The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for April, 2007


Posted by Dim Bulb on April 30, 2007

From St Justin the Martyr:

We know that the Son of God…before all creatures came forth from the Father by his power and will…and through means of a Virgin became Man, so that by the way that the disobedience which was from the serpent took its beginning, by the same way it might have its undoing. For whereas Eve, yet a virgin and undefiled, through conceiving the word that came form the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death; the Virgin Mary, taking faith and joy, when the angel told her the good tidings that the Spirit of the Lord should come upon her, and the power of the Most High overshadow her, and therefore, the Holy One to be born of her should be the Son of God, answered, Be it done unto me according to your word (see Luke 1:35, 38). And so by means of her he was born, concerning whom we have shown so many Scriptures were spoken; through whom god overthrows the serpent, and those angels and men who have become like it, and, on the other hand, works deliverance from death for such as repent of their evil doings and believe in Him. (Dialog Against Trypho, 100)

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Calling all night owls

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 29, 2007

Tonight, like many other nights, I’m having trouble getting to sleep.  Does anybody have a non-drug induced remedy?  Could this be a medical condition?

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Notes on the First Mass Reading (Monday April 30)

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 29, 2007

The first reading comes from Acts of Apostles 11:1-18.


A Roman centurion by the name of Cornelius was stationed in the port city of Caesarea. He is described as a God-fearer, a word which seems to designate a non-Jew who, while not circumcised or following all the observances of the Mosaic law nonetheless attended the synagogue and lived as best he could according to the Mosaic dictates. He may have been toying with the idea of becoming a full proselytes and eventually a convert but something was hindering him. Perhaps his status a a Roman soldier made fully embracing Judaism at that time of his life impossible.

Anyway, this man received a vision and was told to send messengers to Joppa and summon Simon Peter, the Apostle to come to him. As they were on their way to see Peter, the apostle began to pray and had a vision. St. Luke describes the events like this:

Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier of those who waited on him continually. Having explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa. Now on the next day as they were on their journey, and got close to the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray at about noon. He became hungry and desired to eat, but while they were preparing, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and a certain container descending to him, like a great sheet let down by four corners on the earth, in which were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and birds of the sky. A voice came to him, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat!But Peter said, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”

A voice came to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed, you must not call unclean.” This was done three times, and immediately the vessel was received up into heaven. Now while Peter was very perplexed in himself what the vision which he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood before the gate, and called and asked whether Simon, who was surnamed Peter, was lodging there. While Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men seek you. But arise, get down, and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”

Peter accompanied the men back to house of Cornelius where Peter preached to all those present. As a result of this preaching they received the Holy Spirit. At this point it might do you well to read the account of this in ACTS 10 and then read TODAYS PASSAGE.


Vss 1-4 Word of what had taken place at Caesarea preceded Peter to Jerusalem and did not sit well with the “circumcised believers” (i.e. Jewish Christians, also possibly Samaritan Christians and Gentile converts who had been circumcised). They “confronted” (Greek: diakrinomai) Peter and leveled the charge that he had eaten with the uncircumcised (recall that the theme of eating was a major theme in Ch 10). The narrative of ch 10 doesn’t explicitly say that Peter ate with them however, his stay of a few days with Cornelius, and the general tone of these chapters strongly suggests that he did. Eating with the uncircumcised was considered equivalent to idolatry in first century Judaism, probably because the meat from some sacrifices were sold in the market. In response to their charge, Luke tells us that Peter “Explained to them in order” (NAB step by step) what had taken place. Luke’s choice of words here is not accidental. “Explain” (Greek: ektithemi) is a word often employed by Luke to designate the preaching of the Gospel (see 18:26 and 28:23). “In order” (NAB step by step) reflects the Greek word kathexes which is used in Luke 1:3 and describes the orderly narrative of his Gospel. In other words, Luke is hinting that what Peter is about to tell his accusers is the Gospel.

