Author Archives: Darryl Williams

About Darryl Williams

Skeptical Observer Looking for Permanent Fixes

June 12, 2019 – Gifts, Fruits, Virtues, & Mystical Union

Gifts and Fruits

The Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit (From the Catechism) (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P67.HTM)

CCC1830 The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

CCC1831 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.

CCC1832 The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. the tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: “charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (From the Bible)

Isaiah 11:1-3  But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.  The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD (piety in the Septuagint and Vulgate), and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide,

Below is an attempt to tie together the Capital Sins, Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit, Cardinal and Theological Virtues, and the ideal: Mystical Union with the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Quotes in boxes to the right are all from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The point is that the Gifts enable the journey.

Virtues

All the information about Virtues in the Catechism is found in Part Three (Life in Christ), Section One (Man’s Vocation Life in the Spirit), Chapter One (The Dignity of the Human Person), Article 7 (The Virtues). The introduction to Article 7 is this:

Article 7THE VIRTUES

1803 “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. the virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.

The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.

And the summary of Article 7 is this:  IN BRIEF
1833 Virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do good.
1834 The human virtues are stable dispositions of the intellect and the will that govern our acts, order our passions, and guide our conduct in accordance with reason and faith. They can be grouped around the four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.
1835 Prudence disposes the practical reason to discern, in every circumstance, our true good and to choose the right means for achieving it.
1836 Justice consists in the firm and constant will to give God and neighbor their due.
1837 Fortitude ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good.
1838 Temperance moderates the attraction of the pleasures of the senses and provides balance in the use of created goods.
1839 The moral virtues grow through education, deliberate acts, and perseverance in struggle. Divine grace purifies and elevates them.
1840 The theological virtues dispose Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. They have God for their origin, their motive, and their object – God known by faith, God hoped in and loved for his own sake.
1841 There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity. They inform all the moral virtues and give life to them.
1842 By faith, we believe in God and believe all that he has revealed to us and that Holy Church proposes for our belief.
1843 By hope we desire, and with steadfast trust await from God, eternal life and the graces to merit it.
1844 By charity, we love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves for love of God. Charity, the form of all the virtues, “binds everything together in perfect harmony” ( Col 3:14).
1845 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon Christians are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

Mystical Union

John 17:20-23 (NABRE) – “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.

June 5th – “Pray Without Ceasing”

Introduction

Father Fryml led this morning with personal responsibility for prayer and gave each participant an opportunity to share his own prayer practices and disciplines. Following are two touchstones, one from Sacred Scripture and one from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, to guide us as we grow in that essential of Christian faith.

Matthew 6:5-14 (NABRE) – Jesus Teaching

When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 

But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. 

In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;
and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one.

If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.

 Catechism of the Catholic Church – Part Four

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has four parts:

Part One – The Profession of Faith focuses on the Creeds.
Part Two – The Celebration of the Christian Mystery focuses on the Sacraments.
Part Three – Life in Christ focuses on the Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments.
Part Four – Christian Prayer focuses on understanding of prayer and the Our Father.

Below is a screen shot of the introduction to Part Four from the Vatican website. Note the key sentence following a referral to Parts One, Two, and Three of the Catechism: This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer.”

Then follows ~ seventy pages on prayer under these major headings:
Chapter One: The Revelation of Prayer
Chapter Two: The Tradition of Prayer
Chapter Three: The Life of Prayer
And a whole section on the Our Father

And, by the way, the three-word Bible verse in the title of this post is 1 Thessalonians 5:16.

 

Preacher & Pastor Paul

About St. Paul

The story of energetic, persistent, faithful, intelligent, and well-educated Roman citizen, Saul or Paul of Tarsus, can be an inspiration and example for all of us. A former persecutor of Jesus (the Church), he sets the perfect example of confession, repentance, and full conversion to the Christian faith. He was theologian, traveling evangelist, church planter, and pastor, all rolled into one. In his own words:

The Second Journey

Father Linsky led a discussion about a perfect example of St. Paul’s method of evangelization, his speech to skeptics of left and right, universalists and Calvinists, epicurians and stoics, at the Areopagus in Athens, Greece. This was on Paul’s second of four long and dangerous journeys spreading the Gospel of Jesus. Below is a snip of an interactive map which documents what is said in the book of Acts about each visit on that journey. 

Athens and the Aeropagus

(So far, I have been offered “asparagus” and “esophagus” as corrections to my spelling of aeropagus.) Here is a link to a couple of informative and interesting paragraphs about the location, history, and use of the Aeropagus including the photo below. Note the plaque in the photo. It contains the words of St. Paul’s speech as recorded in Acts 17.

St. Paul’s Audience at the Aeropagus

Here, from the 1st Century writings of Petronius, can be found the quote Fr. Linsky shared about the culture of the people hearing the Gospel from St. Paul: “Truly our neighborhood is so well stocked with deities to hand, you will easier meet with a god than a man.” I doubt it rhymed in Latin so maybe the hand-man connection is just accidental.

As Fr. Linsky said, there were two major schools of philosophy in 1st Century Athens, epicurianism and stoicism. Below, from this website, are two excellent short videos (15 and 8 minutes) explaining stoicism and epicurianism. It is hard to believe these are free online. I have never taken a philosophy course but believe these videos must be worth at least a semester of an introductory course in the subject. It is interesting how pertinent and timely these ideas and issues are even in the 21st century.

The Message of St. Paul to These Seekers of Truth

So, St. Paul knew the interests of his audience and delivered to them what they sought, the TRUTH.  And, though we have no discussion in Revelation of a letter to the Church at Athens or of any Epistles of St. Paul to the Athenians, and although Athens is not mentioned in the Bible except in connection with St. Paul’s visit there, we know that the seeds were planted and a Church established in Athens because “some did join him and became believers.”

