Vatican YouTube Website Opens

I am very excited about the new site where we can see and hear the Holy Father on the Vatican YouTube site. Have some fun, see Papa, and learn you faith here.

Thanks for reading and your prayers.
Copyright 2007.
All rights reserved.


Christ as Husband of Church: Pope Benedict XVI

Today in the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall the Holy Father gave a general audience where he said this:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Continuing our catechesis on Saint Paul, we turn to the “twin” letters: Colossians and Ephesians. Similar in language, they are unique in developing the theme of Christ as “head” – kephalĂ© – not only of the Church, but also of the entire universe. These letters assure us that Christ is above any hostile earthly power. Christ alone “loved us and gave himself up for us” (Eph 5:2), so that if we remain close to him, we need not fear any adversity. It was God’s plan to “recapitulate” all things in Jesus “through whom all things were created”, so that “by the blood of his Cross” we might be reconciled to the Father. Christ’s headship also implies that, in a certain sense, he is greater than the Church in that his dominion extends beyond her boundaries, and that the Church, rather than the entire cosmos, is referred to as the Body of Christ. These letters are also notable for the spousal image they use to describe how Christ has “won” his bride – the Church – by giving his life for her (cf. Eph 5:25). What greater sign of love could there be than this? Christ thus desires that we grow more beautiful each day through irreproachable moral conduct, “without wrinkle or defect” (Eph 5:27). By living uprightly and justly, may we bear witness to the nuptial union which has already taken place in Christ as we await its fulfilment in the wedding feast to come.

What I want to highlight here is that Jesus' bride is the Church and that each of us awaits the wedding feast to come when we get to heaven. Each of us is to become more beautiful as a bride as we strive to always do what is right and grow increasingly morally perfect. Christ is our husband, and the more we give ourselves entirely to Him, the more we look like Him and the more He bears good fruit in us by our good actions.

Thanks for reading and your prayers.
Copyright 2007.
All rights reserved.


God is a Spring of Living Water

I just ran across a great quote by Saint Louis de Montfort: "Pray with great confidence, with confidence based upon the goodness and infinite generosity of God and upon the promises of Jesus Christ. God is a spring of living water which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray."

This ties in well with my thoughts on the heart as the tree of life and the four rivers flowing in the garden of Eden.

Thanks for reading and your prayers.
Copyright 2007.
All rights reserved.


Pope's Address to Religious on 11.20.08: The Call to Marriage to Christ

Recently, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the participants of the plenary assembly of the congregation for institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life. Here is the first full paragraph of the body of his address:

This year the Plenary Assembly of your Congregation has focused on a topic particularly dear to me: monasticism, a forma vitae that has always been inspired by the nascent Church which was brought into being at Pentecost (Acts 2: 42-47; 4: 32-35). From the conclusions of your work that has focused especially on female monastic life useful indications can be drawn to those monks and nuns who "seek God", carrying out their vocation for the good of the whole Church. Recently too (cf. Address to the world of culture, Paris, 12 September 2008), I desired to highlight the exemplarity of monastic life in history, stressing that its aim is at the same time both simple and essential: quaerere Deum, to seek God and to seek him through Jesus Christ who has revealed him (cf. Jn 1: 18), to seek him by fixing one's gaze on the invisible realities that are eternal (cf. 2 Cor 4: 18), in the expectation of our Saviour's appearing in glory (cf. Ti 2: 13).

The form of life known as monasticism takes its inspiration from the newborn Church birthed at Pentecost. The aim of this life is seeking God through Jesus. The next paragraph from his address is my main focus; it follows here:

Christo omnino nihil praeponere [prefer nothing to Christ] (cf. Rule of Benedict 72, 11; Augustine, Enarr. in Ps 29: 9; Cyprian, Ad Fort 4). These words which the Rule of St Benedict takes from the previous tradition, clearly express the precious treasure of monastic life lived still today in both the Christian West and East. It is a pressing invitation to mould monastic life to the point of making it an evangelical memorial of the Church and, when it is authentically lived, "a reference point for all the baptized" (cf. John Paul II, Orientale lumen, n. 9). By virtue of the absolute primacy reserved for Christ, monasteries are called to be places in which room is made for the celebration of God's glory, where the mysterious but real divine presence in the world is adored and praised, where one seeks to live the new commandment of love and mutual service, thus preparing for the final "revelation of the sons of God" (Rm 8: 19). When monks live the Gospel radically, when they dedicate themselves to integral contemplative life in profound spousal union with Christ, on whom this Congregation's Instruction Verbi Sponsa (13 May 1999) extensively reflected, monasticism can constitute for all the forms of religious life and consecrated life a remembrance of what is essential and has primacy in the life of every baptized person: to seek Christ and put nothing before his love.

