Monday, March 29, 2010

The Incarnation

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One Divine-Human Hypostasis Subsisting in Two Natures
1. A lot of my peers seem to be unwitting crypto-Nestorians, so I want to help them understand the faith better. The following is a clarification about the Incarnation based on the brilliant Summa Theologica of the great St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor of the Schools. The man Jesus Christ is God the Logos [Rom 9:5]; God the Logos is the man Jesus Christ [Phil 2:6-7].{1} What belongs to the human nature of Jesus Christ can be predicated of God the Logos (e.g., God the Logos died on the Cross) because the hypostasis of the divine nature is the same as the hypostasis of the human nature.{2} The properties of the human nature cannot be predicated of the divine nature, because the two natures remain distinct from one another and do not become one nature.{3}

More on the Communication of Idioms
2. God the Logos was made man [Jn 1:14] because Jesus began to be man; He was not man from eternity, but became a man at the moment of His conception in the womb of the Theotókos by the power of the Holy Spirit [Lk 1:35].{4} The man Jesus Christ did not begin to be God, because the man Jesus Christ is the same hypostasis as the pre-existent God the Logos [Jn 3:13].{5} The man Jesus Christ did not begin to exist [Heb 13:8], for the same reason.{6} Nevertheless, Christ as man is a creature, because Christ as man is not Creator.{7} It is not the case that Christ as man is God, because the human nature and the divine nature are not one and the same nature.{8} Christ as man is not a hypostasis, as Nestorius wrongly said, because in Christ there is no "proper personality, caused by the principles of human nature," says St. Thomas.{9} The union, which took place by grace{10} in the person{11} rather than in the nature,{12} is something created.{13}

True Body & Defects of the Assumed Soul
3. Our Lord assumed a true flesh-and-blood body [Lk 24:39].{14} He also assumed a rational soul [Mt 26:38]{15} and human mind.{16} His passible [Ps 87:4]{17} human soul is all-powerful as regards the execution of His will.{18} Because the sinless Christ [Jn 8:46; 1 Pt 2:22]{19} assumed the defects of our soul, in His soul there was sensible pain [Is 53:4],{20} sorrow [Mt 26:38],{21} fear [Mk 14:33],{22} wonder [Mt 8:10],{23} and righteous anger [Jn 2:17].{24}

Knowledge of the Soul of Christ
4. Since it is created, the soul of Christ does not comprehend the divine essence,{25} although it knows all things in the Logos via beatific knowledge [Rev 5:12],{26} knows the infinite in the Logos,{27} and sees the Logos more clearly than any other creature [Eph 1:20-21].{28} The soul of Christ knows all things by its infused knowledge [Is 11:2; Col 2:3].{29} New things could occur to the empiric or acquired knowledge of the soul of Christ [Lk 2:52; Heb 5:8].{30}

Two Harmonious Energies & Wills
5. There are two energies (operations) in Christ,{31} and two distinct wills [Lk 22:42]: the divine and human.{32} In Christ there is a will of sensuality in addition to the will of reason [Lk 22:42].{33} Christ has free will [Is 7:15].{34} The human sensual will of Christ was not completely conformed to the divine will in the thing willed [Lk 22:42],{35} even though there was no contrariety between the divine and human will.{36}

One Act of Adoration of Christ
6. Finally, we adore the divine nature and the human nature of Christ with one and the same act of adoration,{37} and give the adoration of latria to the flesh of our Lord and Savior by reason of its assumption by the Logos.{38}
Notes & References
{1} Summa Theologica III, q. 16, art. 1; art. 2.
{2} III, q. 16, art. 4, corp.
{3} III, q. 16, art. 5, corp. If the two natures became one nature, Christ would not be consubstantial with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, since They do not subsist in a divine-human nature. Nor would Christ be consubstantial with us, because we do not subsist in a divine-human nature.
{4} III, q. 16, art. 6, corp.
{5} III, q. 16, art. 7, corp. When St. Gregory the Theologian says [Epistle 101:3 to Cledonius] "man was deified," he means that by the union of the natures it was brought about that man is God, not that this man, pointing to Jesus Christ, began to be God [ad 3]. That is why St. Gregory adds in the same letter, "If any assert that the Manhood was formed and afterward was clothed with the Godhead, he too is to be condemned."
{6} III, q. 16, art. 9, corp.
{7} III, q. 16, art. 10.
{8} III, q. 16, art. 11, corp.
{9} III, q. 16, art. 12, corp.
{10} III, q. 2, art. 10, corp.
{11} III, q. 2, art. 2, corp.
{12} III, q. 2, art. 1, corp.
{13} III, q. 2, art 7., corp.
{14} III, q. 5, art. 2, corp.
{15} III, q. 5, art. 3, corp.
{16} III, q. 5, art. 4, corp.
{17} III, q. 15, art. 4, corp.
{18} III, q. 13, art. 4, corp.
{19} III, q. 15, art. 1, corp.
{20} III, q. 15, art. 5, corp.
{21} III, q. 15, art. 6, corp.
{22} III, q. 15, art. 7, corp.
{23} III, q. 15, art. 8, corp.
{24} III, q. 15, art. 9, corp.
{25} III, q. 10, art. 1, corp.
{26} III, q. 10, art. 2, corp.
{27} III, q. 10, art. 3, corp.
{28} III, q. 10, art. 4, corp.
{29} III, q. 11, art. 1, corp.
{30} III, q. 12, art. 2, corp.
{31} III, q. 19, art. 1, corp.
{32} III, q. 18, art. 1, corp.
{33} III, q. 18, art. 2, corp.
{34} III, q. 18, art. 4, corp.
{35} III, q. 18, art. 5, corp.
{36} III, q. 18, art. 6, corp.
{37} III, q. 25, art. 1, corp.
{38} III, q. 25, art. 2, corp.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Catholic Wonderworker Project Updates