 

 

 

 

Universalis App Bonus

In the “About Today” section of the Universalis App is an unattributed essay, Theological Science, referencing the Acts 15 account of the Jerusalem Council. It seems to me to be well-written and thought provoking so I decided to share it with the MPG along with a recommendation to download the app to your phones. I have it and i-Breviary and use both to varying degrees in search of inspiration.

It is interesting to contrast the Acts 4 Sanhedrin debate about trouble-makers Peter and John with the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council debate among the “apostles and presbyters” about the Gentile believer issue. The first seems to be about political positioning and the latter a search for truth.

Of course The Church, contrary to the first sentence in the essay, “decides” a lot of things but hopefully not the theological basics which should be matters of revelation consistent with science if not pure science. I am surprised the word “revelation” does not show up in the essay.

Here is a screen shot of the essay:

theological science

May 22 – Wed of 5th Week of Easter – First Council

Lessons from the First Reading from Acts 15

The 1st Reading for May 22, Acts 15:1-6 , sets the stage for the 1st Council of the Church, presenting the sensitive issue at stake (circumcision), identifying the council participants (Apostles and presbyters), and introducing the meeting itself. To stick with the Lectionary, one has to wait till May 23rd to see what happened at the meeting, but, unlimited by that, we proceeded to discuss the action taken on whether the Christians were to be bound by terms of the covenant between God and Abraham. (Genesis 17:9-14)

Trouble-making activists were arguing that since the resurrection and arrival of the Holy Spirit, believers were following a different set of rules. Probably very familiar with the words of the Prophet Jeremiah(Jeremiah 4:4) council members made the right decision, even without the benefit of St. Paul’s much later letter to the Romans in which he discussed “circumcision of the heart.” 

Councils of the Catholic Church (22)

A second important issue resolved by this precedent in Acts 15 is the teaching authority of The Church, a precedent which has been followed 21 times down through the centuries. Wikipedia provides a very handy list of the Catholic Church Councils, The 1st Century Council of Jerusalem to the 20th Century Vatican 2, complete with hot links to more information about each. Here is the list copied from the article. I think the links should work.

Council List from Wikipedia

Circumcision Wrap Up

The 15th Century Council of Florence, by the way, according to this footnote in the Wikipedia article, soundly condemned those who “observe” or “practice” circumcision as a religious practice. Still, it raises an interesting trivia question: Is Michelangelo’s David, on display in Florence, circumcised?

Council of Florence

Law and Grace, Works and Faith, and Luther

The discussion about circumcision led deeper and deeper into discussion of law and grace and works vs. grace and Lutheran and Catholic theologies. As a student at a Lutheran seminary I was taught that Father Martin, in his younger years at least, free from any possible dementia, was a faithful Catholic, aligned with the teachings of the church fathers, and that it was actually Pope Leo X who had strayed into such as sale of indulgences to raise money for the church. Luther provided one written defense against the charges against him in the form of an essay, The Freedom of a Christian.

In 2002, nine years before being received into the Catholic Church, I wrote an “academic” paper on Luther’s essay. Then, a year or so after becoming Catholic, I reviewed the paper and published it with some introduction, on my Last of All.net blog on church and faith issues. I read it again just now and still believe it is sound theology consistent with Catholic teaching. If you are interested in such, take a look at it HERE and let me know what you think. I am always willing to listen and learn.

I have often quipped that if Pope Leo X, instead of excommunicating Luther, had just appointed him to a task force charged with organizing, for the Pope’s approval of course, reformation of the Church, the whole Protestant Reformation upheaval could have been avoided. But of course that is not true. The primary drivers of the Reformation were not the “reformers,” but the rise in literacy and the printing press, the beginnings of free enterprise replacement of feudalism, and the beginning of the ending of the unholy alliance of church and state which had allowed secular rulers to dictate the religion of all who lived in their domains regardless of what the citizens believed.

And of course such reform continues. I am personally very thankful for two particular Vatican II (1962-65) changes advocated 400 years earlier by Luther, Mass in the language of the people and increased participation of lay persons in the Mass. I was happily Southern Baptist at the time, preoccupied with college, Karen, and starting my first professional employment and had absolutely zero interest in the Catholic church. But without those two changes, I doubt I would have had the privilege of being received into the Catholic Church at Pentecost in 2011.

Extra: The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus

The Christians in the World is the title of an excerpt from this 1st or 2nd century epistle. The excerpt is included in the Office of Readings for 5/22/2019 and can be read at the Vatican website. If you don’t click any other link in this post, click this one and read very early and profound insights about living as a Christian.

Here is a teaser sentence: “They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law.

If you really get steamed about the Epistle to Diognetus, you can read the whole thing HERE.

 

Acts Facts – A Roadmap

Reading the short passages from Acts it is easy to miss the big picture, a captivating story easily read in a single sitting. Below is a brief summary of major events in each of the 28 chapters. It’s something I put together a few years ago and just thought it might be helpful. It is interesting that the first of the book (Chapters 1-12) is all about Peter and the remainder all about Paul.

In an earlier post, Luke/Acts Birth of the Church Luke and Acts are linked in a single narrative about the birth of the church. St. Luke was my confirmation saint, chosen because he wrote more than 25% of the New Testament.

St. Gregory of Nyssa

I fail to be inspired by many of the writings of the church fathers, but this beautiful writing from today’s Office of Readings, a sixteen hundred year old explanation of how everything changed with the Incarnation and Resurrection and presence of the Holy Spirit seems to be particularly clear and inspirational. I recommend the Office of Readings which often includes a short blurb from a church father. The Universalis app offers an expanded version of Morning Prayer which includes the selections for the Office of Readings.