Week 4: Leap for joy!

The Gospel Reading (Lk 1:39-45)

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb

Lk 1:41a

Then David came dancing before the LORD with abandon…jumping and dancing before the LORD

2 SM 6:14, 16

Comparing Mary’s encounter with Elizabeth to David’s retrieving the Ark of the Covenant is not uncommon in the literature. And, certainly, comparing little John, who became known as “the Baptist,” to David in their leaps before the Lord is invariably mentioned in those same expositions. But, something I have not come across is linking John and David in their respective roles.

Both are precursors to the Messiah. Both, in a sense, prepare the way of the Lord. John more immediately, to be sure, while David 1,000 years before. David was a man after God’s own heart, Scripture tells us (see 1 Sam 13:14). Jesus, in different words says essentially the same thing about His cousin, but in even loftier terms: “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist” (Mt 11:11a).

In David, a Christ (i.e., an Anointed One) in his own right, we see many types of his Lord (see here and here). John, the New Elijah (see here), like his prophetic forebear, attempts to ready God’s Chosen People for the advent of the Messiah. Yes, Elijah comes a couple of centuries after David, but both hold forth the promise of the Lord God intervening in history in an unexpected, but glorious way.

David had reason to dance in front of the returning ark touched by the finger of Yahweh. John had even more reason to dance in front of the new ark containing God Himself. Both anticipate the Epiphany. David fell into a different category, as Jesus explained:

Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

Mt 13:17

But John, the last Old Testament prophet, was blessed to see and hear the longed-for Messiah in time and space. And both he and David, who pointed toward the Christ, now enjoy His presence personally in eternity.

More on Today’s Readings

Book Recommendation

The Fathers on the Sunday Gospels edited by Stephen Mark Holmes

I worked through these brief sermons, arranged to follow the current lectionary, for the last year. Pick it up if you can — it will enhance your weekly reflection on the Sunday readings. See my brief Goodreads review here.

https://brentkuhlman.wordpress.com/2018/12/23/the-baby-leaped-for-joy/

God bless.

Week 2: Advent continues

TODAY’S READINGS

[T]he word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.
John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins

Luke 3:2b-3

With these words, Luke introduces John the Baptist. The message? Repent! Matthew (3:2), Mark (1:4), and John (1:23), all affirm this was Jesus’ cousin’s calling and ministry.

In fact, Jesus Himself begins His public preaching ministry with precisely the same message as recorded by two of the evangelists (see Mt 4:17 and Mk 1:14), while Luke is not specific about Jesus’ initial message (4:15), and John, I would argue, conveys the same message more through Jesus’ first actions than His words (2:13-16).

It seems to me that the biggest problem today is that this message is lost on vast swaths of the public, as it was on many of the Jewish religious leaders of the Baptist’s day (see Mt 3:7-10), because nobody calls it sin anymore. What is there to repent for? Actually, even more concerning, is that the poles have been reversed in modern society. Isaiah saw this over 2,500 years ago:

Ah! Those who call evil good, and good evil,

who change darkness to light, and light into darkness,

who change bitter to sweet, and sweet into bitter!

Is 5:20

And we see the effects, as did Isaiah:

Their root shall rot

and their blossom scatter like dust;

For they have rejected the instruction of the LORD of hosts,

and scorned the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Is 5:24b

And the final result:

Therefore the wrath of the LORD blazes against his people,

he stretches out his hand to strike them;

The mountains quake,

their corpses shall be like refuse in the streets.

For all this, his wrath is not turned back,

his hand is still outstretched.

Is 5:25

An age old problem about which we should not be surprised. It will get worse. But God is in charge and will render a just judgment in time and in eternity.

Through all this, our challenge is to maintain the joy the psalmist has in today’s Responsorial:

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Ps 126:3

How to do this? Paul — in prison mind you — encourages this prayer today to the Philippians (and to us):

[T]hat your love may increase ever more and more
in knowledge and every kind of perception,
to discern what is of value,
so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
filled with the fruit of righteousness
that comes through Jesus Christ
for the glory and praise of God.

Phil 1:9-11

Yes, “pure and blameless” is how we must face our “judges” on earth, without counting the cost, and our true judge when we meet Him when we are released from this mortal coil.

