Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Catechetical Literature (Catechesi Tradendae 49)

This is what I am striving for with my Praying the Mass series of catecheses on the Mass.  From Catechesi Tradendae 49:
One of the major features of the renewal of catechetics today is the rewriting and multiplication of catechetical books taking place in many parts of the Church. Numerous very successful works have been produced and are a real treasure in the service of catechetical instruction.

But it must be humbly and honestly recognized that this rich flowering has brought with it articles and publications which are ambiguous and harmful to young people and to the life of the Church. In certain places, the desire to find the best forms of expression or to keep up with fashions in pedagogical methods has often enough resulted in certain catechetical works which bewilder the young and even adults, either by deliberately or unconsciously omitting elements essential to the Church's faith, or by attributing excessive importance to certain themes at the expense of others, or, chiefly, by a rather horizontalist overall view out of keeping with the teaching of the Church's magisterium.

Therefore, it is not enough to multiply catechetical works. In order that these works may correspond with their aim, several conditions are essential:
  1. they must be linked with the real life of the generation to which they are addressed, showing close acquaintance with its anxieties and questionings, struggles and hopes;
  2. they must try to speak a language comprehensible to the generation in question;
  3. they must make a point of giving the whole message of Christ and His Church, without neglecting or distorting anything, and in expounding it they will follow a line and structure that highlights what is essential;
  4. they must really aim to give to those who use them a better knowledge of the mysteries of Christ, aimed at true conversion and a life more in conformity with God's will.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Name that Old Testament Type!

Joe McClane, the Catholic Hack, has a regular feature on his blog where he presents New Testament fulfillments (anti-types) of Old Testament types.  Here's the current challenge:

The Game:

The New Testament Fulfillment: St. Luke 1:35 And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy,the Son of God.

So tell me:

  1. Name 2, yes TWO, Old Testament prototypes that the above verse was the fulfillment of.
  2. You MUST state  prototypes/verses in the Old Testament that contain a type of our Lady, the Spirit, and the overshadowing, aspects of this verse in St. Luke’s, Gospel.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Pilgrimage

From July 4 through July 10, I will be on pilgrimage!  I'll be going from Allentown (where my parents live), through Cincinnati and Nashville, to Birmingham (to visit EWTN), then back home through Charlotte (to visit another blogger and his Liturgy & Lager group).

  • Sunday - Driving to Cincinnati
  • Monday
    • Hopefully an in-studio guest on the Son Rise Morning Show
    • Driving to Nashville for a brief visit to the Dominican Sisters there
    • Driving to Hanceville in time for the Divine Office that evening
    • Driving to Irondale to my hotel
  • Tuesday
    • Divine Office, Mass, and Rosary in the morning
    • Day trip to Desoto Caverns and places in Birmingham
    • Back at Irondale for a studio tour, Divine Office, dinner, and Threshold of Hope
  • Wednesday
    • Divine Office, Mass, and Rosary in the morning
    • Day trip to the Cullman area (Ave Maria Grotto, Bankhead Forest, Rickwood Caverns)
    • Back at Irondale for dinner and EWTN Live
  • Thursday
    • Divine Office, Mass, and Rosary in the morning
    • Day trip to the Birmingham area (museums, churches, etc.)
    • Back at Irondale for Divine Office, dinner, and Life on the Rock
  • Friday
    • Driving to Hanceville in time for Mass and Rosary
    • Driving to Charlotte for Liturgy & Lager
  • Saturday - Driving home

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Heaven and Leaven

I watched a video on YouTube this evening in which a Christian refuted a clearly heretical claim that God the Father and God the (female) Holy Spirit spiritually conceived the child Jesus and implanted Him in the womb of Mary.  This claim was supported by a tendentious and completely unorthodox reading of Luke 1:35, wherein the angel Gabriel says to Mary, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God."  The person advancing the unorthodox claim said that this verse speaks of two of the Persons of the Trinity — that "the Holy Spirit" is not "(the power of) the Most High."  Her analysis misses the use of "overshadow", a clear Old Testament reference to the shekinah cloud of glory. (cf. Ex. 40:34ff; Luke 9:34)

