The 72 Books of the Bible: A Mystical Interpretation

Famously, Protestants removed the seven so-called deuterocanonical books* from the Bible, as well as parts of Esther and Daniel. By the Protestants’ count, there are 66 books in the Bible, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. If you add the Deuterocanonical Books, you’d expect Catholics to have 73 books in the Bible. However, the number 72 has a tempting number of mystical resonances,* so there is a tradition among Catholic exegetes to treat Lamentations as an appendix to the Book of Jeremias (aka Jeremiah), thereby giving us 72 books as follows:

  • 45 books in the Old Testament
  • 27 books in the New Testament

Note the proportion of 45:27. Each number is divisible by nine, giving us the proportion 5:3. Is there any significance to the Old Testament claiming 5/8ths of the books in the Bible and the New Testament claiming 3/8ths? Continue reading

Abigail and Mary: From Handmaid of the Lord to Salvific Queen

What if I told you that I could prove most of the “controversial” Marian doctrines, such as Our Lady’s status as Mediatrix of All Graces and Co-Redemptrix, from the words of the Annunciation and the Visitation? And on top of that, the key to unlocking the mysteries of these two passages comes from the First Book of Samuel?

Mary: The Blessed Handmaid of the Lord

I start my case with two expressions found in the first chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel:

1.) At the Annunciation, Our Lady consents to the archangel Gabriel’s message with the following words (St. Luke 1:38):

“Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” (Douay-Rheims translation)

Here’s the Latin version from the Vulgate:

Ecce ancilla Domini: fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum. 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

Questions Regarding the Justification of Protestants, Directed to Converts from the Protestant Heresy

Protestants and Catholics profess different beliefs about how justification works. Let’s go with three realistic examples:

1a) An “evangelical” (sic) has a “born again” experience at the age of thirteen. He professes that he is saved for all time. The Catholic Church denies that this is how justification works.

2a) The evangelical is later baptized with water in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Catholic Church acknowledges that this Baptism *might* be valid, but it’s unclear whether it actually justifies a believer who remains enmeshed in culpable heresy or credulity. So the question of whether this Baptism justifies is, from the Catholic perspective, an open question to be assessed on an individual level (I guess). According to the evangelical, Baptism has no objective effect on his salvation.  Continue reading

The Rosary and the Holy Trinity

I can’t sleep. I might as well be useful. So I propose to you that the Rosary is a very Trinitarian prayer:

1.) It begins (and ends) with the Sign of the Cross, which invokes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

2.) Next comes the Apostles’ Creed, which professes our belief in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

3.) The first prayer, properly speaking, is the Our Father, and every decade begins with the Our Father. We address this prayer to the Father, having been adopted as co-heirs of the Son through the outpouring of the Holy Ghost.  Continue reading

Scriptural Apologetics #2: Obeying Sinful Prelates

This post addresses an objection to Catholicism similar to the last one: “What about all of the sinful Popes/bishops/priests? How you can you seriously listen to them?”

Let’s deal with it this way:

You: Are you saying that someone who commits sin cannot have religious authority to teach and command others?

Them: Yes. [Again, I don’t know how long it will take to get to this point. It’s really what the objection boils down to, and of course it’s nth-degree silliness.]

You: If I showed you from the Bible that Our Lord Himself acknowledges human religious authorities, even though they are sinners, and commands His followers to obey the teachings of these sinful religious authorities, would you admit that your position is wrong? Continue reading