Category Archives: Uncategorized

St. Ambrose on Psalms and Law

I was looking for something new in morning prayer after going through the same Psalms over and over for the past eighteen months so switched to the Office of Readings a couple of weeks ago. The second reading today was from St. Ambrose’s Commentaries on the Psalms. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. Law and Prophets and link to NT and Jesus are all addressed. The phrase “fulfilled the law” even appears. This is a screen shot of the reading from the Universalis app which I highly recommend.

St Ambrose Psalms

The Office of Readings always includes Psalms also but different ones from those in Morning Prayer.

St. Thomas Aquinas on Fulfillment of the Law

Summa Theologica

Here from Wikipedia is an explanation of Summa Thrologica :

The Summa Theologiae (written 1265–1274 and also known as the Summa Theologica or simply the Summa) is the best-known work of Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225–1274). Although unfinished, the Summa is “one of the classics of the history of philosophy and one of the most influential works of Western literature”.[1] It was intended as an instructional guide for theology students, including seminarians and the literate laity. It was a compendium of all of the main theological teachings of the Catholic Church. It presents the reasoning for almost all points of Christian theology in the West. The Summa‘s topics follow a cycle: God; Creation, Man; Man’s purposeChrist; the Sacraments; and back to God.

Aquinas on Fulfillment of the Law

I copied and posted that explanation of the St. Aquinas’s book because in it is Question 107 which deals directly with the issue we were discussing Wednesday morning, OT vs. NT, Law vs. Gospel, destruction vs. fulfillment, Etc. Here is a link to that section of Summa Theologica.

Article Two under that section addresses the question of whether Jesus told the truth when he said he came to fulfill the Law. Aquinas first presents four reasons to doubt the words of Jesus and then destroys those reasons with logic and scripture. I guess one thing St. Aquinas had was time for philosophizing and writing though he apparently ran out of it before finishing Summa Theologica.

Aquinas’s Straw Men

Just as a teaser to get you to look at the Aquinas responses in Article 2, here is a screen shot of the objections he addresses:

Screen Shot 2018-06-15 at 10.53.43 AM

Later: I realized the clip above is not very readable so here is a copy/paste version of the four objections:

Objection 1. It would seem that the New Law does not fulfil the Old. Because to fulfil and to void are contrary. But the New Law voids or excludes the observances of the Old Law: for the Apostle says (Galatians 5:2): “If you be circumcisedChrist shall profit you nothing.” Therefore the New Law is not a fulfilment of the Old.

Objection 2. Further, one contrary is not the fulfilment of another. But Our Lord propounded in the New Law precepts that were contrary to precepts of the Old Law. For we read (Matthew 5:27-32): You have heard that it was said to them of old: . . . “Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you that whosoever shall put away his wife . . . maketh her to commit adultery.” Furthermore, the same evidently applies to the prohibition against swearing, against retaliation, and against hating one’s enemies. In like manner Our Lord seems to have done away with the precepts of the Old Law relating to the different kinds of foods (Matthew 15:11): “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth the man: but what cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” Therefore the New Law is not a fulfilment of the Old.

Objection 3. Further, whoever acts against a law does not fulfil the law. But Christ in certain cases acted against the Law. For He touched the leper (Matthew 8:3), which was contrary to the Law. Likewise He seems to have frequently broken the sabbath; since the Jews used to say of Him (John 9:16): “This man is not of God, who keepeth not the sabbath.” Therefore Christ did not fulfil the Law: and so the New Law given by Christ is not a fulfilment of the Old.

Objection 4. Further, the Old Law contained precepts, moral, ceremonial, and judicial, as stated above (I-II:99:4). But Our Lord (Matthew 5) fulfilled the Law in some respects, but without mentioning the judicial and ceremonial precepts. Therefore it seems that the New Law is not a complete fulfilment of the Old.

On the contrary, Our Lord said (Matthew 5:17): “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil”: and went on to say (Matthew 5:18): “One jot or one tittle shall not pass of the Law till all be fulfilled.”

Examples from OT and NT

And here is some of that OT Law some want to discount. Note especially verses 17-18. It seems to me there is a big gap, not between the OT and NT, but between the OT Law and the things the people believed God told them to do to their neighbors. I wonder sometimes if they were just hearing what they wanted to hear, maybe the commonest of all sins.

Leviticus 19:9-18 English Standard Version (ESV)

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.

11 “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.12 You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.

13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. 14 You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

15 “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life[a] of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

And some law from the NT. John 14:14 – 15:10. Note the underlined verses.

John 14:14-15:10 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

14 If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.

The Advocate. 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate[a] to be with you always,17 the Spirit of truth,[b] which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.[c] 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” 22 Judas, not the Iscariot,[d] said to him, “Master, [then] what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

25 “I have told you this while I am with you. 26 The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you. 27 Peace[e] I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. 28 [f]You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. 30 I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world[g] is coming. He has no power over me, 31 but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me. Get up, let us go.

