Friday, July 27, 2007

first-uh lesson: must learn patience

Another gem from the USCCB email. I really love these things.

Saint Padre Pio of Pietralcina (1887-1968), Capuchin
Ep 3: 579; CE 54

To bear fruit, free from worldly anxiety

Advance with simplicity on the pathways of God, and do not worry.
Hate your defects, yes, but quietly, without excitement, nor anxiety. It is
necessary to be patient with them and to benefit from them through holy
humility. For if you lack of patience, your imperfections, instead of
disappearing, will only grow
. Because there is nothing which strengthens
our defects as much as anxiety and obsession to be rid of them. Cultivate
your vineyard together with Jesus. To you the task of removing stones and
pulling up brambles. To Jesus, that of sowing, planting, cultivating and
watering. But even in your work, it is still him who acts. Because without
Christ, you could do nothing whatsoever.

Monday, July 23, 2007

no one takes it from me

Saint Peter Chrysologus (around 406-450), Bishop of Ravenna, Doctor of the Church Sermon 3

“You have a greater than Jonah here.” It was Jonah himself who decided to be thrown out of the boat: “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he said (Jon 1:12), which points to the passion of the Lord Jesus, which he freely took upon himself. For why did the sailors wait to be given the order…? It is because, when the salvation of all requires the death of one single person, that death depends on the free decision of the person concerned… Thus, in this story, which completely prefigures the Lord’s story, they await the decision of the person who must die, so that his death might not be a necessity to which he submits, but a free act: “I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it up again. No one takes it from me,” (Jn 10:18) says the Lord. For when Christ delivered over his spirit (Jn 19:30), it was not because his life was slipping away from him. He who holds in his hands the soul of every person could not lose his own. The prophet said: “I constantly hold my life in your hands.” (Ps 119:109) And in another place: “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Ps 31:6; Lk 23:46)

This excerpt that came with today's USCCB daily gospel email, touches on the massive (and so easily overlooked distinction) between Christ's death and anyone else's. He alone had the power to lay down his life. This may be semi-heretical, but it seems that Jesus makes it clear no one could kill him. Judas didn't kill him. The Jews didn't kill him. Rome didn't kill him.

But, even more radical, Jesus didn't kill himself. He alone of all human beings had the claim to own his own life, and with that claim the ability and right to surrender it. Suicide is sinful specifically because we do not own ourselves. Our whole person (body and spirit) belongs to God. Since Jesus is one with the Father, his life was his own and he could do with it as he saw fit. What he saw fit to do was the will of the Father - and the will of the Father had been prefigured by the cries from the sea that Jonah be thrown into it. Jonah surrendered himself to this fate, but did not seek to kill himself. Christ surrendered his spirit on the cross to the the will of the Father, in the final holocaust of Mercy. He laid down what belonged to the life of the Trinity, and what it would have been objectively impossible for any human being to take from him.

not very Christian of them

The United Council of Churches has pulled Virginia's etext version of the RSV.


Oh well, I found the Catholic Edition on line at

thanks to Fr. Tim Finigan

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

a covenant without rationing

In today's reading from Genesis, Pharaoh tells the people suffering from the famine to go to Joseph for assistance.

Genesis 41
55: When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, "Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do."
56: So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt.
57: Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth.

Compare to the Cana story:

John 2
1: On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2: Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples.
3: When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine."
4: And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come." 5: His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

In Egypt, Joseph is given the power by Pharaoh to ration out the abundance they have stored up to those from all lands who come in need. The generosity of Pharaoh is certainly uncharacteristic of demi-god autocrats of the old world. It was prompted by his love and gratitude towards Joseph, whose insight and faith spared Pharaoh's kingdom from the horrible famine. Joseph is the inspiration and source of Pharaoh's mercy, just as Jesus is the source of God the Father's mercy. When we look at the episode between Joseph and his brothers, another clear parallel appears.

Genesis 42
5: Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
6: Now Joseph was governor over the land; he it was who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph's brothers came, and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.
7: Joseph saw his brothers, and knew them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. "Where do you come from?" he said. They said, "From the land of Canaan, to buy food."
8: Thus Joseph knew his brothers, but they did not know him.
9: And Joseph remembered the dreams which he had dreamed of them; and he said to them, "You are spies, you have come to see the weakness of the land."
10: They said to him, "No, my lord, but to buy food have your servants come.
11: We are all sons of one man, we are honest men, your servants are not spies."
12: He said to them, "No, it is the weakness of the land that you have come to see."
13: And they said, "We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no more."
14: But Joseph said to them, "It is as I said to you, you are spies.
15: By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here.
16: Send one of you, and let him bring your brother, while you remain in prison, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you; or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies."
17: And he put them all together in prison for three days.
18: On the third day Joseph said to them, "Do this and you will live, for I fear God:
19: if you are honest men, let one of your brothers remain confined in your prison, and let the rest go and carry grain for the famine of your households,
20: and bring your youngest brother to me; so your words will be verified, and you shall not die." And they did so.
21: Then they said to one another, "In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he besought us and we would not listen; therefore is this distress come upon us."
22: And Reuben answered them, "Did I not tell you not to sin against the lad? But you would not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood."
23: They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them.
24: Then he turned away from them and wept;

