Category Archives: Scripture

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.


Psalm 27


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.


Psalm 46


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.


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


-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)

– 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!”


Why does the Catholic Church (permit) teach(ing) evolution?

June 13, 2015 at 2:05 pm #12222

“I recently converted and have been mostly studying the saints. I only recently discovered that the church is teaching evolution and I must say I am very sadden and surprised.

Please help me understand why? If God created us on the 6th day as the bible declares, then why let Darwin usurp the Holy Spirit role as teacher of all truth. When science contradicts the inspired word of God do we discard it for man’s scientific detour or do we wait for science to catch up with the truths in the bible. If you study quantum physics, you will see just that! We are made in the image of God, if we evolved then did God evolve also?”

June 13, 2015 at 3:04 pm #12224
Matthew M

“Hi, Sandra. Welcome. God bless you. Peace be with you. Firstly, the Bible is a collection of many books, as you know. There are many different literary styles within this collection of books, translated from Hebrew in the OT and Greek in the NT. Now, the Church herself defined the collection of books, the canon, of sacred Scripture.

It is generally accepted the canon of the NT was defined for the Christian world by the Church at the councils of Hippo (393 AD) and Carthage (397 AD, 419 AD). There are still scholarly debates on everything.  Scholars need to earn a PhD somehow, but generally these are the determining events.

Sacred Scripture, along with Tradition, Tradition being the part which defined the Bible canon, as mentioned above, are the two fonts of Revelation accepted within the Catholic Church. Tradition, as a font of Revelation, should not be understood, imho, as “we have always done it this way”, but rather it is the Truth which has emerged under the guidance of the Holy Spirit through living the actual faith. Both the Johannine texts, the Gospel of John, and the Book of Revelation, were late comers to the canon of sacred Scripture, they were so unlike the other synoptic gospels, but it was eventually agreed they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

You might find reading CCC = Catechism of the Catholic Church: 80-84, 105-119, 156-159 helpful in beginning to understand the Church’s perspective accurately. The numeration goes by paragraph number and not by page number since referring across different translations and publications globally about the same text would quickly become chaotic, so paragraph numbers are used in referring to the Catechism for ease of discussion.

Basically, sacred Scripture is the truth, the inspired word of God. However, out of respect for such an awesome gift as scriptural revelation, one must be sensitive to the different genres, literary styles, ancient languages, and our ignorance of the specific times scripture was written in, now reading the latest translations in 21st century North America. It is limiting, but through the study of scholars, and our own, we can begin to come to a best understanding. It is the Magisterium of the Church who defines definitively the interpretation of sacred Scripture to be acknowledged and believed by the faithful, not any individual person, irrespective of scriptural education or lack thereof.

That being said, the Church adheres to Faith and Reason, Fides et Ratio. Where our understanding, currently, of both Scripture and science end, we believe the Truth is the truth. One cannot contradict the other. When there is a seeming apparent contradiction, Catholics understand this not as proof against either faith or reason, but an invitation to deepen one, the other, or both, if possible, until the apparent contradiction resolves in a deeper and more profound understanding of both, in the light of the other. We are not afraid of science. God is God, author and creator of all things, of all truth, which both sacred Scripture and science help us understand the magnificence of His glory and majesty.

In particular, the Book of Genesis is a brilliant and radiant theological work. Does the Bible claim to require literal 21st century North American English interpretation? I haven’t found that passage? God bless and keep those excellent questions coming!

I think the divinely inspired author(s) of Genesis knew exactly what they were doing. I do not believe they were trying to perpetrate any type of fraud, in their own time, or the future. I do believe God used them to communicate some exceedingly important truths about how we should live our lives, a beautiful, artful, poetic user’s manual for life, if you like. Isn’t that what all sacred Scripture really is? It’s not, imho, a schematic diagram, but rather a beautiful work of art, a literary painting or sculpture, which the Church Magisterium, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is charged to help us understand.  Respectfully, I think the author(s) would find our modern confusion and consternation rather funny, much like “whisper down the lane” can be.  Feel me?

