Category Archives: Scripture

Sola Scriptura?: Bible commands Oral Tradition

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Editor: it is also helpful to recall, I believe, that while notions of general illiteracy until recently are being contested, at best, ancient and medieval literacy rates are understood currently to never have risen above 30%-40%, at their peak.

joel_peters
-by Joel Peters

“St. Paul both commends and commands the keeping of oral tradition. In 1 Corinthians 11:2, for instance, we read, “Now I praise you, brethren, that in all things you are mindful of me: and keep my ordinances as I have delivered them to you.” (4) St. Paul is obviously commending the keeping of oral tradition here, and it should be noted in particular that he extols the believers for having done so (“I praise you….”). Explicit in this passage is also the fact that the integrity of this Apostolic oral tradition has clearly been maintained, just as Our Lord promised it would be, through the safeguarding of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 16:3).

Perhaps the clearest Biblical support for oral tradition can be found in 2 Thessalonians 2:14(15), where Christians are actually commanded: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.” This passage is significant in that a) it shows the existence of living traditions within the Apostolic teaching, b) it tells us unequivocally that believers are firmly grounded in the Faith by adhering to these traditions, and c) it clearly states that these traditions were both written and oral. Since the Bible distinctly states here that oral traditions – authentic and Apostolic in origin – are to be “held” as a valid component of the Deposit of Faith, by what reasoning or excuse do Protestants dismiss them? By what authority do they reject a clear-cut injunction of St. Paul?

Moreover, we must consider the text in this passage. The Greek word krateite, here translated “hold,” means “to be strong, mighty, to prevail.” (5) This language is rather emphatic, and it demonstrates the importance of maintaining these traditions. Of course one must differentiate between Tradition (upper-case “T”) that is part of divine Revelation, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, Church traditions (lower-case “t”) that, although good, have developed in the Church later and are not part of the Deposit of Faith.

An example of something that is part of Tradition would be infant Baptism; an example of a Church tradition would be the Church’s calendar of feast days of Saints. Anything that is part of Tradition is of divine origin and hence unchangeable, while Church traditions are changeable by the Church. Sacred Tradition serves as a rule of faith by showing what the Church has believed consistently through the centuries and how it is always understood any given portion of the Bible. One of the main ways in which Tradition has been passed down to us is in the doctrine contained in the ancient texts of the liturgy, the Church’s public worship.

It should be noted that Protestants accuse Catholics of promoting “unbiblical” or “novel” doctrines based on Tradition, asserting that such Tradition contains doctrines which are foreign to the Bible. However, this assertion is wholly untrue. The Catholic Church teaches that Sacred Tradition contains nothing whatsoever that is contrary to the Bible. Some Catholic thinkers would even say that there is nothing in Sacred Tradition which is not also found in Scripture, at least implicitly or in seminal form. Certainly the two are at least in perfect harmony and always support each other. For some doctrines, the Church draws more from Tradition than from Scripture for its understanding, but even those doctrines are often implied or hinted at in the Sacred Scripture. For example, the following are largely based on Sacred Tradition: infant Baptism, the canon of Scripture, the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sunday (rather than Saturday) as the Lord’s Day, and the Assumption of Our Lady.

Sacred Tradition complements our understanding of the Bible and is therefore not some extraneous source of Revelation which contains doctrines that are foreign to it. Quite the contrary: Sacred Tradition serves as the Church’s living memory, reminding her of what the faithful have constantly and consistently believed and how to properly understand and interpret the meaning of Biblical passages. (6) In a certain way, it is Sacred Tradition which says to the reader of the Bible “You have been reading a very important book which contains God’s revelation to man. Now let me explain to you how it has always been understood and practiced by believers from the very beginning.””

Love,
Matthew

(4) The word translated as “ordinances” is also translated “teachings” or “traditions”; for example, the New International Version gives “teachings,” with a footnote: “Or traditions.”

(5) W. E. Vine [Protestant Author], Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (McLean, VA: MacDonald Publishing House, n.d.), p. 564., 1996, op. Cit.

(6) One example of this interpretive memory involves Revelation 12. The Early Church Fathers understood the “woman clothed with the sun” to be a reference to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For someone to assert that this doctrine did not exist until 1950 (the year Pope Pius XII formally defined the doctrine) represents ignorance of ecclesial history. Essentially, the belief was held from the beginning, but it was not formally defined until the 20th century. Bear in mind that the Church often did not have a need to define a doctrine formally until it was formally challenged by someone (usually a heretic). Such occasions gave rise to the need officially to define the “parameters” of the doctrine in question.