Chapter 15

The Vine and the Branches. [h]“I am the true vine,[i] and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes[j] so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. [k]Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

As is the case in many theological arguments, the answer is not “either-or” but “both-and.”

Appendix – Extra Credit



And here is more than you would ever want to know about the sacred scriptures of the Jewish people and why they are in our Bible…straight from the Vatican.  Look over the topics. Maybe one will catch your eye.                                                                                                                                




A. The New Testament recognizes the authority of the Sacred Scripture of the Jewish people

1. Implicit recognition of authority
2. Explicit recourse to the authority of the Jewish Scriptures

B. The New Testament attests conformity to the Jewish Scriptures

1. Necessity of fulfilling the Scriptures
2. Conformity to the Scriptures
3. Conformity and Difference

C. Scripture and Oral Tradition in Judaism and Christianity

1. Scripture and Tradition in the Old Testament and Judaism
2. Scripture and Tradition in Early Christianity
3. Relationships between the two perspectives

D. Jewish Exegetical Methods employed in the New Testament

1. Jewish Methods of Exegesis
2. Exegesis at Qumran and in the New Testament
3. Rabbinic Methods in the New Testament
4. Important Allusions to the Old Testament

E. The Extension of the Canon of Scripture

1. In Judaism
2. In the Early Church
3. Formation of the Christian Canon

A. Christian Understanding of the relationships between the Old and New Testaments

1. Affirmation of a reciprocal relationship
2. Re-reading the Old Testament in the light of Christ
3. Allegorical Re-reading
4. Return to the Literal Sense
5. The unity of God’s Plan and the Idea of Fulfilment
6. Current Perspectives
7. Contribution of Jewish reading of the Bible

B. Shared Fundamental Themes

1. Revelation of God
2. The Human Person: Greatness and Wretchedness
3. God, Liberator and Saviour
4. The Election of Israel
5. The Covenant
6. The Law
7. Prayer and Cult, Jerusalem and Temple
8. Divine Reproaches and Condemnations
9. The Promises

C. Conclusion

1. Continuity
2. Discontinuity
3. Progression

A. Different viewpoints within post-exilic Judaism

1. The last centuries before Jesus Christ
2. The first third of the first century A.D. in Palestine
3. The second third of the first century
4. The final third of the first century

B. Jews in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles

1. The Gospel according to Matthew
2. The Gospel according to Mark
3. The Gospel according to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles
4. The Gospel according to John
5. Conclusion

C. The Jews in the Pauline Letters and other New Testament Writings

1. Jews in the undisputed Pauline Letters
2. Jews in the other Letters
3. Jews in the Book of Revelation

A. General Conclusion
B. Pastoral Orientations




June 6 – Praying Humbly Before God

Welcome to first time visitor Bill Scicchitano who recently moved from Savannah to Columbia.

Eucharistic Procession

Father Fryml led a discussion about the St. Peter’s Eucharistic Procession in celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. Here is a brief summary of the history and practice of this custom born in the 14th century, approved by the Council of Trent in the 16th century, and most recently encouraged by Pope John Paul II early in the 21st century. Discussion included the points that the procession is uniquely Catholic, that there are significant regional variations in the practice of it, and that there is room for improvement in reverence of participants.

Humility Before God

The discussion then turned to the importance of our personal humility before God, especially in prayer. Two examples from Sacred Scripture of humility before God were mentioned: Isaiah’s response to his call and Peter’s response to the big catch of fish.

Isaiah: (Isaiah 6:5) “Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!

Peter: (Luke 5:8) “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

Fr. Fryml used St. Dominic’s “First Way of Prayer” as an example of how to humble ourselves in prayer. Below is a written description from a 13th century document which includes descriptions of all nine ways St. Dominic prescribed.

Here is a more contemporary description of the First Way.

St. Dominic founded the Dominicans, The Order of Preachers, in the 13th Century. Here is a link to the brief discussion of his life on the Dominicans Website.

Something New

Following the discussion of St. Dominic’s First Way of Prayer, we adjourned to the Church and preceded our normal Morning Prayer by standing, facing the altar, heads bowed and practicing the First Way. Then we prayed the Morning Prayer facing the altar rather than each other. It was an interesting change of pace and reminder of what we are doing when we meet together Wednesday mornings.


May 30, 2018 – Suffering

Self Imposed Suffering

It’s not about me. I guess that is what bothers me about the discussion of suffering. It seems to me that whatever suffering I experience is self imposed.

