Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I am writing to you, children, because your sins have been forgiven for his name's sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have conquered the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God remains in you, and you have conquered the evil one. Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Now, my whole heart, say to God: «I seek your face; Lord, it is your face that I seek» (Ps 27,8). O Lord, my God, teach my heart where and how to seek you, where and how to find you. Lord, if you are not here but absent, where shall I seek you? But you are everywhere, so you must be here; why then do I not seek you? Surely you dwell in light inaccessible – where is it? And how can I have access to light which is inaccessible? Who will lead me and take me into it so that I may see you there? By what signs, under what forms, shall I seek you? I have never seen you, O Lord my God, I have never seen your face. Most High Lord, what shall an exile do who is as far away from you as this? What shall your servant do, eager for your love, cast off far from your face? He longs to see you but your countenance is too far away. He wants to have access to you, but your dwelling is inaccessible. He longs to find you but he does not know where you are. He loves to seek you but he does not know your face. Lord, you are my Lord and my God, and I have never seen you. You have created and recreated me; all the good I have comes from you, and still I do not know you. I was created to see you and I have not yet accomplished that for which I was made. How wretched is the fate of man when he has lost that for which he was created... Let me seek you by desiring you, and desire you by seeking you; let me find you by loving you and love you in finding you.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Tuesday, 04 November 2008 Tuesday of the Thirty-first week in Ordinary Time
St. Charles Borromeo
Philip. 2,5-11. 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. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Ps 22(21),26-27.28-30.31-32. I will offer praise in the great assembly; my vows I will fulfill before those who fear him. The poor will eat their fill; those who seek the LORD will offer praise. May your hearts enjoy life forever!" All the ends of the earth will worship and turn to the LORD; All the families of nations will bow low before you. For kingship belongs to the LORD, the ruler over the nations. All who sleep in the earth will bow low before God; All who have gone down into the dust will kneel in homage. And I will live for the LORD; my descendants will serve you. The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you have brought.
Lk 14,15-24. One of his fellow guests on hearing this said to him, "Blessed is the one who will dine in the kingdom of God." He replied to him, "A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many. When the time for the dinner came, he dispatched his servant to say to those invited, 'Come, everything is now ready.' But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves. The first said to him, 'I have purchased a field and must go to examine it; I ask you, consider me excused.' And another said, 'I have purchased five yoke of oxen and am on my way to evaluate them; I ask you, consider me excused.' And another said, 'I have just married a woman, and therefore I cannot come.' The servant went and reported this to his master. Then the master of the house in a rage commanded his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.' The servant reported, 'Sir, your orders have been carried out and still there is room.' The
master then ordered the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled. For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.'"
Monday, November 03, 2008
Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church Discourse on Psalm 121 "You will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
Love has great power; it is our strength. If we have no love then nothing else is of any use to us. «If I speak in human and angelic tongues,» the apostle Paul says: «but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal» (1Cor 13,1). And then listen to this tremendous statement: «If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over to be burnt, but do not have love, I am nothing» (v.3). Even if love is all you have, even if you cannot give to the poor, love. Were you to give no more than a cup of cold water (Mt 10,42), it would be worth the same reward as Zacchaeus had, having distributed half his possessions (Lk 19,8). How is this? One gives but little, the other much and do their gestures have the same value? Indeed yes – their wherewithal is unequal but their love is equal... The Psalmist says: «We will go into the house of the Lord» (Ps 122,4). It is up to us to see whether we are going there. Not our feet but our hearts are what take us there. See whether we are on the way; let each one ask himself: What are you doing for the poor believer, for the brother who is homeless or the beggar who holds out his hand? Check whether your heart is closed... «Pray for the peace of Jerusalem» (v.6). What does the peace of Jerusalem consist in? «Prosperity for those who love you» (Vulg). The psalmist addresses Jerusalem: «Those who love you will prosper» – prosperity after deprivation. Wretchedness here below, prosperity above; weakness here, strength there; those who are poor here are rich there. And where do their riches come from? From the fact that here they gave away the possessions they had received for a time from God they will receive there what God gives them for all eternity. My brethren, here below the rich are those who are poor; it is good that the rich man discovers his own poverty. Does he think himself satisfied? This is to be puffed up, not full. Let him recognise his own emptiness so as to be capable of satisfaction. What does he have? Gold. What does he still lack? Eternal life. Let him take good note of what he has and recognise what he lacks. Brothers, let him give away what he possesses so as to receive what he has not.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
It all came to a head in 1972, as most of us know, but even if you do know, Stricherz’s account of the 1972 convention is helpful and even riveting at times. What’s most interesting to me is that the abortion issue more or less came out of the blue. It was only the feminists who wanted it and McGovern’s people were actually rather frantic that it not become a part of the platform, knowing full well what it would do to the traditional party base.
