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

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

Blog Pseudonym Saint Day: St. Olaf, Martyr and Eternal King of Norway

271The photo above shows the altar of St. Olaf in Rome. He is shown with his battle axe, triumphantly crushing under foot the dragon of paganism (or maybe, in the artist’s mind, Lutheran heresy?). My blog pseudonym is the Latin form of “Olaf from Wisconsin.” My family is from Wisconsin (though I wasn’t born or raised here), and I’m one-eighth Norwegian. When I was a child, my late father (who was insanely proud of his one-quarter Norwegianity—may he rest in peace) used to call me “Ole,” which is short for Olaf.

St. Olaf was the King of Norway who spearheaded the conversion of that country to the Roman Catholic Faith. For his efforts at converting the pagan Vikings, St. Olaf was martyred during the Battle of Stiklestad on July 29, 1030, which is why today is his feast day. St. Olaf is honored as the “eternal king” (Rex Perpetuus) of Norway. Unfortunately, Norway was annexed by Denmark during the Protestant Revolt, and the Danes imposed Lutheranism on the country.

When I was studying under Fr. Reginald Foster in Rome ten years ago, I visited many of the so-called National Churches in the city. These are the churches that each nation claims as “its church” in Rome. I figured that Norway, despite its official Lutheranism, must have at least a chapel somewhere. Catholics—good ones, anyway—are always trying to reclaim the lost sheep among the nations. One day by accident, I stumbled upon the Norwegian national chapel in the Basilica of San Carlo al Corso* (which is the National Church of the Lombards). That’s where I took the photo above. The Latin inscriptions on the edge of the painting read in part, “Norvegia Catholica; S. Olaus Martyr, Norvegiae Rex et Patronus.” Translated, that’s, “Catholic Norway; St. Olaf, Martyr, King and Patron of Norway.” 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

Scriptural Apologetics #1: The Non-Problem of Papal Sin

I am beginning a new project, which I am labeling “Scriptural Apologetics Project.” You can find entries by searching for the category of the same name. My goal is to arm myself, and you, since I’m supposed to love you as much as myself, with Scriptural passages for use in apologetic endeavors.

One ever-popular objection to Catholicism, from the so-called Orthodox, Protestants, and Modernists of all stripes, is that Popes have been sinful. The Renaissance Popes held orgies, Pope Pius XII didn’t try to stop the Holocaust, recent popes covered up sex abuse. On and on. Some organizations put out historical analyses trying to disprove these claims one by one, or put the claims in historical context. This is one approach, and for some people, likely history buffs, it might work.

However, I think it is of limited value. It requires a good amount of historical research that a lot of people don’t have time for. The person you’re speaking to might just dismiss all your sources as biased. When I tried to defend Pope Pius XII and other Catholics for their conduct in saving Jews from the Nazis, the guy I was talking with just repeated, “I’ve never heard that before,” without showing much interest in accepting what I was saying.

I propose a more efficient route for use in arguments with Orthodox and “Bible-believing” Protestants. Your Scriptural counter-argument is that Christ knew that St. Peter was a sinner and made him Pope anyway. Here’s how the argument works:

Continue reading

Yet More Drafts from the Driftless

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