Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Some Quick Thoughts on 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.

The Readings for All Saints are, of course, beautiful.  The full text of the readings are here.  Here are some quick thoughts:

Luther's Belief in Papal Authority, Purgatory and Other Shockers in the 95 Theses: "Celebrating" Reformation Day

Today is not just Halloween (check out my post and podcast on Ghosts and Saints in Scripture and Catholic Teaching here), it is also "Reformation Day". Today Protestants celebrate Martin Luther's nailing of 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church.

But I wonder how closely Protestants actually have read these. Did you know that Luther affirms the pope's authority to remit sins in them? That he affirms that God uses priests to communicate his forgiveness?

I'm even more surprised that Protestants still celebrate these! People don't read primary texts and that's a shame.

Of course, I think there's a lot of misrepresentation / misunderstanding here of Catholic teaching and practice. Indeed, even Protestant scholars today seem to recognize that Luther had some pretty big gaps in his understanding of Catholic teaching.

Still, the 95 Theses--which my Protestant friends are celebrating--contain numerous statements they would surely not celebrate. Let's take a look.

The Pope as God's Agent
"6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God's remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven." [emphasis added]
In sum, Luther affirms that the pope can only remit guilt because God has granted him such authority. To deny "his right to grant remission in such cases . . . the guilt would remain. . . "

As a Catholic, I say, "Amen"!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Love and Priesthood: The 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Readings for this upcoming Sunday revolve around the themes of love of God and perfect priesthood.

1.  The First Reading is Deuteronomy 6:2-6:

Moses spoke to the people, saying:
"Fear the LORD, your God,
and keep, throughout the days of your lives,

Monday, October 29, 2012

Radio Interview on Petrine Authority and the New Testament Sources

I'll be on Catholic Answers Live on EWTN Radio later today (4pm). For anyone interested, here are some of the texts I'll be discussing. You can listen live at Just follow the links to the radio show.

Hope you'll tune in!

For more on this topic see this blog post and the links therein.

Peter’s Primacy in the Gospels Catholic Answers Radio Show

Friday, October 26, 2012

TSP 28: Ghosts and Saints in Scripture and Catholic Teaching (Halloween / All Saints Days Podcast)

The Sacred Page Podcast is back! Due to some illness in late September, I fell way behind on a number of things. Getting this podcast up was just not possible. But now we're back. . . with our spookiest podcast ever!

Halloween and All Saints Day is right around the corner. With that in mind, we cover a topic that doesn't get much attention: "ghosts" in Sacred Scripture.

Scripture in fact says that we have already come to "the spirits of just men made perfect". Where does that happen? When? How? What did Augustine, Jerome and Aquinas say about Scripture's teaching?

Listen here and you'll learn all about it.

Oh yes. . . and please tell your friends that we're back! Next week we'll also be back to our Sunday Readings Podcast.

Listen on iTunes or click the link below.

Feel free to leave your comments below.

I'm also including a .pdf below including some of the primary sources cited, i.e., biblical references, an excerpt from Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae where he draws from Jerome and Augustine, etc. . .

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The New Exodus: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Notice Bartimaeus and Baptism in this icon
The readings for this Sunday revolve around the theme of return from exile for God's people.  In the Old Testament, we read about God's people Israel being exiled from their land because of their violations of their covenant with God.  The great Isrealite prophets, however, predicted that God would bring his people back from the places they were exiled, just as he brought them out of Egypt by the hand of Moses long ago.  This is often called the "New Exodus" theme in the prophets.

1. Our First Reading is one such prophetic oracle, Jeremiah 31:7-9:
Thus says the LORD:
Shout with joy for Jacob,
exult at the head of the nations;
proclaim your praise and say:
The LORD has delivered his people,
the remnant of Israel.

Friday, October 19, 2012

My New CD on the Year of Faith

I am very pleased to announce the release of a new CD on the Year of Faith from Lighthouse Catholic Media. In this talk I explain:
  • Why Pope Benedict has proclaimed a Year of Faith?
  • Why Pope Benedict calls this year the "Year of Catechism"
  • Why the Catechism of the Catholic Church is vitally important, how it came to be and how to read it for all its worth
  • Why Scripture is at the heart of catechesis and why it must play an essential role in the Year of Faith
Go here to place your order.

Feast Day of St. Luke

The Feast of St. Luke is just past.  On the Eve of the Feast, Matt Leonard and I sat down at the St. Paul Center to discuss this great biblical author.  After Matt mocks me for about 30 seconds, we get down to talking about St. Luke's contributions to Scripture and the Faith.  Enjoy!

Frank Moore Cross, Rest in Peace

The Biblical Archeology Review is reporting that Frank Moore Cross, arguably the senior Old Testament scholar in North America, has passed away.  The full obituary is here.