The precious treasure of monastic life is preferring nothing to Christ. “When monks live the Gospel radically, when they dedicate themselves to integral contemplative life in profound spousal union with Christ…monasticism can constitute… a remembrance of what is essential and has primacy in the life of every baptized person: to seek Christ and put nothing before his love.”

When men and women religious have a contemplative prayer life as a spouse of Christ, they are a witness and a reminder to all Christians of what is most important: seeking Christ and loving Him above all else. The point the pope is making here is the main point of all that I am saying in this blog: all of us are called to an intimate spousal union with Christ.

The Holy Father’s next paragraph is here:

The path pointed out by God for this quest and for this love is his Word itself, who in the books of the Sacred Scriptures, offers himself abundantly, for the reflection of men and women. The desire for God and love of his Word are therefore reciprocally nourished and bring forth in monastic life the unsupressable need for the opus Dei, the studium orationis and lectio divina, which is listening to the Word of God, accompanied by the great voices of the tradition of the Fathers and Saints, and also prayer, guided and sustained by this Word. The recent General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, celebrated in Rome last month on the theme: The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church, renewing the appeal to all Christians to root their life in listening to the Word of God contained in Sacred Scripture has especially invited religious communities to make the Word of God their daily food, in particular through the practice of lectio divina (cf. Elenchus praepositionum, n. 4).

The path to a deep, intimate union with Christ is through the Word of God. Our hunger for God grows and is satisfied through immersion into His Word, and we love His Word the more we desire God. We are to make the Word of God our daily food by listening to Him together with His friends, the Fathers and Saints, and through our conversation with Him.

The pope next paragraph is his concluding one. Here is a portion of it:

Let us invoke Mary, Mother of the Lord, the "woman of listening", who put nothing before love for the Son of God, born of her, so that she may help communities of consecrated life and, especially, monastic communities to be faithful to their vocation and mission. May monasteries always be oases of ascetic life, where fascination for the spousal union with Christ is sensed, and where the choice of the Absolute of God is enveloped in a constant atmosphere of silence and contemplation.

Here the Holy Father prays that the “woman of listening” who sacrificed all for the love of her Son may help monks and nuns, “in a constant atmosphere of silence and contempation,” forsake all else for the choice of God and the relationship of Christ as their spouse.

All of what I am saying goes back to this foundation and wellspring: that each person is made to be a spouse of Christ. This is the teaching of the Church as evidenced by this short address by our Holy Father.

Thanks for reading and your prayers.
Copyright 2007.
All rights reserved.


God's Jealousy and the Lukewarm

Did you know that God is jealous? I thought jealousy was a bad thing, so how could God be jealous? There is a bad jealousy and a good jealousy. Jealousy comes about when a person detects that what is due to them in a relationship from another is not given. The jealousy is sinful when one makes a rash judgment and so improperly detects infidelity or when one expects more than is warranted from the relationship. An example of this would be when a guy and a gal are friends, but he really likes her than more than just friends. He might be tempted to jealousy if she starts to date another guy. Their relationship does not warrant the jealousy, but he wants to have a more exclusive relationship, and so he feels hurt that she is with another.

The good and healthy type of jealousy is when a couple are committed, especially in a marriage, and one of the spouses is not faithful. It is right and good for the other to be hurt and jealous for the exclusive love of the unfaithful spouse. Marriage is a permanent, exclusive relationship entailing the complete gift of self to the other for life, and when this is lacking, it is right for the other to cry foul and set things aright.

There are a number of passages from the Bible talking about God’s jealousy. The first two are from the book of Exodus; notice that God is jealous when the people go after false gods; He says that worshipping other gods is harlotry.

Exodus 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 34:13 You shall tear down their altars, and break their pillars, and cut down their Asherim 14 (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), 15 lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they play the harlot after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and one invites you, you eat of his sacrifice, 16 and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters play the harlot after their gods and make your sons play the harlot after their gods.