Sola Scriptura?: Sola Scriptura is not scriptural

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joel_peters
-by Joel Peters

“Perhaps the most striking reason for rejecting this doctrine is that there is not one verse anywhere in the Bible in which it is taught, and it therefore becomes a self-refuting doctrine.

Protestants often point to verses such as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 or The Apocalypse (Revelation)22:18-19 in defense of Sola Scriptura, but close examination of these two passages easily demonstrates that they do not support the doctrine at all.

“In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we read, “All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice, that the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work.” There are five considerations which undermine the Sola Scriptura interpretation of this passage:

1) The Greek word ophelimos (“profitable”) used in verse 16 means “useful” not “sufficient.” An example of this difference would be to say that water is useful for our existence – even necessary – but it is not sufficient; that is, it is not the only thing we need to survive. We also need food, clothing, shelter, etc. Likewise, Scripture is useful in the life of the believer, but it was never meant to be the only source of Christian teaching, the only thing needed for believers.

2) The Greek word pasa, which is often rendered as “all,” actually means “every,” and it has the sense of referring to each and every one of the class denoted by the noun connected with it. (2) In other words, the Greek reads in a way which indicates that each and every “Scripture” is profitable. If the doctrine of Sola Scriptura were true, then based on Greek verse 16, each and every book of the Bible could stand on its own as the sole rule of faith, a position which is obviously absurd.

3) The “Scripture” that St. Paul is referring to here is the Old Testament, a fact which is made plain by his reference to the Scripture’s being known by Timothy from “infancy” (verse 15). The New Testament as we know it did not yet exist, or at best it was incomplete, so it simply could not have included in St. Paul’s understanding of what was meant by the term “scripture.” If we take St. Paul’s words at face value, Sola Scriptura would therefore mean that the Old Testament is the Christian’s sole rule of faith. This is a premise that all Christians would reject.

Protestants may respond to this issue by arguing that St. Paul is not here discussing the canon of the Bible (the authoritative list of which books are included in the Bible), but rather the nature of Scripture. While there is some validity to this assertion, the issue of canon is also relevant here, for the following reason: Before we can talk about the nature of Scripture as being theopneustos or “inspired” (literally, “God-breathed”), it is imperative that we identify with certainty those books we mean when we say “Scripture”; otherwise, the wrong writings may be labeled as “inspired.”

St. Paul’s words here obviously took on a new dimension when the New Testament was completed, as Christians eventually considered it, too, to be “Scripture.” It can be argued, then, that the Biblical canon is also the issue here, as St. Paul – writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – emphasizes the fact that all (and not just some) Scripture is inspired. The question that begs to be asked, however, is this: “How can we be sure we have all the correct writings?” obviously, we can only know the answer if we know what the canon of the Bible is. Such a question poses a problem for the Protestant, but not for the Catholic, as the latter has an infallible authority to answer it.

4) The Greek word artios, here translated “perfect,” may at first glance make it seem that the Scriptures are indeed all that is needed. “After all,” one may ask, “if the Scriptures make the man of God perfect, what else could be needed? Doesn’t the very word ‘perfect’ imply that nothing is lacking?”

Well, the difficulty with such an interpretation is that the text here does not say that it is solely by means of the Scriptures that the man of God is made “perfect.” The text – if anything – indicates precisely the opposite to be true, namely, that the Scriptures operate in conjunction with other things. Notice that it is not just anyone who is made perfect, but rather the “man of God” – which means a minister of Christ (cf. 1 Tim. 6:11), a clergyman.

The fact that this individual is a minister of Christ presupposes that he has already had training and teaching which prepared him to assume his office. This being the case, the Scriptures would be merely one item in a series of items which make this man of God “perfect.” The Scriptures may complete his list of necessary items or they may be one prominent item on the list, but surely they are not the only item on his list nor intended to be all that he needs.

By way of analogy, consider a medical doctor. In this context we might say something like, “The Physician’s Desk Reference [a standard medical reference book] makes our General Practitioner perfect, so that he may be ready to treat any medical situation.” Obviously such a statement does not mean that all a doctor needs is his PDR. It is neither the last item on his list or just one prominent item. The doctor also needs his stethoscope, his blood pressure gauge, his training, etc. These other items are presupposed by the fact that we are talking about a doctor rather than a non-medical person. So it would be incorrect to assume that if the PDR makes the doctor “perfect,” it is the only thing which makes him so.

