Category Archives: Weekly Update

May 16, 2018 – Pentecost, Holy Spirit, and Change

There is a pretty common joke in Lutheran circles that goes something like this:

Question: How many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: CHANGE! WHO SAID ANYTHING ABOUT CHANGE?

Given Father Linsky’s opening comments, maybe the joke can ring a bell with Catholics also. Maybe with all human organizations. I suppose it is only human to get into ruts and have trouble thinking of new ways to approach our responsibilities. After all, we are created in the image of an unchangeable God.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Malachi 3:6-7 –  For I, the Lord, do not change, and you, sons of Jacob, do not cease to be. Since the days of your ancestors you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them.

1 Peter 1:24-25 –  “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the field; the grass withers, and the flower wilts; but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

So, God IS, the great I AM, unchanging and perfect, His Word remaining forever, and we, in our imperfections, with weak excuses for resisting improvement, wither and fade and wilt and turn aside from the commandments. So, we need to change, and The Holy Spirit inspires us to do so and will help us do so.

So, knowing that inspiration comes from The Holy Spirit, we can pray:

ACTIONES NOSTRAS

Father,
may everything we do
begin with your inspiration
and continue with your saving help
Let our work always find its origin in you
And through you reach completion.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. 

And we may find new and better ways to serve even as the Apostles and Disciples were changed at Pentecost by the Holy Spirit.

Here is a quick summary from The Catechism of things the Holy Spirit does and doesn’t do:

The Holy Spirit

  • comprehends the thoughts of God
  • reveals God
  • makes known to us Christ, his Word, his living Utterance
  • does not speak of himself
  • makes us hear the Father’s Word, not hear the Spirit himself
  • reveals the Word to us and disposes us to welcome him in faith
  • “unveils” Christ
  • will not speak on his own.”8Such properly divine self-effacement explains why
  • “the world cannot receive (him), because it neither sees him nor knows him,” while those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because he dwells with them.9
  • The Church is the place where we know the Holy Spirit:
    – in the Scriptures he inspired;
    – in the Tradition, to which the Church Fathers are always timely witnesses;
    – in the Church’s Magisterium, which he assists;
    – in the sacramental liturgy, through its words and symbols, in which the Holy Spirit puts us into communion with Christ;
    – in prayer, wherein he intercedes for us;
    – in the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up;
    – in the signs of apostolic and missionary life;
    – in the witness of saints through whom he manifests his holiness and continues the work of salvation.

You can read it all straight from the Catechism at the Vatican Website HERE.

In the New Testament, NAB Version, the phrase Holy Spirit shows up 89 times, almost half of those in Acts. (I am surprised holy is not capitalized like Spirit). He was/is busy. Here they all are. Here are a chart showing the locations of the 89 instances and all the verses.

NAB Matthew 1:18 Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit.

NAB Matthew 1:20 Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.

NAB Matthew 3:11 I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire.

NAB Matthew 12:32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

NAB Matthew 28:19 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,

NAB Mark 1:8 I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the holy Spirit.”

NAB Mark 3:29 But whoever blasphemes against the holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”

NAB Mark 12:36 David himself, inspired by the holy Spirit, said: ‘The Lord said to my lord, “Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet.”‘

NAB Mark 13:11 When they lead you away and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say. But say whatever will be given to you at that hour. For it will not be you who are speaking but the holy Spirit.

NAB Luke 1:15, 35, 41, 67 for he will be great in the sight of (the) Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb,
35 And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit,
67 Then Zechariah his father, filled with the holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:

NAB Luke 2:25, 26 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him.
26 It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord.

NAB Luke 3:16, 22 John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire
22 and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

NAB Luke 4:1 Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert

NAB Luke 10:21 At that very moment he rejoiced (in) the holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.

NAB Luke 11:13 If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

NAB Luke 12:10, 12 “Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
12 For the holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”

NAB John 1:33 I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the holy Spirit.’

NAB John 14:26 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.

NAB John 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit.

NAB Acts 1:2, 5, 8, 16 until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.
5 for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.”
8 But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
16 “My brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled which the holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus.