I finished the following wonderworkers this week (bold indicates there is a picture or icon):
  1. St. Emilina of Longeville (discalced Cistercian nun) [1115-10/27/1178]
  2. Bl. Beatrix of Valfleury (Cisterian foundress & first prioress of convent of Our Lady of Nazareth near Lier) [†7/29/1269]
  3. St. Benevenuto Scotivoli of Osimo (Franciscan bishop of Osimo) [†3/22/1282]
  4. St. Leonard of Reresby (Crusader) [†11/6/13th c.]
  5. St. Obitius of Brescia (Benedictine monk) [1150-2/4/1204]
  6. Bl. Simon of Aulne (Cistercian lay brother) [†11/6/1215]
  7. Bl. Pope Benedict XI of Rome (Niccolo Boccasini of Treviso: Dominican who authored several commentaries on Sacred Scripture) [1240-7/7/1304]
  8. Bl. Balthasar Ravaschieri of Chiavari (Franciscan priest & preacher) [1420-10/17/1492]
  9. St. Nuño de Santa Maria Álvares Pereira of Portugal (widower Carmelite lay brother) [6/24/1360-11/1/1431]
  10. St. Alexander Sauli of Milan (blue-blooded Superior-General of Barnabites, bishop of Aleria, bishop of Pavia, & Apostle of Corsica) [2/15/1534-10/11/1592]
  11. Bl. Maria Crucified Satellico of Venice (Elisabetta Maria Satellico: Poor Clare abbess) [12/31/1706-11/8/1745]
  12. Bl. Maria Louise Merkert of Nysa (nun co-foundress of the Sisters of Saint Elizabeth) [9/27/1817-11/14/1872]
  13. Bl. Alberto Marvelli of Italy (lay member of Catholic Action) [3/21/1918-10/5/1946]
  14. Bl. Anna Schaeffer of Mindelstetten (laywoman) [2/18/1882-10/5/1925]
  15. Bl. Eugenia Picco of Milan (Superior General of Congregation of the Little Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary) [11/8/1867-9/7/1921]
  16. Bl. Juan Nepomuceno Zegrí y Moreno (priest founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy) [10/11/1831-3/17/1905]

One Week Until I Enter the Church!

Thanks be to God! It is only one week until Holy Saturday, when, during the Easter Vigil ceremony, I will receive Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion! Dear readers, pray for me, a sinner.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Writings of St. Dionysius the Areopagite

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Update 2/27/2018: Dear readers, sorry for neglecting to finish this post. Stay tuned. See also Thomas Cordatus (5/22/2013), "Dionysius the Areopagite" <>.

Popular but Faulty Arguments Against Genuineness
1. Most articles on "Pseudo-" Dionysius the Areopagite state that the Monophysite Patriarch Severus of Antioch was the first person to allude to or quote the Corpus Areopagitum. Because the writers of those articles date the Dionysian Corpus to around the time of Severus, they assume that it was the Areopagite who plagiarized from Proclus (412-485) and Plotinus (204-270), not the other way around. They make the author to be writing after the Fourth Ecumenical Council, Chalcedon (451) just because he uses one eminently Chalcedonian term to describe the union of the two natures. They also accuse him of the heresy of Monoenergism, when in fact the expressions of the Areopagite about the "new theandric operation" are in perfect harmony with the Catholic faith, and were treated as such by many Fathers, Doctors, and saints.

Exhibit A: St. Jerome the Great
2. It is not hard to dismiss most of the arguments against the genuineness of the writings, but do we have any positive evidence that the Dionysian Corpus was known before the time of the impious Severus? Indeed we do have two pieces of positive evidence. In the first place, the great hieromonk St. Jerome of Strido, a Doctor of the Church, writes in his 381 Letter 18:9 to Pope St. Damasus I of Rome (I thank John Sanidopoulos of the Mystagogy blog for pointing me to this translation):
One of the Greeks, a man particularly learned in the Scriptures, has explained that the Seraphim are certain powers in the heavens which, standing before the tribunal of God, praise Him and are sent on various errands and particularly to those who are in need of cleansing and (by reason of former sins) in some measure need purification.
The best match of St. Jerome's description is, beyond any reasonable doubt, the writer of the Dionysian Corpus, for that wonderful man says in On the Celestial Hierarchy 13:2:
Some, then, affirm that, according to the definition already given of the mutual relation of all the Minds, the Logion does not name one of the highest around God, as having come for the cleansing of the Theologian, but that some one of the Angels, placed over us as a sacred Minister of the Prophet's cleansing, is called by the same name as the Seraphim, on the ground that the removal of the faults spoken of, and the restoration of him who was cleansed for the Divine mission, was through fire; and they say that the Logion speaks simply of one of the Seraphim, not one of those who are established around God, but one of the Powers set over us for the purpose of cleansing.
Even greater parallels can be found in section 4 of Chapter 13.