However, this Christian apologist, in the beginning of his refutation, quoted Matthew 13:33, the single-verse parable about the Kingdom of Heaven:  "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened."  His matter-of-fact interpretation of this parable is that the three measures of leaven represent corruptions in doctrine, specifically in the Church's governance, her worship, and the Word of God.  Whence does he derive this interpretation?  Most likely the Scofield Commentary:
That interpretation of the parable of the Leaven (Mt 13:33) which makes (with variation as to details) the leaven to be the Gospel, introduced into the world ("three measures of meal") by the church, and working subtly until the world is converted ("till the whole was leavened") is open to fatal objection:
  1. it does violence to the unvarying symbolical meaning of leaven, and especially to the meaning fixed by our Lord Himself. Mt 16:6-12 Mk 8:15 See "Leaven," Gen 19:3. See Scofield Note: "Mt 13:33".
  2. The implication of a converted world in this age ("till the whole was leavened"), is explicitly contradicted by our Lord's interpretation of the parables of the Wheat and Tares, and of the Net. Our Lord presents a picture of a partly converted kingdom in an unconverted world; of good fish and bad in the very kingdom-net itself.
  3. The method of the extension of the kingdom is given in the first parable. It is by sowing seed, not by mingling leaven. The symbols have, in Scripture, a meaning fixed by inspired usage. Leaven is the principle of corruption working subtly; is invariably used in a bad sense (see "Leaven," See Scofield Note: "Gen 19:3"), and is defined by our Lord as evil doctrine. Mt 16:11,12 Mk 8:15. Meal, on the contrary, was used in one of the sweet-savour offerings Lev 2:1-3. and was food for the priests Lev 6:15-17. A woman, in the bad ethical sense, always symbolizes something out of place, religiously, See Scofield Note: "Zech 5:6". In Thyatira it was a woman teaching (cf). Rev 2:20 17:1-6. Interpreting the parable by these familiar symbols, it constitutes a warning that the true doctrine, given for nourishment of the children of the kingdom Mt 4:4 1Tim 4:6 1Pet 2:2 would be mingled with corrupt and corrupting false doctrine, and that officially, by the apostate church itself 1Tim 4:1-3 2Tim 2:17,18 4:3,4 2Pet 2:1-3.
  1. Leaven, as a symbolic or typical substance, is always mentioned in the O.T. in an evil sense Gen 19:3, See Scofield Note: "Gen 19:3".
  2. The use of the word in the N.T. explains its symbolic meaning. It is "malice and wickedness," as contrasted with "sincerity and truth" 1Cor 5:6-8, it is evil doctrine Mt 16:12 in its three-fold form of Pharisasism, Sadduceeism, Herodianism Mt 16:6 Mk 8:15. The leaven of the Pharisees was externalism in religion. Mt 23:14,16,23-28, of the Sadducees, scepticism as to the supernatural and as to the Scriptures Mt 22:23,29, of the Herodians, worldliness--a Herod party amongst the Jews Mt 22:16-21 Mk 3:6.
  3. The use of the word in Mat 13.33 is congruous with its universal meaning.
Compare that with all the other (Protestant) commentaries found at on Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:21.