I have only one friend who clearly seems to be suffering because of his faith in Christ. He is a Lutheran pastor in his native minority Christian country with very limited religious freedom and faces severe criticism and restrictions because of the environment in which he serves. He could not, for example, register his children in school with their given Christian names but had to make up new names for them. And he cannot walk down the street with his wife but must walk separately from her. And there is always danger of physical violence. Despite such conditions, he will deny that he is suffering. He will tell you that what he experiences is nothing compared to what Jesus did for him and that he is quite happy and comfortable in his ministry.

As far as “suffering” goes in the USA, it seems to be evenly distributed among unbelievers and believers of various faiths. Of course, we never know for sure what is going on in another person’s life. If it is difficult for us to claim suffering because of our faith, maybe we are not faithful enough.

Suffering seems to be relative. Mild discomfort to some persons may be described by others as suffering. Maybe we need one of those scales like the one for pain, a scale of 1 to 10 for severity of suffering.

And suffering can be mental, physical, or emotional. Most of my self-imposed suffering tends to be mental and is most likely to show up when I get bogged down thinking about myself. The easiest way for me to avoid such suffering is to stay busy in some worthwhile activity. Even simple things such as mopping a floor, scrubbing a shower, or loading a washer or dryer at clean of heart can help shove thoughts of myself out of the picture. Doing a free tax return for somebody at The Cooperative Ministry can cause its own kind of suffering (related to the ridiculous complexity of our federal tax code), but it’s not personal.

Mass readings for Friday, June 1, include this from 1 Peter 4:12-13:

Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. 

That kind of suffering, imposed on us, something occurring among us, a trial by fire, a sharing in the sufferings of Christ, is the suffering that is not self imposed and that we cannot control. All we can do with that kind of suffering is “offer it up.”

Self Examination Need Not Lead to Suffering

The unexamined life is not worth living. – Socrates

St. Peter’s Religious Ed leaders just received gift copies of a little book about “EXAMEN,” a prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola. It is a prayer that includes self-examination and involves five steps:

  • Giving thanks
  • Asking for the Holy Spirit
  • Recognizing failures of the previous day
  • Asking for forgiveness and healing,
  • Praying about the coming day.

The author of the book summarizes the five steps as Relish, Request, Review, Repent, and Resolve. That seems like a lot of praying, but here is the key: The whole process is only supposed to take fifteen minutes, once a day. That means the practitioner is not going to be wallowing in the Review and Repent sections but is going to move on in faith to plans for the future.

So, it seems we are advised not to get bogged down in self-imposed suffering over our failures. Whatever suffering we face should be from external causes, some “trial by fire,” as for my pastor friend in the hostile environment. I once heard Father Linsky say that forgiving ourselves is sometimes the most difficult part of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Failure in that can certainly result in self-imposed suffering.


Suffering of Jesus: The “Suffering Servant”

The stories in Sacred Scripture of the suffering of Jesus, none of it self-imposed, are rooted in the Suffering Servant prophesies of Isaiah. A search of the Catechism of the Catholic Church at the Vatican Website shows five references to these prophesies, all in the section on Article 2 (About Jesus) of the Creed:

440 – Jesus accepted Peter’s profession of faith, which acknowledged him to be the Messiah, by announcing the imminent Passion of the Son of Man. He unveiled the authentic content of his messianic kingship both in the transcendent identity of the Son of Man “who came down from heaven”, and in his redemptive mission as the suffering Servant: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Hence the true meaning of his kingship is revealed only when he is raised high on the cross. Only after his Resurrection will Peter be able to proclaim Jesus’ messianic kingship to the People of God: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

536 – The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” Already he is anticipating the “baptism” of his bloody death. Already he is coming to “fulfil all righteousness”, that is, he is submitting himself entirely to his Father’s will: out of love he consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. The Father’s voice responds to the Son’s acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son. The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to “rest on him”. Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind. At his baptism “the heavens were opened” – the heavens that Adam’s sin had closed – and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation.

601 – The Scriptures had foretold this divine plan of salvation through the putting to death of “the righteous one, my Servant” as a mystery of universal redemption, that is, as the ransom that would free men from the slavery of sin. Citing a confession of faith that he himself had “received”, St. Paul professes that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.” In particular Jesus’ redemptive death fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy of the suffering Servant. Indeed Jesus himself explained the meaning of his life and death in the light of God’s suffering Servant. After his Resurrection he gave this interpretation of the Scriptures to the disciples at Emmaus, and then to the apostles.

