Monday, November 28, 2016

The Second Sunday in Advent: The Mass Readings Explained

My latest video for the 2nd Sunday in Advent is now available at Catholic Productions.  I hope it helps and please be sure to Like and Share!  Thanks!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

First Sunday of Advent, 2017!

Happy New Year, everyone!  The Church Year begins this Sunday with the First Sunday of Advent, and we are back to reading cycle A in Church Year 2017. 

There is a very ancient tradition in the Church of reading the Book of Isaiah during Advent.  In antiquity, both Jews and Christians considered the Book of Isaiah to be one extended prophesy of the “age to come,” the “latter days” when the Anointed One (Heb. “Meshiach,” =”Messiah”) would arrive.  The First Readings for Sunday Mass and for weekday masses, as well as the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, are dominated by Isaiah during this liturgical season.

The Gospel sequence, the First Sunday of Advent focuses on Jesus’ Second Coming, forming a good transition from the month of November with its focus on the Last Things.  The Second and Third Sundays of Advent focus on John the Baptist, the fore-runner of Jesus.  The Fourth Sunday finally casts its gaze on the events leading directly to Jesus birth. 

That’s the journey we are about to begin, so without further ado, let’s plunge in!

1.  The First Reading is Isaiah 2:1-5:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Jesus Christ King of the Universe: The Sunday Mass Readings Explained (Last Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Well, it is here... The Last Sunday of Ordinary Time.  I hope these videos have been of some assistance to you in preparing for Mass!  If you would like to continue watching the videos for next year's Mass readings, be sure to check out the link below at Catholic Productions' website and subscribe.

Thank you.

To subscribe to next year's videos, go here:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Vote for Monarchy: The Solemnity of Christ the King


Here in Steubenville one of my co-workers has a clever bumper sticker that reads: “I’m a Monarchist.  And I Vote.”  This tongue-in-cheek slogan comes to mind in the wake of the most surprising American election almost anyone can remember. 

The day after, President Obama took the high road by reminding us, “We’re not Democrats first, we're not Republicans first, we are Americans first. We're patriots first.”  In the political sphere, that’s true.  But there is a first that comes before that first.  We are Christians first, ‘monarchists’ who are loyal to Jesus Christ the King.  And better Americans for being so.

The Church year comes to an end this Sunday with the Solemnity of Christ the King, one of my favorite feast days.  The Readings focus heavily on the theme of the kingdom of Christ, which was typified or foreshadowed by the Kingdom of David in the Old Testament.

1.  The First Reading is 2 Samuel 5:1-3:

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

The End is Near!: The 33rd Sunday in OT

Some years ago I was driving through the back hills of Ohio with my son, and we passed a billboard in a farmer’s field that read: “God has a Judgment Day coming!” 

My son asked me if the farmer who had placed the billboard in his field was Catholic or Protestant.  I suggested he probably was a Protestant.  My son asked why Catholics didn’t put up billboards like that.  I theorized that perhaps fewer Catholics owned farms close to the highway, or maybe they were less convinced that announcing the coming judgment was really an effective means of evangelism. 

Billboards announcing judgment day are not a part of American Catholic culture.  Nonetheless, the Readings for this coming Sunday affirm the truth of that well-meaning farmer’s sign.  God does have a day of judgment coming.  Is that good news or bad news?  It would depend, I suppose, on whether we have suffered injustice or committed it.

1.  Our First Reading Malachi 3:19-20a:

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Will there be Marriage in the Resurrection?: The Sunday Mass Readings Explained (The 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time)

My latest video explaining this Sunday's Mass readings along with the new study guide is now out.  I hope it helps.

Kindly Like and Share!  Thank you!

Resurrection from the Dead: The 32nd Sunday of OT

We are advancing in the “unofficial liturgical season” of November, and the Mass Readings turn toward meditation on the Last Things.  This Sunday we are directed especially to the consideration of the resurrection of the dead.  