LUKE THE HISTORIAN (AND JESUS HISTORICAL)

I have long been fascinated by the dating of biblical events, most especially when Jesus lived. And He did live. Both videos make the point, particularly Bp. Barron, that there is no question Jesus is a real historical figure, and this is most explicit in Luke who specifies almost to the year the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (through John the Baptist) in today’s Gospel:

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,
when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,
and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region
of Ituraea and Trachonitis,
and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,
the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.

Lk 3:1-2

So, I went to my trusty commentaries and found this breakdown in the Luke volume of the great “Opening the Scriptures” series by George Martin:

  • Tiberius Caesar’s reign began, according to most scholars, in A.D. 14, so the year is 28 or 29
  • Pontius Pilate was governor from the years 26 to 36
  • Herod Antipas was tetrarch of Galilee from 4 B.C. to A.D. 39
  • Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis from 4 B.C. to A.D. 34
  • Lysanias was tetrarch o Lysanias and Abilene in the fifteenth year of Tiberius’s reign
  • Annas was high priest from A.D. 6 to 15 but retained that honorary title ongoing
  • Caiaphas was high priest from 18 until 36

It all lines up very neatly — Luke was true to his word when he says at the beginning of his Gospel that he investigated “everything accurately anew” (1:3). And since we know, from Luke again, that “[w]hen Jesus began his ministry he was about thirty years of age” (3:23), our calendar on the wall, when it tells us the year of our Lord (Anno Domini) is pretty accurate. I have seen date ranges for the birth of Jesus anywhere from 10 B.C. to 1 B.C. but 4 and 1 seem to be the most likely candidates.

JOHN AND THE WORD

A brief last note on something I only picked up on today that appears as the last words of the excerpt with which I just dealt: “the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert” (Lk 3:2b).

We know from the beginning of John’s Gospel that Jesus is the Word of God. Interestingly, John the Evangelist intersperses the John the Baptist story with the theological explanation of Jesus’ origins and the role attributed to Him (Jn 1:1-18). That may say something about my next observation.

That is, what if “the word of God” coming to John “in the desert” was Jesus Himself in the flesh? Jesus was certainly not immune from having His own desert experience (see Mt 4:1-11), although likely after John had already been in the public eye for a while. But why might He not have approached John at that earlier event? They were relatives after all. They first met in their respective wombs. And it seems unlikely to me that they would have never met afterward. But even if they did not have a personal encounter again before their respective public ministries, I would think Elizabeth would have relayed something of this first encounter to John, as Mary likely would have to Jesus (certainly the possibility exists that John’s parents kept silent, died soon after his birth, or sent him of to the Essene community at a young age). Additionally, John’s mission was clear to his father (see Lk 1:76-77) and to Jesus (see Mt 11:7-19).

Now, it might seem from later events in Scripture that John was unclear on Jesus’ identity and mission (although this is disputed, but see Jn 1:31, 33 and Mt 11:2-3 for starters). I do think it could be worked out, though, that Jesus and John still had this desert encounter.

I wish I had more time to get into it now, but it is food for thought, contemplation, and further study.

ADVENT HELPS

Week two of Barron and Hahn and Bergsma.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION

I mentioned last week that as part of my Advent reading, I would be working through the first volume of Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth. What a treasure! Not the first book on the Lord I would give to the newbie (that would be Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ), but for anyone who loves Jesus, it is a magnificent way to enhance your knowledge of and deepen your love for the Messiah. The pope emeritus’s textual, historical, and spiritual insights are the exceptional work of a man who has been intimate with his subject over a long life.

https://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/30700000/John-The-Baptist-Jesus-Jesus-Of-Nazareth-movie-jesus-30780530-439-335.jpg
John the Baptist and Jesus in Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

Lord willing — and He was (and is)

TODAY’S GOSPEL

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Mt 7:21

The opening verse of today’s Gospel is my go to line for the “once saved, always saved” crowd. It seems to me that Jesus could be no clearer about the demands of discipleship than He is right here. And there are countless examples from His own lips throughout the Gospels backing up this admonition. There will be those who try to eisegete out of Paul a refutation of what is plain from Jesus’ own teaching, but don’t you believe it.

So basic to a Catholic understanding of how to read Scripture are three concepts. Let me take them directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church which got these touchstones from Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation:

The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it.