The next passages come from Deuteronomy. Here God is not only jealous, He is also a consuming fire. The image is of a husband consumed with the fire of his love for his beloved.

Deuteronomy 4:23 Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a graven image in the form of anything which the LORD your God has forbidden you. 24 For the LORD your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God.

The next book in the Bible after Deuteronomy is Joshua. In that book, toward the very end, it states this:

Joshua 24:19 But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the LORD; for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20 If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good.”

Two passages from the prophets come both from Zechariah, and the emphasis here is on the immensity of God’s jealousy. God is not only a little jealous:

Zechariah 1:14 So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion.

Zechariah 8:1 And the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying, 2 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. 3 Thus says the LORD: I will return to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts, the holy mountain.

God is so jealous of us because He views us as His spouse. We owe Him our perpetual and exclusive complete gift of self as one spouse to another, and He is jealous when we do not.

I was explaining a passage from the New Testament to my junior high students the other day. We were looking at God’s words to the church in Laodicea that Saint John recorded in the Book of Revelation. Speaking through the angel, God said:

Revelation 3:15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

The point I want to highlight is that it seems that Jesus would rather we were completely bad than being partly good and partly bad. That doesn’t seem to make sense. Wouldn’t He rather that we were at least somewhat good than being entirely bad? Isn’t it better to be a person who does some good but occasionally falls into sin than a person who can’t even be good at times? Isn’t the generous glutton better than the cold-hearted killer? In a juridical sense, certainly, he is. But this is not what Jesus is talking about to the church in Laodicea.

Jesus is not talking juridically so much as He is relationally. In a romantic context, we want either a “yes I am interested” or a “no I am not interested.” The one thing no one wants is the “I’m not sure if I’m interested,” or the “I really like you (as a friend).” What is even worse is someone who is interested one day but not the next. In romantic, spousal relationships, we want all or nothing.

This is the sense of Jesus’ words here. He thinks of the lukewarm as so much vomit that He can’t wait to hurl so He can feel better. He wants the church of Laodicea, and all of us, to be exclusively His, not the one who is a sometimes Christian. The rest of the message to Laodicea makes it more clear: they are the ones who are rich and do not think they need Jesus. They do not think they need to pray everyday. Jesus advises: be zealous and repent and pray: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

Thanks for reading and your prayers.
Copyright 2007.
All rights reserved.


"The Heart" by Saint Escriva

I give you thanks, my Jesus, for your decision to become perfect Man, with a Heart which loved and is most loveable; which loved unto death and suffered; which was filled with joy and sorrow; which delighted in the things of men and showed us the way to Heaven; which subjected itself heroically to duty and acted with mercy; which watched over the poor and the rich and cared for sinners and the just.

I give you thanks, my Jesus. Give us hearts to measure up to Yours!

– St. Josemaria Escriva, Furrow, #813

Go here to read my thought on the heart.

Thanks for reading and your prayers.
Copyright 2007.
All rights reserved.


Sarah Palin's Pro-Life View

Today in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Governor Sarah Palin spoke about her views on protecting the most vulnerable in our society. Go here to see this beautiful talk on a video from CNN.

Thanks for reading and your prayers.
Copyright 2007.
All rights reserved.


Scott Hahn spoke today in Minneapolis

I hadn't seen Scott since the last time he spoke here in 2004; it is always a blessing to see my old professor, mentor and friend. After his two talks about the Holy Name of God, oath swearing and covenant making, taking the name of the Lord in truth and sincerity, and the Eucharist as the paramount taking of God's name, I asked him a question. I asked him why taking an oath creates sacred family bonds.

Assuming that I could follow how fast he spoke, he answered quickly. I am not sure I understood all that he said. I don't remember all the words he used, but I think I have taken away the point of what he said. In my own words and with some extrapolation, this is the essence of what he said: that God's Word is effective; it does what it says. God is love and He is Family as a Trinity of Persons so the Word He speaks is The Word, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. From all eternity the Father fathers the Son; from all eternity He speaks His one Word. In heaven, God has always and will always give His Word, which is the Son.

God created so that He could share His life of love with us, creatures. He elevated us to make us His very sons and daughters in the Son and to make us part of His Trinitarian family. What God is doing for all eternity in Heaven He wills to do in creation. The means for achieving this is taking the name of God, swearing an oath. When we call upon the name of the Lord and enter into a covenant with Him, we become his children and enter into His family. When we take His name and give our word, He gives His Word and draws us closer into our relationship with Him. In other words, what God always does in the ever present we call eternity, He does in time
via oath swearing and covenant making. He gives Himself and shares His Trinitarian life in time through our faithful use of taking His Holy Name in Truth.

