Category Archives: Uncategorized

Oct 23 – Chaos to the Church – Bible Story from 50,000 ft

Discussion today about Jeff Cavens’s Bible Timeline made me think of this chart I developed over some period of time. It is designed to illustrate salvation history, Bible time-line, and God’s revelation of Himself. Well, maybe it is the 500,000 foot level because there is not much detail. Earlier this year, I did a blog post with more explanation HERE. Read the verses. Let me know of anything I need to revise to improve the theology. Thanks to Fred Belinga for the leadership today.

St. Augustine on The Our Father

This short essay is included in the Office of Readings this morning, October 22, 2019, and it just struck me as particularly meaningful, especially the first sentence on why we use words. Given our consistent praying of the Our Father at Mass and in the Morning Prayer I decided to share it with the MPG. This is a screen shot from the Universalis APP which I recommend highly.

Oct 2, 2019 – The Catechism on Angels

Angels in the Catholic Catechism

I fully understand Father Linsky’s comments about the time he spent studying about angels before our October 2 MPG meeting. After all, here it is eight days later before I post anything. It’s not an easy subject. I started out looking at all the approximately 500 uses of the Hebrew and Greek words often translated as Angel in English Bibles. That is a long list and is complicated by the fact that the words are sometimes translated as “messenger” instead of angel. Sometimes they are used in the phrase, “messenger of the Lord” and I’m wondering if that is synonymous with angel.  So I gave up on that approach and am going to focus on the Catechism to try to be sure I don’t stray too far from Catholic tradition.

If you aren’t using the Vatican online Catechism, you are missing a wonderful resource. I usually begin with this alphabetical word list index which is found at:

If you are interested in angels, just click on the A and get a list of all words found in the Catechism beginning with A. Scroll down till you find angel. Here is the section that includes angel and angels as well as other curiosities such as Anglicans and andmultiply. Oh well, I guess that proves the Vatican, or at least their programmers are not infallible. By the way, the word Anglicans shows up only in a footnote for some document by John Henry Cardinal Newman. From this list we also learn that the word and shows up 7,930 times in the Catechism. It would be 7,931 without the following concatenation error.

Since angels is found 60 times and angel only 24 times, I clicked on angel to get this list of the 24 instances, all with hot links.

Looking over the list, it is easy to see that there is a lot of information about angels in 329. Clicking on the first of those, we learn that 329 is in Paragraph 4 on the Creeds and references the creation of heaven and earth in the Apostles’ Creed and of all that is seen and unseen in the Nicene Creed. So, angels are part of the creation. Below is copied the section on the Angels, the teaching of the Catholic Church. Please enjoy it.


The existence of angels – a truth of faith

328 The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls “angels” is a truth of faith. the witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.

Who are they?

329 – St. Augustine says: “‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit’, from what they do, ‘angel.'”188 With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they “always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” they are the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word”.189

330 – As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendour of their glory bears witness.190

Christ “with all his angels”

331- Christ is the centre of the angelic world. They are his angels: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him. . “191 They belong to him because they were created through and for him: “for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.”192 They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?”193

332 – Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham’s hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples.194 Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself.195

333 – From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God “brings the firstborn into the world, he says: ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.'”196 Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church’s praise: “Glory to God in the highest!”197 They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been.198 Again, it is the angels who “evangelize” by proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection.199 They will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement.200

The angels in the life of the Church

334 – In the meantime, the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels.201

335 – In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy God. She invokes their assistance (in the Roman Canon’s Supplices te rogamus. . .[“Almighty God, we pray that your angel…”]; in the funeral liturgy’s In Paradisum deducant te angeli. . .[“May the angels lead you into Paradise. . .”]). Moreover, in the “Cherubic Hymn” of the Byzantine Liturgy, she celebrates the memory of certain angels more particularly (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and the guardian angels).

336 – From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession.202 “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.”203 Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.