112 1. Be especially attentive “to the content and unity of the whole Scripture”. Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God’s plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.

113 2. Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”. According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church’s heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God’s Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (“. . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church”).

114 3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith. By “analogy of faith” we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation.

The first criterion is most applicable here. Anyone who tries to pit one verse against another, one book against another, or one sacred author against another, is not adhering to authentic biblical scholarship.

Its clear teaching on this and so many other matters is just another reason to love the Catholic faith.

JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU

I am on Day 22 of a little spiritual retreat based on the fine new book Jesus, I Trust in You by Sr. Faustina Maria Pia, S.V. This is a lovely little volume filled with great stories, deep wisdom, and thoughtful questions.

Anyway, today the author speaks of the Wedding Feast at Cana, drawing out allusions to Jesus and Mary as the New Adam and the New Eve. But when she mentions Mary’s words, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5) my thoughts went somewhere they haven’t before.

Some have contended that Jesus’ response to Mary’s statement to Him that there is no more wine was a rebuke (Jn 2:3). There are plenty of commentaries that say otherwise, but one need not be a Bible scholar to know that the sinless Jesus, who kept the commandments perfectly, would never dishonor His mother, who was herself sinless.

But, more to the point I wish to draw out, doesn’t it seem a bit odd that after Jesus’ response, Mary says those five words with no further discussion? It seems very likely to me (and this is my new thought on the matter) that this was not the first time Mary uttered these words or, at least, similar ones to these. Mother and Son lived together for thirty years. No other parent or child were ever closer or knew each other more intimately. The God-Man created His own mother. The mother, the Woman of prayer, was perfectly attuned to her Son’s will. I suspect as the years went on that the understanding between the two was so great that little had to be vocalized in their interactions.

I imagine the short recommendation in question was Mary’s response to friends and neighbors looking for advice, seeking the solution to a problem, or unburdening their troubles in the home of the Holy Family. She knew Jesus could and would help those in need — especially of th request came from her. So, these last words recorded in Scripture of the Blessed Virgin are a fitting sign off for those of us who are closely acquainted with Our Lady.

Image

Advent begins

TODAY’S GOSPEL

I have never gotten too caught up in end times speculation. In His long answer to the disciples’ question, “Tell us, when will this happen, and what sign will there be of your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Mt 24:3) Jesus includes these words:

But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,* but the Father alone.

Mt 24:36

Jesus words here have always been sufficient for me.

Quite some years ago, a Catholic preacher’s words made an impression on me that I will never forget: We don’t know when the end of the world will arrive, but we know the end of our time in this world most assuredly will come; so, be prepared! Would it be that we all live our lives with that thought in mind.

All that being said, I was struck by today’s Gospel (Lk 21:25-28, 34-36), especially the following verses:

Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.

vv. 34-35

The Lord’s first two examples are not surprising, but He adds daily anxieties, as well. Uh-oh. I’m sure I am not alone in falling into this trap. Certainly, we all have responsibilities that we must attend to. And sometimes deadlines, unexpected events, and myriad other issues, do cause us to get caught up in temporal matters. But, these must not cause us to lose our peace our alter our priorities and focus regarding eternal matters. God first. If we don’t set aside time for the Lord, how can we expect everything else to work out (I’m speaking primarily to myself here)?

We don’t necessary connect anxiety and drowsiness, but Scripture sure does. Anxiety and its associated grief are said to be the cause of Jesus’ three closest collaborators inability to keep watch with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane (see Lk 22:45). Jesus admonished these men who were unable to spend an hour with Him (see Mt 26:40). Is He not doing the same to those of us who don’t set aside at least a few minutes during which we give time to Him to dedicate our day and life to the One who made us and sustains us?

Advent is a great time to start, or to renew, this obligation.

ADVENT RESOURCES

I realize there are bundles of excellent Advent resources, and I will be taking advantage of a few, but here are two that are particularly worthwhile:

A great new resource worth listening to each Sunday of Advent: https://stpaulcenter.com/the-word-of-the-lord/

As always, Bp. Barron’s weekly sermons are recommended: https://youtu.be/vNAwrhRjiok

MY READING

Aside from a couple of booklets with daily reflections, I have added two books especially for Advent:

The first I began reading when it initially came out, but never finished (I have read the two subsequent volumes), so what better time to start from the beginning and polish it off then during Advent?