Monday, October 31, 2016

Who From Their Labors Rest: Readings for All Saints

A happy Feast of All Saints to one and all!  This is one of my favorite feasts.  The month of November is not formally a liturgical season, but since it begins with All Saints and ends with Christ the King, these four weeks really do have the feel of a liturgical season focused on meditation on the Last Things: Heaven, Hell, Death, and Judgment.  Moreover, for those of us in the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere, the falling leaves, migrating animals, and dying back of the ecosystems with the advancing cold serve as a natural reminder of the end of physical life. 

The Readings for All Saints are, of course, beautiful.  Here are some quick thoughts:

1. The First Reading is Rev 7:2-4, 9-14:

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Zacchaeus, the Sycamore Tree & the Son of Man: The Sunday Mass Readings Explained (The 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time)

After checking out John's post below, my video is now up for viewing explaining this Sunday's Mass Readings.  I hope it proves helpful!

Thanks -- and please Like and Share!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Making Things Right: 31st Sunday of OT

We are drawing close to November, the month constitutes its own unofficial liturgical season, focused on the Last Things.  We begin the month with All Saints and round it out with the Feast of Christ the King.  This Sunday’s Readings introduce themes that will be developed throughout the rest of the liturgical year: repentance, the Kingdom of God, and final judgment.  In particular, the Gospel Reading urges us not merely to repent while we still have time, but also to make right the wrongs we have done to others, that is, to make reparation.  Some non-Catholic theologies deny the need for reparation, but it is a biblical concept that has within it the power of healing and reconciliation.

1. Our First Reading is Wisdom 11:22-12:2:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Cry of the Poor: The 30th Sunday of OT

Last year Christians around the world were shocked and saddened by the execution of twenty-one Egyptian Christian men who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and fell under the power of ISIS.  This martyrdom is just one of the more dramatic examples of abuse and oppression that seems so prevalent in the contemporary world.  Where is God in all this?  Does he pay attention to poor and the oppressed?  The Readings for this Sunday dwell on these and related issues.

1. Our First Reading is Sir 35:12-14, 16-18:

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Pharisee & the Tax Collector – Which One are You?: The Sunday Mass Readings Explained (The 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

My latest video is now out.  I hope it helps you prepare for this Sunday's Mass.  Thanks for liking and sharing and for checking out our Kickstarter page to keep these videos going.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Good Book for Tough Times

The Road of Hope

It seems likely that in the immediate and probably indefinite future, faithful Catholics in America, and their institutions (schools, hospitals, parishes) are going to find themselves under a fair amount of social and judicial pressure.  I think we can safely expect an onslaught of legislative and juridical attempts within the next eighteen months to force Catholic institutions to comply with the new sexual/gender ideology or else close their doors.  It's been a few generations in America since faithful Catholics have faced pressure to this extent, and so it would be good to prepare spiritually.  I recommend a good book for tough times, The Road of Hope: A Gospel from Prison by Francis Xavier Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan.  Cardinal Van Thuan was made coadjutor Bishop of Saigon in 1975, just a few months before the city fell to hostile Communist forces.  He was imprisoned by the leftist regime for thirteen years, during which time he scribbled notes to his flock on scraps of paper which were smuggled out of the prison camp.  These notes were collected into The Road of Hope.  In spirituality and style, it is very much like the writings of St. Josemaria Escriva, who likewise spent many years living under leftist persecution of the Church (during the Spanish Civil War).  In any event, The Road of Hope is both bracing and consoling, helping the reader to focus his or her thoughts and spirit on things above, even in the midst of a world that can seem so dark.  Cardinal Van Thuan reminds us how to maintain joy and hope even under profound distress. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Battle of Prayer: 29th Sunday of OT

Usually we think of men of prayer and men of war as complete opposites.  A monk in a habit—such as St. Francis—is a man dedicated to peace, a total contrast to one clad in armor brandishing weapons.  Yet the Readings for this Sunday combine the imagery of war and prayer in interesting ways that provoke our thoughts about the nature and reality of supplicating God.