That is a lot of information, so I’m quitting for now, even though fallen angels show up in 391-395. I hope some of you will enjoy poking around in the Catechism looking for treasure. 

Extra Credit Reading Assignment

Given the discussion yesterday about Ezra and associates and the freeing of the Jews of Judah to return from captivity in Babylon to Jerusalem and rebuild the destroyed temple, and given the Office of Readings Ezekiel reading today about some future reunion of the divided kingdoms, Israel and Judah, I just started poking around on the internet and found two very interesting write-ups on Jewish history of that time.

One is a very secular description on Wikipedia, no mention of God at all, but the same basic history we read in the Old Testament. You can read the article HERE and below are a map and a teaser quip from it. This secular description can give us confidence in the accuracy of OT accounts.

The second is by a Church of God (Fundamentalist I suppose) pastor who views the whole story as we do, events happening and yet to happen in fulfillment of prophecy. I’m not suggesting all he says is fundamental truth but am suggesting that reading his essay sheds interesting light on some issues most of us never think about or are even aware of. You can find his very readable essay HERE.

Just for a little more context, here is a chart you have seen before, the Abraham to Jesus timeline. Note the division of the Kingdom about midway.

In the Catechism

If you haven’t ever searched the Catechism online, HERE is the place to do it. Just use the alphabetical listing to search for any word.

The word Israel shows up 101 times.

The word Jerusalem shows up 68 times.

The word Judah, the name of the Southern Kingdom, shows up zero times. That is interesting. Same as Babylon and Cyrus. Ezra shows up twice but only as names of the OT Book. 

NT Creeds (Statements of Theological Truth, Belief)

I missed Wednesday because of visit with brother and sister in Memphis, TN, home of the Blues. This is not what was discussed in the class, but the 1st Mass reading for Wednesday, 1 Timothy 3:14-16, includes what is identified in the Orthodox Study Bible notes  as an “ancient Christian creed or hymn that is especially clear about the divinity of Jesus Christ.”

I thought that was very interesting because the notes also included other NT Creeds, some in these screen shots from the NABRE linked on this website. These are impressive, concise, and helpful statements of the Gospel, all focused on Jesus Christ. put some effort into a more attractive display of these statements along with some others.


Sept 11, 2019

On this 18th anniversary of the event, Father Linsky asked how we were changed as a result of the September 11 attacks.

On that Tuesday morning, I was playing golf at Windermere Golf Course on Longcreek Plantation near Blythewood. One of the tee boxes was at the home of one of the men in our foursome, and, as we prepared to tee off, his wife came running from their house yelling, “We are under attack in New York City!”  Well, that certainly put a damper on the golf for that day.

I rushed home, only a mile or two away, and found Karen glued to the TV and on the phone with our son, Greg, who was living and working in Manhattan. All he and his co-workers knew was that there were lots of sirens in the streets and smoke from lower Manhattan, and he was relaying information from Karen to his co-workers about the attack and the falling of the towers.

I told her to find out where he could walk out of the city so I could get in the car and drive up there and meet him and bring him home. That is how serious it looked at that moment.

I don’t remember any particulars of the next seven days, except that Greg soon assured us that the attack was limited to the WTC and that he was fine and did not need to be evacuated. And I am pretty sure that one week later I was back on the golf course since that was our important and regularly scheduled Tuesday game. Saturday was an important golf day also, but I don’t know if I played on September 15th. I suspect I did.

About a year later, I began reducing my golfing activity and started classes at the Lutheran seminary, but, no, I apologize for a disappointing and anticlimactic ending, but I am not claiming that 9/11 had anything to do with that lifestyle change.

But, whatever the reason, I am thankful that I have not spent two days per week on the golf course for the past 18 years. That would have been a lot of golf, and I would probably have remained a sorry golfer and would have been too tired to do anything else worthwhile.

But, back to the original question, here is a short video about a Catholic priest, Father Judge, and a New York City fire fighter, Tom Colucci, for whom everything changed as a result of 9/11.