Also, taking this word “perfect” as meaning “the only necessary item” results in a biblical contradiction, for in James 1:4 we read that patience – rather than the Scriptures – makes on perfect: “And patience hath a perfect work; that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing.” Now it is true that a different Greek word (teleios) is used here for “perfect,” but the fact remains that the basic meaning is the same. Now, if one rightly acknowledges that patience is clearly not the only thing a Christian needs in order to be perfect, then a consistent interpretive method would compel one to acknowledge likewise that the Scriptures are not the only think a “man of God” needs in order to be perfect.

5) The Greek word exartizo in verse 17, here translated “furnished” (other Bible versions read something like “fully equipped” or “thoroughly furnished”) is referred to by Protestants as “proof” of Sola Scriptura, since this word – again – may be taken as implying that nothing else is needed for the “man of God.” However, even though the man of God may be “furnished” or “thoroughly equipped,” this fact in and of itself does not guarantee that he knows how to interpret correctly and apply any given Scripture passage. The clergyman must also be taught how to correctly use the Scriptures, even though he may already be “furnished” with them.

Consider again a medical analogy. Picture a medical student at the beginning of internship. He might have at his disposal all the equipment necessary to perform an operation (i.e., he is “thoroughly equipped” or “furnished” for a surgical procedure), but until he spends time with the doctors, who are the resident authorities, observing their techniques, learning their skills, and practicing some procedures of his own, the surgical instruments at his disposal are essentially useless. In fact, if he does not learn how to use these instruments properly, they can actually become dangerous in his hands.

So it is with the “man of God” and the Scriptures. The Scriptures, like the surgical instruments, are life-giving only when properly used. When improperly used, the exact opposite results can occur. In one case they could bring physical ruin or even death; in the other case they could bring spiritual ruin or even spiritual death. Since the Bible admonishes us to handle rightly or rightly divide the word of truth (cf. 2 Tim. 2:15), it is therefore possible to handle incorrectly or wrongly divide it – much like an untrained medical student who incorrectly wields his surgical instruments.

Regarding The Apocalypse (Revelation) 22:18-19, there are two considerations which undermine the Sola Scriptura interpretation of these verses. The passage – almost the very last in the Bible – reads: “For I testify to every one that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from these things that are written in this book.”

1) When these verses say that nothing is to be added to or taken from the “words of the prophecy of this book,” they are not referring to Sacred Tradition being “added” to the Sacred Scripture. It is obvious from the context that the “book” being referred to here is Revelation or The Apocalypse and not the whole Bible. We know this because St. John says that anyone who is guilty of adding to “this book” will be cursed with the plagues” written in this book,” namely the plagues he described earlier in his own book, Revelation. To assert otherwise is to do violence to the text and to distort its plain meaning, especially since the Bible as we know it did not exist when this passage was written and therefore could not be what was meant. (3)

In defense of their interpretation of these verses, Protestants will often contend that God knew in advance what the canon of Scripture would be, with Revelation being the last book of the Bible, and thus He “sealed” that canon with the words of verses 18-19. But this interpretation involves reading a meaning into the text.

Furthermore, if such an assertion were true, how is it that the Christian knows unmistakably that Revelation 22:18-19 is “sealing” the canon unless an infallible teaching authority assures him that this is the correct interpretation of that verse? But if such an infallible authority exists, then the Sola Scriptura doctrine becomes ipso facto null and void. Circular.

2) The same admonition not to add or subtract words is used in Deuteronomy 4:2, which says, “You shall not add to the word that I speak to you, neither shall you take away from it: keep the commandment of the Lord your God which I command you.” If we were to apply a parallel interpretation to this verse, then anything in the Bible beyond the decrees of the Old Testament law would be considered non-canonical or not authentic Scripture – including the New Testament! Once again, all Christians would reject this conclusion in no uncertain terms. The prohibition in Revelation 22:18-19 against “adding,” therefore, cannot mean that Christians are forbidden to look to anything outside the Bible for guidance.”

Love,
Matthew

(2) W. E. Vine [Protestant Author], Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (McLean, VA: MacDonald Publishing House, n.d.), p. 387. Cf. St. Alphonsus Liguori, An Exposition and Defense of all the Points of Faith Discussed and Defined by the Sacred Council of Trent; along with a Refutation of the Errors of the Pretended Reformers, etc. (Dublin: James Duffy, 1846), p. 50.