It really is quite amazing to consider the transformation in the priorities of the Democratic party in just those few years - who in 1964 could have imagined that gay rights and abortion rights would become such a focus just a decade later.
As interesting as that was, I’ll tell you that the segment of the book that interested me the most was the material dealing with Carter in 1976. Only three years after Roe was decided, abortion was an ever bigger issue than it had been four years previously and a Human Life Amendment of some sort was a matter of serious discussion as a realistic possibility in many quarters.
Carter played both sides, but the party platform remained clearly in support of abortion rights, with a stated opposition to a constitutional amendment overturning Roe - a fact that prompted many bishops to make extremely strong statements, including - and this might surprise some - Cardinal Bernardin:
Archbishop Joseph Bernardin of Cincinnati, the head of the National ConferenceIt was soon realized that Carter had a “Catholic problem,” one not alleviated even by the efforts of staffers hired to specifically address it. On August 31, he met with six bishops in DC, including Bernardin:
of Catholic Bishops, blasted the party platform as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘morally
offensive in the extreme.’ On the eve of the Democratic convention, ten thousand
people rallied under a blazing sun in Central Park and marched to Madison Square
Garden to urge the party to oppose the abortion plank….The priest chosen to give
the closing benediction at the convention backed out, citing Carter and the
party’s stand on abortion.
At the August 31 meeting, [Bernardin] left no doubt about the importance heCarter continued to finesse, being vage about some things, expressing his personal opposition to abortion at times, and pleasing pro-lifers and infuriating pro-abortion feminists by signing the Hyde Amendment in 1977.
assigned to the rights of unborn infants. Reading from a prepared statement, the
archbishop stressed the prelates’ insistence on a constitutional amendment that
‘will give the maximum protection possible to the unborn.” As Bernardin
explained, “If there is agreement that aobriotn is a moral evil because it
violated a person’s most basic right, then the only logical conclusion is that
something must be done to correct the evil; and the only remedy is a
constitutional amendment….Indeed without such a remedy, the effort to promote
other human life causes for individual and social betterment, about which we are
concerned, is seirously weakened.”
In 1980, Carter and his supporters worked against pro-gay rights and pro-abortion rights planks in the platform but were handily defeated, on the latter, by a margin of 2-1 voting in support of planks supporting unrestricted abortion and taxpayer-funded abortion, the vote achieved in great part by maneuverings and decisions made over the previous years to enact a quota requiring a 50-50 female-male split on delegates.
And then came Reagan.
Gee. I wonder why the pro-life activists starting doubting the Democratic party was open to their concerns?
Monday, October 27, 2008
They will tell you that the just man who is thought unjust will be scourged, racked, bound --will have his eyes burnt out; and, at last, after suffering every kind of evil, he will be impaled: Then he will understand that he ought to seem only, and not to be, just.
All Sacrifices Will Cease But One
Some of you may know this already, but there is an ancient Rabbinic tradition regarding sacrifice in the the Messianic Age. Although I've read it dozens of times, I'm still stunned every time I see it. According to Leviticus Rabbah 9:7 and Pesiqta Rabbati 12, several ancient Rabbis taught the following:
In the Age to Come all sacrifices will cease, but the thank offering will never cease;
all songs will cease, but the songs of thanksgiving will never cease." (Cited in
Hartmut Gese, Essays in Biblical Theology 133). In Hebrew, the word for "thank offering" is todah; in Greek, it is eucharistia. The thank offering was a special sacrifice that consisted of both a bloody offering (of a lamb or goat) and an unbloody offering (of bread or wafers) (see Leviticus 7). According to the prophet Jeremiah, the saved will celebrate with thank-offerings at the coming of the Messiah and the ingathering of the exiles (Jeremiah 33). The obvious question raised by this is: Did Jesus see the Last Supper as the eschatological sacrifice which would replace all the other sacrifices in the Age to Come?