The second was recommended in an article a few years back so I thought, with “Advent” in the title, why not tackle it this December?

God bless.

Agony in the Garden (c. 1460) by Andrea Mantegna

Eucharistic Sacrilege

The article below was submitted to Homiletic & Pastoral Review for publication. I was given the understanding that it would appear before the upcoming USCCB General Assembly (starting Monday, November 15) during which the bishops plan to develop a statement on the EucharistThe Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church. Since it has not been published (yet?), I thought it important to post it now in anticipation of the bishops’ gathering (if HPR does run it, I will post the link).
Since writing this piece over three months ago, I have certainly heard more about the concern over sacrilege in this matter (most notably from Cardinal Burke), but I still strongly believe this message cannot be over-emphasized or too often repeated. Thus this contribution.

Much has been written about the political implications of the current controversy regarding the reception of Holy Communion by public figures who are outspoken in their advocacy of abortion.  Of particular note in this area have been politicians — most prominently, the President of the United States.  There has been serious concern, as well, regarding the scandal to the faithful that would be caused by allowing such persons to receive the Eucharist.  The political implications should be irrelevant.  Giving scandal, on the other hand, is not at all irrelevant – it is a real worry for the Church.  But both these matters deal with the horizontal dimension of faith, that is, with human persons; vitally important, to be sure, but not the whole story — by a long shot.

Precious little attention has been explicitly placed on the vertical dimension of the Blessed Sacrament, that is, what unworthy reception of Holy Communion means to God.  Let us attempt to provide a little balance here by taking this aspect of Eucharistic theology into account.

Now, I do not mean to say that there has not been wide acknowledgement of what (or better, Who) the Eucharist actually is.  Certainly, a significant point has been raised concerning the lack of belief among many Catholics in regard to Church doctrine on the Eucharist, which tells us that it is “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained” therein (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1374, italics in the original).  This deficit of belief, or at least of understanding, among Catholics should be a grave concern to orthodox believers and needs to be addressed, to be sure.

Rather, I mean to focus here, not on any concern about offense given to politicians, or the very real concern of offense given to the faithful, but on offense given to God.  Why this has been widely neglected, or at best given short shrift, by Catholics is puzzling.  The primary reason that this whole matter is so important is because of what the Church declares about the nature of the Eucharist, explained above.

Receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin is a grave offense against God.  Scripture is clear on this matter: “whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.  A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup.  For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Cor 11:27-29).

Regarding the implications of unworthy reception of Holy Communion, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear, as well: “Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places consecrated to God.  Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for us” (2120, italics mine).

Jesus was willing to lose all His followers for the sake of the Eucharist (see Jn 6:22-71).  Confecting the Eucharist was the last act of His ministry, coming immediately prior to His Passion and death (see Mt 26:26-29; Mk 14:22-25; Lk 22:14-20; 1 Cor 11:23-25).  The post-Resurrection episode given the longest treatment in the Gospels, commonly referred to as “The Road to Emmaus,” ends with Jesus once again confecting the Eucharist (see Lk 24:13-35).  Is it any wonder that the Church calls the Eucharist “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, 11 as cited in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1324)?

So, if our blessed Lord was willing to do all this to give us Himself, really present, “whole and entire” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1377), in this august Sacrament of Sacraments, promising to “be with [us] always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20), what hesitation could the bishops, the shepherds of the Church, possibly have in ensuring, to the best of their ability, that He not be profaned by unworthy reception of the Eucharist?

This should be a wake-up call to all believers.  Unrepentant public grave sinners and those who are outspoken in their defiance of core doctrines of the faith they profess to hold by advocating for, or even advancing the cause of evil, of course should not approach the minister of Communion; but neither should anyone conscious of committing grave sin.  All such persons “must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1385).  And they must publicly renounce positions they have espoused that are contrary to the most central doctrines of the Faith.

Is it not enough that the God-Man took on all the sins of the world for all time, suffering and dying so that we might have the opportunity for eternal life?  Must insult be added to injury by defiant reception of this same Person in Holy Communion by those who have cut themselves off from the life of grace or who have been openly hostile to Church authority on these matters?

