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

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

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

David and Goliath, Christ and Satan: the Typology of Lent

Whatever the date on this post says, I’m writing this on the first Sunday of Lent. Here, I propose that David’s famous battle against Goliath is an Old Testament type of Our Lord’s temptation in the wilderness, as well as a type of Lent.

Here are my starting points:

1.) Today’s Gospel in the Traditional Latin Mass is St. Matthew 4:1-11, which narrates Our Lord’s temptation in the desert. After Christ fasts for 40 days, Satan tempts Him. Our Lord resists the temptations and triumphs over Satan. This passage is our New Testament Scriptural type for Lent. We fast for 40 days, at the end of which we celebrate Our Lord’s triumph over Satan in the mysteries of the Easter Triduum.

2.) David’s triumph over Goliath has traditionally been interpreted as a type of Our Lord’s triumph over Satan. Our Lord was a physical descendant of David and legal heir to his throne. David was anointed by Samuel to be King of Israel, and “Christ” means Anointed. Our Lord was born in Bethlehem, David’s birthplace, and was hailed on Palm Sunday as the Son of David. Etc. Continue reading

Ascent and Descent in the Mass of the Holy Family

Lately, I’ve written twice* about the Finding of Jesus in the Temple. I’ve approached this event as the fifth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. It also provides the Gospel (St. Luke 2:42-52) read on the Feast of the Holy Family, which we celebrated at the beginning of this month. I noticed something striking about the Offertory and Communion readings for the Mass, at least in the Traditional Latin Mass (English translation from the Baronius Press Missal):

Offertory: The parents of Jesus carried Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord. (St. Luke 2:22) Continue reading

The Fifth Joyful Mystery: A New Consideration

A few weeks ago, I considered several aspects of the fifth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, which is the Finding of Jesus in the Temple. I have a new consideration.

I was considering how, after their previous sorrow at losing Jesus, Our Lady and St. Joseph were joyful when they found Jesus again. Beyond having Jesus restored to them, it must have been a source of joy that they found the doctors of the Law wondering at Our Lord. They had briefly suffered separation from Our Lord, but as a result of this sacrifice, more people came to know and praise Jesus. This was a cause of their joy. Jesus came back to them even “greater” than when He left, and was an even greater cause of joy.

Several points here: Continue reading