The obvious answer?
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
"Light your lamps"
Prayer offered during the hours of night possesses great power, even more than that offered during the day. That is why all the saints were in the habit of praying at night, combating the body's drowsiness and the sweetness of sleep and overcoming their bodily nature. The prophet also said: «I am wearied with sighing; every night I flood my bed with weeping» (Ps 6,7) as he uttered heartfelt sighs in impassioned prayer. And elsewhere: «At midnight I rise to give you thanks because of your just ordinances, O just God» (Ps 119,62). For every request for which the saints desired to importune God they armed themselves with nocturnal prayer and at once received what they were asking for. Satan himself fears nothing as much as prayer offered during the night watches. Even if they are accompanied by distractions it does not return fruitless so long as something inappropriate is not being asked for. That is why Satan engages in severe combat against those who keep watch at night so as to deter them from this practice if he can, especially if they show themselves to be persevering. But those who are in any way defended against his pernicious wiles and have tasted the gifts God grants at these times of vigil and have had personal experience of the greatness of the help God gives them, wholly despise him, he and all his craftiness.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
It was through unlearned men that the Cross brought conviction, and drew the world to itself. It spoke to men, not of chance things, but of God, and of piety in the truth, of the Gospel polity, of future judgment, and it made uncouth and illiterate men philosophers. This is how «the foolishness of God is wiser than man, and His weakness stronger,» (1Cor. 1,25).
How is it stronger? It is stronger in that it spread over the whole earth and seized all men by force, and whereas thousands and thousands did their utmost to stamp out the name of the Crucified One, just the contrary came to pass. For this name took root and was propagated all the more, whereas its enemies were destroyed and consumed, and living men fighting a dead One, gained not a stroke... For publicans and fishermen set up those very things by the goodness of God which philosophers, and orators, and despots, and the whole world vainly striving with all its might could not even devise... This was in Paul's mind when he said: «the weakness of God is stronger than all men put together.» How, otherwise, was it that twelve unlettered men attempted things of this importance?
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Posted by: Diogenes - Jul. 11, 2008 11:16 PM ET USA
Amherst Professor Hardley Arkes is Jewish. Yet he has a sounder grasp of Church teaching on life issues than all but a few Catholics. In a recent posting at The Catholic Thing, he registers his bewilderment at the number of Catholics capable of disregarding Barack Obama's pro-abortion stance:
Some of our readers know that I [Arkes] was associated with the drafting of the "most modest first step of all on abortion," the bill to preserve the life of the child who survived an abortion. It was called, in that awful legislative style, the Born-Alive Infants' Protection Act. When it finally passed the Congress in 2002, not a single Democrat in Congress voted in opposition. But Barack Obama, as a Senator in Illinois, actually led the opposition to the comparable measure in that state, and as the chairman of a legislative committee managed to kill it. How does one explain then this close division among Catholics, with a tilt actually in his favor? And what is the worse account: that most Catholics in the country simply do not know about his radical, pro-abortion position, or that American Catholics by now have heard about Obama's position, and they don't especially care?
Perhaps most U.S. Catholics feel some moral discomfort with abortion-on-demand, but have been firehosed so thoroughly by the Seamless Garment treatment (according to which an erroneous position on infanticide, e.g., is neutralized by a liberal position on housing credits) that they are incapable of assigning a meaningful priority to moral issues in the political realm. Arkes acutely points out that even conceding the willingness to reduce abortions is senseless apart from a publicly reasoned conviction that abortion is wrong. Says Arkes:
And the candidate who offers us this "concession": Why should we even trust him to seek a reduction in abortions when he could not possibly share with us any ground of principle to explain why these human lives command our respect and our obligation to protect them?
