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

Prayer request for an injured firefighter

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 24, 2007

Several members of my non-immediate family work or have worked as both volunteer and professional firefighters in the towns and villages round where I live. Because none of these municipalities have a large enough fire fighting force to to be completely self-sufficient a mutual aid program was designed. As is well known firefighters tend to be a tight-knit group, almost like family. Given the mutual aid program in our area this means that firefighters develop bonds which transcend their own company.

Early Sunday morning a fire broke out in a bowling alley in the city of Oneida which critically injured firefighter Mitch Dryer. Nearly a ton of debris fell on him when the roof of the structure collapsed, trapping him for nearly twenty minutes. He received fourth degree burns on his right arm, extensive burns to his right side, some broken vertebrae, and a broken leg. He is currently listed in critical condition in the burn unit at University Hospital where he was put into a drug induced coma. Fireman Dryer recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq where he helped train Iraqi firefighters.

I’m asking for prayers for firefighter Dryer, his family, his fellow Oneida City Firefighters who are keeping vigil at his bedside, and for the firefighters of the surrounding municipalities who have made themselves available to cover any fire in the Oneida area so that that vigil can be maintained. (see story)

If I’m not mistaken, St Michael the Archangel is the patron saint of all professionals who put their lives on the line in service to others. Specifically, St. Florian is the patron of firefighters.

A prayer for firefighters

Merciful Father in heaven, look down in your love upon all who protect us and ours from the ravages of fire and flame. Grant them the courage and skill to carry out their duties well and safely. When they must go into the face of danger, be by their side in the smoke and flames. Watch over their families, ever reminding them that those who fight fire are also in your loving care. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.


The Firefighters Creed


When I’m called to duty God
wherever flames may rage
give me strength to save a life
whatever be its age

Help me to embrace a little child
before it is too late
or save an older person from
the horror of that fate

Enable me to be alert
to hear the weakest shout
and quickly and efficiently
to put the fire out

I want to fill my calling and
to give the best in me
to guard my neighbor and
protect his property

And if according to your will
I have to lose my life
bless with your protecting hand
my children and my wife (

The story behind the firefighters badge

The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection-a badge of
honor. Its story is hundreds of years old. When a courageous
band of crusaders, known as the Knights of St. John, fought
the Saracens for possession of the Holy Land, they
encountered a new weapon unknown to European warriors.
It was a simple, but horrible device of war; it wrought
excruciating pain and agonizing death upon the brave
fighters of the Cross.
The Saracens’ weapon was fire!
As the Crusaders advanced on the walls of the city, they
were attacked by glass bombs containing naphtha. When
they became saturated with the highly flammable liquid, the
Saracens hurled a flaming tree into their midst. Hundreds
of Knights were burned alive. Others risked their lives
to save their brothers in arms from dying painful deaths.
Thus, these men became the first fire fighters…and the
first of a long list of courageous Fire Fighters. Their heroic
efforts were recognized by fellow Crusaders who awarded
each hero with a badge of honor-a cross similar to the one
Fire Fighters wear today.
Since the Knights of St. John lived for nearly four centuries
on a little island in the Mediterranean Sea, named Malta,
the Cross became known as the Maltese Cross.
The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection. It means that
the fire fighter that wears this Cross is willing to lay down
his life, just as the Crusaders sacrificed their lives for
their fellow men so many years ago.

The Maltese Cross is a Fire Fighter’s Badge of Courage…
a ladder-rung away from death. (source)

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The Protocatechesis of St Cyril (Section 3)

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 23, 2007

To see previous posts click on St Cyril’s Catechesis in the categories box.

Having warned his listeners not to approach the their baptismal instructions-and, by implication, their baptism- out of mere curiousity (section 2), the Saint now tells the story of  a guest who shows  up to a wedding feast in unseemly dress and with bad manners.   He is clearly adopting and adapting Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast from Matthew 22:1-14.