NAB Acts 2:4, 33, 38 And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim
33 Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the holy Spirit from the Father and poured it forth, as you (both) see and hear.
38 Peter (said) to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit.

NAB Acts 4:8, 25, 31 Then Peter, filled with the holy Spirit, answered them, “Leaders of the people and elders:
25 you said by the holy Spirit through the mouth of our father David, your servant: ‘Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples entertain folly?
31 As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

NAB Acts 5:3, 32 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart so that you lied to the holy Spirit and retained part of the price of the land?
32 We are witnesses of these things, as is the holy Spirit that God has given to those who obey him.”

NAB Acts 6:5 The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism.

NAB Acts 7:51, 55 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors
55 But he, filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,

NAB Acts 8:15, 17, 19 who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the holy Spirit,
17 Then they laid hands on them and they received the holy Spirit.
19 and said, “Give me this power too, so that anyone upon whom I lay my hands may receive the holy Spirit.”

NAB Acts 9:17, 31 So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the holy Spirit.”
31 The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the holy Spirit it grew in numbers.

NAB Acts 10:38, 44, 45, 47 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
44 While Peter was still speaking these things, the holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word.
45 The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also,
47 “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the holy Spirit even as we have?”

NAB Acts 11:15, 16, 24 As I began to speak, the holy Spirit fell upon them as it had upon us at the beginning,
16 and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.’
24 for he was a good man, filled with the holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord.

NAB Acts 13:2, 4, 9, 52 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
4 So they, sent forth by the holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus.
9 But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the holy Spirit, looked intently at him
52 The disciples were filled with joy and the holy Spirit.

NAB Acts 15:8, 28 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the holy Spirit just as he did us.
28 ‘It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,

NAB Acts 16:6 They traveled through the Phrygian and Galatian territory because they had been prevented by the holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia.

NAB Acts 19:2, 6 He said to them, “Did you receive the holy Spirit when you became believers?” They answered him, “We have never even heard that there is a holy Spirit.”
6 And when Paul laid (his) hands on them, the holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

NAB Acts 20:23, 28 except that in one city after another the holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me.
28 Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood.

NAB Acts 21:11 He came up to us, took Paul’s belt, bound his own feet and hands with it, and said, “Thus says the holy Spirit: This is the way the Jews will bind the owner of this belt in Jerusalem, and they will hand him over to the Gentiles.”

NAB Acts 28:25 Without reaching any agreement among themselves they began to leave; then Paul made one final statement. “Well did the holy Spirit speak to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah, saying:

NAB Romans 5:5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.

NAB Romans 9:1 I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the holy Spirit in bearing me witness

NAB Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit;

NAB Romans 15:13, 16 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit.
16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the holy Spirit.

NAB 1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

NAB 1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore, I tell you that nobody speaking by the spirit of God says, “Jesus be accursed.” And no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the holy Spirit.

NAB 2 Corinthians 6:6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, in a holy spirit, in unfeigned love,

NAB 2 Corinthians 13:13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you.

NAB Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised holy Spirit,

NAB Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.

NAB 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 6 For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the holy Spirit and (with) much conviction. You know what sort of people we were (among) you for your sake.
6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the holy Spirit,

NAB 1 Thessalonians 4:8 Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not a human being but God, who (also) gives his holy Spirit to you.

NAB 2 Timothy 1:14 Guard this rich trust with the help of the holy Spirit that dwells within us.

NAB Titus 3:5 not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit,

NAB Hebrews 2:4 God added his testimony by signs, wonders, various acts of power, and distribution of the gifts of the holy Spirit according to his will.

NAB Hebrews 3:7 Therefore, as the holy Spirit says: “Oh, that today you would hear his voice,

NAB Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift and shared in the holy Spirit

NAB Hebrews 9:8 In this way the holy Spirit shows that the way into the sanctuary had not yet been revealed while the outer tabernacle still had its place.

NAB Hebrews 10:15 The holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying:

NAB 1 Peter 1:12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you with regard to the things that have now been announced to you by those who preached the good news to you (through) the holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels longed to look.

NAB 2 Peter 1:21 for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.

NAB Jude 1:20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the holy Spirit.