God does not evolve. God does not change. You can read about the Divine Attributes: Immanence, Transcendence, Eternity, Impassibility, Simplicity on my blog:


“A Father Who Keeps His Promises” (c) -by Dr Scott Hahn, Chapter 2, pp 38-42

Avoiding Ventriloquism

“Did you ever find yourself in a conversation with someone who—you could just tell—didn’t really care what you thought? Perhaps you got the signal from a glance or some snap reply, but the attitude was clear, “I want your support, not your thoughts.” Or worse: “If I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.” In any case, you’re almost made to feel like their dummy.

I suspect that if the ancient writer of Genesis were alive today, he would feel that way about modern interpreters of his work, especially the Creation account. To put it bluntly, many readers are more interested in figuring out whether or not Genesis can be squared with the theory of evolution than in discovering what the author really meant to say. Our modern preoccupation with science often gets in the way of a fair reading of Genesis.

In fact, the only time Scripture even raises the question of how the world was created is in the Book of Job, where God basically says to forget it (see Jb 38-41). It’s simply too hard for us even to imagine, much less figure out for ourselves.

Instead, the Creation account seems to address some other—but no less important—questions, such as what and why God created. To see how these questions are addressed, perhaps it’s time we reread Genesis through new eyes, as it were, by looking at it through old eyes. This means going back to the text in search of clues as to what the ancient writer intended to say to his original readers.

For the sake of simplicity, we will consider the author to be Moses, and his original readers to be those ancient Israelites who received this material from him as part of God’s law (the five books of Moses). Such a traditional approach may seem out of fashion, but it has certain advantages that commend it. For one thing, it takes its interpretive cues from the biblical text itself. For another, it has greater explanatory power. In sum, it makes better sense of Genesis, and the whole Pentateuch, for that matter. It also faithfully echoes the living Tradition of the Church, as it has been reaffirmed by the Magisterium.

By allowing Genesis to speak for itself, Moses becomes our teacher rather than our dummy; we become his students, instead of ventriloquists. At the same time, we should be aware of how some readers throw a modern voice back into the biblical text.

On the one hand, some readers insist upon six literal twenty-four-hour days and assert that Genesis refutes any form of evolution (theistic or otherwise), almost as if Moses and the Holy Spirit conspired to launch a preemptive first strike against Darwinism several thousand years in advance. While many of their critics reply by branding them as “fundamentalists,” like most labels, this one isn’t helpful or appropriate.

For one thing, certain versions of the theory of evolution clearly are at odds with Genesis, as well as sound reasoning. For another, some of the early fathers and doctors of the Church interpreted Genesis literally in terms of six twenty-four-hour days; yet we wouldn’t brand them as fundamentalists, any more than we would call Nebuchadnezzar a Nazi because he persecuted the Jews and sacked their temple back in 586 B.C. Some labels just don’t fit.2

But there are problems with this kind of literal reading. For instance, how were the first three twenty-four-hour days measured if the sun wasn’t made until the fourth day? In addition, there’s no end mentioned in connection with the seventh day, because it signifies God’s rest, rather than a literal twenty-four-hour period.

Of course, God could have created the world in six days, if he so desired—or six hours or six minutes or six seconds, for that matter. However, “day” (Hebrew yom) doesn’t always refer to clock-time; so it isn’t necessarily used here to refer to how long God took to get the job done.

I realize that “literal” advocates are not unaware of these problems. I raise them merely to point out how they weren’t problems for Moses (who was oblivious to them), precisely because they’re beside the point, that is, his point. However, this form of “literal” interpretation is not the only ventriloquist act around. There’s another approach, found at the opposite end of the interpretive spectrum, that would also throw its modern voice back into the ancient text.

Myth Conceptions

It is not uncommon to find readers who wish to reduce the Genesis account to little more than an ancient Hebrew myth. The line of reasoning frequently goes something like this: Since the Creation account is a religious narrative and not a scientific description of secular history, then it must be regarded as ancient Hebrew mythology based upon their primitive superstitions and sacred propaganda.