A Christian Nation?

As we were sharing thoughts this morning, the following questions went through my mind:

  1. Can the USA be reasonably considered a “Christian Nation?”
  2. Should the USA be considered a “Christian Nation?”
  3. Given that several Middle Eastern nations are clearly and proudly Islamic, is it reasonable that uninformed citizens there consider the USA a “Christian Nation?”
  4. Is there enough evidence to convict us of being a “Christian Nation?”
  5. Were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan appropriate “Christian” responses to the 911 attacks?

I wonder how our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,  would have The Church, the Body of Christ, respond to such as THIS.

Loving the Enemy

The story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman is very informative about what the relationship between Christians and Muslims should be. The first two sentences shed some light on where this story is going because Jews would often avoid Samaria, enemy territory, when traveling from Judea to Galilee. So maybe the reason Jesus “had to pass through Samaria” was theological and not geographical. We can be sure that the Apostle John did not use that phrase lightly. You can read the whole beautiful story HERE.

If you wonder about the original language and whether it was translated accurately, it is always helpful to look at a list of the English translations of the verse to see if some translated it differently. You can easily create such as list as HERE. It is interesting that only two of these leave out the necessity angle and those two, VOICE and PHILLIPS, are not translations but paraphrases, so, beware of paraphrases. Message (MSG) is a paraphrase also, but it includes the necessity of passing through Samaria. Here is the Greek word.

And, by the way, here is an earlier post on why the Jews and Samaritans were at odds.

Disciples, Apostles, Bishops, and Sacred Tradition


A Japanese Erhu

About a dozen years ago in Tokyo, Karen and I visited Jin Nakamura, a friend from the MIT Sloan Class of 1990. Jin had learned to play the erhu, a beautiful ancient Japanese musical instrument and, during our visit to his home, demonstrated it for us.

We asked how and why he had learned. He said he had heard a master play the instrument and was so impressed and inspired that he went to that master and asked to be his disciple.

I remember that conversation clearly because it clarified what it means to be a disciple. I don’t know how Jin was doing in the eyes of the “master,” but he played beautifully and impressed us. It was clear that, to Jin, being a disciple meant focus,  serious study, and hard work leading to new skills and knowledge.

Disciples and Apostles in The New Testament

Today Father Linsky talked about 21st Century Church structure and how that is related to the disciples and apostles of the New Testament. Both get lots of mentions in the New Testament, apostle or messenger mostly by St. Luke in Acts and by St. Paul in 1st and 2nd Corinthians. Maybe apostle was not commonly spoken during the ministry of Jesus and his search for good messengers but had become common by the time  the Gospel was written by Luke and St. Paul addressed the Corinthians.

The Greek word translated disciple, pupil, or follower is found only in the Gospels and Acts and in none of the Epistles.

Here is some more information for those interested in the language issues. It may help to remember that all NT apostles were disciples but not all disciples were apostles.

A Few Interesting Uses of “Disciple” in the NT:

Some Disciples Had Distractions
Matthew 8:18-23
 When Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side. A scribe approached and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” Another of (his) disciples said to him, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But Jesus answered him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” He got into a boat and his disciples followed him.

John the Baptist Also Had Disciples but no Apostles
Matthew 9:14
 Then the disciples of John approached him and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast (much), but your disciples do not fast?” (See also Matthew 11:2, 14:2, John 1:35.)

The Twelve Were Both Disciples and Apostles in Matthew and Luke
Matthew 10:1-4
 Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. (Interesting to have both Greek words so close together.)

Luke 6:12-16  In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Note capitalization of Twelve which has nothing to do with the Greek and seems to be peculiar to the NAB translation.)

