Friday, May 31, 2013

Eucharist and Priesthood: The Readings for Corpus Christi

I'm blogging to you from Miragaone, Haiti, this weekend, where I'm participating in the diocesan Eucharistic Congress.  Say a prayer for us!  Now to the readings:

I love the early summer liturgical "trifecta" of Pentecost, Trinity, and Corpus Christi, forming a kind of "encore" to the joyful Easter Season focusing in succession on three fundamental realities of the Christian life: the Church, the Triune Godhead, and the Eucharist.  This "trifecta" comes to an end this week with the celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ.

The Readings for this Solemnity obviously focus on types and descriptions of the Eucharist, but there is a notably priestly theme that also runs through them.  In this way, we observe the connection between priesthood and Eucharist.  This connection first dawned on me personally in the fall of 1999, when I was first exposed to the writings of the Apostolic Fathers.  Coming across St. Ignatius of Antioch's famous passage concerning the Eucharist in his Letter to the Smyrneans (ch. 7), I suddenly realized that the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist was and is the constant belief of the Church from apostolic times to the present day:

Egyptian Muslim cleric explains "wife beating etiquette"

I hope to see a chorus of Muslim scholars come out condemning this one... Domestic abuse is a serious problem.

Ironically, just last night I saw this touching clip of Patrick Stewart (yes, I'm a Star Trek nerd) talking to a fan who was a victim of domestic abuse. He talks about how his work with charitable organizations that deal with the problem is a personal mission for him: he grew up in an abusive household.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Thomas Aquinas on the Trinity

“There is in God, as there is in us, a sort of ‘circulation’ (circulatio) in the operations of mind and will: for the will returns to that which understanding initiated. But with us the ‘circle’ (circulus) closes in that which is outside of us: the external good moving our intellect, our intellect moving the will, and the will returning through its appetite and love to the external good. But in God, the ‘circle’ is completed within himself: for when God understands himself, he conceives his Word which is the ‘rationale’ of everything known by him, since he understands all things by understanding himself; and through this Word, he ‘proceeds’ to the love of all things and of himself . . . And the circle being completed, nothing more can be added to it: so that a third procession within the divine nature is impossible, although there follows a procession toward external nature.”--St. Thomas Aquinas, De potentia, q. 9, a. 9.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Scott Hahn on Pope Francis' Teaching About Atheists

Scott Hahn has offered a wonderfully concise response to the "controversy" over Francis' recent comments... 
Lots of people are criticizing Pope Francis' message earlier this week, as if he's deviating from the Church's teaching on the need to proclaim the good news... Contrary to what you may read in the media, please notice, nowhere does he even suggest - much less teach - that avowed atheists are saved. Instead, what he actually says is so obviously true and open to a perfectly fair and benign reading:

1. We shouldn't be so critical of outsiders that we don't allow ourselves to see or acknowledge whatever good they do, or truth they affirm (even atheists). 
2. Christ didn't die to save only catholics/christians, but everybody (even atheists).

3. Since all are redeemed by Christ - potentially, at least - we should be looking for ways to build bridges with them in order to actualize that redemptive potential, by showing them that whatever truth and goodness they embrace comes from - and leads to - Christ.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

No Reading Commentary This Week

I can't write a Readings commentary this week because I'm on a silent retreat without Internet. Sorry to all our faithful readers. I'll be back on it next week. Say a prayer for me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pope Francis performs an exorcism?

There is some discussion going on about Pope Francis' encounter with a young man, captured in the video below. Articles on this are appearing everywhere from the Associated Press and ABC News to the Huffington Post and Salon. Everyone, it seems, is talking about this clip. 

Does it record the pope performing an exorcism? Some sort of deliverance prayer?

While there is no evidence Benedict XVI engaged in such activities, it is known that Blessed John Paul II performed exorcisms.

The statement from Rev. Federico Lombardi that the pope did not "intend" to perform an exorcism isn't putting the matter to rest. Why didn't he just say, "The pope did not perform an exorcism"?

Notably, there are reports that Francis was known to perform exorcisms prior to becoming pope and many (e.g., see the links here) have noted that he repeatedly refers to the reality of Satan.

I suspect this won't be the last time we hear of Francis doing such things.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Why "Tongues of Fire"?

Happy Pentecost!

Today in the liturgy we hear the story of how the Spirit descended upon the disciples in the form of tongues of fire. 

Why does the Spirit appear in this way?

John has written a great post on the readings for today. However, since he didn't touch upon this aspect of the story, I thought I'd deal with it in a separate post.

In short, I think the "tongues of fire" imagery is more consequential than many have realized. 

I should note that the Letter & Spirit journal will soon publish an article of mine in which I explain the "tongues of fire" imagery with greater attention to the context of Luke-Acts. Consider this an "introduction" to the imagery.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Catholic Nuns Going for the Championship of Bible Game Show

And they say Catholics don't know the Bible.

Readings for Pentecost Sunday

Let's take a look at the Readings for Pentecost Sunday Mass during the Day.

The First Reading is, finally, the account of Pentecost itself, from Acts 2:1-11:

Reading 1 Acts 2:1-11
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Readings for the Vigil of Pentecost

The Lectionary provides a wealth of Scriptural inspiration for this weekend’s celebration of the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost.

As usual, there is too much beauty and richness for us to deal with it all in depth.  Here below I've augmented commentaries I've made in previous years:

The First Reading Options for the Vigil:

  1. Genesis 11:1-9:
    Reading 1 Gn 11:1-9
    The whole world spoke the same language, using the same words.
    While the people were migrating in the east,
    they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Ascension Day Readings

In the Northeast and Nebraska, today is Ascension Day.  In the Diocese of Steubenville, as well as in most of the USA, Ascension Day is observed this Sunday.  I wish the traditional observance on Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter was retained, but reality is what it is.
This is an unusual Solemnity in which the “action” of the Feast Day actually takes place in the First Reading.  We typically think of all the narratives of Jesus’ life as recorded in the Gospels, overlooking that Acts records at least two important narratives about the activity of the Resurrected Lord (Acts 1:1-11; also 9:1-8).

In the first book, Theophilus,
I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught
until the day he was taken up,
after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit
to the apostles whom he had chosen.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Pope Francis on the Historicity of the Resurrection

"Transmitting this requires us to be courageous: the courage of transmitting the faith. A sometimes simple courage. I rememberexcuse mea personal story: as a child every Good Friday my grandmother took us to the Procession of Candles and at the end of the procession came the recumbent Christ and my grandmother made us kneel down and told us children, 'Look he is dead, but tomorrow he will be Risen! '. That is how the faith entered: faith in Christ Crucified and Risen. In the history of the Church there have been many, many people who have wanted to blur this strong certainty and speak of a spiritual resurrection. No, Christ is alive”.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Kingdom of Peace: 6th Sunday of Easter

We have arrived at the Sixth Week of Easter, and continue to bask in the glow of the story of the growth of the early Church in Acts, the vision of heaven from the Book of Revelation, and the consolation of Jesus’ words to the Apostles in the Upper Room from John.  It’s a trifecta of glory in these Readings.

If last Sunday we noted a “kingdom of love” theme, this week we notice an emphasis on the idea of the “kingdom of peace.”  In Acts (1st Reading) we see the measures that were necessary to keep peace in the early Church.  In Revelation (2nd Reading) we see the peace of Eden restored in the heavenly New Jerusalem.  In the Gospel we see Jesus bestowing his supernatural peace on the disciples.