We also talked about these OT/NT connections in Sacred Scripture, the Holy Spirit as Wind.

So, shall we listen and be open to change?

Feasts and Solemnities and Readings that Accompany Them

Introduction

I know some of us have the Liturgy of the Hours and the Liturgical Calendar down pat, but this post is for those who, like me, are still confused and wonder sometimes why we are where we are in Christian Prayer and suffer confusion with some of the terms and language used.

I wrote on January 2 about the high frequency of Psalms 63 and 149 showing up in Morning Prayer (Why These Psalms), but I’d like to say a little more about them and about the associated canticle from Daniel 3 and the solemnities and feasts that are the occasions of their use.

We don’t encounter them that often on Wednesday mornings, but they are by far the most common and most frequent readings in Morning Prayer.  Every time Christian Prayer instructs us, “Psalms and canticle from Sunday, Week I, 707,” we are going to be praying these words.

In summary, they are used for:

  1. Every Week 1 Sunday (13 times per year).
  2. All Solemnities and Feasts.
  3. The six days following Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.

Note: For information on the differences between Solemnities and Feasts, look HERE. There is another category, Memorials, which does not rate the special readings.

So, those three readings are used for Morning Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours fifty to sixty days a year or about 15% of the days. No others get that kind of use except the Invitatories and the Benedictus.

Solemnities and Feasts

Here is the list of Solemnities and Feasts for 2018, few of which happen to fall on our Wednesday meeting days. I know we all know what HDO stands for! Solemnities outrank Feasts and therefore get the larger font.

Psalm 63

This is a beautiful and poetic Psalm, and it is easy to see the value of praying it on a regular basis, so long as only verses 2-9 are used. And those are the only verses in the Morning Prayer, an editor somewhere, sometime, having decided to omit verses 10-12 about my enemies coming to ruin, going down to the netherworld, and being prey of jackals. The mouths of liars being shut doesn’t sound so bad, but picking out the liars is not always easy. Here are the words; read them and pray, at least through verse 9. Check out the footnotes.

Psalm 149

This Psalm starts on a high note about praising the LORD and about the relationship of the people of Israel with the LORD. But the last few verses, which are still part of Morning Prayer, descend into talk of retribution, punishment, shackles, etc. I’m surprised those were not excluded as were the last three of Psalm 63. Footnotes are included in the screenshot below.

Daniel 3:56-88

These are beautiful words from Daniel, labeled Prayer of Azariah, about all of creation blessing the LORD. These verses are not in the Hebrew Bible and therefore are not a part of the Protestant Canon. They were part of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint, used by Greek-speaking people at the time of Jesus. They are, therefore, part of the Catholic Canon of Sacred Scripture. It is always a pleasure to pray these words, wondering if anything got left out.

A footnote in The Catholic Study Bible says of Daniel 3:24-90, “These verses are additions to the Aramaic text of Daniel, translated from the Greek form of the book. They were probably first composed in Hebrew or Aramaic, but are no longer extant in the original language. The Roman Catholic Church has always regarded them as part of the canonical Scriptures.

 

 

 

December 6, 2017 – Feast of St. Nicholas, Friend of Jesus

St. Nicholas?

December 6 is the Feast of St. Nicholas, a third century devout Christian who gave his inheritance to the poor, became a bishop, participated in the Council of Nicaea, was persecuted but not martyred, and is celebrated today for the way he lived, not for distribution of presents once a year on the birthday of Jesus. So, we may have well-justified curiosity about how St. Nicholas morphed into the American Santa Clause. It began with the Reformation’s de-emphasis of saints. You can read the story HERE. Here is an excerpt from that linked article about the pivotal years in the early 1800’s.

Santa

Maybe the US Church should consider returning to the distribution of gifts at the Feast of St. Nicholas and focusing only on worship of Jesus, God in flesh, on December 25th.

Speaking of Jesus

Given that Advent is to be a time of personal reflection, this may be a bit more personal than previous posts. I hope I am not skewing the discussion too much. Please feel free to comment and critique.