Vss 5-15 Basically relates what was narrated in chapter 10, however, notice Peter’s insistence on the intimacy of his experience: The large sheet, he said, “came right up to me” (Greek text). He looked at it “intently.” He “observed,” and “saw.” He is making it clear that his experience was not unreal. Of special note is what Peter says in verse 12: “And the Spirit bid me to go with them, making no debate” (NAB discrimination; other possible translations include “distinction” and “judging”). Some Greek texts has the word diakrinonta, others have the word diakrinomenos. Both words, along with diakrinomai, which was used in verse 2 are derived from the word diakrino, which means to doubt, discriminate, make distinctions, judge; they are key words in chapters 10-15 (see below) Notice also that Peter mentions the fact that six “brothers” (i.e. circumcised Jewish Christians) were with him (vs 12). They witnessed the facts that unfolded. Notice the words of verse 14 which describes Cornelius’ account of his vision, they make it clear that this is not just about eating and table fellowship, rather, it is about salvation. This is not unimportant, because the question “can Gentiles be saved without circumcision and Mosaic legal practices?” will become a hotly debated question in chapter 15 (see 15:1, 11). Peter’s experience will be the major factor in answering that question (see below). Notice that in verse 15 Peter draws a close comparison between the Gentiles reception of the Holy Spirit and that of the Apostles and others “at the beginning” (i.e. on Pentecost. See Acts 2). The Greek text is emphatic, something hard to convey in English. The idea seems to be that the uncircumcised Gentiles are not to considered second class citizens (see Eph 2:11-22). Since they have received the Holy Spirit Peter says “who am I to prevent God?” Upon hearing all of this the people stop “objecting” and “glorify God.”


As Peter ponders the vision he received in Acts 10 he is clearly reluctant to act upon it; however, the Holy Spirit tells him to go with Cornelius’ men diakrinomenos– “without debate” (NAB hindering see 10:20). This he does, only to find that certain circumcised brothers in Jerusalem diakrinomai him (NAB confront him. I.e. A confrontation for the purpose of debate see 11:2). In this confrontation we the readers recognize something Peter’s accusers do not; they are in reality not arguing with Peter, but with the Holy Spirit. Against this background Peter’s statement in 11:15-17 takes on its full meaning: The Holy Spirit desired the conversion of Cornelius and those with him through the action of Peter and this without their being circumcised; so who is Peter to “hinder” the Spirit? (11:17). Hearing all of this, those who originally diakrinomai (confronted) Peter in 11:2 now stop objecting. Clearly we are to see hinder and object as being synonymous with the diakrino words. All of this is important for understanding a much abused text in Acts 15:19 where James says: “It is my judgment (or decision) that we trouble the Gentiles no more (i.e. concerning the law of Moses) when they turn to God.” Some people have used this text to argue that somehow James exercised more authority than Peter. Not only does this argument fly in the face of a wealth of Biblical evidence to the contrary, it misunderstands the meaning of the word krino used by James. Krino is the root of the various diakrinos words used in the texts mentioned above. Seen in this light we get the true meaning and significance of James’ words. He is not going to go against what the Spirit has revealed through Peter. This would be to debate with the Holy Spirit (acts 10:20), and to confront, argue, or debate with Peter (acts 11:2); the same Peter whose testimony is described by Luke as part of the Gospel message (see my notes above on vss 1-4). The same Peter whose testimony actually forms the basis for James’ “decision”. They would pit James against Peter when in fact this is about James recognizing what has taken place through him and not “objecting” to or “hindering” it.

It’s getting late so my post on tomorrows Gospel reading will have to wait until early tomorrow evening.



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The Protocatechesis of St Cyril (Section 4)

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 29, 2007

Section four of St Cyril’s Protocatechesis builds upon the themes introduced in section three; therefore I will be giving few if any notes.

For we, the ministers of Christ, (the bridegroom of section 3) have admitted everyone, and occupying, as it were, the place of door-keepers we left the door open: and possibly you did enter with your soul stained by sin, and with your will defiled. You entered, and were allowed to do so, and your name was inscribed (like a guest’s name in a wedding book). Answer me this, do you not see the venerable constitution of the Church? Do you not view her order and discipline, the reading of the Scriptures, the presence of the ordained, the course of instruction? Be ashamed at the place, andbe taught by what you see. It is appropriate that you go out now, and even more appropriately return tomorrow.

