Thursday, December 30, 2010
What is realism? Some would say it was an artistic movement of the nineteenth century, a good example of which is the painting at right.
For others, "realism" is almost synonymous with "pessimism" or "cynicism." So a realist is the person who says the glass is half empty.
One of my favorite lines from the Pope's Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini is the following:
"The Word of God makes us change our concept of realism: the realist is the one who recognizes in the Word of God the foundation of all things" (§10).
As we continue to celebrate the Octave of Christmas, reflecting on the Word made Flesh, may we all become Realists!
Monday, December 27, 2010
New York: 27°F | 21°F
Pittsburgh: 27°F | 21°F (with snow)
Boston: 30°F | 14°F (with snow)
Chicago: 24°F | 15°F
Washington, D.C.: 37°F | 26°F
Vermont 19°F | 4°F (with snow)
New Jersey: 30°F | 20°F (with snow)
Denver: 48°F | 27°F
New Orleans: 42°F | 32°F
San Diego: 64°F | 50°F (sunny with some clouds)
And, yes, I like a "white Christmas"--so long as it involves artificial snow.
I suspect the people stranded in airports trying to get home from their Christmas vacations but unable to do so because of weather may be feeling the same way. : )
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
The Pope's recent apostolic exhortation, Verbum Domini, (through which I am reading, albeit slowly), reminds me of how frequently the popes, the fathers, the doctors, and the saints have urged us Catholics to read and reflect on Scripture--and how sluggish our response has been!
I know the stereotype is that Catholics aren't interested in Scripture. In many places and at many times the stereotype holds true. I would add that many Protestants are also not interested in Scripture, but the point at present is not to argue apologetics. My point at present is that, if Catholics are not interested in Scripture, it is not from a lack of exhortation from the most authoritative representatives of the faith.
St. Josemaria Escriva, a recently canonized saint, is a good example of the reverence for Scripture that lies at the heart of the faith:
“When you open the Holy Gospel," St. Josemaria wrote, “think that what is written there—the words and deeds of Christ—is something that you should not only know, but live. Everything, every point that is told there, has been gathered, detail-by-detail, for you to make it come alive in the individual circumstances of your life.
“God has called us Catholics to follow him closely. In that holy Writing you will find the Life of Jesus, but you should also find your own life there.
“You too, like the Apostle, will learn to ask, full of love, ‘Lord, what would you have me do?’ And in your soul you will hear the conclusive answer, ‘The Will of God!’
“Take up the Gospel every day, then, and read it and live it as a definite rule. This is what the saints have done” (The Forge, §754).
Saturday, December 18, 2010
After this, when we have issued from the font, we are thoroughly anointed with a blessed unction [i.e., "oil"],—(a practice derived) from the old discipline, wherein on entering the priesthood, men were wont to be anointed with oil from a horn, ever since Aaron was anointed by Moses. Whence Aaron is called “Christ,” from the “chrism,” which is “the unction"; which, when made spiritual, furnished an appropriate name to the Lord, because He was “anointed” with the Spirit by God the Father; as written in the Acts: “For truly they were gathered together in this city against Thy Holy Son whom Thou hast anointed.” Thus, too, in our case, the unction runs carnally, (i.e. on the body,) but profits spiritually; in the same way as the act of baptism itself too is carnal, in that we are plunged in water, but the effect spiritual, in that we are freed from sins (On Baptism, vii).
Thursday, December 16, 2010
The Book of Ruth is rarely mentioned during Advent, but it makes for good Advent meditation.
There are obvious connections between Ruth and the Christmas story. Both Bo'az and Ruth are mentioned in Jesus' genealogy in Matthew 1. Outside of Matthew and Luke, only in Ruth do we have a story about a pious young Jewish couple having their firstborn son in Bethlehem.
When we read Ruth in light of all the Scriptures, we see in Bo’az a clear type, or image, of Jesus Christ. Jesus is truly our “Bo’az,” which means in Hebrew “in him is strength.” Jesus is our go’el, our Redeemer, which is what Ruth calls Bo’az in 3:9 (blandly rendered “next of kin” in the RSV). Jesus is the one who feeds us with bread and wine until we are satisfied (as Bo’az does for Ruth in 2:14) and even have an abundance to share with others (again see Ruth 2:14, and compare The Feeding of the 5000, John 6:11-13, 35). Jesus is the one who espouses himself to us (John 3:29; Eph 5:25-32), though we are poor and hungry (Matt 5:3,6), and not even of the race of Israel (Eph 2:11-13, 19-22). In Ruth 2:12, Bo’az invokes the LORD to bless Ruth since she has come under the LORD’s “wings” (Heb kanaphim); in Ruth 3:9, Ruth literally says to Bo’az, “Spread the wing (kanaph) of your garment over me.” The LORD’s “wing” becomes Bo’az’s “wing.” Bo’az becomes to Ruth the concrete manifestation of the LORD’s mercy, strength, protection, and love. This is also what Jesus is to us, the Church, in the New Covenant.
Marriage is not a human invention and cannot be redefined by human beings. Marriage is an natural icon designed by God to represent his covenant with his people. For that reason, marriage is a prominent theme throughout the Bible and salvation history, from the first marriage of Adam and Eve (Gen 2:21-24) to the Wedding of the Lamb (Rev 21-22). Pope Benedict XVI remarks, “Biblical revelation, in fact, is above all the expression of a story of love, the story of the covenant of God with man; therefore the story of the love and union between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage was able to be assumed by God as a symbol of the history of salvation” (Address, 6 June 2005). Ruth is one of the best examples in Scripture in which a story of courtship and marriage typifies God’s plan of salvation.