Disciples of Jesus Received Special Instructions in Private
Mark 4:33-34
 With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

Jesus Considered His Faithful Disciples to Be His Family
Matthew 12:49-50
 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

Not All Disciples Had Staying Power
John 6:66
 As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. (This after the Bread of Life discourse)

At the Last Supper, the Twelve Were Referred to as Disciples in Matthew
Matthew 26:17-19
 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, “My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.” The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover. (They are apostles in Luke.)

After the Resurrection, Jesus Gave the Great Commission to Eleven Disciples
Matthew 28:16 – 20
 The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Before Pentecost. Makes it clear that we are all to be disciples.)

Perhaps in Humility, the Writer of John Refers to Himself as a Disciple
John 21:24
 It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.

A Few Interesting Uses of “Apostle” in the NT:

At the Return of the Twelve Sent Out to Proclaim the Kingdom and Heal
Luke 9:1-10
 He summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal (the sick). He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere. Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead”; others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”; still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.” But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him. When the apostles returned, they explained to him what they had done. He took them and withdrew in private to a town called Bethsaida. (Here again, in Luke, Twelve is capitalized, not Greek and peculiar to the NAB. But I like it.)

In Luke, the Twelve at the Passover Are Called Apostles
Luke 22:13-14
 Then they went off and found everything exactly as he had told them, and there they prepared the Passover.  14 When the hour came, he took his place at table with the apostles. (They are disciples in Matthew.)

Matthias Chosen as 12th Apostle to Replace Judas
Acts 1:26 – 2:1
  Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles. (No voting and no politics!)

Paul Identified Himself as an Apostle
Romans 1:1-3
 Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh, (Remember that the word meant messenger and did not imply status as much as responsibility and burden.)

St. Paul Had a Global Diocese
Romans 11:13
 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry. (Good thing he didn’t know how many “gentiles” there were on the planet.)

Only Apostles Had This Special Gift Not For Sale
Acts 8:17-19
 Then they laid hands on them and they received the holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was conferred by the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me this power too, so that anyone upon whom I lay my hands may receive the holy Spirit.”

Decisions Were Reached by the Apostles and Presbyters in Jerusalem
Acts 16:4
 As they traveled from city to city, they handed on to the people for observance the decisions reached by the apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem. (The Greek word translated Presbyters generally means elders. This is why Presbyterian churches generally have Elders and Deacons in leadership roles.)

Paul Mentions Two Believers Not Apostles but well known to the Apostles
Romans 16:7
 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives and my fellow prisoners; they are prominent among the apostles and they were in Christ before me. (Some scholars have argued that these two were also apostles, but that argument has been lost, at least in the Catholic Church.)

Not Only Apostles Have Gifts and Responsibilities
1 Corinthians 12:27-31
 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. (Striving eagerly for those gifts makes us good disciples.)

The Catechism on Apostolic Tradition (How we got from Apostles to Bishops)

  1. The Apostolic Tradition

75 “Christ the Lord, in whom the entire Revelation of the most high God is summed up, commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel, which had been promised beforehand by the prophets, and which he fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips. In preaching the Gospel, they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men. This Gospel was to be the source of all saving truth and moral discipline.”

In the apostolic preaching. . .

76 In keeping with the Lord’s command, the Gospel was handed on in two ways:
– orally “by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received – whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit”;
– in writing “by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing”.

. . . continued in apostolic succession

77 “In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority.” Indeed, “the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.”

78 This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, “the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes.” “The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer.”

79 The Father’s self-communication made through his Word in the Holy Spirit, remains present and active in the Church: “God, who spoke in the past, continues to converse with the Spouse of his beloved Son. and the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel rings out in the Church – and through her in the world – leads believers to the full truth, and makes the Word of Christ dwell in them in all its richness.”

What About The Rest of Us?

Most of us don’t have to worry about the burden of being part of that Apostolic Succession but we can all do the serious study and hard work required to be better Disciples.

2 Timothy 2:15  Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God, a workman who causes no disgrace, imparting the word of truth without deviation.

1 Peter 3:15-16  Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.