustine (A must read on baptism!)

-"Christ and the Catholic Priesthood: Ecclesial Hierarchy and the Patter of the Trinity" by Matthew Levering (I wouldn't recommend the whole book for your Sacraments class. Just chapters 2, 3, and 5. Levering does a good job of drawing from the Tradition while engaging contemporary issues relating to the Sacraments.)
-"Theology of the Priesthood" by Jean Galot (This is a good presentation of the Sacrament of the Priesthood combined with the theology of the Priesthood starting with the institution of the priesthood by Christ in Scripture continuing through the history of the Church and also deals with objections to priestly celibacy and the male-only priesthood.)

-"Three to Get Married" by Fulton J. Sheen (This is a wonderful book and very easy to read. You could use the whole book or just chapters 11 [The Great Mystery] and 12 [The Unbreakable Bond].)
-"On the Good of Marriage" by Augustine (Can't go wrong with this!)

-"The Hidden Manna: A Theology of the Eucharist" by James T. O'Connor (O'Connor gives a very good overview of the Eucharist throughout the Church's History, with many quotes from primary sources. He goes from the Fathers, to the Medievals, the Reformers and Protestant understandings of the Eucharist, to Trent through Vatican II. He gets into the specific sacramental theology in the last chapter, dealing with transubstantiation, Eucharist as sacrifice, etc. He also deals with the Eucharist and Our Lady.)
-"A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist" by Abbot Vonier (A classic work. Very Thomistic.)
-"The Mass: The Presence of the Sacrifice of the Mass" by Charles Journet (Also, very Thomistic, and all around great book!)

-"Lord Have Mercy: The Healing Power of Confession" by Scott Hahn (Strong on the relation to covenant and draws copiously from Scripture, the Fathers, and the Magisterium.)

-"Penance and the Anointing of the Sick" by Bernard Poschmann (A good overview of the development from Scripture and in the Early Church with the Tertullian/Montanist controversy. Also, good for the Medieval period to the Council of Trent. Chapter 1-4 are all that is needed. Chapter 5 on indulgences has some questionable stuff. It is best to look to Trent for indulgences.)
-As a bonus, you could also look at Cajetan's defense of Penance and the power of the keys against Luther, the texts of which are contained in "Cajetan Responds: A Reader in Reformation Controversy" edited by Jared Wicks.

For Anointing of the Sick and Confirmation, I would use the Council of Trent's teaching.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Pray For Lily!

My daughter, Lily, was born on Saturday by an emergency c-section with no heartbeat and very little blood. They revived her, but she is now in NICU and has suffered damage to her brain through lack of oxygen. I would ask you to please pray for my daughter and encourage others to do so as well. We desperately need a miracle! I have created a blog to keep everyone updated on her progress. It can be found here:

Please share the blog with others and get the word out! Thank you and God Bless you!

Monday, November 11, 2013

New Blog

Check out my new blog, The Bearded Catholic, a blog about all things bearded, Catholic, and the intersection there between.

You can also "like" the Bearded Catholic on Facebook by going here. Spread the word!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

God So Loved The World

Crucifixion is the most horrific and torturous type of death, perfected by the Romans, to inflict the maximal amount of pain upon the one crucified. This execution consisted of a person being affixed to the cross by having a single nail driven between both of his feet, and one nail in each of his palms or wrists. The person is thus hung in a manner in which the downward force makes it immensely difficult to allow air into the lungs, leading to death by asphyxiation. The only way to stop the immense feeling of suffocation is by pushing up on the nails in your hands and feet, causing excruciating pain, in order to allow the slightest bit of oxygen to flow into your lungs. When the Romans were feeling merciful, they smashed the victim’s legs with a giant mallet in order to speed up the agony. And, yet, Christians believe that God the Father sent his only begotten Son, who is innocent and free from all sin, into the world for the specific purpose of dying on the cross for the salvation of guilty and sinful men. ...

Continue reading my most recent article, The Providence of God and the Cross of Christ, over at Homiletic & Pastoral Review

Friday, October 04, 2013

The Theological Aesthetics Of Sherlock Holmes

"There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion. It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its colour are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers."

-Sherlock Holmes, The Naval Treaty

Friday, September 20, 2013

How NOT To Read Pope Francis

A good rule of thumb is to not read what Pope Francis says through the lens of the headlines of the mainstream media. If you read a headline that says "Pope Francis thinks Catholics are obsessed with homosexuality, contraception, and abortion" and then uncritically accept that the headline is accurate and free of all bias, you are setting yourself up for failure!