A liberal might rejoin that abortions should be reduced on the same ground that dental extractions should be reduced: they're vexing, expensive, and painful, and on those grounds to be avoided where avoidable. Every tooth a wanted tooth. But as Arkes argues, having decided to discount arbitrarily the value of human life in one assaying of goods, you can't pretend to be balancing benefits that include goods for human beings whose lives are not thus disvalued. That would be like declaring that Hungarians, in the eyes of the law, are puppies, whence their masters are free to put them down humanely. The term "humane," in such context, attaches to the masters, not to the Hungarians.
During the debate between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, Douglas suggested the diversity of goods at work in our national life: Maine had oysters, Indiana had cranberries, and some of the states used slave labor. Are we being asked now to adopt a similar state of mind, in which the killing of the innocent, on a massive scale, is regarded as just one of several "goods" that our people are equally free to choose, one no better in principle than the others?
It makes no sense to coerce one's fellow citizens to provide education and health care for a child whom you cannot legally protect from homicide. Most Catholic Obama-partisans have not grappled with the abortion problem directly and have no relish to do so; rather they talk more loudly about other issues in the hope that the abortion business will fade into the background by November. I believe it was SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich who asked, What better seamless garment than a body bag?
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
"Ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest" There are plenty of people who, wanting to be well-ordered on the surface and filled with beautiful feelings about God within, stop there...; they are satisfied with the sweet colloquies they hold with God in prayer... Don't let us deceive ourselves: our whole task consists in passing over into acts. And so true is this that the apostle, Saint John, tells us that our works are the only thing to accompany us into the next life (Rev 14,13). So let us think this over: never more than in our own day are there many who seem to be virtuous, and indeed are so, but who nevertheless tend towards a way that is easy and gentle rather than to hard-working, straightforward devotion. The Church is like a great harvest in need of laborers - but laborers who work! Nothing is more in keeping with the
Gospel than to draw light and strength for one's soul in prayer, reading and solitude on the one hand, but then to go and distribute this spiritual nourishment to other people. This is to do what our Lord did and, after him, his apostles; it is to unite Martha's task with that of Mary; it is to imitate the dove who digests half the food she has taken and then places the rest with her beak into that of her little ones to feed them. This is what we ought to do, too; this is how we ought to show God by our works how much we love him. Our whole task consists in passing over into act
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Sunday, March 09, 2008
They who said among themselves, thinking not aright: "Brief and troublous is our lifetime; neither is there any remedy for man's dying, nor is anyone known to have come back from the nether world. Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, Reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the LORD. To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us, Because his life is not like other men's, and different are his ways. He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure. He calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is his Father. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him."
This text is echoed by Plato in bk 2 of The Republic, where the discussion is about this same fear and rejection of the just man from a philosophical rather than prophetic angle. But Plato seems to imply that the just man - if truly just -will willfully accept this poor treatment to demonstrate his claim to justice is not for self glorification. Truer word have never been spoken.
Now, if we are to form a real judgment of the life of the just and unjust, we must isolate them; there is no other way; and how is the isolation to be effected? I answer: Let the unjust man be entirely unjust, and the just man entirely just; nothing is to be taken away from either of them, and both are to be perfectly furnished for the work of their respective lives. First, let the unjust be like other distinguished masters of craft; like the skilful pilot or physician, who knows intuitively his own powers and keeps within their limits, and who, if he fails at any point, is able to recover himself. So let the unjust make his unjust attempts in the right way, and lie hidden if he means to be great in his injustice (he who is found out is nobody): for the highest reach of injustice is: to be deemed just when you are not. Therefore I say that in the perfectly unjust man we must assume the most perfect injustice; there is to be no deduction, but we must allow him, while doing the most unjust acts, to have acquired the greatest reputation for justice. If he have taken a false step he must be able to recover himself; he must be one who can speak with effect, if any of his deeds come to light, and who can force his way where force is required his courage and strength, and command of money and friends. And at his side let us place the just man in his nobleness and simplicity, wishing, as Aeschylus says, to be and not to seem good. There must be no seeming, for if he seem to be just he will be honoured and rewarded, and then we shall not know whether he is just for the sake of justice or for the sake of honours and rewards; therefore, let him be clothed in justice only, and have no other covering; and he must be imagined in a state of life the opposite of the former. Let him be the best of men, and let him be thought the worst; then he will have been put to the proof; and we shall see whether he will be affected by the fear of infamy and its consequences. And let him continue thus to the hour of death; being just and seeming to be unjust. When both have reached the uttermost extreme, the one of justice and the other of injustice, let judgment be given which of them is the happier of the two.