When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane all His closest collaborators quickly abandoned Him.  Let us not repeat this shameful behavior today.  May we have the courage and strength to defend the Lord against all those in our day who are willing to heap blows upon Him once again through defying His body, the Church, through pride and arrogance, while embracing, promoting, and even legislating, all manner of wickedness.

The Kiss of Judas by Ary Scheffer

St. Dominic redux

Today we remember St. Dominic on the day that is normally celebrated as a Solemnity in his honor. But because it is a Sunday we do not this year. I know St. Dominic, in his humility, is happy to be supplanted by the “little Resurrection” that is our every Sunday celebration. I posted about him on August 6, the anniversary of his death, but his feast day has been moved around a bit because his heavenly birthday falls on the Feast of the Transfiguration (another event he is surely pleased to defer to). Just note this quote about the great Spanish saint from today’s National Catholic Register:

A contemporary of St. Dominic claimed, “I never knew a man so humble or who had more detachment from the things of the world. He received abuse, curses, or reproach not only patiently but with joy, as though they were precious gifts. No persecution troubled him. He went about serene and intrepid in the midst of dangers and never turned out of his way through fear.”

A good plan of life for anyone, wouldn’t you say?

I have read well over a dozen books on Dominic and Dominicana, and I could recommend many, but if you are interested here are two fantastic ones to begin with:

SaintDominic.jpg
Santo Domingo de Guzmán (1670) by Claudio Coello

God bless.

St. Dominic’s 800th birthday in heaven

“The Death of St Dominic,” Convent of San Esteban, Salamanca, Spain; photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.
Today — August 6, 2021 — marks the 800th anniversary of the death of St. Dominic, the founder of the Dominican Order. Since the Thomistic Institute is an apostolate of the Order, that makes today a very important anniversary for all of us. We wanted to share with you the beautiful story of the death of this great saint, taken from the testimony of an eyewitness, Bonaventure of Verona, the prior of the Dominican priory in Bologna where St. Dominic died. It was taken down under oath as part of St. Dominic’s process of canonization in 1233.
An account of the death of St. Dominic According to Bonaventure of Verona, an eyewitness
[Dominic came to the Order’s priory in Bologna] around the end of July . . . .  Brother Dominic came back greatly fatigued because of the excessive heat. Although he was very tired, he spoke with the witness [Bonaventure of Verona], who was then a new prior, and brother Ralph for a great part of the night concerning affairs of the Order. Since the prior wanted him to sleep, he asked brother Dominic to go and rest and not rise for Matins during the night. The holy man did not acquiesce to the suggestion but entered the church and prayed throughout the night. Moreover, he was present at Matins. . . .  It was obvious that he then began to weaken in the illness which sent him to the Lord.
 
[W]hen Dominic fell sick he did not want to lie on a bed, but on a woolen sack. He had the novices called to him and, with the sweetest words and a lively zeal, encouraged them and exhorted them to good. He so patiently sustained this illness and others that he always seemed to be cheerful and agreeable.
 
While Dominic was seriously ill, they carried him to a healthier place, [the monastery and church of] St. Mary of the Hills. When he believed he was dying, he called the prior and brothers. About twenty brothers went there. . . . After they assembled about him, lying a full length, he began to preach and delivered a very good and moving sermon. He believed that they then anointed him. He then heard from some that the monk who was rector of [St. Mary of the Hills] said that if [Dominic] died there he would not permit him to be carried away but would have him buried in the same church. . .  Blessed Dominic . . . replied: “God forbid that I be buried except under the feet of my brethren. Carry me outside to die on the road so that you may bury me in our own church.”
 