And if you are reading a news report on what Francis said, with its own interpretation, instead of going to the actual primary source, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU??!! That is laziness of the worst kind. Go to the source! If you can read the New York Times, you can read and comprehend what the Pope said in the actual interview he gave. Think for yourself, do not let the New York Times or any other outlet think for you! You have no right to get mad at the Pope or criticize him because you are too lazy to read what he said in the context in which he said it. "But it's too long!" LAZY! If you can't be bothered to read the whole of what the Pope said, and you go around attacking him based on a faulty news source, you are committing a grave act against charity for which you will be called to account.

Here is the passage that is causing such controversy (but don't just read this, read the whole interview):

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."
He doesn't say we can't insist on these issues, rather we can't insist only on these issues. Does this mean the Pope isn't concerned with these issues or that he thinks the Church should change her position on them? Read what he says!  "The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church..." Do you hear that, the teaching of the Church is clear! Have you seen any mainstream news reports that include this line? Why not, do you think? Because they are BIASED! They want Francis to say something that he isn't saying, so they pick and choose from the interview, taking his words out of context and fashioning sensational headlines so you will click on their links and give them higher traffic, which results in more adds and more money. Mainstream media is driven by mammon, why would you think they are going to give you the truth?! Francis is not going to change the teaching of the Church. He agrees with the teaching of the Church. The Church is clear on what she teaches and Francis is a son of the Church, which means what the Church teaches, he teaches and believes! It's all right there if you just read Francis according to Francis and not according to the mainstream media.

But, you say, he says "it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time"! Look at the context!

"Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow."
Francis, as a Jesuit faithful to the original charism of his order, is speaking in the context of missionary preaching. Francis is calling the Church to renewed missionary work, which focuses on the essentials. From the essentials flows the moral consequences. So what are the essentials that Francis wants us to focus on?

"Jesus Christ has saved you."
This is the first proclamation. The gift of salvation through Christ must always be first. From that follows moral consequences. What are we being saved from? Sin. We have separated ourselves from God. What is needed is a recognition of this fact that leads to repentance and from there an acknowledgement that we cannot save ourselves; that salvation comes from Christ alone. With this first proclamation of Christ's saving action, we can be drawn to a life that seeks to live in imitation of Christ. It is the saving action of Christ that must guide all subsequent discussion, especially morality. If one focuses on morality apart from the reasons for living a moral life, the proclamation of morality is going to fall away, having been set on a rocky foundation. Why must we live a moral life? Because Christ died for us in order that we may have eternal life. Our new lives in Christ should reflect that reality.

Pope Francis thinks that we have lost a proper emphasis on the first proclamation. It is this that he hopes to restore. He does not wish to change the moral teaching of the Church, but rather to put it in its proper context. Pope Francis is a son of the Church and we should read him (him, not a news report that claims to represent him) with charity in the context of his fidelity to the Church. To do otherwise is to slander the Vicar of Christ.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Blackfriar Films Presents "Come My Way"

Blackfriar Films, the media division of the Eastern Province of the Order of Preachers, have now gotten into the music video business. Check out their new video for the hymn, "Come My Way".

They may not have beards, but they are Dominicans, and well, that's close enough!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Forget The Papal Tiara...


…bring back the Papal Beard!

Yes, all those pseudo-traditionalists out there who are clamoring away about the Papal Tiara--that recent addition to the papal wardrobe first documented in the Liber Pontificalis as being worn by Pope Constantine (708-715)--would do better to direct their energy to an even older tradition that dates back to the very first pope, Peter, namely, the Papal Beard. 

Last I checked, women wore tiaras and men wore beards!
For the first 643 years of the Church, every single pope had a beard!

After all, what is the main reason why Catholics want the Papal Tiara restored? It is a sign of the Pope’s authority. Okay, but what better way for the Pope to say, “I’m in charge, here,” than to sport a full beard? In the East, not to have a beard is considered to be a sign of weakness and lack of manliness. All of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs have beards, just like the Lord and the apostles did.

Look at this beard! You Orthodox know who really runs the show in the East.

Even Vladimir Putin was no match for the Patriarch of Russia and his beard.

My beard must break you.

Think about it…this is a vital ecumenical issue! How can the East take us Roman Catholics seriously when our faces are as soft as a parthenos after exfoliating with Aegean sea salt?

And by “us” I mean you!

No sea salts for this face.

Just think of how quickly the schism of 1054 would be healed if Pope Francis grew a beard!

Okay, so I suck at photoshop.
or this:

My one loyal reader has better photoshop skills than me.

...maybe that will take a while.

In the meantime, we as Catholic lay and clergy (provided your bishop and/or rules of your order allow it) can throw away our razors and grow out our beards in solidarity with our Eastern brethren (both Eastern Orthodox and Eastern-Catholic). So let it grow! And when someone asks why you are doing it, tell them it’s for Christian unity.

Cardinal Cleemis has already started.

Show off.