608 – After agreeing to baptize him along with the sinners, John the Baptist looked at Jesus and pointed him out as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. By doing so, he reveals that Jesus is at the same time the suffering Servant who silently allows himself to be led to the slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel’s redemption at the first Passover. Christ’s whole life expresses his mission: “to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Suffering may be somewhat subjective, but there is no doubt about the intensity of suffering experienced by Jesus. Just for easy reference, here are links to those Suffering Servant passages from Isaiah, footnotes included and worth reading:

Isaiah 42:1-4

Isaiah 49:1-7

Isaiah 50:4-11

Isaiah 53

As pointed out in this essay on Catholic Exchange, the Church has always understood these “Suffering Servant” prophesies to be about Jesus, and they are used prominently in our readings at Mass throughout the year.

Suffering Psalmist

I mentioned during the discussion that some of the Psalms seem to be all about the writer with lots of use of first person singular pronouns, are inwardly focused, and indicate suffering. Here are some examples of a suffering psalmist, King David in a “tear drenched” bed and carrying “sorrow in my soul” and “grief in my heart day after day.”

Psalm 6 For the leader; with stringed instruments, “upon the eighth.” A psalm of David.  Do not reprove me in your anger, LORD, nor punish me in your wrath. Have pity on me, LORD, for I am weak; heal me, LORD, for my bones are trembling. In utter terror is my soul– and you, LORD, how long…? Turn, LORD, save my life; in your mercy rescue me. For who among the dead remembers you? Who praises you in Sheol? I am wearied with sighing; all night long tears drench my bed; my couch is soaked with weeping. My eyes are dimmed with sorrow, worn out because of all my foes. Away from me, all who do evil! The LORD has heard my weeping. The LORD has heard my prayer; the LORD takes up my plea. My foes will be terrified and disgraced; all will fall back in sudden shame.

Psalm 13 For the leader. A psalm of David. How long, LORD? Will you utterly forget me? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I carry sorrow in my soul, grief in my heart day after day? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look upon me, answer me, LORD, my God! Give light to my eyes lest I sleep in death, Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed,” lest my foes rejoice at my downfall. I trust in your faithfulness. Grant my heart joy in your help, That I may sing of the LORD, “How good our God has been to me!”

Psalm 43 Grant me justice, God; defend me from a faithless people; from the deceitful and unjust rescue me. You, God, are my strength. Why then do you spurn me? Why must I go about mourning, with the enemy oppressing me? Send your light and fidelity, that they may be my guide And bring me to your holy mountain, to the place of your dwelling, That I may come to the altar of God, to God, my joy, my delight. Then I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God. Why are you downcast, my soul? Why do you groan within me? Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God.

Too bad St. Ignatius wasn’t around to advise David!

Bishop Barron Speaks at Google HQ

Since Bishop Barron’s name came up in our last gathering, I thought it would be worthwhile to post this very interesting speech he delivered to Google employees at the company headquarters. It is being widely circulated on the internet. Like St. Paul at the Aeropagus maybe. The Q&A section is also interesting. His answer to the last question is found in 1 Peter 3:15-16.


Meribah, Massah, and Absence

Do not grow stubborn, as your fathers did in the wilderness, when at Meribah and Massah they challenged me and provoked me, although they had seen all of my good works. Psalm 95:8-9

Every time we pray that line at Wednesday Morning Prayer, I wonder about Meribah and Massah. I did a search using the link at our MPG website to see how many times and where they are mentioned in the Bible.

Here are the mentions of Meribah.

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 8.12.49 AM

And here, with some overlap, are the mentions of Massah.

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 8.13.16 AM

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 8.41.23 AMI searched Google Maps and found no Meribah, but there is a Massah, Libya. I doubt the wilderness-wandering Jews went that far out of their way on their journey from Egypt to The Promised Land. At least this is a handy map of Bible lands, all the way from Jerusalem to Rome.

Below is the Catholic Study Bible footnote for Exodus 17:7. Apparently the Israelites named some place in the wilderness based on what happened to them and what they had done there.

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 8.16.22 AM

I guess the lesson for us is that we should avoid growing stubborn, quarreling, hardening our hearts, putting the Lord to the test, rebelling against his directions, etc.

If you would like to read some speculative comments, more than we actually know about these names, just Google them. Lots of commentary will pop up.


I will be absent Wednesday May 23rd helping celebrate HS graduation of our eldest granddaughter. If any of you send me notes about what is discussed, I will post them giving credit and blame as appropriate. Seriously, I would like to post at least the major topics discussed.


New Index of Topics in this Blog

With about fifty posts and around 120 separate “topics” addressed, it seemed that an index to the topics mentioned in this blog would be helpful. I have created one, a work in progress, and you will find it at the top of the blog home page.

In most posts, I have covered the primary topic of the Morning Prayer discussion and added some links to provide more information. Sometimes I have injected personal opinions and comments. I hope I have not gone too far astray.

The topics are organized in major categories such as Bible, Theology, Current Issues, Saints, etc.

If you see mistakes or omissions, please let me know and I will make adjustments.

Index of Topics