Then he was taken up and carried back to the [Dominican priory] church of St. Nicholas in Bologna, although it was feared that he might die on the way. After an hour there, he had this witness [Bonaventure] called and said to him: “Prepare yourselves.” And when the prior and the other brothers had solemnly prepared themselves for the commendation of a soul and had gathered about him, Dominic said to the prior and brothers: “Wait a little while.” While waiting, the prior said to him: “Father, you know how you leave us desolate and sad. Remember to pray for us to God.” The blessed friar Dominic with hands raised to heaven, prayed: “Holy Father, Thou knowest how I have freely remained steadfast in Thy will, and have guarded and kept those whom Thou hast given me. I recommend them to Thee. Keep and guard them.” And the witness said that he had heard from the brothers that when they asked him concerning themselves he answered them: “I will be more useful and fruitful to you after death than I was in life.” Then, after a short interval, Dominic commanded the prior and brothers: “Begin.” And they solemnly began the office for the commendation of a soul. And, as he believes, the brother, Blessed Dominic himself said the office with them, because he moved his lips. While the office was being said, he gave up his spirit. They firmly believed that the spirit left him when these words were said: “Come to his assistance, ye Saints of God, come forth to meet him, ye Angels of the Lord: receiving his soul: offering it in the sight of the most High.”
St. Dominic died at the Dominican priory of St. Nicholas, in Bologna, at six o’clock in the evening, on Friday, August 6, 1221. He was fifty-one years old.
Prayer to St. Dominic
Glorious St. Dominic,
what a wonderful hope
you gave to those who wept for you
at the hour of your death,
promising that after your death
you would be helpful to your brethren.
 
Fulfill, Father, what you have said
and help us by your prayers.
 
You shone on the bodies of the sick
by so many miracles,
Bring us the help of Christ to heal the sickness of our souls.
 
Let us pray.
O God, who have enlightened Your Church by the eminent virtues and preaching of Saint Dominic, Your Confessor and our Father, mercifully grant that by his prayers we may be provided against all temporal necessities, and daily improve in all spiritual good. Thorough Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Amen.

***Taken from an email from the Thomistic Institute of the Dominican House of Studies. Find lots of great content here.

Another excellent post from a fine journal worth reading: https://www.dominicanajournal.org/help-us-by-your-prayers/

St. Dominic, Hound of the Lord, pray for us.

God bless.

Weakness, strength, amazement, and America

TODAY’S READINGS

Paul (2 Cor 12:7-10) says:

I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints,
for the sake of Christ;
for when I am weak, then I am strong.

v. 10

Can we say the same? Do we believe Jesus’ words, “My grace is sufficient for you” (v. 9a), when we encounter any of these difficulties? Let us pray for Confidence in God, that He means what He says. In a culture that militates against the truth, we must remain steadfast, regardless of the consequences.

—–

The Gospel (Mk 6:1-6) concludes with these words of Jesus’:

He was amazed at their lack of faith.

v. 6

Jesus is “amazed” infrequently in the Gospels. In fact, only twice this word is used to describe a reaction Jesus had (see a previous post here). Briefly, elsewhere He is amazed by an extraordinary act of faith by a Gentile, and here by an extraordinary lack of faith by His kinsmen. Let it be found that we are found to embrace the best of both worlds, kinsmen (for the baptized are children of God) who have extraordinary faith.

Bp Barron has much to say about the readings, especially on being a prophet and apostle, both of which all the baptized are called to be in virtue on that very Baptism

QUOTABLE

From time to time, as I have done in previous posts, I will simply quote from something I have read that day that I found particularly thought provoking while adding just a brief comment.

[A]nyone who really has faith has had some sort of experience of God’s love for him; he has received an invitation to divine friendship. If the believer has forgotten this experience, if he now seriously doubts God’s love for him, is it not because he has failed to reflect frequently upon the favors he has received from divine love? Is it not because he has not responded deeply enough in appreciation, in thanksgiving?

Paul Hinnebusch, O.P., Dynamic Contemplation: Inner Life for Modern Man (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1970), 127.

It has finally gotten through my thick head recently to actually offer more consistent prayers of thanksgiving for all the blessings I have received in life. Fr. Hinnebusch offers a reminder we sorely can use.

—–

He who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him.

Prov 18:17

I actually heard someone mention words to this effect in an opening statement in a debate; I did not realize it came from the Bible until today as I again work through Proverbs (I have read the Bible in its entirety but apparently this verse did not make an impact at that time).

The point is well-taken. If someone challenges your faith or beliefs, and it sounds reasonable, do not stop there. Rather, clarify the matter with a trusted resource. Do not be led astray. But also, stand corrected, if that is the case. What matters is getting to the truth.

THE COUNSEL OF TRENT

I am a huge fan of Catholic Answers. It is my go to apologetics site, and I have often encouraged others (Catholic and otherwise) to go there to get the real scoop on questions regarding the Faith.