1.  Our First Reading is Exodus 17:8-13:

The Persistent Widow & Growing Weary in Prayer: The Sunday Mass Readings Explained (The 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

My latest video is now out on the Sunday Mass Readings Explained.  I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks for Liking and Sharing!

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Paradigm Change in Pentateuchal Research

I am participating in a conference on paradigm change in Pentateuchal research in Basel, Switzerland, this coming March.  It is good to see a growing movement to overcome some positions in Pentateuchal scholarship that have ossified into rigid dogmas.  This is from the official website:

Paradigm Change in Pentateuchal Research

Scientific Conference at the STH Basel, 16-18 March 2017
The Pentateuch forms both in Judaism and in Christianity the first and fundamental piece of the Bible and is the basic document of Western religious history. The currently prevailing paradigm for the study of the Pentateuch in Biblical Studies dates from the 19th century and forms a cornerstone of Biblical Studies and of the reconstruction of a history of ancient Israel. This paradigm extends to the narratives of the Pentateuch as well as to its legal collections. According to this paradigm, the Pentateuch was composed over a longer period, with the three most important stages JE (from before the Deuteronomy), D (the core of Deuteronomy originated in the 7th century) and P (Priestly texts exilic/postexilic). This paradigm was established by Julius Wellhausen's «Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels» (1878). While it has been modified in many ways, also it has been in the last thirty years more and more in a crisis; nevertheless, no fundamental paradigm shift has taken place. It is the aim of this conference to discuss this paradigm critically and to explore whether a fundamental paradigm change can lead out of the current impasse of old models and open new approaches to the Pentateuch. The international speakers are experts in the fields of Biblical Studies, Legal History, Linguistics, and Ancient Near Eastern Studies.

Prof. Dr. Matthias Armgardt, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany
Ass.-Prof. Dr. Benjamin Kilchör, STH Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Prof. Dr. Markus Zehnder, Biola University Los Angeles, USA
Picture Credits: «Moses zerschmettert die Gesetzestafeln» (Rembrandt van Rijn, 1659) – Public Domain

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Is Anyone Grateful? The 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Thanksgiving holiday is coming upon us shortly, and this season of the year always makes me think, How do you give thanks if you don’t believe there’s anyone there to thank?  Thanksgiving is not a holiday that ever could have arisen in an atheist culture. 

The themes of the Readings for this Sunday focus on the gratitude for God’s salvation.  Gratitude is an important psychological and spiritual disposition.  Dr. Daniel G. Amen, the popular brain researcher and public health spokesman, identifies gratitude as a key character quality of persons with physiologically healthy brains.  That’s right: gratitude affects your physical health, including the shape and functioning of your brain.  This Sunday’s Readings focus particularly on gratitude to God, and how it should be expressed.

1.  Our First Reading is 2 Kgs 5:14-17:

Leprosy, the Priesthood & the Sacraments: The Sunday Mass Readings Explained (The 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Hey Everyone,

My latest video is out for this Sunday's Mass Readings.  I hope it proves helpful to you.

Thank you in advance for Liking and Sharing it!

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

The Mass Readings Explained Video Series

Hello all,

I just wanted to invite you to check out our Kickstarter campaign for "The Mass Readings Explained" video series.  If you can help support the project and pass this on to others who can benefit from it, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much!

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Article on Covenant Appears

My bibliographic article on the term "covenant" (Heb berith, Gk diatheke) has just appeared in the online publication, Oxford Bibliographies, from Oxford University Press.  The beginning of the article can be accessed here, but the full article is behind a paywall.
Much thanks to those who recommended me to the editors of Oxford Bibliographies as being knowledgeable in this area of biblical scholarship.  It was an honor and a heavy responsibility to consider so many excellent books and articles in order to choose a limited number of the most seminal works on each facet of covenant scholarship.  The decisions were not easy and I do not claim always to have judged perfectly, but overall I am satisfied with the resulting article. Happy reading!