Exhibit B: St. Dionysius the Great of Alexandria
3. Secondly, the valiant monk St. Maximus the Confessor of Constantinople wrote in his Scholium on Chapter 5 of On the Celestial Hierarchy that Archbishop St. Dionysius I the Great of Alexandria (200-265) mentioned St. Dionysius the Areopagite by name in his letter to Pope St. Sixtus II the Martyr of Rome (my gratitude again to John Sanidopoulos for pointing me to this quotation):
Why, since the Church says that all the holy angels are of the same being, does the divine Dionysius call the Powers many? The great Dionysius, the bishop of Alexandria, the Rhetor, says in his "Scholia" to the blessed Dionysius, his namesake, that the external philosophy came into the habit to call "not born" (agenneton) all the unseen Being and the hypostaseis of the Being; that is why it is said that St. Dionysius used abusively these words, according to those from outside.
Unfair Dismissal of the Latter Evidence
4. Footnote 39 on page 11 of Ronald F. Hathaway's 1969 Hierarchy and the Definition of Order in the Letters of Pseudo-Dionysius says, "It is known that George of Scythopolis, John's successor, wrote the Ps.-Dionysius of Alexandria, Letter to Pope Sixtus II, in defense of the Corpus' authenticity. Cf. P. Sherwood, 'Denys l’Aréopagite (Histoire),' Dictionnaire de Spiritualité, op. cit, col. 287." I expected conclusive proof from Polycarp Sherwood's article in the third tome of Dictionnaire de Spiritualité that George of Scythopolis forged the letter of St. Dionysius the Great of Alexandria to Pope St. Sixtus II the Martyr of Rome; instead, the closest the article comes to doing that is its reference to other words to consult in column 289: Hans Urs von Balthasar, Das Scholienwerk des Johannes von Scythopolis, in Scholastik, t. 15, 1940, p. 19 note; O. Bardenhewer, Geschichte., t. 4, p. 296-297. I am grateful to patristics scholar Fr. Stefan Zara of Romania for granting me access to Sherwood's article. Are these scholars merely begging the question? I won't know for sure until I look at these references in the university library when I get back from spring break. In the meantime, I maintain the old tradition of many saints that St. Dionysius the Areopagite, the martyred second bishop of Athens who reposed in the Lord in 96, is the author of the profound and marvelous works attributed to him.

Prayers to St. Dionysius the Areopagite
Troparion - Tone 4
Having learned goodness and maintaining continence in all things,
you were arrayed with a good conscience as befits a priest.
From the chosen Vessel you drew ineffable mysteries;
you kept the faith, and finished a course equal to His.
Bishop martyr Dionysius, entreat Christ God that our souls may be saved.

Kontakion - Tone 8
As a disciple of the apostle caught up to the third heaven,
you spiritually entered the gate of Heaven, Dionysius.
You were enriched with understanding of ineffable mysteries
and enlightened those who sat in the darkness of ignorance.
Therefore we cry to you: Rejoice, universal Father!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary (Mondays & Saturdays)

Pray the Rosary every day, for it is a source of great blessings. Silently meditate on the Five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary every Monday and every Saturday:
*First Decade (9-22): The Annunciation of Gabriel to Mary (Lk 1:26-38)
And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women." Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: "Fear not, Mary, for you have found grace with God. Behold you shall conceive in your womb and shall bring forth a Son: and you shall call His Name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father: and He shall reign in the house of Jacob forever. And of His Kingdom there shall be no end." And Mary said to the angel: "How shall this be done, because I know not man?" And the angel answering, said to her: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon you and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God. And behold your cousin Elizabeth, she also has conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren. Because no word shall be impossible with God." And Mary said: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
*Second Decade (23-36): The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth (Lk 1:39-56)
And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Judah. And she entered into the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. And she cried out with a loud voice and said: "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed are you that have believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to you by the Lord." And Mary said: "My soul does magnify the Lord. And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. Because He has regarded the humility of His handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because He that is mighty has done great things to me: and holy is His Name. And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear Him. He has showed might in His arm: He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He has put down the mighty from their seat and has exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things: and the rich He has sent empty away. He has received Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy. As He spoke to our fathers: to Abraham and to his seed for ever." And Mary abode with her about three months. And she returned to her own house.
*Third Decade (37-50): The Birth of Our Lord (Lk 2:1-21)
And it came to pass that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Quirinius, the governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David. To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass that when they were there, her days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first born Son and wrapped Him up in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger: because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds watching and keeping the night watches over their flock. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them and the brightness of God shone round about them: and they feared with a great fear. And the angel said to them: "Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people: For, this day is born to you a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly army, praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest: and on earth peace to men of good will." And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into Heaven, the shepherds said one to another: "Let us go over to Bethlehem and let us see this word that has come to pass, which the Lord has showed to us." And they came with haste: and they found Mary and Joseph, and the Infant lying in the manger. And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this Child. And all that heard wondered, and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And after eight days were accomplished, that the Child should be circumcised, His Name was called JESUS, which was called by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
*Fourth Decade (51-64): The Presentation of Our Lord (Lk 2:22-38)
And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord: As it is written in the law of the Lord: "Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord": And to offer a sacrifice, according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons: And behold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon: and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel. And the Holy Ghost was in him. And he had received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when His parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he also took Him into his arms and blessed God and said: "Now dismiss your servant, O Lord, according to Your word in peace: Because my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel." And His father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother: "Behold this Child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel and for a sign which shall be contradicted. And your own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed." And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser. She was far advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow until fourscore and four years: who departed not from the temple, by fastings and prayers serving night and day. Now she, at the same hour, coming in, confessed to the Lord: and spoke of Him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel.
*Fifth Decade (65-78): The Finding of Our Lord in the Temple (Lk 2:40-52)
And the Child grew and waxed strong, full of wisdom: and the grace of God was in Him. And His parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the pasch. And when He was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the Child Jesus remained in Jerusalem. And His parents knew it not. And thinking that He was in the company, they came a day's journey and sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And not finding Him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking Him. And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His wisdom and His answers. And seeing Him, they wondered. And His mother said to Him: "Son, why have You done so to us? Behold Your father and I have sought You sorrowing." And He said to them: "How is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject to them. And His mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace with God and men.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hail Joseph

Hail Joseph the just, Wisdom is with thee; blessed art thou among all men and blessed is Jesus, the fruit of Mary, thy faithful spouse. Holy Joseph, worthy foster-father of Jesus Christ, pray for us sinners and obtain divine Wisdom for us from God, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. -- St. Louis de Montfort
Praise God, we need not abstain from meat today, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, who is a true model for manhood.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Answered Prayer: The Power of the Rosary