So it is clear that Joseph prefigures Christ in that he was cast off into death and slavery by his brothers and then instead, prepared the Kingdom for a time of there suffering and need. However, the key to me is the direct connection with not just Christ's life on earth and His passion, but the veiled nature of the Risen Lord, both to the Apostles...

Luke 24
25: And he said to them, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
26: Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"
27: And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
28: So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, 29: but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them.
30: When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them.
31: And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32: They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?"

...and ultimately to every single human being...

Matthew 25
34: Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;
35: for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
36: I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'
37: Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?
38: And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?
39: And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?'
40: And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'

What Joseph had for his brothers was surplus from the earth that had been acquired through obedience to the wisdom of God. But it was still a surplus produced by the sweat of man's brow, according to the curse upon Adam. What Jesus gave to the wedding guests at Cana was undeserved and excessive - a true outpouring of generosity of a kind and quality meant to symbolize the infinite mercy Christ offers us from the cross. Just as Jacob's sons received from Joseph with a guilty conscience, we too must recognize our own sins as we ask for the mercy of our Lord - a Lord who is disguised to us every day, and who calls on us to search for him in the darkness so that we will be "surprised by joy" when he is revealed to us in the light.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Footprints in the sand

I always hated that poem. More specifically because it would be forcibly recited to us in elementary school by women who were pathetically dissatisfied with their lives and used their students as a substitute Oprah audience.

But these footprints are a whole nother deal. After reading this post, I had to let out a Keanu-level "Whoah." I'm always running accross references to the rabbinical commentaries and such like the Mishnah and Midrash in the writing of top notch biblical scholars like Brant Pitre. All it does is make me want to learn Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek - whatever can get me closer to the source.

not like it isn't hard enough

For two knuckleheads from Creighton (with letters after their names and Church money in their pockets) to propose something so silly as "nuptial cohabitation" is testament to the reality that there's major pruning in order. Tired of waiting around for the dreams of the 70's to be fulfilled, and desperately irritated by the continuing existence of the CCC, they decide to completely take matters into their own hands and re-invent the sacrament of marriage.

From Omaha.

Not that this sort of crap would read any better coming from South Bend or Kuala Lumpur, but how many self-infatuated intellectuals does it take to declare a new definition of marriage from Nebraska? Only 2????? I would think you'd need at least 4 to take turns driving the long distance to anywhere interesting.

Archbshp Chaput does a real good job of destroying their ridiculous proposal.

What's especially sad about the continuing presence of knuckleheads in Catholic academia, and Diocesan chanceries, is that they do nothing but undermine the difficult journeys faced by those who try to live according to the faith.

How harmful is it for people struggling with same-sex attraction to be encouraged to give in to temptations of a destructive lifestyle by priests and nuns who don't give a rat's ass about their eternal well-being?

How much does it weaken society when morons in Catholic schools and the hierarchy give tacit approval to couples that use artificial contraception? It doesn't take a PhD to notice that women have never been more physically abused, objectified or degraded as we've seen in the contraceptive era. The perverted clerics and busybodies who saturated Catholic schools with absurd and insidious sex-ed curricula are partially responsible for the confused and over-sexed environment we live in. It's an environment where children reach maturity amid social climates that more and more resemble the sad and horrible world described by a Frontline episode a few years ago. Junior High and High School kids living like they're in a director's-cut edition of Caligula - kids losing part of their humanity as they insanely throw their bodies into a mindless fire of sexual excess. And all within the confines of modern comfortable suburbia.

What brings us to this? What brings us to a world where women and children are bought and sold as a commodity in an exploding sex trade industry? Surrender to Satan. There's no other answer that more aptly explains the tremendous exponential growth in human misery that we see all around us, and it all starts with the refusal to resist at the beginning. The will to resist Satan - to enter fully into the struggle of striving for God's grace to live a life of faith and virtue must be supported by the Church. That is the purpose of the Church! It exists to model and shepherd all Christians, and all humanity in the journey towards Jesus and our ultimate end. When the Church allows knuckleheads in Omaha to spew crap like this - crap that is so strained in its credulity and desire to be hip - it fails the people of God, and it fails the Lord Jesus Christ.

It's also pretty effin depressing.