A certain man in the Gospel once pried into the marriage feast, and took an unbecoming garment, and came in, and sat down, and ate: for the bridegroom permitted it.  But when he (the guest) saw them all clad in white, he ought to have assumed a garment of the same kind himself; for like the others he partook of the food but was unlike them in fashion and purpose.  The bridegroom, however, though bountiful, was not undiscerning; and in going round to each of the guests and observing them (for his care was not with their eating, but for their seemly behavior), he saw a stranger not having on a wedding garment, and said to him, “friend, how is it you came in looking like that?  In that color!  With what a conscience!  True, the door-keeper did not forbid you entrance because of my bounty; but were you ignorant of what fashion to wear to a wedding feast?  When you came in and beheld the glorious raiment of the guests, should this not have been a lesson to you?  Should you not have receded in good taste so as to return in good taste? (i.e. you should have gone home and changed, then represented yourself) But since you have come here and stayed without taste, tastelessly you shall be cast out.”  And so the Bridegroom ordered the servants to bind the feet he used to intrude; and to bind the hands he refused to use to put on fine garments; and he ordered him cast headlong into the outer darkness, for he was unworthy of the wedding torches.  Seeing, then, what happened to that man, make your own condition safe.


The bountiful bridegroom.  The description of the bridegroom as bountiful or benefiecent was no doubt meant to recall to the listeners minds what was said in section 1: “For he does not lie who said, “to them that love God all things work together for good.” God is lavish in beneficence, yet he waits for each man’s genuine will…”  The saint clearly wants us to see the wedding guest as not acting with a good will.  “Like the others he partook of the food but was unlike them in fashion and purpose.”  The food  no doubt represents the instructions they are receiving.  Proper attire symbolizes the good will or purpose the saint had praised them for in section 1, and exhorted them to maintain in section 2.

 (The bridegroom went) round to each of the guests and observing them (for his care was not with their eating, but for their seemly behavior), he saw a stranger not having on a wedding garment, and said to him, “friend, how is it you came in looking like that?  In that color!  With what a conscience!  The watchful bridegroom who notices the man’s slovenly appearance and recognizes it as bad conscience calls to mind the warning at the end of section 2:  You must not tempt God’s grace so that no bitter root grow up and cause trouble. Let none of you come in saying, ‘let us see what the faithful are doing; let me go in and see, that I may leaarn what is being done.’ Do you expect to see and yet not be seen? Do you think that while you search out what is going on, God is not searching your heart?  

Should you not have receded in good taste so as to return in good taste? (i.e. you should have gone home and changed, then represented yourself) But since you have come here and stayed without taste, tastelessly you shall be cast out.  Normally, a bridegroom would not cast an invited guest out of his wedding feast, but should an inconsiderate guest expect considerations from the man who invited him? “the measure with whcih you measure shall be measured out to you.” (Mt 7:2).   Notice that the feet with which the guest walked in with, and the hands he refused to dress himself properly with, are bound.

he ordered him cast headlong into the outer darkness, for he was unworthy of the wedding torches.  Possibly an allusion to the parable of the ten virgins (Mt 25:1-13).  As noted at the beginning, the saint is making use of the parable of the wedding feast from Matthew 22:1-14.  This use of scripture as a warning reminds us of what was said earlier by the saint in relation to what happened to Simon Magus:  I make reference and indict this man for his fall so that you may not fall. Things such as this happen to serve as an example to you, and were written down as an admonition for those who would draw near (i.e. to baptism).

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Posted by Dim Bulb on April 22, 2007

Father Al Kimel of Pontification has up a series of post on the subject of Limbo.  I would like to summarize some of them.

The first article begins with these words:  I am fascinated by the current discussion on limbo. We are watching the development of Catholic doctrine in action. Some folks are pointing to this development as a counter-example to the claim of the Catholic Church to be the authoritative and reliable steward of revelation; but I do not see it this way. The Church knows more than she can speak, and this speaking may take many lifetimes, many generations, before she finds the needed language and achieves the needed clarity to say what she must say.

This is a very important point.  In fact, it seems to be to be the main point of the entire series:  limbo never rose above what it in fact is, a theological hypothesis.    Those who think it is more than just a hypothesis therefore cannot appreciate what is happening before their very eyes-the development of doctrine.

Father Kimel begins his second post on the subject by noting that many contemporary theologians find the opinion of limbo inadequate, or, to use Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s word “unenlightened.”  He in fact quotes two statements by the Cardinal on this question:

Limbo was never a defined truth of faith. Personally—and here I am speaking more as a theologian and not as Prefect of the Congregation—I would abandon it since it was only a theological hypothesis. It formed part of a secondary thesis in support of a truth which is absolutely of first significance for faith, namely, the importance of baptism. To put it in the words of Jesus to Nicodemus: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (Jn 3:5). One should not hesitate to give up the idea of “limbo” if need be (and it is worth noting that the very theologians who proposed “limbo” also said that parents could spare the child limbo by desiring its baptism and through prayer); but the concern behind it must not be surrendered. Baptism has never been a side issue for faith; it is not now, nor will it ever be. (The Ratzinger Report, pp. 147-148)