If your soul is dressed in avarice, put on a different garment and come in. Put off your former garment. Continue not to cloak yourself in it. I beg of you, strip off your garments of fornication and uncleanness, and don the glorious robe of chastity. This charge I give you, before Jesus the Bridegroom of souls come in and see what fashion they (those espoused to Christ) wear. A long period of preparation has been given to you; you have forty days of repentance; you have full time then to put off (their old garments) and wash up, and then put on (their new garments of repentance) so as to enter in (i.e. to the wedding feast, their union with Christ in baptism). But if you persist in your evil intentions (a hypocritical conversion lacking repentance) the speaker (St. Cyril) is blameless, but you must not look for the grace; for though the water will receive you, the holy spirit will not accept you. If anyone of you is conscious of a wound, then take the salve; if any of you have fallen, then rise up. Let there be no Simon among you, no hypocrisy, no idle curiosity concerning this matter.


Concerning the garment imagery see (or recall) the parable St. Cyril gave in section 3. As we saw in our notes on that section, St. Cyril’s image was heavily dependent on the parable of the wedding feast Jesus spoke in Matt 22:1-14. In the present section, the garment imagery from section 3 is combined with allusions to Col 3:8-10 (see the text and corresponding footnote. See also Eph 4:22-24)

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A Qutoe Pope Benedict Would Love

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 29, 2007

“This is hardly a paradox:  the unsophisticated reader of the Gospels, unfamiliar with the details of the historical, social, political, and religious circumstances of the little Jewish, Galilean world in which Jesus lived, is perhaps in a better position to understand the heart of the Gospel than many a scholarly specialist.  The latter, even if he is a believer, often has great difficulty seeing in what way precisely the message of Jesus, wholly rooted as it is in particular locality, is of a supreme universality.”-Henri Cardinal de Lubac, MORE PARADOXES

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Books I’m reading

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 26, 2007

Currently, I’m reading CALLED TO COMMUNION by by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who recently underwent a substantial name change.

Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today is a precious gift of wisdom. It explains how providential are the trials through which the Catholic Church is now passing. The need of the Papal Primacy to ensure Christian unity; the true meaning of Priesthood as a sacrament and not a mere ministry; the necessity of the Eucharist as the Sacrifice of the Savior now offering Himself on our altars; the role of Bishops as successors of the Apostle, united with the successor of St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome; the value of suffering in union with Christ crucified; the indispensable service of the laity in the apostolate-all these are becoming more clear and meaningful in the life of the Church. Called to Communion is a goldmine of insights, which brings out the development of Catholic doctrine in our day without surrendering on iota of the deposit of faith entrusted to the Church by her divine founder.-Fr. John Hardon, S.J. (From a blurb on the back cover)

I’m also currently working my way through THE CATECHETICAL LECTURES of St Cyril of Jerusalem. Ive posted some notes on part of the opening address called the Protocatechesis. I hope to continue these notes in the near future

I just finished reading DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK by Walter D. Edmonds. Edmonds was considered to be the greatest author of regional fiction that the United States ever produced. I’m told that at one time you could not attend public school in New York without at some point in your education reading one of his works for English class. I’m told that the book was the second best in sales the year it was released, running a close second to GONE WITH THE WIND. In 1939 it was made into a famous movie starring Henry Fonda and finished second in box office draws behind GONE WITH THE WIND. His book ROME HAUL about the Erie Canal was also good.

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I’m losing the Blogger’s choice Awards (And Damned Proud of It)

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 25, 2007

I just went to the Bloggers Choice Awards site and was relieved
to learn that I was not nominated for the only conceivable category I would have a chance of winning-THE WORST BLOG EVER.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all my non-supporters from the bottom of my heart. This may be the closest I will ever come to achieving success. It feels strangely ambiguous.

Update: I’ve been nominated. bca_badge_bestreligionblog1.gif

Second update:  I now stand in a 12 way tie for one hundred twenty-second place.  At this rate a should break into the hot 120 sometime late next week!  Wooo-Hooo!  Out lof my way losers.