(Socrates - GLAUCON)
Heavens! my dear Glaucon, I said, how energetically you polish them up for the decision, first one and then the other, as if they were two statues. I do my best, he said. And now that we know what they are like there is no difficulty in tracing out the sort of life which awaits either of them... They will tell you that the just man who is thought unjust will be scourged, racked, bound --will have his eyes burnt out; and, at last, after suffering every kind of evil, he will be impaled: Then he will understand that he ought to seem only, and not to be, just;
And isn't that exactly what the Sanhedrin was tyring to tell Jesus?? Isn't that what the secular world is constantly telling those who teach that truth is objective? Isn't that what the leftist apologists for relativism within the Church tell those who believe we should accept the magisterium; don't they strive to neuter those who insist that Jesus Christ is the one Lord, one Way, one Truth and one Life? There's nothing new under the sun.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
In the spring of the year, the time when kings go forth to battle,
David sent Jo'ab,
and his servants with him,
and all Israel;
and they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah.
But David remained at Jerusalem.
I sort of tinkered with the verse to make it a poem. And as a poem, it is immense in its meaning. David was given every good thing by the Lord. He was given all that was promised to Abraham, to Isaac, Jacob and Moses. What Saul rejected, David was rewared, and with seemingly limitless surplus. When he was hunted, the Lord protected him. When he went to war, the Lord conquered. When he took the city of Peace, the Ark came to him. In all of these things one truth remained constant for David: if he fought, the Lord was his ally.
So David fought and won. Many, many times. David conquered and built and conquered again - all with the help of the Lord. But when David had all the bounty of the Lord that came from his struggles, his desire to struggle became less. Then, in the springtime - a time that could not be better framed by the author of the scripture - David opted out of the struggle to stay within the comforts of the earthly home the Lord had helped him obtain. It was in this place of comfort that he became open to Satan for seemingly the first real time in the story of his life. He rested when the Lord's work was still to be done, and he became immediately vulnerable.
The rest of this story is very pathetic in light of all we know of David before it. The adultery is just the first sin that begins a tale of great tragedy and sorrow for those that David harmed, ultimately resulting in the profoundly tragic death of the son Bathsheba gives birth to. It is David's humility and true penance in the face of his sins that becomes equally profound, showing us again why God chose him over Saul. It also resulted in Psalm 51, the model for all honest pleas for God's mercy.
Time and again in scripture, the Holy Spirit is telling us what we are to be - humble, thankful, contrite, loving and childlike in the presence of the Lord. In 2 Sam. 11:1 the Spirit reminds us that when there is a battle raging for our immortal soul, we jeopardize its outcome by staying home.
Friday, February 08, 2008
But here’s why I cannot vote for him. He says he believes that his
Christian faith is all about “the least of these my brothers,” extending justice
to God’s favorites, the poor. And I agree, brother, Amen. But there’s no reason
to fight for the poor, for social justice in education, for policies that
support working families and the health of communities, and for those who are
terrorized and oppressed internationally if life is not sacred. If life is not
sacred, we will end up not serving the poor—having abandoned the defenseless—but
destroying the human person. Obama’s Christianity embraces social justice, but a
social justice that’s not grounded in the primary value of life—from conception
to death—is worthless, and will, in the end, betray itself. The judges Obama
would nominate to the Supreme Court will guarantee that result, even if the
compartmentalization of Obama’s thinking keeps him from confronting this truth.