There’s one problem with classifying Genesis as myth: it doesn’t fit the facts. A comparative reading of Genesis and other ancient tales of Creation universally recognized to be mythical discloses far greater differences and divergences than parallels or similarities. For instance, the ancient myths all describe the Creation process in terms of a war among the gods, with the winners forming the cosmos out of the carcasses of the losers. Likewise, the myths treat the sun, moon and heavenly bodies as deities. Genesis is clearly cut from different cloth.3

Both of these forms of mythical and literal interpretation involve a subtle kind of ventriloquism. The net effect is much the same for both—the ancient text is forced to address modern problems by putting words into Moses’ mouth. Although contrary conclusions are drawn, the two approaches build on the same set of premises, drawn not from the ancient text of Genesis but from the categories of modern science. Unfortunately, devout readers who adopt these scientific categories often find themselves fighting an interior battle between science and religion. I’m convinced that this is a false dilemma based on two unsuitable options.

I should add, without getting into a complex discussion of interpretive theory, that the literal meaning of Genesis is not to be disregarded. On the contrary, the Church teaches that it is essential to discern the literal sense of Scripture before delving deeply into its spiritual senses (CCC #116-18). Thus, the literal sense is precisely and primarily what we’re after; we just need to look for it in the proper way.4

So a proper reading of Genesis may call for disengagement from current debates raging between evolution and religion, in order to apply the tools of literary analysis with balance and detachment. However, this doesn’t mean that we detach ourselves from the biblical text. On the contrary, we must adhere to the narrative as closely as possible; it beckons us to read it with great care and with a critical empathy for the culture and time in which it was originally written and transmitted.

If the Creation account is initially approached and studied in this manner, on its own terms, the text will yield a literal sense that remains open to the genuine discoveries of modern science, along with the valid findings of comparative religion and ancient mythology. Indeed, it’s my conviction as a Catholic Christian that the results of such an approach will eventually demonstrate a profound complementarity of religion and science, faith and reason.

So without further ado, let’s strap on our sandals, gird up our loins and join with ancient Israel in reading Genesis.”


Psalm 82


-“Adam & Eve”, 1528, Lucas Cranach the Elder, oil on panel, 172 cm × 124 cm (68 in × 49 in), Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, USA.

You may recall I enjoy offering a riddle when the Garden of Eden comes up in conversation.  “What was Adam/Eve’s sin?”  “They ate the apple!”, I expect.  That was the act; but, rather it was their desire to pervert the naturally ordered relationship between Creator and creature.  They desired “to become like God, knowing good from evil” (Gen 3:4) as the serpent deceived them to believe they would be if they disobeyed God.

In every sin, we lie to ourselves, the serpent is within, not without, always deceiving ourselves somehow ‘this evil is good’.  See, we can understand good from evil, but still we are blind, even though we say we see (Jn 9:41); the definition of a lie.  In truth, imho, all sin is exactly that, the fundamental desire, acknowledged or not, eventually or never, to pervert the naturally ordered relationship between Creator and creature.  Always has.  Always will.

“1 God presides in the great assembly;
He renders judgment among the “gods”:
2 How long will you defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?
3 Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
5 The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 “I said, ‘You are “gods”;
you are all sons of the Most High.’
7 But you will die like mere mortals;
you will fall like every other ruler.”
8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
for all the nations are Your inheritance.”


-by Br Alan Piper, OP

“In verse 6, “you are ‘gods'”, the saying sounds like something from the ancient philosopher Protagoras, who declared that man is the measure of all things. It might also have been uttered by that late-modern anti-prophet, Friedrich Nietzsche, who augured that a race of supermen would overthrow the old order and establish a radically new system of values. The saying also bears a resemblance to the first of Satan’s dealings with men: “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God” (Gen 3:5).