Posted in humor, stupid | 9 Comments »


Posted by Dim Bulb on April 25, 2007

In TV land “spong” is the sound that is universally made whenever a cartoon character gets hit in the head with a rake handle: “SPONG!”  Not unrelated is the fact that this word is also the name of a retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong, one of the foundering…umm, I mean founding fathers of the new and improved Episcopalians.  Who hit the unfortunate Spong in the head with a rake handle and when it happened is unknown to me, but that it did happen, and with tragic consequences, is all to clear.  The poor man still thinks he is a Christian; or at least some kind of Christian.  See “Spong’s non-theistic Christianity”  (A flick of the Bulb to Argent by the Tiber for this story be sure to check out the link she provides)

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That’s not a sex toy!

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 25, 2007

What isn’t?  Your body; or your spouse’s body.  Okay, so the quote that follows concerns a lot more than just sex, but now that I’ve got your attention…

“The eclipse of the sense of God and of man inevitably leads to a practical materialism, which breeds individualism, utilitarianism and hedonism. Here too we see the permanent validity of the words of the Apostle: “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct” (Rom 1:28). The values of being are replaced by those of having. The only goal which counts is the pursuit of one’s own material well-being. The so-called “quality of life” is interpreted primarily or exclusively as economic efficiency, inordinate consumerism, physical beauty and pleasure, to the neglect of the more profound dimensions-interpersonal, spiritual and religious-of existence.

In such a context suffering, an inescapable burden of human existence but also a factor of possible personal growth, is “censored”, rejected as useless, indeed opposed as an evil, always and in every way to be avoided. When it cannot be avoided and the prospect of even some future well-being vanishes, then life appears to have lost all meaning and the temptation grows in man to claim the right to suppress it.

Within this same cultural climate, the body is no longer perceived as a properly personal reality, a sign and place of relations with others, with God and with the world. It is reduced to pure materiality: it is simply a complex of organs, functions and energies to be used according to the sole criteria of pleasure and efficiency. Consequently, sexuality too is depersonalized and exploited: from being the sign, place and language of love, that is, of the gift of self and acceptance of another, in all the other’s richness as a person, it increasingly becomes the occasion and instrument for self-assertion and the selfish satisfaction of personal desires and instincts. Thus the original import of human sexuality is distorted and falsified, and the two meanings, unitive and procreative, inherent in the very nature of the conjugal act, are artificially separated: in this way the marriage union is betrayed and its fruitfulness is subjected to the caprice of the couple. Procreation then becomes the “enemy” to be avoided in sexual activity: if it is welcomed, this is only because it expresses a desire, or indeed the intention, to have a child “at all costs”, and not because it signifies the complete acceptance of the other and therefore an openness to the richness of life which the child represents.” -Pope John Paul II Evangelium Vitae #23

A flick of the Bulb to Katerina Marie of Evangelical Catholicism for the quote.

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Do satanists have a problem with atheists?

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 24, 2007

David at Cosmos~Liturgy~Sex has up an interesting post about relativism. In his opening paragraph he writes:

My thoughts returned to Cardinal Ratzinger’s final homily before he was elected Pope as I was trying to ignore the talking head on MSNBC this morning at the gym. The story he was covering was the Department of Veteran’s Affairs settlement of a lawsuit by the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State demanding that the Wiccan pentacle be available as an option on Veteran’s headstones (see the NYT story here). Indeed, this was inevitable. For almost a decade now the military services have allowed Wiccans as chaplains. It is clear that modernity, not to mention postmodernity, does not possess the intellectual faculties by which they might make some discernment between religious belief that requires protection and accommodation, and inventions that promote socially destructive ideologies.

A reader focused on the statement that “For almost a decade now the military services have allowed Wiccans as chaplains.” This statement, the readers notes, is incorrect: “Actually, there has never been a Wiccan chaplain in the US military.”

David responded to this:

You’re right. My bad. Since 1997 the US Army at Ft. Hood has allowed Wiccans to meet and hold Wiccan “services,” approved their high priestess, and assigned them an Army chaplain, though not a Wiccan Chaplain per se. Since 1990 the USAF chaplains’ manual has provided information on accommodating Wiccan practices and at several locations including Lackland AFB, TX have sponsored Wiccan meetings and allowed Wiccan “ministers” to use base chapels for weddings. The US Army has in addition, identified the Church of Satan as a “faith” system eligible for recognition.

It’s the last line that caught my attention. Since modern atheists are not just anti-god, (like satanists) but also anti-faith,-does this mean that satanist should now be opposing atheists and atheists opposing satanist?

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