(3) While all the books of the New Testament are considered to have been written by the time St. John finished The Apocalypse (Revelation), they were not formally identified as “the Bible” until much later on.

What is Sola Scriptura?

Sola-Scriptura

joel_peters
-by Joel Peters

“”We believe in the Bible alone and the Bible in its entirety as the sole rule of faith for the Christian!”

You may have heard these words or something very similar to them from a Fundamentalist or Evangelical Protestant. They are, in essence, the meaning of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, or “Scripture alone,” which alleges that the Bible – as interpreted by the individual believer – is the only source of religious authority and is the Christian’s sole rule of faith or criterion regarding what is to be believed. By this doctrine, which is one of the foundational beliefs of Protestantism, a Protestant denies that there is any other source of religious authority or divine Revelation to humanity.

The Catholic, on the other hand, holds that the immediate or direct rule of faith is the teaching of the Church; the Church in turn takes her teaching from the divine Revelation – both the written Word, called Sacred Scripture, and the oral or unwritten Word, known as “Tradition.” The teaching authority or “Magisterium” of the Catholic Church (headed by the Pope), although not itself a source of divine Revelation, nevertheless has a God-given mission to interpret and teach both Scripture and Tradition. Scripture and Tradition are the sources of Christian doctrine, the Christian’s remote or indirect rule of faith

Obviously these two views on what constitutes the Christian’s rule of faith are opposed to each other, and anyone who sincerely seeks to follow Christ must be sure that he follows the one that is true.

The doctrine of Sola Scriptura originated with Martin Luther, the 16th-century German monk who broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and started the Protestant “Reformation.” (1) in response to some abuses that had been occurring within the Catholic Church, Luther became a vocal opponent of certain practices.

As far as these abuses were concerned, they were real and Luther was justified in reacting. However, as a series of confrontations between him and the Church hierarchy developed, the issues became more centered on the question of Church authority and – from Luther’s perspective – whether or not the teaching of the Catholic Church was a legitimate rule of faith for Christians.

As the confrontations between Luther and the Church’s hierarchy ensued and tensions mounted, Luther accused the Catholic Church of having corrupted Christian doctrine and having distorted Biblical truths, and he more and more came to believe that the Bible, as interpreted by the individual believer, was the only true religious authority for a Christian. He eventually rejected Tradition as well as the teaching authority of the Catholic Church (with the Pope at its head) as having legitimate religious authority.

An honest inquirer must ask, then, whether Luther’s doctrine of “Scripture alone” was a genuine restoration of a Biblical truth or rather the promulgation of an individual’s personal views on Christian authority. Luther was clearly passionate about his beliefs, and he was successful in spreading them, but these facts in and of themselves do not guarantee that what he taught was correct. Since one’s spiritual well-being, and even one’s eternal destiny, is at stake, the Christian believer needs to be absolutely sure in this matter.

Following are twenty-one considerations which will help the reader scrutinize Luther’s doctrine of Sola Scriptura from Biblical, historical and logical bases and which show that it is not in fact a genuine Biblical truth, but rather a man-made doctrine.”

Love, Faith, and Works,
Matthew

(1) To the Catholic mind, the Protestant Reformation was not a reform in the true sense of the word, the way Catholics understand the word, but rather it was a revolution – an upheaval of the legitimate, established religious and civil order of the day.

Psalm 51 – Miserere

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Allegri’s “Miserere” was only sung at the #Vatican for 200 yrs, until young Mozart transcribed it.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to Your unfailing love;
according to Your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

Against You, You alone, have I sinned
and done what is evil in Your sight;
so You are right in Your verdict
and justified when You judge.

Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet You desired faithfulness even in the womb;
You taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones You have crushed rejoice.

Hide Your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence
or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to You.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
You Who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness.

Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare Your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
You, God, will not despise.
May it please You to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.

Then You will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on Your altar.

Holy_Water_Font_Miserere
-Miserere inscribed in holy water font

Love,
Matthew

The first beatitude & Protestantism

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marcellino-d'ambrosio
-by Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, PhD

“The Beatitudes rank high on the list of all-time favorite Bible passages. But what is “beatitude,” anyway? In the bible, a “blessed” person is someone who has received gifts of the greatest value, gifts that lead to true fulfillment and lasting happiness.

