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

May 9, 2018 – Intersection of Theology, Cosmology, Simple Truth, and Divine Mystery

Sacred Scripture About the Ascension

John 6:62  – What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?

John 7:33  – So Jesus said, “I will be with you only a little while longer, and then I will go to the one who sent me.

John 14:2  – In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?

John 14:12  – Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.

John 14:28  – 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.

John 16:7  – But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

John 20:17  – Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”

Mark 16:19  – So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.

Luke 24:51  – As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven.

Acts 1:9  – When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.

Romans 8:34  – Who will condemn? It is Christ (Jesus) who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.

Hebrews 9:24  – For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf.

1 Peter 3:21-22  – …through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

And, from the Nicene Creed

On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

Celebration of The Ascension 

Father Linsky led a discussion of Ascension Sunday (or Thursday, 40 days after Easter) focused on the meaning of Christ’s return to the father. It is a wonderful thing to celebrate the theological truth of that event signifying the end of Christ’s earthly ministry, the accomplishment of his mission, His submission to the Father, His death and resurrection, His establishment of the Church, the “Body of Christ,” to continue His work, guided and led by the Holy Spirit. What a privilege and responsibility we bear as members of that Body to love and to obey His commandments.

Here is an excellent and well documented discussion of the history of celebration of Ascension Sunday covering these key points:

  • Commemoration of the Ascension dates from apostolic times
  • Initially part of the Feast of Pentecost
  • Established as separate feast by 341 A.D.
  • Universally celebrated in the Roman Church by 400 A.D.
  • Associated vigil established in 7th century; no longer included in Canon Law
  • Involved processions and elaborate ceremonies, including “hoisting a statue of the Risen Christ aloft until it disappeared through an opening in the ceiling of the church” a few hundred years ago but now focuses on extinguishing of the Paschal Candle
  • There have been strange practices from time to time but now abandoned

Cosmology

The Ascension is a beautiful thing for which we give thanks and which we celebrate, but if we try too hard to figure out exactly where Jesus “ascended” to, where Heaven and those “many mansions” are, we get into trouble and find ourselves wandering in the weeds pretty quickly.

I admit that “cosmology” is a word I have never used and had to look up. It is the study of the origin and development of the universe which we, of course, believe is a creation of God…not just Heaven and Earth but “all things, visible and invisible,” the whole universe, which, even to us in the 21st century, seems to be infinite already and still expanding.

The ancient Hebrews, under divine inspiration, developed and wrote an excellent understanding of the theology of creation, but their understanding of the science was limited by their inability to see beyond the lands they occupied and the sky they could see with the naked eye. Sacred Scripture contains many descriptions of the world as they understood it and helps us understand what that view was and how it affected their explanations of theology.

Using words of Sacred Scripture about the creation process and the result of it, many simple diagrams of the ancient understandings of the universe have been created. The first one of these I ever saw was hand drawn about fifteen years ago by Dr. Ted Swanson, Professor of OT and Hebrew. It was a primitive version of the diagram below from  the stpeterslist.com website.

Read the Genesis account of creation below while looking at the diagram. As a help, here is information about the Hebrew word translated as “dome” or “firmament.”

Creation

Genesis 1:6-18 Then God said, “Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters, to separate one body of water from the other.” And so it happened: God made the dome, and it separated the water above the dome from the water below it. God called the dome “the sky.” Evening came, and morning followed– the second day. Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear.” And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its basin, and the dry land appeared. God called the dry land “the earth,” and the basin of the water he called “the sea.” God saw how good it was. Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it.” And so it happened: the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. God saw how good it was. Evening came, and morning followed– the third day. Then God said: “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years, and serve as luminaries in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth.” And so it happened: God made the two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night; and he made the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw how good it was.

Other Scriptural Descriptions of Heaven and Earth

2 Samuel 22:8 “The earth swayed and quaked; the foundations of the heavens trembled and shook when his wrath flared up.

2 Samuel 22:16 Then the wellsprings of the sea appeared, the foundations of the earth were laid bare, At the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of the wind of his wrath.

Isaiah 40:22 He sits enthroned above the vault of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; He stretches out the heavens like a veil, spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.

1 Samuel 2:8 For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and he has set the world upon them.

Ecclesiastes 1:5-7 The sun rises and the sun goes down; then it presses on to the place where it rises. Blowing now toward the south, then toward the north, the wind turns again and again, resuming its rounds. All rivers go to the sea, yet never does the sea become full. To the place where they go, the rivers keep on going.

So…

To get back to the important issue, it is best that we meditate on the fact of the ascension and its meaning to us and leave the rest to God. We will know soon enough what we need to know about the physical details and, I expect, will be completely astonished. I expect the whole truth will be as different from our understanding as our understanding is from that of the ancient Hebrews.

Word on Fire

I’ll give Bishop Barron the final word: “He has gone to a dimension that transcends but impinges upon our universe.

 

May 2, 2018 – Athanasius, Orthodoxy, and Councils

St. Athanasius

Fr. Linsky gave an interesting summary of the life and ministry of St. Athanasius. You can read the whole story HERE.

