Transubstantiation and Justification: A Post for Corpus Christi

Today (Thursday, June 11) is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi–the Body of Christ. This feast celebrates the Eucharist. It occurred to me that the Catholic dogma of transubstantiation parallels Catholic dogma on justification. Per Catholic dogma, justification entails the regeneration of the inner man. A soul that was sinful is reborn pure and holy in the grace of God. Continue reading

Was the Last Supper Celebrated Before the Passover Sacrifice?

The timelines of the Passion narrative are kind of confusing. On the one hand, the Last Supper certainly seems to be a Seder meal, which means the Passover lamb was slaughtered on Holy Thursday. On the other hand, there are indications that Christ died on the Cross on the same day and at the same time as the Passover lambs, which means the Last Supper was celebrated a day early.

Some have proposed that Christ and the Apostles observed a different calendar where the Passover fell a few days earlier than at the Temple, but then the Last Supper would not literally have been Christ’s “last supper.” Continue reading

Twelve Legions of Angels

From the Gospel reading on Palm Sunday:

“53 Thinkest thou that I cannot ask my Father, and He will give me presently more than twelve legions of angels?

54 How then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that so it must be done?”

–St. Matt. 26:53-54

Twelve legions must have seemed like an absurd number. At one point, the Roman Empire had a total of 36 legions, so 12 legions would have amounted to one-third of the entire Roman army. The historical irony is that that’s how many legions the Roman emperor Hadrian sent to Judea to crush the revolt of the false messiah Bar Kokhba in the 130s.

Lent and Easter as a Week of Weeks and Summary of Human History

St. Augustine compared human history to a week with seven (or eight) days/ages:

–Day/Age 1: Adam to Noah
–Day/Age 2: Noah to Abraham
–Day/Age 3: Abraham to David
–Day/Age 4: David to the Exile
–Day/Age 5: the Exile to the First Coming of Christ
–Day/Age 6: the First Coming of Christ to His Second Coming
–Day/Age 7: the Second Coming and General Resurrection, merging into the eighth day/age of eternity

So, the sixth age–the Friday of the week of human history–marks the First Coming and Passion of Christ. Continue reading

Jeremiah on Our Lady’s Sorrows

For several hundred years, the Friday before Good Friday was the feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“21 For the affliction of the daughter of my people I am afflicted, and made sorrowful, astonishment hath taken hold on me.
22 Is there no balm in Galaad? or is no physician there? Why then is not the wound of the daughter of my people closed?”

~Jeremiah 8:21-22

“17 And thou shalt speak this word to them: Let my eyes shed down tears night and day, and let them not cease, because the virgin daughter of my people is afflicted with a great affliction, with an exceeding grievous evil.”

~Jeremiah 14:17

A Nativity Story

As I write this, it’s still the Octave of Christmas where I live. I have a Christmas story to share, one that spans several generations of a family. It’s a story about a Nativity set.

My family was friends with an elderly Catholic lady who passed away a few years ago. My mother drove this lady to Mass every weekend. She had two daughters, one who remained Catholic and one who became a Jehovah’s Witness. The Jehovah’s Witnesses famously reject Christmas as a pagan invention. The JW daughter had a daughter and a son, who was my best friend in high school.

On Christmas Day this year, I attended Mass at my home parish. The priest celebrant was a native son of the parish who was visiting home. He mentioned how happy he was to see the parish’s Nativity scene again. After Mass I saw the daughter of our deceased family friend, the daughter who remained Catholic. I asked her what became of her mother’s Nativity set, which occupied half a room when set up. And I am very happy I asked. Continue reading

Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

Happy feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Queen of Mexico, Empress and Patroness of the Americas! Fun fact: the treaty that ended the Mexican-American War in 1848 is known as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo because it was signed at the high altar of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, located in Villa Hidalgo (now part of Mexico City). The treaty was signed on February 2, 1848, the feast of the Purification of Our Lady (celebrated in the Novus Ordo as the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple). I assume that the tilma (miraculous image) of Our Lady was enthroned above the high altar at the time. Thus the Hispanic Southwest (California, Nevada, Utah, Texas, most of Arizona and New Mexico, half of Colorado, and parts of Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma) passed into the hands of the Americans under Our Lady’s watchful eyes.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for Mexico and the United States!

“Our tainted nature’s solitary boast”

Note: Here in the Driftless Area where I’m writing this, it’s still the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

In honor of today’s feast, here is William Wordsworth’s poem “The Virgin”:

“Mother! whose virgin bosom was uncrost
With the least shade of thought to sin allied.
Woman! above all women glorified,
Our tainted nature’s solitary boast;
Purer than foam on central ocean tost;
Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn
With fancied roses, than the unblemished moon
Before her wane begins on heaven’s blue coast;
Thy image falls to earth. Yet some, I ween,
Not unforgiven the suppliant knee might bend,
As to a visible Power, in which did blend
All that was mixed and reconciled in thee
Of mother’s love with maiden purity,
Of high with low, celestial with terrene!”

The line “Thy image falls to earth” refers to Protestant iconoclasts smashing images of the Blessed Virgin.

Terrible As an Army Set in Array

“Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?” Canticles of Canticles 6:9

The United States declared war on the Empire of Japan on December 8, 1941. It was the feast day of the Immaculate Conception, the title under which the Blessed Virgin Mary is patroness of the United States. Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945 (August 14 in the United States, on the other side of the International Date Line). August 15 is the feast day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. I have read that the Catholics of Nagasaki were praying a novena in preparation for the Assumption, offering themselves as a sacrifice for the end of the war. And it seems that God accepted their sacrifice because the atomic bombing of Nagasaki (which I do not at all condone) led directly to the end of the war. Besides leading the free world during the Cold War, the Allied victory in World War II is probably America’s greatest contribution to world history. And America’s participation in the war was framed by two feast days of the Blessed Virgin Mary, patroness of the United States.

Happy Martinmas!

Happy Martinmas! Today is the feast day of St. Martin of Tours. St. Martin was a Roman soldier who saw a beggar by the roadside. Drawing his sword, he cut his cloak in two and gave half to the beggar. That night, Christ appeared to him wearing the other half of his cloak; the beggar was Christ. St. Martin later became a monk, a hermit, and the bishop of Tours, France.

His feast day, Nov. 11, was traditionally celebrated as something close to the American Thanksgiving, with goose in place of turkey. During the Third Republic, he became the de facto patron of France. In 1918, during World War I, many French Catholics regarded it as a divine sign when the Germans agreed to an armistice on the feast day of St. Martin, veteran and French patron. Continue reading