An Obama presidency would mean a succession of Ginsburgs, Souters, and
As my wife said to me, if Obama would just declare himself pro-life,
he’d sweep the country. That actually might come to pass, at least in a general
election, although he’d never receive the Democratic nomination if he even
hinted as much. But to those politicians who truly want to “unite the country,”
it’s long past time to recognize that its youngest citizens, the unborn, have
There are three actions, my brethren, on which faith stands firm, in which piety consists and by which virtue is upheld: prayer, fasting, mercy. Prayer knocks at the door; fasting obtains; mercy receives. Prayer, mercy, fasting: these three make up one thing and, all together, give life to each other. Thus, fasting is the soul of prayer and mercy is the life of fasting. Let no one set them apart; the three together cannot be separated. Anyone who puts only one or two of them into practice has done nothing at all. Therefore, the one who prays must fast, and the one who fasts must have mercy. Let him hear the man who asks and who, in asking, wishes to be heard. Whoever does not refuse to listen to others when they plead to him will be listened to by God. Whoever practises fasting must understand what fasting is, that is to say, he must sympathise with the hungry man if he wants God to sympathise with his own hunger. Whoever hopes to obtain mercy must show mercy; whoever wants to benefit from kindness must practise it; whoever would like someone to give him something must be someone who gives… So be yourself the measure of the mercy to be shown to you: if you would like others to show you mercy in such-and-such a way, according to such a measure and with just such a readiness, then show mercy yourself to others with the same sort of readiness, according to the same measure, and in the same way. And so prayer, mercy, fasting must make up one, single sponsor to recommend us to God, one defense, one prayer in our favour under this threefold form.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
The Prince of this world has been cast out
Christ’s miracles were ordained to manifest his divinity. However, this had to remain hidden from the demons, otherwise the mystery of the passion would have been hindered by them: “If they had known the Lord of glory, They would not have crucified him,” (1Cor 2,8). It would seem, then, that Christ should not work miracles over the demons… Yet the prophet Zechariah
predicted these wonders when he cried out: “I will take away the spirit of uncleanness,” (Zec 13,2). Indeed, Christ’s miracles were proofs demonstrating the faith he taught. Now, through the power of his divinity, was it not fitting for him to do away with the demons’ power in those who would believe in him, according to Saint John’s words: “Now the ruler of this world is driven out”? (Jn 12,31). Thus it was fitting that, among his other miracles, Christ should deliver from demons those men who were possessed by them… Besides, Saint Augustine writes: “Christ made himself known to the demons for as long as he wished to do so, and he wished to do so for as long as it was necessary… through certain material consequences of his power.” At the sight of his miracles the devil came to believe through conjecture that Christ was the Son of God: “the demons… knew he was the Christ” says Saint Luke (Lc 4,41). If they confessed he was Son of God, “it was by way of conjecture rather than by way of knowledge,” Saint Bede comments. As for the miracles Christ accomplished when he cast out demons, he did not do these for their own usefulness but for that of men, so that they might give glory to God. That is why he prevented the demons from speaking about anything affecting his praise. Saint John Chrysostom observes: “It was not fitting that the demons should take to themselves the glory proper to the function of the apostles, nor that lying tongues should preach the mystery of Christ.”
This underscores the truth of how God is revealed to us. Christ said that no one can know the Father but those to whom He is revealed by the Son. The reasoning abilities of created beings (whether human or pure spirit) are insufficient to "know" God. God has to be revealed to us, and we have to accept this revelation through the faith that is also given from God. It makes sense that Satan did not truly know who Jesus was when tempting him in the desert. It's also apparent that the demon in Mark 1:24 and Luke 4:34 is limited in knowledge of Christ since it refers to Jesus as "the Holy One of God" - which is truth, but not the whole truth. Christ IS God. In a similar way, Peter reaches that peak of human capacity to understand when in John 6:68-69 he too calls Jesus "the Holy One of God". But Peter's admission is one of total abandonment to Jesus in humility towards the mystery of the Eucharist that just caused so many disciples to leave Jesus in disgust. This humility in asking for and receiving the gift of Faith is the foundation (the Rock) on which the Father places the highest revelation of Truth in Matthew 16:
 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare'a Philip'pi, he asked
his disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of man is?"  And they said,
"Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli'jah, and others Jeremiah or one of
the prophets."  He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"  Simon
Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."  And Jesus
answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not
revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I tell you, you
are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death
shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of
heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever
you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
When the demons claim knowledge of Jesus it is out of self-interest and with hatred - almost an attempt to control their enemy by showing off their special knowledge of who Christ is. This is an easy sin for intellectuals in the Church to fall into, as B16 has pointed out.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
"We need a president who can reintroduce America to the world – and actually reintroduce America to ourselves," Sen. Leahy said in the conference call endorsing Barack Obama.