St. Athanasius is famous for having written the earliest extant listing of the NT Canon. For the source of this clip below from 367 AD, more than 250 years after the writing of the NT books, go here.

Catholic Orthodoxy
(Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Built on four pillars:

  1. The baptismal profession of faith (The Creed)
  2. The sacraments of faith (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Holy Orders, Matrimony, Penance, Anointing of the Sick)
  3. The life of faith (The Commandments)
  4. The prayer of the believer (The Our Father)

It seems simple, but, from that, we get 688 pages of very interesting and challenging reading with clear explanations and lots of references to Sacred Scripture and other Church documents. It is worth having on hand to look up things and is even worth complete reading just for better understanding.

Catholic Church Councils (Since Jerusalem)
More Details at this LINK.

1. FIRST COUNCIL OF NICAEA 325 – Nicene Creed against Arianism
2. FIRST COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE – 381 – Divinity of the Holy Spirit
3. COUNCIL OF EPHESUS – 431 – Declared Mary the Mother of God
4. COUNCIL OF CHALCEDON – 451 – Defined the two natures of Christ
5. SECOND COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE – 553 – Condemned errors of Origen
6. THIRD COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE – 680-681 – Divine and human will in Christ
7. SECOND COUNCIL OF NICAEA – 787 – Veneration of holy images
8. FOURTH COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE – 869 – Photian Schism
9. FIRST LATERAN COUNCIL – 1123 – Holy Land recovery from infidels
10. SECOND LATERAN COUNCIL – 1139 – Dealt with errors of Arnold of Brescia
11. THIRD LATERAN COUNCIL – 1179 – Condemned Albigenses and Waldenses
12. FOURTH LATERAN COUNCIL – 1215 – Condemned errors of Abbot Joachim
13. FIRST COUNCIL OF LYONS – 1245 – Excommunicated Frederick II; directed a crusade
14. SECOND COUNCIL OF LYONS – 1274 – Added “and from the Son” to the creed.
15. COUNCIL OF VIENNE – 1311-1313 – Dealt with crimes and errors, reforms, a crusade
16. COUNCIL OF CONSTANCE – 1414-1418 – Dealt with schism
17. COUNCIL OF BASLE/FERRARA/FLORENCE – 1431-1439 – Moveable council – three cities
18. FIFTH LATERAN COUNCIL – 1512-1517 – Crusade planned but stopped due to Luther
19. COUNCIL OF TRENT – 1545-1563 – Addressed the reformers and reformed the church
20. FIRST VATICAN COUNCIL – 1869-1870 – decreed the infallibility of the Pope when speaking ex cathedra, i.e. when as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church.
21. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL – 1962-1965 – Pope John XXIII convoked the council in which 2860 leaders participatedThe main business of the council was to explore and make explicit the Church’s role in the world, ecumenism, the renewal of religious life, the life and ministry of priests and the role of lay apostles (everyday Christians) as important contributors to the evangelization of the world. Improvements to the liturgy were explored. Vatican II also suggested the Mass be established in the language of its environment. So the Mass is now in many languages instead of just Latin.

 

April 25th, 2018 – Humility vs. Pride

First Reading for Wednesday April 25th, 2018

1 Peter 5:5-7 And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: “God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.

Pride vs. Humility in Modern Culture

It is interesting that, in modern US language and culture, “pride” has become a virtue rather than a sin and “humility” tends to be scorned. We are proud of our children, our students, our schools, our churches, our communities, our race, and our sexual orientation. We are even proud of things with which we had nothing to do. Some of us are proud of our president. I haven’t heard anyone express pride in Congress recently.

I believe the rise of “pride” movements and associated popularity of the word are quite reasonable reactions to the scorn and criticism heaped on various minorities by the establishment in past decades, those in power and in the majorities and even in the Church often more interested in condemning and claiming prideful superiority than in loving and expressing humility. We reap what we sow.

Searching the Catechism – Pride

A quick search of the Catholic Catechism at the Vatican Website shows “pride” occurs 11 times and “humility” 22 times in the Catechism. That two to one margin seems to support the importance of humility as part of our expression of Christian faith. (You can have some fun searching any word in the Catechism at this link🙂

Here is the most pertinent use of “pride” from Paragraph 1866 (4th item in the list below).

1866 – Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called “capital” because they engender other sins, other vices. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia. (Interesting article about acedia)

Searching the Catechism – Humility

And, this example of the use of “humility,’ No. 8 in the list below. By the way, the word “humble” shows up 39 times in the Catechism.

1450 “Penance requires . . . the sinner to endure all things willingly, be contrite of heart, confess with the lips, and practice complete humility and fruitful satisfaction.”

Humility is scorned in much of modern society as we are advised to “lean forward,” negotiate better compensation, invest aggressively to become wealthy, keep loaded guns to protect what is ours, look our for our own interests, etc. But that scorn is a result of a misunderstanding of humility. Dr. Neglia shared this insight: Humility does not mean thinking less of oneself; Humility means thinking of oneself less.” So, we can be confident and effective and still be humble.

Jesus set the perfect example of humility (even though he did once storm into the temple turning over tables and raising a ruckus.) St. Paul summarized the ministry of Jesus in his letter to the Philippians.