Our discussion about “having a personal relationship” with Jesus, God incarnate, reminded me of a song of my Baptist youth and our discussion about responses to the question, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?”  The lyrics of that remembered popular song, What a Friend We Have in Jesus  are by Christian Irish poet and Canadian citizen Joseph Scriven who wrote them in the 1850’s to comfort his ill mother. The music came a dozen or so years later by Charles C. Converse.

I was pretty sure I wouldn’t find that song in a Catholic Hymnal but did a quick check of first line indices in three that we have at home. Beginning with “What,” I found What Child is This, What Doth the Lord Require, What is this Place, What Star is This, What Wondrous Love is This, and Whatsoever You Do but no “What a friend….”

There are some things I like about What a Friend. I like the community emphasis suggested by use of first person plural rather than first person singular, and I like the clear expressions that Jesus is God, Lord, precious Savior, and blessed Savior. But, it seems to me that the song, if not all about me, is at least all about us and what we need and want rather than about Him and our appropriate responses to Him.

Personal piety is of course personal, and it’s not my intention to criticize anyone’s personal piety. But, as Father Linsky pointed out during the discussion, our personal relationship with Jesus begins with an answer to the question he asked St. Peter, “Who do you say that I am?

The concept of having a personal relationship with God is unique, among world religions, to Christianity. It begins with our response to that question, our confession that He is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” and then with responding to his words such as, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

That leaves me uncomfortable with thinking of Jesus as a buddy, or “friend,” on whom I can call for anything I need. (It also leaves me uncomfortable with my behaviors and the way I spend some of my time.) Our personal relationships with Jesus have to be on His terms and not on ours. He didn’t some to satisfy the need of the Jews for a worldly and powerful king, and he didn’t come to satisfy our needs for a spiritual ATM.

I checked the Gospels and found only two instances referring to a friend or friends of Jesus:

NAB John 11:11 He said this, and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.”

NAB John 15:14-15 You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.

Therefore, as far as a “personal relationship with Jesus goes,” I believe I should be concerned not about whether I have Jesus as a friend but whether I can be considered a friend of Jesus as St. Nicholas certainly seems to have been.

It’s All About Jesus

Everything in the Catholic Church is all about Jesus:

SACRED SCRIPTURE ALL ABOUT JESUS: CCC 134: “All Sacred Scripture is but one book, and that one book is Christ, because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ.”

BLESSED VIRGIN MARY POINTS US TO JESUS: NAB John 2:5 His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”

THE CHURCH IS THE BODY OF CHRIST JUST AS JESUS WAS THE BODY OF CHRIST: Ephesians 4:11-14  And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming.

Getting to Know Jesus Better

So, for Advent, one option is to get to know Jesus better, and be a better friend of Him, with a focus on the parables he told. Here is a handy list I found on line at this site. They are in at least one person’s understanding of their chronological order. Did you know there are 46? Well some people may count a bit differently but 46 is a pretty good number.

  • Six are found in all three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke)
  • Three are found in two of the Synoptic Gospels
  • Thirty seven are found in only one Gospel
  • Only one is in the Gospel of John (#21)
  • Only 374 verses of Sacred Scripture comprise all forty six, an average of eight verses per parable!

parables

 

 

June 28, 2017: Called to Serve

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 – Wednesday of Week 12, Ordinary Time

Today we remember St. Irenaeus, Bishop, Martyr, and Church Father who focused his attention on study of Christian writings of the time with a focus on which should be considered authoritative and be included in the Canon. Of course details of the lives of such second century persons are sometimes sketchy, but you can read some about him here.

Incidentally, there is general but not unanimous agreement that the earliest list of New Testament Books we have that agrees fully with our own Canon is from a document written by Athanasius in 367 A.D. You can read a translation of it, the pertinent paragraph quoted below, here.

Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James, one; of Peter, two; of John, three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John.

During the discussion prior to prayer, Father Linsky encouraged us to more fully participate in the life of the Church through service as Eucharistic ministers, lectors, ushers, religious education leaders, Stephen Ministers, committee members or leaders, or whatever fields of endeavor we may be called to. We are encouraged to be open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and to follow that inspiration. We receive so that we may give.

Note the updated photo at the top of the website. Twenty five were present today and all but three show up in the photo.