The Messianic reading of the book of Ruth is not uniquely Christian. In conversations with Brant last night, he pointed out that the rabbinic tradition was strongly given to a Messianic interpretation of Ruth. In particular, Ruth 2:14, which has such Eucharistic overtones for Christian ears, was understood by the rabbis as a reference to the Messianic banquet!
I hope to teach on Ruth and on the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem in about five months! I’m helping lead a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Everyone is invited! Here’s the specifics if you want to come: http://www.holytravels.org/journeys.html . You'll have to scroll down a little to find my pilgrimage.
- Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.
- Don't use no double negatives.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Now we're being mentioned on another list: the top 50 blogs written by professors of Theology, Biblical studies and other related fields, i.e., Religious Studies. The list has been compiled by Rachel Stevenson over at Master of Theology, a site intended to help people learn about grad programs. Check it out.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
It's an interesting question to ask whether the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura is actually taught in Scripture.
When I have posed this question to people, the verse that is most frequently cited is 2 Timothy 3:16:
2Tim. 3:16 All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
However, if one examines the verse carefully, it falls short of saying that Scripture is the only source for the content of the faith, etc. The best defense is probably to take the the Greek word for "profitable" (ophelimos) as "sufficient," reading the verse this way: "All scripture is ... sufficient for teaching, etc." However, that is a bit of a linguistic stretch.
So what do you think? What is the best Scriptural proof of Sola Scriptura?
P.S. Michael, how did the Leviticus talks go?
Friday, December 10, 2010
This Sunday's Gospel is taken from Matthew 11:2-6. In fact, this passage has an interesting parallel in the Dead Sea Scrolls that sheds some fascinating light on Jesus' words. Let me explain.
First, let's look at the Gospel text:
"Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them."In sum, the disciples of John ask Jesus if he is the Messiah. Jesus responds by appealing to his miracles.
Moreover, most scholars recognize that Jesus' answer draws from two passages in Isaiah:
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Come learn about:
- . . . all the gory details of the sacrificial laws--and why they are significant!
- . . . Israel's the purity laws, e.g., what was "holy," "common," "clean" and "unclean,". How did Jewish and Christian writers interpret these laws? Why don't these laws apply in the New Covenant?
- . . . the major Jewish feasts, such as the Day of Atonement. How are these feasts fulfilled in Christ according to the New Testament?
- . . . how priests ate holy meals that were related to atonement and how the New Testament seems to link these meals to the Eucharist.
- . . . and much, much more!
We will also be treated to the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in Syriac (Aramaic) according to the Melkite Catholic rite @ 11:30am. This is an ancient form of the Mass.
Among other things, after the Eucharist, I will talk about the connection between the divine liturgy and Old Testament rites. Hint: in the Divine Liturgy you will find priests wearing vestments, altars, incense, candles, bread, wine. . . are you seeing any possible connections here?
Where: Sacred Heart Chapel, Covina (381 W. Center St., Covina, CA 91723)
When: Begins at 9am. Divine Liturgy at 11:30am. Sessions resume after lunch @ 1:30pm. We will finish at 3pm.
For more information call: 1-800-526-2151.
Today he discusses the Immaculate Conception, a Catholic doctrine that once seemed an impossible obstacle to communion with Rome. December 8th, of course, the Catholic Church celebrates this teaching about Mary. So I thought it appropriate to relay his post on the topic, which is an excerpt from his three volume work, Mary, Mother of the Son.
Even if you disagree with the doctrine, I'm sure you'll find his historical overview helpful.
What About the Eastern Orthodox Churches?
. . . Some people have the notion the Eastern Orthodox Churches reject the Immaculate Conception because a few early Eastern Fathers (Origen, Basil, and John Chrysostom) expressed a couple of doubts about Mary's sinlessness. Origen thought that, during Christ's Passion, the sword that pierced Mary's soul was disbelief. Basil had the same notion. And John Chrysostom thought her guilty of ambition and pushiness in Matthew 12:46 (an incident we have already examined).
Not everyone has institutional funds to cover expenses for conferences like the Society of Biblical Literature. If you are in that situation (e.g. a poor grad student or independent scholar), a great way to keep current on developments in biblical studies is simply to read the abstracts of the papers given every year at the SBL. If you find a paper that really intrigues you, search down the email of the scholar who presented it, and ask them for an electronic copy. Often they are willing to provide one. It’s easy to be intimidated by well-known scholars, especially during one’s student years, but most Bible scholars lead rather modest lives and feel flattered if anyone expresses interest in their work. In any event, if you click on the title of this post, it will take you to the site from which you may view this year’s abstracts. It's useful to "select all" and copy the page into a Word doc. Since it’s electronic format, it’s searchable! That's a big improvement over the print editions which used to be distributed on site.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
The feast of Hanukkah, of course, celebrates the Jewish victory over the Greeks and is recounted in the books of Maccabees. I love this story. In fact, I just taught on the books of Maccabees today! It should go without saying that these amazing books are only found in Catholic Bibles.
So this might be a little confusing for some of you ought there. ; )
Monday, December 06, 2010
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; 19 and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly. 20 But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; 21 she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:18–21).
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Here's the problem with such claims:
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. . . 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matt 24:35-36, 42-44).
Friday, December 03, 2010
"Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes" (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1 [A.D. 110]).