If I were to ask you to name the first beatitude, you’d probably say “blessed be the poor in Spirit.” According to St. Matthew’s gospel you’d be right, but not according to Luke. At the very beginning of his gospel, Luke reveals that the very first beatitude is uttered by a woman filled with the Spirit, speaking of another woman overshadowed by the Spirit. Elizabeth says, “Blessed is she who has believed.” (Luke 1: 45).

Is Marian devotion important in Christian life? This has been a bone of contention between Christians for nearly five hundred years.

Let’s look at the evidence in just the first chapter of Luke. First, the Angel Gabriel honors her with the greeting “Hail, full of grace” (Luke 1:29). Then Elizabeth prophesies “blessed are you among women.” Next the prophet John leaps for joy in his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice. Then, in her response to Elizabeth, Mary prophesies “all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).

But it is Elizabeth’s final words to Mary that provide the key to understanding why Mary is to be honored, namely, her faith.

One of the battle-cries of the Protestant Reformation was “Faith Alone!” One key conviction that united the many disparate strands of the Reformation was that it is impossible to earn God’s favor by our good works . . . that rather we receive His love as a pure gift, a grace, through faith.

Now consider Mary. Did she crisscross the Mediterranean planting Churches like Paul? Did she give eloquent sermons like Stephen (Acts 7)? Did she govern the Church like Peter? No. Her claim to fame is that she simply said yes to God. She believed He could do as He said and would do as He said.

But true faith is not just intellectual conviction that God exists or that He can do thus and such. Faith involves entrusting oneself, abandoning oneself to God, willing to submit to His will. That’s why Paul talks about “the obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26). Mary surrendered her plan for her life, and yielded to God’s plan. And she did this not once, but again and again, even when He left her behind to begin His public ministry. And when that ministry led to the horror of Calvary, Mary’s faith stood its ground at the foot of the cross.

So Catholics honor Mary for being the perfect example of the greatest Protestant virtue. Ironic isn’t it? And the deepest meaning of that disputed doctrine, the Immaculate Conception, is that it was the grace of God working mysteriously from the moment of her conception that made possible Mary’s exemplary life of faith. Even her faith is a gift of His grace. It’s all grace, according to Catholic doctrine.

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Mary, of course, knew this. That’s why she responded to Elizabeth’s praise with the humble, exuberant prayer known as the Magnificat: She is like the crystal-clear pool that reflects the sun’s rays back to the heavens. So no one needs to fear that honor given her will detract from the majesty of her divine Son. She deflects all the praise given her right back to God, the source of her greatness.

So the answer is that Marian devotion is necessary in Christian life. But what is true devotion to Mary according to the fathers of the Second Vatican Council? Not sentimental piety or gullible preoccupation with every rumored apparition, but rather, imitation of her virtues, particularly her faith (Lumen Gentium 67).”

Magnificat anima mea Dominum,
et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salvatore meo,
quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae.
Ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes,
quia fecit mihi magna,
qui potens est,
et sanctum nomen eius,
et misericordia eius in progenies et progenies
timentibus eum.
Fecit potentiam in brachio suo,
dispersit superbos mente cordis sui;
deposuit potentes de sede
et exaltavit humiles;
esurientes implevit bonis
et divites dimisit inanes.
Suscepit Israel puerum suum,
recordatus misericordiae,
sicut locutus est ad patres nostros,
Abraham et semini eius in saecula
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto,
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper,
et in Saecula saeculorum. Amen.  – Lk 1:45-56.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on His lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His Name.
He has mercy on those who fear Him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of His arm,
He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of His servant Israel
for He has remembered His promise of mercy,
the promise He made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.  Amen. -Lk 1:45-56.

Love,
Matthew

The Rich Young Man – Mt 19:16–30, Mk 10:17–31, Lk 18:18–30

Hoffman-ChristAndTheRichYoungRuler

– 1889, by Heinrich Hoffman, oil on canvas, purchased by John D Rockefeller Jr, now residing at Riverside Church in New York.

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-by Rev. Ronald Knox

“He went down the hillside with the slow, easy step of a man accustomed to deference from his fellows. A light breeze caressed him, like a ripple on the surface of the sunshine; he was well content. It was fitting that the contentment should mask itself in an outward fashion of melancholy; but the marriage of sunshine with a light breeze will whisper to a man’s heart even though he has buried his father only a few weeks back. The death had been long expected—you might almost say, unduly delayed; the Dark Angel had worn out, beforehand, his welcome of natural tears. And now that the debt of decent solemnity had been paid for four weeks—was it? or three weeks?—that other thought obtruded itself at times upon his consciousness, was obtruding itself even now, as he walked down the hillside. He was sole heir.