In fact, the saying “You are gods” comes from the Psalms. It would have been studied by scribes and sung in synagogues for centuries before it was quoted by Jesus, as reported in the middle of the last Gospel (Jn 10:34). And yet, until Jesus, its import was not fully understood.

In John 10, Jesus’ opponents accuse him of usurping the place of God. In effect, he responds by asking them to reconsider just how much God may love the world. The Scriptures teach that the ministers of God’s word possess divine qualities (Ex 21:6). In the Book of Exodus, God says to Moses: “See, I make you as God to Pharoah” (Ex 7:1). Is it so unlikely then that God would come closer to his people, such that a man who had worked great wonders could say, “I am the Son of God”? It is as if Jesus’ opponents were objecting to Him, “God is great!” And He were to respond, “You do not know how great God is.”

From the beginning God created man to have a special relationship to Himself. He created him “in the image and likeness of God,” which means, among other things, that God made man the steward of the earth and a kind of representative of God in the visible realm. It means also that man was capable of a certain closeness with God, an intimacy that the Scriptures signal by God’s careful molding of man from the dust, His breathing into his nostrils the breath-of-life, and His walking among them in the garden “in the cool of the day” (Gen 3:8).

But man listened to the Devil and tried to be a god apart from God. In a limited, twisted sense, Satan told the truth: man became his own little god, outside the garden, in the tearful valley of the shadow of death. (Ed. See what we have done to ourselves!  What misery!  What suffering!  What abomination!  Being apart from God.)  But God wished to bring man back to Himself. Just as in the beginning He had made man in his image, so in the fullness of time he made Himself in the image of man—that is, He became man in Christ—so that men might be united to the God-man and so be made gods in God. This is what it means to enjoy sanctifying grace, nothing less than to participate in the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4).

The Devil has no power to make us into true gods, nor can human beings achieve divinity apart from the One Who is per se divine. And yet Satan continues to urge us: “your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.” But the malice of Satan is not greater than the charity of God. Jesus is God’s perfect counter-offer, nothing less than the offering of Himself.  ”

(Ed. the only possible response, the only rational reply then, is to offer ourselves back to Him in return and justice, humbly, of our own free will, as one lover offers themselves to their beloved.  We were not meant for death, but for life (Rom 5:12).  And so, it shall be.)


Buddy Christ!!!!? :) Pope: “There are no free agents!”

Comic relief, even in Lent.  🙂


I don’t know about you, but as a life-long Catholic, I am just put off by Catholics or otherwise who speak too familiarly of the Lord?  Gives me the willies.  Just does.  A little reverential distance, respect help.

I do have, however, one of these. It is my newest, favorite possession.  It makes me smile!!!  🙂  I know the Lord is present when I sense Holy Joy!!!  I am a Jesus freak!!!  Thank you, God!!!  🙂



-by Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service, June 25, 2014

“VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians are not made in a laboratory, but in a community called the Church, Pope Francis said.

At his weekly general audience June 25, Pope Francis continued his series of audience talks about the Church, telling an estimated 33,000 people that there is no such thing as “do-it-yourself” Christians or “free agents” when it comes to faith…

…Pope Francis described as “dangerous” the temptation to believe that one can have “a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ without communion with and the mediation of the Church.”

Words not found in Scripture:  nice, relationship, tolerant, diversity….

Martin Luther’s famous words about standing by what he thinks the Bible teaches are “Popes and councils have erred in the past. Unless I’m convinced by Scripture and reason, here I stand.” And that’s what it means to be a Protestant.

The individual Protestant is the ultimate interpretive authority, and that under Protestantism, not only popes and councils are error-prone, but all people and churches and denominations are, so who are we supposed to follow? Who teaches the truth of God without error?  Answer = The Holy Spirit, aka The Spirit of Truth.  Jn  14:17, 16:13.


