Into the Desert

I have a problem. My father died when I was 18, leaving my mother a widow. My mother’s next-door neighbor harasses her in ways I won’t go into. It’s fair to say that he is attempting to drive her out of her home by these acts of terrorism. It’s a game to him, and the police are useless (useless). It doesn’t help that, in addition to being a widow, my mother is also a cripple; she is bound to a wheelchair. I live 90 miles from my mother and am not in a position to help her redress the recurring acts of harassment. And I am my mother’s only child.

As we know from multiple passages of the Bible that I don’t need to cite here, God has prepared a special place in Hell for people who molest widows. When my mother tells me of the latest harassment, I want revenge. Not merely justice restored or peaceful reconciliation, but sinful retaliation in kind. And I want it *now.* I commit the sin of hatred when instead I am called to love and pray for and forgive my mother’s persecutor. For a Christian, this is a fundamental rejection of a core commandment of the Gospel. It is a repudiation of the Sermon on the Mount, and hence a repudiation of Christ Himself.

Here is the quandary. I go to Confession once every few weeks, and Holy Communion more often, yet every time I hear about my mother’s suffering at the hands of her neighbor, I am very strongly tempted in this way, and I often succumb to the sin of wrath. Why do the Sacraments not provide me sufficient grace to meet each new provocation with grace, patience, and benignity?  Continue reading

The Vanity of Protestant Biblical Archeology

It occurred to me how paltry Old Testament archeology is. Think of all of the artifacts, people, structures, cities, dynasties covered in the books of the Old Testament, and virtually no trace. Compared to Egypt, Mesopotamia, even Phoenicia, there’s meager physical and extra-Biblical documentary evidence for Israel’s existence.

Most notably, think of the Temple: not a stone upon a stone. The Ark of the Covenant, Urim and Thummim, and some other artifacts disappeared already with the Babylonian Captivity. The brazen serpent on a pole was destroyed by King Josias (Josiah) because it had become an object of idolatry. And now “evangelical” Protestants and some Jewish sects pore over ever square inch of the Holy Land trying to turn up artifacts–any artifact–of the Old Testament. How do we explain this absence? Continue reading

The Story of Jacob and Esau as a Type of Our Relationship with Christ

This is a bit of a ramshackle post, which I apologize for. Recently, I have been meditating on the story of the Patriarch Jacob in the Book of Genesis. In particular, I have been struck by the scene of Jacob and Esau’s reconciliation in Gen. 33. The build-up appears in Gen. 32.

I see in this story an account of our life in Christ. In fact, I hold that there is much in this passage that supports Catholic soteriology (teaching on how salvation works), specifically in those areas where it differs from Protestant soteriology. I don’t know that I shall ever have time to write out my thoughts with the proper detail, so I here present what notes I have managed to jot down. Here goes: Continue reading

The Intercession of the Saints in the Healing of the Paralytic

“And again He entered into Capharnaum after some days. And it was heard that He was in the house, and many came together, so that there was no room; no, not even at the door; and He spoke to them the word. And they came to Him, bringing one sick of the palsy, who was carried by four. And when they could not offer him unto Him for the multitude, they uncovered the roof where He was; and opening it, they let down the bed wherein the man sick of the palsy lay. And when Jesus had seen their faith, He saith to the sick of the palsy: Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.” Gospel of St. Mark 2:1-5

I heard Fr. John Riccardo read this passage on Relevant Radio yesterday. It struck me that the miraculous healing of the paralytic vindicates the Catholic teaching on the intercession of the saints:

1.) Our Lord did not come to the paralytic, and the paralytic did not come to Our Lord alone. Instead, four men–apparently strong men–carried the paralytic, made their way through the crowd, lifted the paralytic up to the roof of the building, opened the roof, and lowered the paralytic down into the room. The paralytic’s helpers had to do a lot of work before Our Lord did His work. Continue reading

Getting Serious About the Rape and Incest Exceptions for Abortion

The next time that someone says, “I support legal abortion for rape and incest,” answer, “I support legal suicide for rape and incest victims, too. I mean, it must be terrible living with the trauma of rape and incest. How can we be so cruel as to force these poor people to go on living with such memories? I mean, personally, I know that I would want to kill myself. So how can I force these victims to go on living? Same with reporting the rape or incest to the authorities and confronting the perpetrator in court. How can we put the victims through that? Forcing them to relive the event and such . . .”

“But seriously, we compel rape and incest victims to go on living. We don’t let them kill themselves, however much they may want to. We tell them to testify in court, which is very difficult. There are all sorts of heavy burdens that we expect rape and incest victims to bear. Giving birth to (as opposed to murdering) innocent children conceived in rape or incest is just one of them. So please repent of your error. Right here and now. For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

The God of Faithful Dependability

And now I get to be a cranky trad. Pope Francis recently said that Easter reveals God as a “God of Surprises.” On the one hand, our redemption by means of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection truly is surprising. On the other hand, Our Lord explicitly told His disciples that He would die and rise again before He did it (St. Luke 24:6-8):

(6) He is not here, but is risen. Remember how he spoke unto you, when he was in Galilee, (7) Saying: The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. (9) And they remembered his words.
Continue reading

Easter Vigil and Cranky Trads

The Easter Vigil, celebrated at the proper time since 1955 (i.e. in the evening, not the morning, of Holy Saturday), seems to cause otherwise astute people to say nonsensical things. These folks seem to think that all liturgical reforms during the 20th century were wrong, therefore the Easter Vigil Mass should be offered in the morning. Here’s an example of their reasoning:

“Evelyn Waugh had some pungent complaints about this, noting, quite reasonably, that the evening service is not really compatible with the orientation toward the dawn of Easter.”*

Think about that. An “orientation toward the dawn of Easter” better suits a Mass said on the morning *of Holy Saturday* instead of a Mass said during the night that ends *with the dawn of Easter.* Why didn’t the Church just abolish Holy Saturday altogether and up and anticipate Easter Sunday on Holy Saturday and have done with it?

*https://semiduplex.com/2018/04/02/a-question-about-holy-saturday/

St. Joseph Speaks the Word Incarnate

Many devotional writings about St. Joseph stress his silence. No word of his is recorded in Sacred Scripture. We know the Blessed Virgin’s response to the Archangel St. Gabriel, and we know her Magnificat. But we don’t know what St. Joseph said when the angel reassured him that he should not put away the Blessed Virgin, or when the angel told him to flee into Egypt, or return to Nazareth.

We do know that St. Joseph spoke the Holy Name of Jesus, because it was his task as Our Lord’s legal father to name Him on the day of the Circumcision. St. Joseph said “Jesus,” and this Name (revealed to him and to the Blessed Virgin beforehand) became the Name which is over every other name.  Continue reading

Stones in David’s Sling

I recently wrote about David’s battle with Goliath.* Recently, I listened to a CD where the speaker referenced David and the five stones he took with him into battle against Goliath. The speaker asked, “What are your stones?” He meant, “What are the practices you rely on in your battle for holiness?”

Inspired by this talk, I provide some possible interpretations of David’s sling and five stones:

1.) The sling is the Rosary. The fives stones are the five decades in each set of mysteries. Continue reading