At first it had only lived on the faintest horizon of his attention. Naturally; did not his world know him as the most dutiful of sons? Had he not been everything to his father in those later years when strength was failing, the staff of his old age? Unthinkable that when death came, such a man should let down the flag of filial affection at a run. It was silenced, then, honorably and conscientiously, this unlovable distraction, banished to its corner like a child who will not behave himself in company.

Only, as the weeks passed, its “Mayn’t I come out now?” had been growing more insistent, and the inhibition that withstood it seemed daily less reasonable. Little details about the house and the estate, neglected by their late owner with an old man’s conservatism or parsimony, tugged at his attention like trailing branches in a forest path, “This and that must be put right now.”

Indeed, it had been partly to escape from this companionship of premature solicitudes that he had taken to the open country that afternoon. By the lakeside, where the rough fisher folk brought in the shining harvest of the unowned waters, he could shake off, perhaps, the thought of his inheritance.

And yet, there was no denying it, he was sole heir. Whatever expectations his younger brother might have had were forfeited long since, when he had realized the capital that was due to him and had set out to make his fortune—an unlucky business from the first! When he returned, bankrupt and discredited, he was received as a member of the family; there could be no question about that; but the annuity then settled on him was handsome and would be continued. True, the old man had spoken at times as if it was his intention to do more for the scapegrace in his will, but that was when his strength was failing, only when his strength was failing. Nothing could have been further from his wishes, in reality, than that there should be any division of the property. How tactless are the expectations of a younger son!

Besides, the property would not stand division. It brought in, even now, a comfortable income; but how generously its value might be increased if profits were husbanded and went back again into the improvement of the stock. As sole heir, he could see to that; already the prospect of increasing his inheritance began to present itself to him as a kind of filial duty, or perhaps a paternal duty, for he, too, one day, must resign to an heir his rich farms and his pleasant garden walks; the woods that had grown up with him would recognize a younger master, and only the faithful cypresses would bear him company to the grave.

Yes, for twenty years to come, the profits of every good season must go back into the land they sprang from; then, with the riper experience, and more educated palate of middle life, he would be able to enjoy the fruits of his own honest industry. Honest, thank God!—better anything than a prosperity secured by violation of the divine commands. These commands might almost have been themselves part of the property, so jealously had he kept them.

He had now well-nigh reached the sea’s level; and, as he rounded a scarp of the cliff, he saw a crowd gathered close to the water’s edge. A boat stood off a little way from the land, and toward it the faces of the crowd were turned in expectation. Could there have been some misadventure among the fishing people? Had the storm of last night, perhaps, claimed a toll of these humble lives? No, the boat was not putting in to shore; she was moored in a fathom or so of water.

In her stern a human form stood erect—the form (as it seemed from the gestures) of one making a public utterance. Of course, he might have known it earlier. He had heard, several months ago, rumors of the strange Preacher who somehow charmed an audience from that sluggish countryside—a fanatic, men said, and yet one who altered human lives by a word or a touch. There were stories, too, still harder to believe, that told of sick men suddenly healed, of devil-ridden folks set free.

A few hundred yards further along the shore, and he would be in full audience; the sloping beach made a natural amphitheater whose echoes carried far. Certainly he should be worth hearing, this much-praised, much-criticized Oracle of half a dozen fishing towns…”

Love,
Matthew

Psalm 118

psalm 118

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His love endures forever.
Let Israel say:
“His love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say:
“His love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say:
“His love endures forever.”

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
He brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me; He is my helper.
I look in triumph on my enemies.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in humans.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.
All the nations surrounded me,
but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
They surrounded me on every side,
but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
They swarmed around me like bees,
but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
in the name of the Lord I cut them down.

I was pushed back and about to fall,
but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my defense;
He has become my salvation.
Shouts of joy and victory
resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”

I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
The Lord has chastened me severely,
but He has not given me over to death.
Open for me the gates of the righteous;
I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord
through which the righteous may enter.

I will give You thanks, for You answered me;
You have become my salvation.
The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The Lord has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad.

Lord, save us!
Lord, grant us success!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
From the house of the Lord we bless you.
The Lord is God,
and He has made His light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up to the horns of the altar.