Cardinal John Henry Newman, CO, DD, a convert from Anglicanism, and under consideration for beatification, Cardinal Newman put it this way in an essay on inspiration first published in 1884: “Surely then, if the revelations and lessons in Scripture are addressed to us personally and practically, the presence among us of a formal judge and standing expositor of its words is imperative. It is antecedently unreasonable to suppose that a book so complex, so unsystematic, in parts so obscure, the outcome of so many minds, times, and places, should be given us from above without the safeguard of some authority; as if it could possibly from the nature of the case, interpret itself. Its inspiration does but guarantee its truth, not its interpretation. How are private readers satisfactorily to distinguish what is didactic and what is historical, what is fact and what is vision, what is allegorical and what is literal, what is [idiomatic] and what is grammatical, what is enunciated formally and what occurs, what is only of temporary and what is of lasting obligations. Such is our natural anticipation, and it is only too exactly justified in the events of the last three centuries, in the many countries where private judgment on the text of Scripture has prevailed. The gift of inspiration requires as its complement the gift of infallibility.” 

“I would not believe in the Gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not influence me to do so.”
-St Augustine, Against the letter of Mani, 5,6, 397 AD.

Acts 8:30-31


Dec 24 – Protestant Existential Angst with Christmas


-Santa Calvin, by the author



-by Br Bonaventure Chapman, OP (prior to joining the Order, Br Bonaventure received an M.Th. in Applied Theology from Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University, where he studied for the Anglican priesthood.)

“Tomorrow is the day that every child (young and old!) has been waiting for: Christmas. We keep vigil on this Eve of the Nativity and anxiously await the celebration of Christ’s first coming in humility, with anticipation for his second coming in glory. Who would deny such a celebration to the Church? Surprisingly, some bearing the name Christian!

When in 1519 Huldrych Zwingli took to his pulpit in the newly Reformed city of Zurich, he did not follow the custom of preaching from the lectionary but began with Matthew’s Gospel and preached through the whole book, in what became known as lectio continua.

Holy days and feasts were ignored in this Scripture-centered form of worship. The most famous Reformer, John Calvin, largely followed Zwingli’s tradition: the city of Geneva had stopped celebrating holy days outside of Sunday. Even Christmas was not to be commemorated in any special way. On Christmas Day 1550, Calvin welcomed a larger than usual church crowd with the following:

“Now I see here today more people than I am accustomed to having at the sermon. Why is that? It is Christmas Day. And who told you this? You poor beasts. That is a fitting euphemism for all of you who have come here today to honor Noel.”

The Puritans in England under Oliver Cromwell would go even further: in 1647 the English Parliament officially abolished celebrating Christmas. The Puritans of New England largely followed suit. In Massachusetts a fine was even imposed on those caught celebrating in secret!

Why this Christmas animus? The Westminster Confession of Faith offers a Protestant principle cited for such a suppression:

“The acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture. (WCF XI.1)”

Christmas Day, December 25th, is not in the Scriptures; therefore, it is not to be celebrated – the simplicity of sola scriptura strikes again!

Happily the majority of modern Protestant churches do not follow their fathers in faith, even if the denial of Christmas liturgy does follow this Protestant principle quite naturally and straightforwardly. Yet, as with many Protestant beliefs, sometimes simplicity is simply too simple for reality. (Ed. It is generally known, the intelligentsia of Europe did not defect during the Reformation.)

Take, for instance, the Protestant detestation of any notion of mediation between God and man in the sacraments of the Church. The Protestant claim of immediacy between God and man sounds simpler, but what of this mortal flesh and physical world we find ourselves surrounded by: all a dream, a vision, an unreality? What of the Incarnation of Jesus, the taking on of this supposedly unseemly medium of creatureliness? It strikes me, at least, that the Catholic teaching on mediation in sacraments, among other things, is exactly and simply right. We are creatures of space and matter. If we are to be met at all, it will be in this space and this matter.