Cross was a student of the "dean" of American Old Testament scholars, William Foxwell Albright, and for most of his career taught at Harvard.  Cross was the Doktorvater (dissertation director) of my own Doktorvater, James C. VanderKam.  So I guess that makes him my Doktorgrossvater.   

In any event, he was a scholar almost without peer.  An accomplished paleographer, he was one of the first scholars to see and work on the Dead Sea Scrolls.  But for me, his most valuable contributions concerned the understanding of the Old Testament concept of "covenant," especially in the first chapter of his classic From Epic to Canon: History and Literature in Ancient Israel. In my own little book Bible Basics for Catholics, I make a big deal about the covenants in salvation history, and how covenant is related to kinship. In this, I am drawing in part from Cross (see BBFC, p. 159), who famously said: "Often it has been asserted that the language of ‘brotherhood’ and ‘fatherhood,’ ‘love,’ and ‘loyalty’ is ‘covenant terminology.'" But this is “to turn things upside down. The language of covenant, kinship-in-law, is taken from the language of kinship, kinship-in-flesh" (Epic to Canon, p. 12).  This insight, that covenant forms kinship, is key to understanding Scripture.

The past few years have seen the passing of so many "greats": Moshe Greenberg, Moshe Weinfeld, Jacob Milgrom, David Noel Freedman, and now Cross. "Oh, how the mighty have fallen!" (2 Sam 1:19).

Frank Moore Cross, rest in peace. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Suffering and Leadership: The 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Readings for this upcoming Lord's Day focus on the themes of suffering and leadership: in particular, how Christ, our definitive leader, embraced suffering on our behalf, and so modeled true leadership for all who would follow him.

1.  Our First Reading is Isaiah 53:10-11:
The LORD was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,

he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction

he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.
This is an excerpt from the larger "Suffering Servant Song" that extends from Isaiah 52:13–53:12.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Leroy Huizenga on Dei Verbum

My friend, New Testament scholar, Leroy Huizenga, has a wonderful lecture up on the Second Vatican Council's document, Dei Verbum. Have a look!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Embracing Lady Poverty: 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

St. Francis Wedding Lady Poverty
October 4th, this past Thursday, was the Feast of St. Francis of Assissi, and as you might imagine it was a big deal here at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.  The all-campus Mass was reverent and moving, and the festivities over the weekend, including the annual Medieval Festival, were full of good-natured merry-making.

One of the themes that always comes up in this yearly recollection of St. Francis is his radical embrace of poverty.  Together with St. Dominic, St. Francis helped establish the tradition of mendicant (begging) religious orders, that is, groups of religious men who owned no property and were dependent on the good will of others for their necessities.

St. Francis used to refer lovingly to "Lady Poverty," and said he learned a great deal from her.  The Readings for this Sunday's Mass also treat of the theme of poverty for the sake of the Good News and the Kingdom of God.

1. Our First Reading is from Wisdom 7:7-11:

Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Catholic Church

Next weekend I'll be in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, at the Church of the Incarnation giving a set of five talks on the Dead Sea Scrolls and their relevance to the Catholic Faith.  We'll learn about the Scrolls and use them as a lens to examine the Jewish and Biblical roots of Catholic teaching and practice.  Here's the schedule:
Friday, October 12, 7pm-9pm:
1. An Introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls
2. John the Baptist and Baptism
Saturday October 13, 9am-12pm
3. The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist
4. Marriage, Celibacy, and Holy Orders
5. The Reformation and "Salvation by Faith Alone"
Hope you can make it if you're in the greater Albuquerque area!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

God Loves Marriage and Children: The 27th Week of Ordinary Time

The Readings for this Sunday provide the homilist with an ideal opportunity to teach Christian doctrine concerning marriage and children.  The opportunity is timely, too, as one of our political parties has taken an official stand supporting "same-sex marriage," an arrangement that is not intrinsically related to the birth and rearing of children, does not provide the same benefit to society as true marriage, and can never be as optimal for the well-being of children as to be raised by their own biological father and mother.  In the midst of the confusion about the very nature of marriage and its purpose, these Readings shed the light of God's revelation on how we should live this most intimate aspect of our lives.

1.  The First Reading is Genesis 2:18-24:
The LORD God said: "It is not good for the man to be alone.
I will make a suitable partner for him."
So the LORD God formed out of the ground
various wild animals and various birds of the air,
and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them;

Monday, October 01, 2012

On the Year of Faith @ Good Shepherd Parish, San Diego, Oct. 9

This month we begin the Year of Faith, proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI. I'll be giving an overview on what it is and how we can fully enter into this celebration on Tuesday, Oct. 9 @ Good Shepherd Catholic Church in San Diego, CA. The flyer with all the information is just below. Hope to see you there!