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Thanks be to God! Thank you, Mary the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mother of God! The Rosary is such a spiritual treasure and has helped reverse my shameful falling away from my Lenten promises. Thanks to the Rosary, I'm doing better at avoiding gluttony, lust, and sloth. Thanks to the Rosary, I got up bright and early this morning and did crunches and went for a tough run, and I enthusiastically obeyed my dad's wishes to help him chop down two trees without a second thought. I didn't complain or despise the work thanks to God's grace. Normally I would have complained (even if just mentally) or, at the very least, procrastinated. My cat even slept in my bed, something she hasn't done since she had her growth spurt last year (normally she plays around and then leaves pretty quickly). God has given me increased chastity, charity, filial love, and work ethic in answer to my Rosary prayers. Thank you Lord, for hearing the prayers of Your saints on my behalf. Thank you Sts. Mary, Joseph, Raphael the Archangel, Christopher of Lycia, Phanourios of Rhodes, and Isidore the Farmer! Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary (Wednesdays & Sundays

Pray the Rosary every day, for it is a source of great blessings. Silently meditate on the Five Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary every Wednesday and every Sunday:
*First Decade (9-22): The Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord (Jn 20:1-29)
And on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalen comes early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher: and she saw the stone taken away from the sepulcher. She ran therefore and comes to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved and says to them: "They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher: and we know not where they have laid Him." Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple: and they came to the sepulcher. And they both ran together: and that other disciple did outrun Peter and came first to the sepulcher. And when he stooped down, he saw the linen cloths lying: but yet he went not in. Then comes Simon Peter, following him, and went into the sepulcher: and saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin that had been about his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but apart, wrapped up into one place. Then that other disciple also went in, who came first to the sepulcher: and he saw and believed. For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. The disciples therefore departed again to their home. But Mary stood at the sepulcher without, weeping. Now as she was weeping, she stooped down and looked into the sepulcher, and she saw two angels in white, sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been laid. They say to her: "Woman, why do you weep?" She says to them: "Because they have taken away my Lord: and I know not where they have laid Him." When she had thus said, she turned herself back and saw Jesus standing: and she knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus says to her: "Woman, why do you weep? Whom do you seek?" She, thinking that it was the gardener, said to Him: "Sir, if you have taken Him hence, tell me where You have laid Him: and I will take Him away." Jesus says to her: "Mary." She turning, said to Him: "Rabboni" (which is to say, Master). Jesus says to her: "Do not touch Me: for I am not yet ascended to My Father. But go to my brethren and say to them: I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God." Mary Magdalen comes and tells the disciples: "I have seen the Lord; and these things He said to me." Now when it was late the same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to them: "Peace be to you." And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord. He said therefore to them again: "Peace be to you. As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." When He had said this, He breathed on them; and He said to them: "Receive the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." Now Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him: "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them: "Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the place of the nails and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." And after eight days, again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus comes, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst and said: "Peace be to you." Then He said to Thomas: "Put in your finger hither and see My hands. And bring hither the hand and put it into My side. And be not faithless, but believing." Thomas answered and said to Him: "My Lord and my God." Jesus said to him: "Because you have seen Me, Thomas, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen and have believed."
*Second Decade (23-36): The Ascension of Our Lord (Lk 24:36-53)
Now, whilst they were speaking these things, Jesus stood in the midst of them and says to them: "Peace be to you. It is I: Fear not." But they being troubled and frightened, supposed that they saw a spirit. And He said to them: "Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? See My hands and feet, that it is I Myself. Handle, and see: for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see Me to have." And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and feet. But while they yet believed not and wondered for joy, He said: "Have you here anything to eat?" And they offered Him a piece of a broiled fish and a honeycomb. And when He had eaten before them, taking the remains, He gave to them. And He said to them: "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms, concerning Me." Then He opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures. And He said to them: "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer and to rise again from the dead, the third day: And that penance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name, unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. And I send the promise of My Father upon you: but stay you in the city till you be endued with power from on high." And He led them out as far as Bethania: and lifting up His hands, He blessed them. And it came to pass, whilst He blessed them, He departed from them and was carried up to Heaven. And they adoring went back into Jerusalem with great joy. And they were always in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
*Third Decade (37-50): The Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41)
And when the days of the Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place; and suddenly there came a sound from Heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with diverse tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. Now there were, dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews — devout men, out of every nation under Heaven. And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded in mind, because every man heard them speak in his own tongue. And they were all amazed, and wondered, saying: "Behold, are not all these that speak Galilean? And how have we heard, every man our own tongue wherein we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews also, and proselytes, Cretes, and Arabians: we have heard them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God." And they were all astonished, and wondered, saying one to another: "What does this mean?" But others, mocking, said: "These men are full of new wine." But Peter standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spoke to them: "You men of Judea, and all you that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known to you and with your ears receive my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day: But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel: 'And it shall come to pass, in the last days, (says the Lord), I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy: and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And upon My servants indeed and upon my handmaids will I pour out in those days of my spirit: and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above, and signs on the earth beneath: blood and fire, and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the great and manifest day of the Lord to come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.' You men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him, in the midst of you, as you also know: This same being delivered up, by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you by the hands of wicked men have crucified and slain. Whom God has raised up, having loosed the sorrows of hell, as it was impossible that He should be holden by it. For David says concerning Him: 'I foresaw the Lord before my face: because He is at my right hand, that I may not be moved. For this my heart has been glad, and my tongue has rejoiced: moreover my flesh also shall rest in hope. Because You will not leave my soul in hell: nor suffer your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life: You shall make me full of joy with Your countenance.' You men, brethren, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David: that he died and was buried; and his sepulcher is with us to this present say. Whereas therefore he was a prophet and knew that God has sworn to him with an oath, that of the fruit of his loins one should sit upon his throne. Foreseeing this, he spoke of the resurrection of Christ. For neither was He left in hell: neither did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus has God raised again, whereof all we are witnesses. Being exalted therefore by the right hand of God and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He has poured forth this which you see and hear. For David ascended not into Heaven; but he himself said: 'The Lord said to my Lord: Sit on My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool.' Therefore let all the house of Israel know most certainly that God has made both Lord and Christ, this same Jesus, Whom you have crucified." Now when they had heard these things, they had compunction in their heart and said to Peter and to the rest of the Apostles: "What shall we do, men and brethren?" But Peter said to them: "Do penance: and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins. And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, whomsoever the Lord our God shall call." And with very many other words did he testify and exhort them, saying: "Save yourselves from this perverse generation." They therefore that received his word were baptized: and there were added in that day about three thousand souls.
*Fourth Decade (51-64): The Assumption of Mary into Heaven
*Fifth Decade (65-78): The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Apostles' Creed