But we are not only creatures of space; we are also creatures of time. St. Augustine, in his famous discourse on time in his Confessions, admits as much: “I confess to you, Lord, that I still do not know what time is, and I further confess to you, Lord, that as I say this I know myself to be conditioned by time” (XI.xxv.32). And this conditioning by time is part of the fabric of the cosmos. As Joseph Ratzinger says in The Spirit of the Liturgy: “Time is a cosmic reality. The orbiting of the sun by the earth… gives existence the rhythm that we call time.” This means, Ratzinger continues, that “man lives with the stars. The course of the sun and the moon leave its mark on his life.”

While the rhythms of time make up creatureliness in general, they especially mark man. We are creatures enveloped by time. We remember the past, perceive the present, and anticipate the future in ways that other animals, let alone plants and stars, can only be represented as doing in fictional and fabulous tales.

For just this reason God seeks to meet us in temporal fashion as the Church celebrates the rhythms of salvation history in time. Seasonal cycles bring about ecclesial and personal remembrances and anticipations of God’s mighty deeds. We, lowly creatures of time, are being educated into God’s time of salvation in preparation for the eternal now of heaven. Worship is about the changing seasons and the developing of God’s story in time and beyond it. As Ratzinger reminds us: “The liturgy is the means by which earthly time is inserted into the time of Jesus Christ and into its present.”

Thus the Church rightly celebrates the Seasons and Holy Days of the Church calendar, and our anticipation on Christmas Eve as children, waiting for the decorated dawn of morning, is taken up in the liturgy in our anticipation of the second coming of Christ. We, creatures of time, need particular Holy Days and Seasons just as we, creatures of space, need particular sacraments and signs. And thankfully God has given us the gift of liturgical time with its special celebrations – especially Christmas, that liturgical day of remembering when God took on human flesh and dwelt amongst us.

This post started off polemically, but on a day such as this, the Eve of our Savior’s birth, perhaps it is fitting to end on a more irenic note with some words from one of John Calvin’s Christmas Sermons (yes – he did occasionally preach them!):

“Let us note well, then, that the peace which the angels of Paradise preach here carried with it this joy, which the first angel had mentioned, saying ‘I announce to you a great joy,’ that is, the salvation you will have in Jesus Christ. He is called our Peace, and this title declares that we would be entirely alienated from God unless he received us by means of his only Son. Consequently we also have something to boast of when God accepts us as his children, when he gives us freedom to claim him openly as our Father, to come freely to him, and to have our refuge in him.”

Love & Merry Christmas,

Oct 18 – St Luke & The Yoke of Love, “If you would be my disciples…”



-by Br Bonaventure Chapman, OP

“Doctors are prominent in my family’s lineage: my great-grandfather was a doctor, my grandfather was a doctor, my uncle is a doctor, and my brother is carrying on the tradition in the youngest generation. So naturally St. Luke, the “beloved physician,” has always attracted me. Except for his symbol, that is. An ox? Really? As compared with Mark’s lion, Matthew’s angel, or John’s eagle, Luke’s ox seems a consolation prize, as if he showed up late when the Holy Spirit was doling out emblems. Who would want to be associated with an ox?

These symbols of the evangelists are rooted in the Scriptures. Just to take two examples, in Ezekiel 1:1–14 they show up as the different faces of four living creatures sent to the prophet. And in Revelation 4:5–11 they are the four living creatures singing the Trisagion (“Holy, Holy, Holy”). The first ascription to the four evangelists seems to come from St. Ireneaus (ca. 120–202) in Against Heresies. There he gives the reason for St. Luke’s ox:

[The Gospel] according to Luke, taking up [Christ’s] priestly character, commenced with Zacharias the priest offering sacrifice to God. For now was made ready the fatted calf, about to be immolated for the finding again of the younger son. (3.11.8)

St. Augustine follows this identification saying that “Luke is intended under the figure of the calf, in reference to the pre-eminent sacrifice made by the priest.” The ox (or calf) signifies the priestly and sacrificial character of Christ in St. Luke’s account. This has never quite satisfied me. Surely St. John’s account emphasizes the sacrificial aspect of Christ with his title of “Lamb of God.” And St. Mark’s account is one long Passion narrative. Not to mention the temple scenes in St. Matthew. Is there any other reason that the ox might be fitting for St. Luke?