Dr. Hahn said it with a lot fewer words and referred to a paragraph of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (I think it was 300 something). Hopefully, I haven't botched what he said too badly.

Thankfully, Scott clarified via email his answer to my question. Here you can witness firsthand just how badly I botched his answer by comparing what I wrote above to what he wrote here. Here is what he wrote to me:
First, I referred you to the hugely important paragraph, CCC 236, where we read about the inseparable bond between the "oikonomia" of what God does is history and the "theologia," which refers to Who God is, from all eternity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit); the former reveals the latter, while the latter illumines the former. Second, the eternal communion of the one God-in-three-Persons consists of two eternal processions: 1. the procession of the Son (as the Word/Logos) from the Father's act of eternal generation -- by way of intellection (i.e., the Father's eternal knowing of divine Truth, Who is the Son); and 2. the procession of the Holy Spirit from the eternal act of spiration by the Father and the Son (i.e., the Filioque) -- by way of volition (i.e., the mutual act of the Father loving the Son, and the Son imaging/returning that love to the Father -- their mutual love, Who IS the Holy Spirit). Third, what God does in salvation history, by way of the divine covenant (i.e., speaking the word of promise and then swearing the oath that binds persons-in-communion; cf. Hebrews 6:13ff. and the two "unchangeable things in which it's impossible for God to prove false" -- the promise & the oath), is thus an historical revelation of Who God, as the eternal Trinity. This is almost exactly the way that it's stated in CCC 236: what God does reveals Who God is; and conversely, Who God is illuminates what God is doing throughout salvation history (speaking the WORD of promise & binding persons in covenant communion). In sum, covenanting is what God is doing throughout the economy of salvation history -- to impart divine kinship/communion to His people -- because a Kinship/Communion is Who God eternally is... I realize, of course, that this is still very dense and difficult (I offer a slightly simpler explanation in First Comes Love). In any case, I hope this helps.

Thanks a million, Scott!

Thanks for reading and your prayers.
Copyright 2007-2008.
All rights reserved.


Free Logos Commentary

My Bible program and electronic library is offering a free commentary for a limited time. Go here to check it out. I love my Logos Bible software and electronic library.

Thanks for reading and your prayers.
Copyright 2007.
All rights reserved.


Dependence on God: Walking on Water

"Learn to depend on God alone and serve Him with a wholly pure and detached heart. Then you will be able to say 'I do not regret that I have given myself up to Love.'"

This was said by Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, otherwise known as Saint Edith Stein.

She also said, "It is this faith that unites us to him as the members are joined to the head and opens for us the stream of his life. And so faith in the Crucified--a living faith joined to loving surrender--is for us entrance into life and the beginning of future glory." This comes from page 123 of The Science of the Cross, The Collected Works of Edith Stein.

God wants us to be dependent upon Him. He wants us to lovingly cling to Him. This faithful clinging unites us to Him and fills us with life. Abundant life is the fruit of a faithful, loving, complete clinging to God."

One of my main points is that the four rivers coming from one source in Genesis 2:10 is the tree of life mentioned in Genesis 2:9, and both of them represent the heart. Since what we treasure is where our heart is, if we treasure God, our heart is with God. Our heart is the center of our being and is capable of holding all that we value. Treasuring God and what pleases Him opens our deepest self to Him, and since He is existence itself and life itself, our heart is what is capable of holding Life itself. As the receptacle of Life, the heart is the tree of life. As Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross said above, "It is this faith that unites us to him...and opens for us the streams of his life.

God desires such unbounded trust from us. In today's Gospel, Matthew 14: 22-33, Jesus tells Peter after he had the faith to step out of the boat in the storm and walk on the water toward Jesus, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" He chides Peter because Peter got frightened by the strong winds as he was walking across the water, and so he started to sink. Jesus desires us not only to step out of the boat and walk across the water, He also wants us to constantly keep our eyes fixed on Him and not be disturbed by anything, even a very strong wind and storm while we are walking on the sea! How much Jesus wants us to trust Him, and how little we do.

Thanks for reading and your prayers.
Copyright 2007.
All rights reserved.

Copyright 2007

Thanks for reading.