The Apostles' Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

How to Pray the Rosary

Meditate on different mysteries on different days of the week:
*Mondays & Thursdays: Five Joyful Mysteries
*Tuesdays & Fridays: Five Sorrowful Mysteries
*Saturdays & Sundays: Five Glorious Mysteries

The following is the order of the prayers.
1. In the Name...
2. Apostle's Creed
3. Our Father
4-6. Hail Mary (x3)
7. Glory be
8. O my Jesus

First Decade
9. Announce the First Mystery
10. Our Father
11-20. Hail Mary (x10)
21. Glory be
22. O my Jesus

Second Decade
23. Announce the Second Mystery
24. Our Father
25-34. Hail Mary (x10)
35. Glory be
36. O my Jesus

Third Decade
37. Announce the Third Mystery
38. Our Father
39-48. Hail Mary (x10)
49. Glory be
50. O my Jesus

Fourth Decade
51. Announce the Fourth Mystery
52. Our Father
53-62. Hail Mary (x10)
63. Glory be
64. O my Jesus

Fifth Decade
65. Announce the Fifth Mystery
66. Our Father
67-76. Hail Mary (x10)
77. Glory be
78. O my Jesus

79. Hail, Holy Queen
80. O God
81. In the Name

These are the prayer totals:
Hail Mary: 53
Our Father: 6
Glory be: 6
O my Jesus: 6
In the Name: 2
Apostles' Creed: 1
O God: 1
Hail, Holy Queen: 1

Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary (Tuesdays & Fridays)

Pray the Rosary every day, for it is a source of great blessings. Silently meditate on the Five Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary every Tuesday and every Friday:
*First Decade (9-22): The Agony of Our Lord in the Garden (Mt 26:36-56)
Then Jesus came with them into a country place which is called Gethsemani. And He said to His disciples: "Sit you here, till I go yonder and pray." And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Then He says to them: "My soul is sorrowful even unto death. Stay you here and watch with Me." And going a little further, He fell upon His face, praying and saying: "My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me. Nevertheless, not as I will but as You will." And He comes to His disciples and finds them asleep. And He says to Peter: "What? Could you not watch one hour with Me? Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Again the second time, He went and prayed, saying: "My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, Your will be done." And He comes again and finds them sleeping: for their eyes were heavy. And leaving them, He went again: and He prayed the third time, saying the selfsame word. Then He comes to His disciples and said to them: "Sleep now and take your rest. Behold the hour is at hand: and the Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise: let us go. Behold he is at hand that will betray Me." As He yet spoke, behold Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the ancients of the people. And he that betrayed Him gave them a sign, saying: "Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is He. Hold Him fast." And forthwith coming to Jesus, he said: "Hail, Rabbi." And he kissed Him. And Jesus said to him: "Friend, whereto are you come?" Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and held Him. And behold one of them that were with Jesus, stretching forth his hand, drew out his sword: and striking the servant of the high priest, cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him: "Put up again your sword into its place: for all that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Do you think that I cannot ask My Father, and He will give Me presently more than twelve legions of angels? How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that so it must be done?" In that same hour, Jesus said to the multitudes: "You have come out, as it were to a robber, with swords and clubs to apprehend Me. I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple: and you laid not hands on Me. Now all this was done that the Scriptures of the Prophets might be fulfilled." Then the disciples, all leaving Him, fled.
*Second Decade (23-36): Our Lord is Scourged at the Pillar (Mt 27:26)
"Then he released to them Barabbas: and having scourged Jesus, delivered Him unto them to be crucified."
*Third Decade (37-50): Our Lord is Crowned with Thorns (Mt 27:27-31)
Then the soldiers of the governor, taking Jesus into the hall, gathered together unto Him the whole band. And stripping Him, they put a scarlet cloak about Him. And platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand. And bowing the knee before Him, they mocked Him, saying: "Hail, King of the Jews." And spitting upon Him, they took the reed and struck His head. And after they had mocked Him, they took off the cloak from Him and put on Him His own garments and led Him away to crucify Him.
*Fourth Decade (51-64): Our Lord Carries the Cross to Calvary (Mt 27:32)
"And going out, they found a man of Cyrene, named Simon: him they forced to take up His cross."
*Fifth Decade (65-78): The Crucifixion of Our Lord (Mt 27:33-56)
And they came to the place that is called Golgotha, which is the place of Calvary. And they gave Him wine to drink mingled with gall. And when He had tasted, He would not drink. And after they had crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: "They divided My garments among them; and upon My vesture they cast lots." And they sat and watched Him. And they put over His head His cause written: "THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS." Then were crucified with Him two thieves: one on the right hand and one on the left. And they that passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads, and saying: "Vah, You Who destroys the temple of God and in three days rebuilds it: save Your own self. If You be the Son of God, come down from the cross." In like manner also the chief priests, with the scribes and ancients, mocking said: "He saved others: Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross: and we will believe Him. He trusted in God: let Him now deliver Him if He will have Him. For He said: 'I am the Son of God.'" And the selfsame thing the thieves also that were crucified with Him reproached Him with. Now from the sixth hour, there was darkness over the whole earth, until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying: "Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani?" That is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" And some that stood there and heard said: "This man calls Elias." And immediately one of them running took a sponge and filled it with vinegar and put it on a reed and gave Him to drink. And the others said: "Let be. Let us see whether Elias will come to deliver Him." And Jesus again crying with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top even to the bottom: and the earth quaked and the rocks were rent. And the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints that had slept arose, and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection, came into the holy city and appeared to many. Now the centurion and they that were with him watching Jesus, having seen the earthquake and the things that were done, were sore afraid, saying: "Indeed this was the Son of God." And there were there many women afar off, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto Him: Among whom was Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