I would point out, first, that leaven is not excluded universally from sacrifices in the Old Testament, as the apologist would have you believe:
  • With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with cakes of leavened bread. (Lev. 7:13)
  • You shall bring from your dwellings two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah; they shall be of fine flour, they shall be baked with leaven, as first fruits to the LORD. (Lev. 23:17)
  • "Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them; for so you love to do, O people of Israel!" says the Lord GOD. (Amos 4:5)
In the New Testament, leaven is used almost exclusively in a negative sense, except for Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:21.  At least, that's why I'm intent on showing by means of Church Father commentaries.  I should begin by quoting the modern Catechism, paragraph 2660:
Prayer in the events of each day and each moment is one of the secrets of the kingdom revealed to "little children," to the servants of Christ, to the poor of the Beatitudes. It is right and good to pray so that the coming of the kingdom of justice and peace may influence the march of history, but it is just as important to bring the help of prayer into humble, everyday situations; all forms of prayer can be the leaven to which the Lord compares the kingdom. (cf. Lk. 13:20-21)
And now for the Church Fathers (and their contemporaries):
  • When in other things examples or illustrations are used, the resemblance cannot hold in every particular, but only in some one point for which the illustration is employed. For instance, When it is said in the Gospel, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman hid in three measures of meal,” are we to imagine that the kingdom of heaven is in all respects like leaven, so that like leaven it is palpable and perishable so as to become sour and unfit for use? Obviously the illustration was employed simply for this object—to shew how, through the preaching of God’s word which seems so small a thing, men’s minds could be imbued with the leaven of faith. (Rufinus)
  • And again the Gospel says that the Saviour spake to the apostles the word in a mystery. For prophecy says of Him: “He will open His mouth in parables, and will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.”  And now, by the parable of the leaven, the Lord shows concealment; for He says, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”  For the tripartite soul [thus the "three measures"] is saved by obedience, through the spiritual power hidden in it by faith... (Clement of Alexandria)
  • This, says he, is the kingdom of heaven that reposes within us as a treasure, as leaven hid in the three measures of meal. (Hippolytus)
  • Therefore He brought forward the similitude of this herb, which has a very strong resemblance to the subject in hand; “Which indeed is the least,” He saith, “of all seeds, but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”  Thus He meant to set forth the most decisive sign of its greatness. “Even so then shall it be with respect to the gospel too,” saith He. Yea, for His disciples were weakest of all, and least of all; but nevertheless, because of the great power that was in them, It hath been unfolded in every part of the world.  After this He adds the leaven to this similitude, saying,“The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened.”  For as this converts the large quantity of meal into its own quality, even so shall ye convert the whole world. (Chrysostom)
  • The conditions of the nascent church required this to be so that the grain of mustard seed might grow up little by little into a tree, and that the leaven of the gospel might gradually raise more and more the whole lump of the church. (Jerome)
  • For on this account, as I have before said, God has suffered men to be with one another, and especially the wicked with the good, in order that they may bring them over to their own virtue. Hear at least what Christ saith to his disciples, “The Kingdom of heaven is like unto a woman who took leaven and hid it in three measures of meal.”  So that the righteous have the power of leaven, in order that they may transfer the wicked to their own manner of conduct. But the righteous are few, for the leaven is small. But the smallness in no way injures the lump, but that little quantity converts the whole of the meal to itself by means of the power inherent in it. (Chrysostom)
  • For that one ought not to be useful to himself alone, but also to many others, Christ declared plainly, when He called us salt, and leaven, and light:  for these things are useful and profitable to others. ... And this is the reason why He called you leaven: for leaven also does not leaven itself, but, little though it is, it affects the whole lump however big it may be. So also do ye: although ye are few in number, yet be ye many and powerful in faith, and in zeal towards God. As then the leaven is not weak on account of its littleness, but prevails owing to its inherent heat, and the force of its natural quality, so ye also will be able to bring back a far larger number than yourselves, if you will, to the same degree of zeal as your own. (Chrysostom)
  • But as there are many ways in which things show a likeness to each other, we are not to suppose there is any rule that what a thing signifies by similitude in one place it is to be taken to signify in all other places.  For our Lord used leaven both in a bad sense, as when He said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,” and in a good sense, as when He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” (Augustine)
  • “The three measures of meal” of which the Lord spake, is the human race. Recollect the deluge; three only remained, from whom the rest were to be re-peopled. Noe had three sons, by them was repaired the human race. That holy “woman who hid the leaven,” is Wisdom. Lo, the whole world crieth out in the Church of God, “I know that the Lord is great.” (Augustine)
  • Hence the Lord says, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”  What is this woman, but the flesh of the Lord? What is the leaven, but the gospel? (Augustine)
Finally, let me appeal to the words of our Savior Himself:  "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven..." (Matt. 13:33)  "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God?  It is like leaven..." (Luke 13:21)  Jesus did not say that the Kingdom of God is like bread in which leaven has been hid, but like leaven which is hidden in bread.

P.S. The apologist makes use of the "law of first mention" in assigning a negative (even evil) value to leaven.  The first use of the word "leaven(ed)" (as opposed to "unleaven(ed)") is Exodus 12:15, which states:  "Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread; on the first day you shall put away leaven out of your houses, for if any one eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel."