Twelve years later Cardinal Ratzinger elaborated his position:

The question of what it means to say that baptism is necessary for salvation has become ever more hotly debated in modern times. The Second Vatican Council said on this point that men who are seeking for God and who are inwardly striving toward that which constitutes baptism will also receive salvation. That is to say that a seeking after God already represents an inward participation in baptism, in the Church, in Christ. To that extent, the question concerning the necessity of baptism for salvation seems to have been answered, but the question about children who could not be baptized because they were aborted then presses upon us that much more urgently. Earlier ages had devised a teaching that seems to me rather unenlightened. They said that baptism endows us, by means of sanctifying grace, with the capacity to gaze upon God. Now, certainly, the state of original sin, from which we are freed by baptism, consists in a lack of sanctifying grace. Children who die in this way are indeed without any personal sin, so they cannot be sent to hell, but, on the other hand, they lack sanctifying grace and thus the potential for beholding God that this bestows. They will simply enjoy a state of natural blessedness, in which they will be happy. This state people called limbo. In the course of our century, that has gradually come to seem problematic to us. This was one way in which people sought to justify the necessity of baptizing infants as early as possible, but the solution is itself questionable. Finally, the Pope [John Paul II] made a decisive turn in the encyclical Evangelium Vitae, a change already anticipated by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, when he expressed the simple hope that God is powerful enough to draw to himself all those who were unable to receive the sacrament. (God and the World, pp. 401-402)

After noting that the Cardinal does not go into details concerning why he find the hypothesis problematic, Kimel gives us two reasons of his own detailing why he himself dislikes it.  “Limbus infantium,” he notes, “undermines the freedom of God.”  In this part of his post he gives an interesting and not very well known account of the great Cardinal Cajetan’s experience at the Council of Trent:

Cajetan’s view on vicarious baptism of desire was discussed by the Tridentine fathers during their deliberations on baptism in February 1547. Thanks in large part to the arguments of Cardinal Seripando, the fathers refused to condemn Cajetan and left the question of waterless baptism dogmatically open (see comment by Dr Thomas Pink).

The comment by Dr Thomas Pink which appears in the Pontifcator’s combox reads:

The non-salvation (in limbo or hell) of children who die before receiving ordinary sacramental baptism by water simply is not a defined truth or dogma of the church, and no serious theologian supposes otherwise. What is a dogma is the necessity for salvation of baptism in some form. But the reference to Cajetan above makes it worth pointing something out of great importance. The issue of how the necessity of baptism was to be understood was discussed at Trent, in February 1547, at the formulation of the decree on baptism.

As is well-known, Cajetan had claimed that children who die in the womb without ordinary sacramental baptism might be saved through a desire of their parents for their baptism.

Such was the prevailing suspicion of ‘Pelagianism’, Cajetan’s view was found very shocking by many council fathers, and there were requests that it be condemned. But Cajetan’s view was saved from condemnation by Seripando, who defended its licitness by, amongst other considerations, invoking the Divine will that all be saved. Following Seripando’s intervention, the council legates made it very clear that the Council’s definition that baptism is necessary for salvation should not be understood to exclude theories of salvation by ‘waterless’ baptism or baptism-equivalents such as Cajetan’s. By the council’s own will and its understanding of its own decree, the question was to remain dogmatically open. (For the discussion at Trent, see that highly interesting source, the Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique, volume 2, columns 305-06.) Emphasis in the above quote is mine. Click here for the rest of the doctor’s comments.
All of this helps lead to an important point:

Salvation is by the Incarnate Word alone, for in him divinity and humanity have been reconciled and forever united. He is the mediator between God and man. Salvation is by the Church, for the Church is the sacramental, Spirit-filled body of the glorified Christ and Christ is never found without his body. Salvation is by the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, because Baptism incorporates the believer into the Church, in which he is reborn by the Holy Spirit. If we would properly understand the necessity of Baptism, we must understand the salvific relations between Christ, Church, and sacramental initiation. Baptism is not a mere legal requirement, as if God has arbitrarily decreed that he will not save anyone except those who have been washed with water in the Name of the Holy Trinity. Baptism saves because the Church saves, and the Church saves because Christ saves, and Christ saves because he is the Almighty Creator who has redeemed and deified human nature in himself.