The Fifteen Promises of Mary to Christians Who Recite the Rosary

Mirror link

The Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary, the All-Holy Mother of God and Perpetual Help of Christians, has promised the following blessings to those who pray the Rosary:
1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the rosary, shall receive signal graces.
2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the rosary.
3. The rosary shall be a powerful armor against Hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
4. It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the heart of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
5. The soul which recommend itself to me by the recitation of the rosary shall not perish.
6. Whoever shall recite the rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries, shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
8. Those who are faithful to recite the rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in Paradise.
9. I shall deliver from Purgatory those who have been devoted to the rosary.
10. The faithful children of the rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.
11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the rosary.
12. All those who propagate the holy rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
14. All who recite the rosary are my son, and brothers of my only Son Jesus Christ.
15. Devotion of my rosary is a great sign of predestination.
Patrick Joseph Cardinal Hayes, D.D. of pious memory gave an Imprimatur to these promises. St. Dominic de Guzman, Bl. Alan de Rupe, Pope St. Pius V of Rome, St. Louis de Montfort, and Pope Leo XIII of Rome, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of hour death, that we may receive these blessings by our faithful devotion to God and His Blessed Mother through the Holy Rosary!

Ven. Pope Pius XII & St. Sergius of Radonezh

I checked Acta Apostolicae Sedis 1940 and it does not have the names of all 21 Russian Orthodox saints that Ven. Pope Pius XII of Rome authorized for veneration by Russian Catholics in a 1940 decree.{1} See here for examples of the veneration of certain post-schism Orthodox saints. The permission for Catholics to venerate these men is, I think, based on a judgment by the Church that such men died Catholics in good standing.

Sergius of Radonezh is in the Roman Martyrology for September 25.{2}  He was in communion{3} with and almost took the place of the Orthodox Metropolitan Alexis of Kiev (1354-1378) when the latter died;{4} Alexis was omitted from the 1940 calendar because of his conscious dependence on the anti-Catholic Patriarchs Callistus and Philotheus of Constantinople, and was indeed anti-Catholic himself.{5} Furthermore, one of the reasons Sergius accomplished the reform of monastic life along cenobitical guidelines at the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in 1354 was “a personal letter of recommendation of this course from … Philotheus.”{6} Unlike Gregory Palamas, however, Sergius of Radonezh did not leave any anti-Catholic writings or speeches--he left no writings at all.{7} There is only an apocryphal tradition, recorded by Dimitry of Rostov, that Sergius posthumously appeared to Symeon of Suzdal and Thomas of Tver and told them to join the infamous Metropolitan Mark Eugenikos of Ephesus in his rejection of the Ecumenical Council of Florence.{8}
Notes & References
{1} This decree is mentioned in Butler's Lives of the Saints, Thurston & Attwater Edition, Vol. III (July-Sept) 639-640. So far I know seven names for certain: Sts. Sergius the Wonderworker of Radonezh (†9/25/1392), Theodosius of the Kiev Far Caves (†5/3/1074), Nicetas the Bishop of Novgorod (†1/31/1109), Leontius the Wonderworker and Bishop of Novgorod (†5/23/1073), Alexander Nevsky (†11/14/1263), Barlaam of Khutyn (†11/6/1193), and Abraham of Smolensk (†8/21/1224). O shining stars of the Russian land, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death! Amen.
{3} Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Complete Edition, ed., rev. and supp. by Herbert J. Thurston, S.J. and Donald Attwater, vol. 3: July, August, September (Westminster, MD: Christian Classics, 1990), 642.
{4} P. Roche, “Sergius of Radonezh, St.,” New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 13, 2nd ed. (Detroit: Gale, 2003), 16.
{5} Julian Pelesz, Geschichte der Union der ruthenischen Kirche mit Rom, vol. 1 (Würzburg: Woerl, 1881), 348 <>.
{6} Thurston and Attwater, loc. cit.
{7} Roche, loc. cit.
{8} Dimitry of Rostov, “The Twenty-Fifth Day of the Month of September: The Life of Our Holy Monastic Father Sergius, Abbot of Radonezh and New Wonder-worker,” The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints, vol. 1: September <>. Cf. David B. Miller, Saint Sergius of Radonezh, His Trinity Monastery, and the Formation of the Russian Identity (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2010), 68-70, 75.

Monday, March 15, 2010

On Miracles Outside the Catholic Church: A Resumé of My Thought

Click here to see my new page "On Miracles Outside the Catholic Church," the fruit of 30 months of intensive research, posted at the Wonderworkers blog, where I catalog claims of miracles worked by Catholic and Orthodox Christians (see the list of resources here). For a list of names of individuals more or less completed, click here for Catholic saints and here for Eastern Orthodox saints. I'm going to try my best to really flesh out the Wonderworkers blog this summer.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

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Check this out:

Noteworthy Posts

Check out these cool posts on other blogs:
*The "Catholic" John Calvin: 50 Areas Where His Views Are Harmonious With Catholic Teaching - Dave Armstrong (3/12/2010)
*Cristian Ciopron on the Transfiguration - Dr. Peter Gilbert (3/12/2010)
*Lenten Reflections: Suffering - Papsttreu (3/12/2010)
*Newton Against the Trinity (Re-post) - Prof. Brandon Watson (3/14/2010)
*The Practical Power of Penitence - Fr. Dwight Longenecker (3/16/2010)
*Resources on Canon 915 - Dr. Edward Peters (3/15/2010)
*Sedevacantism and the 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law - Papsttreu (2/26/2010)
*Sedevacantism Revisited - Papsttreu (2/17/2010)
*Solidarity (Fr. Nicolas Schwizer) - Teófilo de Jesús (3/3/2010)
*Unity Through Mary - Br. Gabriel Thomas, O.P. (10/16/2009)
*What Did Jesus Look Like? - Msgr. Charles Pope (3/16/2010)
*Why the Senate bill is anti-life, in 150 words - Thomas Peters (3/16/2010)

Hail Raphael

Hail Raphael, great archangel, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among angels and blessed is the God Whom you faithfully serve. Holy Raphael, one of the seven, heal our bodily and spiritual defects and pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Church Fathers on John 14:28

The statement of our Lord in John 14:28: "You have heard that I said to you: 'I go away, and I come unto you.' If you loved Me you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father: for the Father is greater than I."