Now, it certainly is negative that one who eats leavened bread during the Feast of Unleavened Bread will be cut off from Israel, but let us consider the reason for this prohibition.  This is the feast of the Passover, when they are to flee Israel in haste:  "In this manner you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste." (Ex. 12:11)  The Israelites would not have the time to wait for the leaven to work in the dough!  Outside of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, it is permissible (and even normal) to eat leavened bread.  One might even go so far as to say that, since leavened bread may not be eaten "from the first day until the seventh day," it is on the eighth day that leavened bread may be eaten, and the eighth day has creation-centric and Christ-centric overtones to it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

From The Prayers of the Priest: "Mixing the Wine with Water"

This prayer from the Mass is said quietly by the deacon or priest during the Preparation of the Gifts, while he prepares the chalice by pouring in some wine and then adding a few drops of water:
Per huius aquæ et vini mystérium
eius efficiámur divinitátis consórtes,
qui humanitátis nostræ fíeri dignátus est párticeps.

By the mystery of this water and wine              2 Macc. 15:39; John 19:34
may we come to share in the divinity of Christ          Rom. 5:2; 2 Pet. 1:4
who humbled himself to share in our humanity.                       Phil. 2:8
The simple act of pouring water into wine, and the prayer accompanying it, is a synthesis of the whole Mass, of the whole Catholic faith, and of all salvation history.  In order to unearth the theological and doctrinal riches of this easily-overlooked rite, we should first examine the history of this prayer.
Do not be surprised that so much can be written about such a small prayer.  The rite and its prayer are of phenomenal significance, as they represent the totality of redemption, from the Incarnation to the Passion and beyond, to the Resurrection and our eventual sharing in the divine life of God in Heaven.

(Read the whole thing here.)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Apostolic Preaching: The Gospel in the Book of Acts

I went through the Acts of the Apostles today and made a list of the "Gospel sermons" given.  I found eight:  five from Peter, one from Stephen, and two from Paul.  (I didn't include Paul's retelling of his conversion, since those were not about the Gospel, per se, but about the work of Christ in his life.)  Each of these sermons contains (in whole or in part) the "kerygma", the extreme distillation of the Gospel:  "that [Jesus] Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve." (1 Cor. 15:3-5)

The kerygma has three key elements:  1) that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ; 2) that His death and resurrection is prophesied in the Jewish Scriptures, the Old Testament; and 3) that He appeared to people after His resurrection.  That is what you find in the apostolic preaching in the Book of Acts.
  • Peter
    • Acts 2:14-39
      • "This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. ... This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses."
    • Acts 3:12-26
      • "The God of our fathers glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up ... But you denied the Holy and Righteous One ... and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead.  To this we are witnesses. ... What God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled."
    • Acts 4:8-12
      • "By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well."
    • Acts 5:29-32
      • "The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. ... And we are witnesses to these things."
    • Acts 10:34-43
      • "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth ... They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest ... to us who were chosen by God as witnesses."
  • Stephen
    • Acts 7:2-53
      • "Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered."
  • Paul
    • Acts 13:16-42
      • "God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. ... They asked Pilate to have him killed. ... But God raised him from the dead; and for many days he appeared to those ... who are now his witnesses to the people."
    • Acts 17:22-31
      • "[God] has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead."
I also compiled a list of places where the Old Testament (that is, the "Scriptures") is used by the Apostles to prove to other Jews that Jesus is the Messiah.
  • Acts 2:23-31 (Peter quotes David in Psalm 16)
  • Acts 3:18-24 (Peter quotes Moses in Deut. 18:15 and refers to all the prophets)
  • Acts 4:24-30 (The disciples quote David in Psalm 2)
  • Acts 7:37,52 (Stephen quotes Moses in Deut. 18:15 and refers to all the prophets)
  • Acts 8:32-35 (Philip teaches that Isaiah 52:13—53:12 refers to Christ)
  • Acts 10:43 (Peter refers to all the prophets)
  • Acts 13:27-37 (Paul refers to all the prophets and quotes David in Psalms 2 and 16)
  • Acts 17:2-3,11 (Paul argues from the Scriptures that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead)
  • Acts 18:24-28 (Apollos showed by the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ)
  • Acts 24:14 (Paul implies that belief in Jesus as the Christ is based on the law and the prophets)
  • Acts 26:22-23,27 (Paul says that Moses and the prophets said that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead)
  • Acts 28:23 (Paul refers to the law and the prophets)
So... do with this what you will!