Philippians 2:3-9   Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

Virtue Chart (Humility and Thankfulness Missing)

I knew “pride” occupied a prominent place on this chart of virtues, gifts, fruits, and sins but was surprised that “humility” does not. It does seem that most of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, Gentleness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Goodness, Kindness, Patience, Modesty, and Self Control are excellent descriptors of humble persons and perhaps even synonyms for humility. “Thanksgiving” doesn’t show up explicitly either, but we can be confident that, in place of expressing pride, we are always safe to express thanksgiving.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

And we especially give thanks for the presence of JT and for his encouraging words supporting humility and thanksgiving.

April 18th – Gospel of John (6:35-40)

Gospel Readings This Week

Weekday Gospel Readings this week were all from John 6, The Bread of Life chapter.

  •  Monday – 22-29 (Day after the feeding of the 5000)
  • Tuesday – 30-35 (Jesus connects what he offers to manna from Heaven)
  • Wednesday – 35-40 (“Bread of Life” discourse)
  • Thursday – 44-51 (“Living Bread” different from manna)
  • Friday – 52-59 (Bottom line: “Unless you eat and drink…”)
  • Saturday – 60-69 (Division and self-excommunication)

I’m always curious about the verses left out, e.g. 41-43, but I’m not going to try to follow that rabbit trail  here. Tomorrow, Sunday, we move on to “The Good Shepherd” discourse in John 10.

The Gospel of John

The introduction to John’s Gospel in The New Testament: New Catholic Version makes these key points:

  • John very different from the other three Gospels
  • Author unidentified but traditionally attributed to John the apostle
  • Written late, probably about sixty years after the resurrection
  • Discourses replace parables (No parables in John)
  • A few significant events, seven signs, replace multiple stories, miracles, sayings
  • Not chronological, unlike Matthew, Mark, and Luke
  • Beautifully constructed theological drama
  • Full revelation of the Glory of Christ

Not in the Gospel of John

We find no accounts of the birth, baptism (mentioned only), transfiguration,or temptation of Jesus or of his institution of The Lord’s Supper. There are no exorcisms. There is no call for repentance.

Why no institution of the Lord’s supper? Maybe because it was a practice thoroughly incorporated into the life of the community at the time of this writing and needed no explanation.

And, instead of the birth narrative which may also have been completely understood, the Gospel begins with “In the beginning…“, same as Genesis, to emphasize the eternality and divinity of Jesus which may not have been thoroughly understood. It was to be another 250 years before that issue was pinned down in the creeds.

Only in the Gospel of John

Only in John do we find:

  • The Cana wedding miracle important to Catholic understanding of Mary,
  • The encounter with Nicodemus and the “born again” discussion,
  • The beautiful long story of the Samaritan woman at the well who went to her village and said, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done. Could this be the Christ?” (Early evangelist)
  • The account of the healing of the man born blind, reactions to it.
  • The raising of Lazarus who, unlike Jesus, would have to die again.
  • The conversion and confession of Thomas.
  • The washing of the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper.
  • The woman caught in the act of adultery and response of Jesus to it.
  • The miraculous catch of 153 large fish after Easter.

Some of these longer accounts, The Woman at the Well and The Man Born Blind in particular, are beautifully constructed dramas and could be the basis of novels, films, or plays.

Another interesting exception is that while the feeding of the 5000 is found in all four Gospels, only in John is there the small boy who had five barley loaves and two fish.

The Seven Signs in the Gospel of John

  1. Conversion of water to wine at Cana wedding – John 2
  2. Healing of son of an official – John 4
  3. Jesus heals a blind man on the sabbath – John 5
  4. Jesus feeds the 5000 – John 6
  5. Jesus walks on the water – John 6
  6. Jesus heals a man born blind – John 9
  7. Jesus raises Lazarus to life – John 11

One thing we know is the reason the Gospel of John was written and the reason for the choices about what to include: John 20:30-31 – Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Here is some final food for thought, frequency of the word “believe” in the Gospels.

 

 

 

April 11 – Stanislaus, Sanhedrin, Schism, Separation

Well, we did cover several topics on April 11.

Saint Stanislaus, Patron Saint of Poland

You can see the exhibit below and listen to the MP3 by going HERE.

stanislaus

First Century Jewish Leadership

The Sanhedrin (Jewish source)

Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes (Jewish Source)

The Great Schism of 1054 (TMI, I suppose)

Wikipedia Article

Quote from Article: Apart from Rome in the West, “many major Churches of the East claim to have been founded by the apostles: Antioch by Peter and Paul, Alexandria by Mark, Constantinople by Andrew, Cyprus by Barnabas, Ethiopia by Matthew, India by Thomas, Edessa in eastern Syria by Thaddeus, Armenia by Bartholomew, Georgia by Simon the Zealot.”[26] Famous also are the seven churches of Asia (the Roman province of Asia), mentioned in the opening chapters of the Book of Revelation.

This map is also in the Wikipedia article.

800px-Great_Schism_1054_with_former_borders

Bogomils definition HERE.

How to Get Excommunicated

A 21st Century View published in Catholic Herald