22. The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mysteryIf I didn't know any better...
of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to
come,(20) namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. It is not surprising, then, that in Him all the aforementioned truths find their root and attain their crown. (Gaudium et Spes)
Friday, January 11, 2008
Cardinal Ratzinger, from Salt of the Earth (Ignatius, 1997):
There is an ideology that fundamentally traces all existing institutions back to
power politics. And this ideology corrupts humanity and also destroys the
Church. Here is a very concrete example: If I see the Church only under the
aspect of power, then it follows that everyone who doesn't hold an office is
ipso facto oppressed. And then the question of, for example, women's ordination,
as an issue of power, becomes imperative, for everyone has to be able to have
power. I think that this ideology, which suspects that everywhere and always
what's at stake is basically power, destroys the feeling of solidarity not only
in the Church but also in human life as such. It also produces a totally false
point of view, as if power in the Church were an ultimate goal. As if power were
the only category for explaining the world and the communion present in it.
After all, we are not in the Church to exercise power as if we were in some kind
of association. If belonging to the Church has any meaning at all, then the
meaning can only be that it gives us eternal life, hence, real life, true life
as such. Everything else is secondary. If that isn't true, then all "power" in
the Church - which then sinks to the level of a mere association - is nothing
more than an absurd "spectacle". I think we have to escape from this theology of
power and this reduction that derives from Marxist suspicion
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Islam took up the Word-based theology of Judaism, but expanded the covenant from with a people, to with the individual. That was and is it's primary draw, for it says that the God of Abraham is now asking the same level of sacrifice from all people. However, though Allah is a "personal God", he is even more distant than Yahweh because he demand pure submission without the hint of dual love characterized by Jewish yearnings.
Why do Muslims reject the Christ of Christianity? Because he called God "Father", declared himself one with the father and thereby brought the divinity down to the level of man and - what's more drastic - in SERVICE of man in a spirit of pure eros and pure agape.
Why did the Jews reject Christ? Jesus sums up the whole conflict of His mission to the Jews and the ultimate reason for the Crucifixion in Matthew 19:
And behold, one came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to
have eternal life?"  And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is
good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments."
 He said to him, "Which?" And Jesus said, "You shall not kill, You shall not
commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 
Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
 The young man said to him, "All these I have observed; what do I still
lack?"  Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you
possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come,
When Jesus says "follow me" he inserts himself into the relationship between God and man. Not just as a judge or King (which the Jews had) but as the human Son of the Father, placing himself as the living fulfillment and purpose of both the Law of Moses and the yearnings for intimacy expressed by David and the prophets. Jesus is the living Word, so when we read Scripture from the heart of the new covenant we open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit who allows us to share in the divine life through experiencing the trifecta of faith, hope and love. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians ch 1, "but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, " - and I would add "idolatry to the Muslims."
But worship of God is an ontological need. People can suppress it and dismiss it, but all creation MUST ultimately bow down before the Lord. In Christ we have the opportunity to embrace the Love we're offered now, in our sinfulness, as Mercy. We also have the template for understanding the universe, the purpose of existence, and the nature and destiny of the human body. But we have to humble ourselves before the man Pilate presented as a scourged and humiliated worm and profess him to be the one, true God. This is something Eastern religions have no common reference point with. It is something Jews found to be blasphemous, and something Muslims view as disgusting weakness.
So I say to Nate: have HOPE! Not the Obama kind, but the Revelation kind. No injustice today is greater than that which Christ himself endured. When he comes again we must be of John's mind and know that "every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen." Even when what we have done is shown to us on a mirror we say Amen, because we have faith in Rev 21:
Behold, I make all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.
Monday, January 07, 2008
One thing I observe about the title is that the general reaction is to
think that it has an Old Testament flavor. Even when they read the quotation,
the fact that these are Christ's words makes no great impression. That this is
the violence of love, of giving more than the law demands, of an asceticism like
John the Baptist's, but in the face of which even John is less than the least in
the kingdom - all this is overlooked.
It's a little different than Origen and Ireneus, but it sort of completes my understanding.