Well, I recently came across one of its fine young apologist’s (Trent Horn’s) YouTube channel called, cleverly, The Counsel of Trent. I am absolutely hooked. He takes on everything without fear, pulls no punches, but does it an engaging and understandable way.

I’ve watched several recently, all excellent, but may I recommend you start with the following video that came out just a few days ago and is extremely timely, yet deals with an issue that Catholics have (at least to some extent) been cursed with at least since 1960:

6 Tactics of Pro-choice Catholic Politicians

As with all his apologetic videos, Trent does a great job dismantling all the arguments that offend against Catholic teaching. You may want to take notes for this one — or at least bookmark it for future reference. In any case, subscribe!

(By the way, my colleague at the University of St. Thomas, Randall Smith, had an article come out today dealing with this matter. Worthwhile for all believers to read and ponder.)

WAR AND INDEPENDENCE

I just finished Victor Davis Hanson’s tome called The Second World Wars. Good stuff! See my short review here.

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Finally, last but not least, a tribute to America, 245 years old today.

Some trivia on July 4. And an interesting short article on the history of the parchment.

A note from President Calvin Coolidge on the country’s 150th anniversary. A key quote:

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

Pres. Calvin Coolidge, Address at the Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Jonah Goldberg, whose podcasts I often enjoy, turned me on to this one.

God bless America!

Happy Anniversary, Fr. Benedict!

Today is the seventieth(!) anniversary of the priestly ordination of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger). It seems providential that his ordination was on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles (find here the beautiful work of Michelangelo honoring both men in the Pauline Chapel next to the Sistine Chapel [backstory]) since he was a successor of Peter (as pope) and one of the greatest biblical theologians since Paul. Both, certainly, have guided and assisted in his long ministry.

In the latest biography on the pope emeritus (I can’t wait to get to it and the final part coming out in November), the author alerted me to his homily as pope ten years ago today in which he reflected on his ordination to the priesthood. An excerpt of that homily:

According to the liturgical practice of that time, these words conferred on the newly-ordained priests the authority to forgive sins. “No longer servants, but friends”: at that moment I knew deep down that these words were no mere formality, nor were they simply a quotation from Scripture. I knew that, at that moment, the Lord himself was speaking to me in a very personal way. In baptism and confirmation he had already drawn us close to him, he had already received us into God’s family. But what was taking place now was something greater still. He calls me his friend. He welcomes me into the circle of those he had spoken to in the Upper Room, into the circle of those whom he knows in a very special way, and who thereby come to know him in a very special way. He grants me the almost frightening faculty to do what only he, the Son of God, can legitimately say and do: I forgive you your sins. He wants me – with his authority – to be able to speak, in his name (“I” forgive), words that are not merely words, but an action, changing something at the deepest level of being. I know that behind these words lies his suffering for us and on account of us. I know that forgiveness comes at a price: in his Passion he went deep down into the sordid darkness of our sins. He went down into the night of our guilt, for only thus can it be transformed. And by giving me authority to forgive sins, he lets me look down into the abyss of man, into the immensity of his suffering for us men, and this enables me to sense the immensity of his love. He confides in me: “No longer servants, but friends”. He entrusts to me the words of consecration in the Eucharist. He trusts me to proclaim his word, to explain it aright and to bring it to the people of today. He entrusts himself to me. “You are no longer servants, but friends”: these words bring great inner joy, but at the same time, they are so awe-inspiring that one can feel daunted as the decades go by amid so many experiences of one’s own frailty and his inexhaustible goodness.

One other quote from Benedict, from the same book:

[A]t the moment when the old archbishop laid his hands on me, a bird, a lark perhaps, rose from the old cathedral high altar and trilled a little song of joy. That was like an encouragement from above. It is good. You are doing the right thing.

Peter Seewald (trans. Dinah Livingstone), Benedict XVI: A Life (Vol. 1), (London: Bloomsbury Continuum, 2020), 247.

Yes, you did the right thing, Fr. Benedict, and you still are.

Here are a few other places to read and see more about his ordination:

Father Joseph Ratzinger, chaplain in the parish of St. Martin in the Moosach district of Munich, celebrates Mass in a mountainous area near Ruhpolding in July 1951 after having been ordained a priest June 29, 1951. (CNS photo/KNA)

No pope has lived longer than him, yet still I exclaim, “Long live Benedict!”

God bless.