Well, what do you think of when you hear “ox”? After “big, dirty animal,” I think of a yoke. Oxen don’t just sit in the field; they are yoked together and put to work. An ox without a yoke is like an angel without wings—it just doesn’t seem right. And a yoke isn’t for one; like the disciples sent two by two, oxen work together. An eagle, lion, or angel can be by himself, but oxen are meant to be together.

And what is this yoke? St. Thomas, another saint associated with the ox, comments on Matthew 11:29: “Take, therefore, my yoke, namely, the gospel lessons. And he says yoke because just as a yoke fastens and joins the necks of oxen, so the doctrine of the Gospel fastens the people to its yoke.” The yoke of sin has been replaced, through the sacrifice of Christ, with the yoke of forgiveness and new life. And while this yoke of Christ will bring suffering in this life, it is still light and easy because, according to St. Thomas, it is a yoke of love:

“All who desire to lead a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim 3:12). But [these persecutions] are not burdensome, because they are seasoned with the condiment of love; for when a person loves someone, it is not a burden to suffer anything for him. Hence love makes easy all difficult and impossible things. Therefore, if one loves Christ properly, nothing is difficult for him; consequently, the New Law does not impose a burden. (Commentary on St. Matthew’s Gospel 11.3)

There is something utterly fitting about this ox-yoke symbolism for St. Luke, who was St. Paul’s traveling companion and “beloved physician.” Being yoked to St. Paul must not have been easy, with all the ship-wrecks and persecutions and whatnot, but St. Luke’s love of his dear friend is found in the careful account we have of St. Paul in the Acts of the Apostles. The ox might not be as noble as an eagle, as regal as a lion, or as splendid as an angel; but an ox is a symbol of love and a shared mission, St. Paul and St. Luke sowing and plowing the field of the Lord’s harvest.”

-“The Evangelists St Luke & St Mark”, by Matthias Strom, 1635, oil on canvas


Sep 30 – St Jerome, (347-420 AD) – Priest, Author, Translator of the Bible, Doctor of the Church

-“Saint Jerome in his Study”, by Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1480, Church of Ognissanti, Florence

Most of the saints are remembered for some outstanding virtue or devotion which they practiced, but Jerome is frequently remembered for his bad temper! It is true that he had a very bad temper and could use a vitriolic pen, but his love for God and his Son Jesus Christ was extraordinarily intense; anyone who taught error was an enemy of God and truth, and St. Jerome went after him or her with his mighty and sometimes sarcastic pen.

He was above all a Scripture scholar, translating most of the Old Testament from the Hebrew. He also wrote commentaries which are a great source of scriptural inspiration for us today. He was an avid student, a thorough scholar, a prodigious letter-writer and a consultant to monk, bishop and pope. St. Augustine (August 28) said of him, “What Jerome is ignorant of, no mortal has ever known.”

St. Jerome is particularly important for having made a translation of the Bible which came to be called the Vulgate. It is not the most critical edition of the Bible, but its acceptance by the Church was fortunate. As a modern scholar says, “No man before Jerome or among his contemporaries and very few men for many centuries afterwards were so well qualified to do the work.” The Council of Trent called for a new and corrected edition of the Vulgate, and declared it the authentic text to be used in the Church.

In order to be able to do such work, Jerome prepared himself well. He was a master of Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Chaldaic. He began his studies at his birthplace, Stridon in Dalmatia (in the former Yugoslavia). After his preliminary education he went to Rome, the center of learning at that time, and thence to Trier, Germany, where the scholar was very much in evidence. He spent several years in each place, always trying to find the very best teachers. He once served as private secretary of Pope Damasus (December 11).