Our Lord says that the Father is greater than Him because (1) the unbegotten Father eternally generates the Son, not the other way around; and (2) the Son assumed human nature and so subsists not only "in the form of God" [Phil 2:6] but also in "the form of a servant" [Phil 2:7].

Bishop St. Gregory the Wonderworker of Neocaesarea, Homily 4 On the Holy Theophany: "If He shall say, 'I and my Father are one' [John 10:30], hear Him. If He shall say, 'He that has seen Me has seen the Father' [John 14:9], hear Him. If He shall say, 'He that has sent Me is greater than I' [John 14:28], adapt the voice to the economy."
Archbishop St. Alexander I of Alexandria, Epistle to Archbishop St. Alexander I of Constantinople qtd. in Bl. Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus, Ecclesiastical History 1:3:
Therefore His own individual dignity must be reserved to the Father as the Unbegotten One, no one being called the cause of His existence: to the Son likewise must be given the honor which befits Him, there being to Him a generation from the Father which has no beginning; we must render Him worship, as we have already said, only piously and religiously ascribing to Him the "was" and the "ever," and the "before all ages;" not however rejecting His divinity, but ascribing to Him a perfect likeness in all things to His Father, while at the same time we ascribe to the Father alone His own proper glory of "the unbegotten," even as the Savior Himself says, "My Father is greater than I" [John 14:28].
Archbishop St. Athanasius I the Great of Alexandria (Doctor), :

Bishop St. Hilary of Poitiers (Doctor), On the Trinity 7:6:

Bishop St. Ambrose the Great of Milan (Doctor), Exposition of the Christian Faith 2:8:59:
It was due to His humanity, therefore, that our Lord doubted and was sore distressed, and rose from the dead, for that which fell does also rise again. Again, it was by reason of His humanity that He said those words, which our adversaries use to maliciously turn against Him: "Because the Father is greater than I" [John 14:28].
Bishop St. Basil the Great of Caesarea (Doctor), Letter 8:5 to the Caesareans:
And again, "My Father is greater than I" [John 14:28]. This passage is also employed by the ungrateful creatures, the brood of the evil one. ... even from this passage the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father is set forth. For ... comparisons may properly be made between things which are of the same nature. We speak of angel as greater than angel, of man as juster than man, of bird as fleeter than bird. If then comparisons are made between things of the same species, and the Father by comparison is said to be greater than the Son, then the Son is of the same substance as the Father. But there is another sense underlying the expression. In what is it extraordinary that He Who "is the Word and was made flesh" [John 1:14] confesses His Father to be greater than Himself, when He was seen in glory inferior to the angels, and in form to men? For "You have made Him a little lower than the angels" [Psalm 8:6], and again "Who was made a little lower than the angels" [Hebrews 2:9], and "we saw Him and He had neither form nor comeliness, His form was deficient beyond all men" [Isaiah 53:2]. All this He endured on account of His abundant loving kindness towards His work, that He might save the lost sheep and bring it home when He had saved it, and bring back safe and sound to his own land the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and so fell among thieves. ... This is why the Son is less than the Father; for your sakes He was made dead to free you from death and make you sharer in Heavenly life.
Bishop St. Augustine the Great of Hippo (Doctor of Grace), On the Predestination of the Saints 2:67:

The same great bishop says in On the Trinity 1: ,

Moreover, in Tractate 78:1 on the Gospel of St. John, St. Augustine says

Pope St. Leo I the Great of Rome (Doctor), Sermon 23:2 On the Feast of the Nativity:
This union, dearly beloved, whereby the Creator is joined to the creature, Arian blindness could not see with the eyes of intelligence, but, not believing that the Only-begotten of God was of the same glory and substance with the Father, spoke of the Son's Godhead as inferior, drawing its arguments from those words which are to be referred to the "form of a slave" [Phil 2:7], in respect of which, in order to show that it belongs to no other or different person in Himself, the same Son of God with the same form, says, "The Father is greater than I" [John 14:28] just as He says with the same form, "I and my Father are one" [John 10:30]. For in "the form of a slave" [Phil 2:7], which He took at the end of the ages for our restoration, He is inferior to the Father: but in the form of God, in which He was before the ages, He is equal to the Father.
The same great pope says in his Tome (Letter 28:4 to Archbishop St. Flavian the Martyr of Constantinople),
Just as therefore, to pass over many other instances, it is not part of the same nature to be moved to tears of pity for a dead friend, and when the stone that closed the four-days' grave was removed, to raise that same friend to life with a voice of command: or, to hang on the cross, and turning day to night, to make all the elements tremble: or, to be pierced with nails, and yet open the gates of paradise to the robber's faith: so it is not part of the same nature to say, "I and the Father are one" [John 10:30] and to say, "the Father is greater than I" [John 14:28]. For although in the Lord Jesus Christ God and man is one person, yet the source of the degradation, which is shared by both, is one, and the source of the glory, which is shared by both, is another. For His manhood, which is less than the Father, comes from our side: His Godhead, which is equal to the Father, comes from the Father.
Hieromonk St. John of Damascus (Doctor), An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 4:18:
And others make known the fact of His origin from the Father as cause, for instance "My Father is greater than I" [John 14:28]. For from Him He derives both His being and all that He has: His being was by generative and not by creative means, as, "I came forth from the Father and have come" [John 16:28], and "I live by the Father" [John 6:57]. But all that He has is not His by free gift or by teaching, but in a causal sense, as, "The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He sees the Father do" [John 5:19]. For if the Father is not, neither is the Son. For the Son is of the Father and in the Father and with the Father, and not after the Father. In like manner also what He does is of Him and with Him. For there is one and the same, not similar but the same, will and energy and power in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