    Saturday, June 05, 2010

    The Incarnation and the Consecration

    So I'm reading Rev. Nicholas Gihr's The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as a primary source for Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the Priest.  On pages 530-534, he explains the Offertory prayer (in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, of course — this book is from 1917) invoking the Holy Spirit, the Veni Sanctificator.

    Veni Sanctificator, omnipotens aeterne Deus,
    et benedic + hoc sacrificium tuo sancto nomini praeparatum.

    Come, O Sanctifier, almighty and eternal God,
    and bless this sacrifice prepared for the glory of Your holy Name.

    On page 532, he answers the question, "Why is the Holy Spirit invoked (in this prayer and in the epiclesis of other anaphoras) to change the bread and wine into the Eucharist?"  The answer is excellent, and the footnote I've included is too amazing to pass up!
    The proximate reason lies in the analogy which the Consecration bears to the Incarnation.  The great similarity and manifold relation between the accomplishment of the Eucharist on the altar and the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God in the bosom of the Immaculate Virgin Mary are often commented on by the Fathers, and are expressed also in the liturgy.

    The Incarnation is, in a manner, renewed and enlarged in the Eucharistic Consecration — and that at all times as well as in numberless places.*  In like manner and for the same reason is it that the miracles of the Incarnation and Consecration are ascribed to the efficacy of the Holy Ghost.  This happens because both mysteries, being works of divine favor and love, as well as works full of infinite purity and holiness, have a special resemblance to the peculiar character of the Holy Ghost, who is personal love and sanctity.  Therefore, although in reality all the three Divine Persons accomplish the act of Consecration, yet it is most frequently ascribed to the power of the Holy Ghost.  As it is said in the Creed, that the Son of God "became incarnate by the Holy Ghost, of the Virgin Mary," we also acknowledge that the Holy Ghost, by His creative power as "Lord and [Giver] of life," changes the inanimate elements of bread and wine into Christ's Body and Blood.

    "How shall this be done," says the holy Virgin, "because I know not man?" The Archangel Gabriel, answering, said to her: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee."

    "And now you ask: How shall the bread become the Body of Christ, and the wine, mingled with water, become the Blood of Christ? And I also answer you: The Holy Ghost shall overshadow each and shall effect that which is beyond language and conception." (St. John Damascene, De fide orthod., IV, 13)

    * St. Chrysostom compares (De beato Philog. hom. 6) altar and crib, remarking that on them the Body of Christ reposes no longer wrapped in swaddling bands, but wholly reclothed by the Holy Ghost.

    An instrument customary in the Greek liturgy and known by the name of star (aster, asteriskos) also reminds us of the Incarnation. It consists of two intersecting arcs turned downwards. Assuredly the asterisk serves, in the first place, as a protecting cover for the Eucharistic Bread, that — especially after the Consecration — it may not be touched by the velum spread over it; at the same time it symbolizes by its appearance the star that stood over the place where the Child Jesus lay. When, therefore, the priest has incensed the asterisk, and placed it on the discus under the veil, he says: "and a star came and stood over the place where the child was."

    Ignatius Catholic Study Bible - New Testament

    I bought the hardcover edition of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible single-volume New Testament (Second Catholic Edition RSV).  What an excellent investment.  My only complaint is that it does not include the study questions found in the individual books (or, if they are in there, I haven't found them yet).

    You can get this single-volume New Testament at a great price from Amazon!

    Wednesday, June 02, 2010

    The National Anthem and the Liturgy

    Here's half a post from Fr. Z's blog, What Does the Prayer Really Say?
    [On Memorial Day], I noticed that when the young woman came up to sing the National Anthem, she turned the microphone around and sang it facing the veterans and the flag, both which were behind the podium that had been set up. This happened twice, once at the Veterans Memorial and once at the local town cemetery. I figured that the reason she did this was to show that it was not a performance of the National Anthem, but rather sung in remembrance and honor of our country and our fallen veterans.
    What might this have to do with the liturgy? Read the rest of the post at WDTPRS.