As a student in Rome, he engaged in the superficial escapades and wanton behaviour of students there, which he indulged in quite casually but for which he suffered terrible bouts of repentance afterwards. To appease his conscience, he would visit on Sundays the sepulchers of the martyrs and the Apostles in the catacombs. This experience would remind him of the terrors of hell:

“Often I would find myself entering those crypts, deep dug in the earth, with their walls on either side lined with the bodies of the dead, where everything was so dark that almost it seemed as though the Psalmist’s words were fulfilled, “Let them go down quick into Hell.”(Ps 55:15)  Here and there the light, not entering in through windows, but filtering down from above through shafts, relieved the horror of the darkness. But again, as soon as you found yourself cautiously moving forward, the black night closed around and there came to my mind the line of Vergil, “Horror unique animus, simul ipsa silentia terrent'”.   Jerome used a quote from Vergil — “On all sides round horror spread wide; the very silence breathed a terror on my soul.” — to describe the horror of hell. Jerome initially used classical authors to describe Christian concepts such as hell that indicated both his classical education and his deep shame of their associated practices, such as pederasty which was found in ancient Rome. Although initially skeptical of Christianity, he was eventually converted.

After these preparatory studies he traveled extensively in Palestine, marking each spot of Christ’s life with an outpouring of devotion. Mystic that he was, he spent five years in the desert of Chalcis so that he might give himself up to prayer, penance and study. Finally he settled in Bethlehem, where he lived in the cave believed to have been the birthplace of Christ. On September 30 in the year 420, Jerome died in Bethlehem. The remains of his body now lie buried in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.

Jerome was a strong, outspoken man. He had the virtues and the unpleasant fruits of being a fearless critic and all the usual moral problems of a man. He was, as someone has said, no admirer of moderation whether in virtue or against evil. He was swift to anger, but also swift to feel remorse, even more severe on his own shortcomings than on those of others. A pope is said to have remarked, on seeing a picture of Jerome striking his breast with a stone, “You do well to carry that stone, for without it the Church would never have canonized you” (Butler’s Lives of the Saints).

“In the remotest part of a wild and stony desert, burnt up with the heat of the scorching sun so that it frightens even the monks that inhabit it, I seemed to myself to be in the midst of the delights and crowds of Rome. In this exile and prison to which for the fear of hell I had voluntarily condemned myself, I many times imagined myself witnessing the dancing of the Roman maidens as if I had been in the midst of them: In my cold body and in my parched-up flesh, which seemed dead before its death, passion was able to live. Alone with this enemy, I threw myself in spirit at the feet of Jesus, watering them with my tears, and I tamed my flesh by fasting whole weeks. I am not ashamed to disclose my temptations, but I grieve that I am not now what I then was” (“Letter to St. Eustochium”).

“You say in your book that while we live we are able to pray for each other, but afterwards when we have died, the prayer of no person for another can be heard…. But if the apostles and martyrs while still in the body can pray for others, at a time when they ought still be solicitous about themselves, how much more will they do so after their crowns, victories, and triumphs?” – Saint Jerome from Against Vigilantius, 406

“I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: “Search the Scriptures,” and “Seek and you shall find.” For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. No one should think that I mean to explain the entire subject matter of this great book of the prophet Isaiah in one brief sermon, since it contains all the mysteries of the lord. It prophesies that Emmanuel is to be born of a virgin and accomplish marvelous works and signs. It predicts his death, burial and resurrection from the dead as the Savior of all men. Whatever is proper to holy Scripture, whatever can be expressed in human language and understood by the human mind, is contained in the book of Isaiah.” -Jerome: from a commentary on Isaiah

“The person who is dedicated to Christ is equally earnest in small things as in great.” -St. Jerome

-“St Jerome Reading in the Countryside”, by Giovanni Bellini, 1505

Prayer for Christ’s Mercy

“O Lord, show Your mercy to me and gladden my heart. I am like the man on the way to Jericho who was overtaken by robbers, wounded and left for dead. O Good Samaritan, come to my aid, I am like the sheep that went astray. O Good Shepherd, seek me out and bring me home in accord with your will. Let me dwell in Your house all the days of my life and praise You for ever and ever with those who are there.  Amen.”  -St Jerome