ECW Midterm Essay: Early Ecclesiology

From my midterm in Early Christian Writings, taken last Thursday (paragraph numbering not in original):

1. Ecclesiology means the study of the Church. Early Christians had to determine the structure or hierarchy of the Church, and how and to whom membership in her was given. St. Paul's "First Letter to the Corinthians" and the anonymous Didache state that the Church hierarchy is made of prophets, Apostles, and teachers. They warn against false prophets; the Didache gives ways to discern a false prophet (e.g., he stays in one town for more than two days or asks for money). Tertullian said, in his Prescription Against Heretics, that the Rule of Faith (teaching of Christ handed down through the Apostles and their successors) is the measuring stick of orthodoxy, and that Gnostic heretics were not a part of the Church (which St. Paul calls the one mystical body of Christ in his aforementioned letter).

2. St. Ignatius the God-bearing martyr and bishop of Antioch taught the trifold ministry of deacons, priests, and bishops (ascending order of rank) in his ca. 110 "Letter to the Trallians." This has been the model of the Church ever since.

3. St. Paul taught, in the letter cited, that people enter into the Church by baptism. What about people who were baptized by heretics? St. Cyprian, the martyred bishop of Carthage, thought of the Church as a tree with a trunk of common belief (or a trunk of the throne of St. Peter, the See of Rome, in a later version) and many branches (sees/bishoprics) in his treatise On the Unity of the Church. He very clearly taught that there is no salvation outside the Church, and that heretics belong to the lifeless, rotten branches that have fallen off the tree. If Baptism is the sacrament whereby someone becomes a member of the one and only true Church, how could baptism by heretics justify anyone? Thus St. Cyprian taught that those baptized by heretics were not really baptized and therefore must be rebaptized.

4. However, the view of St. Stephen I, Bishop of Rome, prevailed, and the Church to this day teaches that Baptism by heretics is valid if the baptist observers the proper form, i.e., "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).

ECW Midterm Essay: Origins of Christianity

From my midterm in Early Christian Writings, taken last Thursday (paragraph numbering not in original):

1. The Gospel of St. Mark describes Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ=Anointed=Messiah. He is the Son of God Who came to free us from sin and death by His Passion on the Cross. He died, was buried, and rose again, then ascended into Heaven, after having established the Church. The Twelve Apostles and the larger group of the Seventy spread the faith throughout the Mediterranean by preaching, working miracles of healing, and speaking in tongues to circumvent language barriers, according to the Acts of the Apostles, which describes Pentecost as the birth of the Church. St. Paul won many Gentile converts because he taught that circumcision and adherence to other ceremonial precepts of the Mosaic Law are not necessary for salvation, according to Henry Chadwick's "From Jerusalem to Rome." Thus was solved one of the first major issues.

2. Christian churches sprang up in cities like Rome, Jerusalem, Thessalonica, and Alexandria. Christians had to deal with unbelieving Jews, Romans, and Greeks, to whom Christ crucified was a stumbling block, according to St. Paul. They faced some persecutions, especially the harsh one under Emperor Nero during which Sts. Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome, according to the constant tradition of the Fathers of the Church. Some writers, like the great St. John Chrysostom, argue that "the triumph of the Church" was a miracle.

St. Mark Says Jesus is God

Isaiah 40:3,9-10: The voice of one crying in the desert: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God." ... Get you up upon a high mountain, you that bring good tidings to Zion: lift up your voice with strength, you that bring good tidings to Jerusalem: lift it up, fear not. Say to the cities of Judah: "Behold your God: Behold the Lord God shall come with strength, and His arm shall rule: Behold His reward is with Him and His work is before Him."
φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν ... ἐπ' ὄρος ὑψηλὸν ἀνάβηθι ὁ εὐαγγελιζόμενος Σιων ὕψωσον τῇ ἰσχύι τὴν φωνήν σου ὁ εὐαγγελιζόμενος Ιερουσαλημ ὑψώσατε μὴ φοβεῖσθε εἰπὸν ταῖς πόλεσιν Ιουδα ἰδοὺ ὁ θεὸς ὑμῶν. ἰδοὺ κύριος μετὰ ἰσχύος ἔρχεται καὶ ὁ βραχίων μετὰ κυριείας ἰδοὺ ὁ μισθὸς αὐτοῦ μετ' αὐτοῦ καὶ τὸ ἔργον ἐναντίον αὐτοῦ.

Mark 1:1-3: The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: "Behold I send My angel before your face, who shall prepare the way before You. A voice of one crying in the desert: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight His paths.'"
Ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, καθὼς γέγραπται ἐν τῷ Ἠσαΐᾳ τῷ προφήτῃ: ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου, ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου: φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ: ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου, εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ.

Gloss: St. Isaiah the Prophet (May 9) says that the voice in the desert cries out for Israel to straighten the paths for YHWH, Who has come to save Israel. The glorious martyr St. Mark the Evangelist (April 25), the first bishop of Alexandria, identifies Jesus Christ, the Son of God, with YHWH for Whom the Israelites straighten out the paths of the wilderness. In other words, St. Mark, when he preaches the fulfillment of the prophecy of St. Isaiah, teaches that Christ is YHWH. So much for the objection that the "first" Gospel does not teach that Christ is God.