Note: Here in the Driftless Area where I’m writing this, it’s still the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
In medieval art, the Immaculate Conception is depicted by Mary’s parents, Sts. Joachim and Anne, meeting and embracing at Jerusalem’s Golden Gate. According to an apocryphal work called the Protoevangelium of James, Joachim and Anne had been barren, but an angel visited Anne to announce the birth of a child. She then met Joachim at the Golden Gate as he left the Temple after offering a sacrifice. The Golden Gate is the eastern gate of the Temple Mount, and tradition said that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem through this gate. The legend and the image link the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Golden Gate; she is the true “Gate of Heaven” through which the Messiah enters the world. Here’s a painting of the scene by Giotto:
The Golden Gate, known in Jewish sources as the Gate of Mercy, is pretty interesting in its own right. Continue reading
St. Augustine said that the Old Testament is the New Testament veiled, and the New Testament is the Old Testament unveiled. We can see this in the five books of Moses, also known as the Torah or Pentateuch. These books explain how the Chosen People (Israel) came into existence, how God delivered them from Egypt, and the type of worship, social organization, and doctrines/morals He willed them to have. When interpreted allegorically, these five books point to the salvation of the individual Christian as lived in the Catholic Church:
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
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
This Sunday (Sept. 2), I was blessed with the opportunity to attend Mass twice. The first was a Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) at a nearby parish, the second a Novus Ordo at my own parish. It was a study in contrasts.
Normally, a traditionalist-leaning person such as myself would provide a quite predictable contrast between the TLM and the Novus Ordo. The emphasis would be on how becoming and wonderful and great and holy and awe-inspiring (and masculine!) the TLM was, versus how low-brow, saccharine, maudlin, mawkish, and irreverent (and effeminate!) the Novus Ordo was.
This will not be my approach here; I am far too contrarian to offer you the same old color-by-numbers trad whining that you can find elsewhere. I’m not denying the obvious contrasts between the two rites, nor my preference for the TLM. Rather, I will focus on the two homilies. On the whole, I found the homily delivered at the Novus Ordo more challenging and fulfilling. Let us begin: Continue reading
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
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
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
Seems like I haven’t been able to get in any decent writing recently, not even on this, my summer vacation. Lest I forget, here are some jottings that I hope to develop into posts later:
–the meaning of perfidis in the traditional Good Friday Prayer for the Jews; how this term relates to 1.) a covenantal understanding of Christ’s Passion, 2.) the spiritual blindness mentioned in the same prayer, and 3.) our own identity as the Chosen People of the New Testament
–how to integrate our understanding of Christ’s Passion as both a martyrdom undertaken in defense of truth and as a propitiatory sacrifice; “the medium is the message”
–Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli as apostle of the Driftless Area; missions to the Indians, Frenchmen, Irish immigrants, and Anglo-American converts; temperance movement
–God’s “inscrutable will” (per Fr. Mazzuchelli), Pope Francis on the “God of Surprises,” and Fr. Feeney on divine surprises
–thoughts on the so-called debitum peccati, which is the speculative account of how exactly Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception relates to the Adam’s sin, if at all; the role of Christ’s Cross and the Immaculate Conception as the ultimate victory of the Cross; debitum Redemptoris or debitum Crucis as an alternative explanation; we inherit Original Sin for lack of the application of redemptive grace Continue reading
Last month, I attended the Pontifical Mass at the Throne that His Excellency, the Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison, offered on the Solemnity of St. Joseph. The feast was deferred to March 20 because the Lenten Sunday took precedence. You can see photos here (https://www.latinmassmadison.org/photos-from-pontifical-mass-for-st-joseph/).
What interested me most was the Lesson (aka Epistle) for the Mass. I expected something that referenced the Old Testament patriarch Joseph. Instead, the Lesson is borrowed from the Mass of a Holy Abbot (Os justi . . .). It’s from the Book of Ecclesiasticus, 45.1-6. This passage honors Moses. Upon consideration, it occurred to me that Moses is in many ways a quite fitting Old Testament type of St. Joseph. Continue reading