You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, and I will exalt You.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His love endures forever.

Love,
Matthew

Psalm 27

psalm27_1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.

Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.

For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.

Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.

Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.

Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.

I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.

Love,
Matthew

Psalm 46

Psalm-46-1

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.

God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.

He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.

He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Love,
Matthew

Apr 25 – St Mark, Mighty in Courage!!!

st__mark_the_evangelist_by_lordshadowblade-d62zolm

johnmarksolitario
-by Br John Mark Solitario, OP

“As a child I remember being given a keychain or card meant to make me feel good about my baptismal name. As I recall, the intention of the giver was fully realized. The revelation made me quite proud: the tagline reading something like “Mark: mighty warrior.” Most little boys don’t put up a fuss when they learn their name is derived from Mars, the Roman god of war!

I did not yet know the story of the other Mark.

Christian tradition remembers the more humble origins of St. Mark. First, we look to St. Mark’s Passion, to the betrayal and arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane: “[the disciples] all left him [Jesus] and fled. Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked” (Mk 14:50-52).

Perhaps the young man would prefer that we gloss over this line and move on! However, some have suggested that the fleeing youth was the Gospel writer himself. Whether or not the scared adolescent was the Mark whom early Christians recognized to be the author of the earliest-penned Gospel, one thing is certain: he draws our attention and our empathy.

Indeed, Mark can teach us something about being Christian today, even though what we know about him can only be surmised and pieced together:

Mark, who also was called by the Jewish name John, was the son of the Mary to whose house Peter fled after escaping from Herod’s imprisonment. The author of the Acts of the Apostles describes this house by saying that “many people gathered [there] in prayer” (Acts 12:12). Some have even suggested this to be the same place as the Upper Room where the Last Supper took place and the apostles received the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost.

John Mark accompanied his cousin Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey (Acts 13). For some reason, Mark soon left Paul and his relative to return home. Paul later refused to bring Mark on a subsequent mission due to his previous desertion and lack of perseverance (Acts 15:38).

In time, Mark appears to have become a co-worker of Paul in spreading the Gospel (see 2 Tim 4:11 and Col 4:10). This could be the same Mark who was affectionately referred to by Peter as his son (1 Pet 5:13). This same man, according to numerous Church fathers, worked as Peter’s secretary and composed the Gospel which takes his name.

So, not only did Mark grow up in a household of faith, but he may have met Jesus and witnessed the crisis of Holy Thursday. Later on he was invited to accompany his elders in proclaiming the new Christian faith. But for some reason–perhaps timidity, anxiety, or discomfort–he did not feel up to the task. Simply put, he was not yet willing to play that part.

But something more happened to John Mark. Later, as an evangelist, he penned Jesus’ response to the young man who would be His disciple:

“Amen I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.” (-Mk 10:29-30)

4_25_St_Mark_Evangelist_Guiseppe_Vermiglio_c1630
– by Giuseppe Vermiglio, “Saint Mark the Evangelist”, c. 1630, oil on canvas

Mark knew that being a follower of Jesus invited mockery and scorn even as it promised unimaginable blessing. Yet the example he gleaned from his mentor St. Peter–initial weakness, followed by a return to friendship with Jesus, and then great courage in the face of a horrible death–must have profoundly impacted his outlook.

Mark emphasizes the reason we have for hope amidst life’s struggles. First, as modern followers of Jesus we can be surprised by the support we receive from our new “brothers and sisters” in Christ. Next, when we do suffer for our faith–through ostracization, being bound by temptation and anxiety, sacrificing our time–we can take courage because we do not experience these things alone. Rather, we have these words of assurance, as recorded by Mark: “The God of grace Who called you to His eternal glory through Christ will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little” (1 Pet 5:10). By His Cross, Jesus joins our plight and infuses it with new meaning.

St. Mark’s life and Gospel are not gifts to be taken lightly. He points past the physical safety and emotional contentment for which we often settle to something greater: a truly blessed life in this world, but not without sufferings, followed by the prize which exceeds all human hope. Yes, we need courage for this pursuit. But we should never rely on ourselves alone, lest we abandon Jesus upon discovering ourselves to be spiritually naked! May Jesus’ words to that earnest but imperfect youth be words that we trustingly take to heart: “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God” (Mk 10:27). Blessed the one who, with St. Mark, learns to stand by the suffering Christ so as to win every good thing.

St. Mark, mighty in courage, pray for us!”

Love,
Matthew