Every person born into the world is born into a state of alienation from God. Every person, therefore, needs to be regenerated in the Holy Spirit; every person needs to be restored to a state of grace and supernatural life. The ordinary and normative “place” for this rebirth is the Sacrament of Baptism. “The Church does not know,” declares the Catechism, “of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude” (1257). But our ignorance is not the limit of God’s power and freedom. God has covenanted himself to the sacramental actions of the Church; but he has not restricted himself to them. If the Holy Trinity can baptize infants in his Holy Spirit through sacramental washing, he can, if he so wills, baptize infants in his Holy Spirit apart from sacramental washing.

The second reason Kimel gives for his dislike of the theory of limbo is that “Limbus infantium undermines the Chruch’s apprehension of God’s universal salvific will.”  (As we have just seen the Council of Trent refused to allow this to happen)

This section of his post begins with an historical overview of the idea that “unbaptized children are destined to the fires of hell.”  It is, of course, precisely this idea that led to the development of the concept of limbo as an attempt to do justice to the mercy of God.  Unfortunately, this concept doesn’t do justice to the Universal salvific will of God; and it is exactly on that point that the question of the fate of unbaptized infants must be addressed:

But as popular as the massa damnata, along with the cognate theory of reprobation by preterition, may have have been in portions of the Church in the past, it has never been formally defined by the Magisterium and appears now to have been excluded by the emphatic affirmations of God’s universal salvific will by Vatican II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the encyclicals of Pope John Paul II. The Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes is decisive and clear: “For since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” (22). Who would dare to exclude the unbaptized infant from the possibility of sharing in the divine life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

This has only been a thumbnail sketch of the first two posts in Kimel’s five part series; do go and read them for yourself.

Posted in Documents of Benedict XVI | 12 Comments »

The Protocatechesis of St Cyril (Section 2)

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 21, 2007

The purpose of the Protocatechesis (hereafter Pc) was to commend the people for their desire for baptism and to exhort them to maintain this desire and bring it to fruition. At this point it might be well to go back and read section 1 of the Pc. At the very least, one should recall the last sentence of that section: “The honesty of purpose makes you called: for if your body be here but not your mind, it profits you nothing.” Section 2 builds upon this warning by focusing on the figure of Simon Magus.

Did not Simon Magus once approach the laver and have himself baptized without being enlightened? Though he plunged his body into water his heart was not enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Though his body went down and came up again his soul was neither buried with Christ nor raised up with him. I make reference and indict this man for his fall so that you may not fall. Things such as this happen to serve as an example to you, and were written down as an admonition for those who would draw near (i.e. to baptism). You must not tempt God’s grace so that no bitter root grow up and cause trouble. Let none of you come in saying, ‘let us see what the faithful are doing; let me go in and see, that I may leaarn what is being done.’ Do you expect to see and yet not be seen? Do you think that while you search out what is going on, God is not searching your heart?


“Did not Simon Magus once approach the laver?” The story of Simon Magus can be read in Acts 8:9-24. He was a Samaritan who became a believer and was baptised but latter fell away. St Cyril seems to suggest (wrongly, I think) that neither his faith or his baptism were on the up and up. In spite of this, the saint’s warnings to his hearers remains valid.

“Though he plunged his body into the water he was not enlightened by the Holy Spirit.” Light often has a spiritual meaning in the NT Jn 1:9; 1 Cor 4:5; 2 Cor 4:4-6; Eph 1:18; 2 Tim 1:10; Heb 6:4 and 10:32. The two passages from Hebrews were instrumental in the application of the term enlightened to baptism.

“Though his body went down and came up again his soul was neither buried with Christ nor raised up with him.” See Romans 6:1-11.

“Things such as this happen to serve as an example to you, and were written down as an admonition for those who would draw near” (i.e. to baptism). The saint is here alluding to 1 Cor 10:1-14; especially verse 11. A somewhat similar idea occurs in Romans 15:1-3.

“No bitter root grow up and cause trouble.” A reference to Hebrews 12:14-17: “See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” spring up and cause trouble, and by it the many become defiled; that no one be immoral or irreligious like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.
For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.” (RSV)

“let none of you come in saying…” The saint warns them not to be baptized out of mere curiosity concerning what the faithful are doing.

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Some notes On the Pope’s catechesis “Christ and the Church” (1)

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 20, 2007

1) “Following the Catechesis on the Psalms and Canticles of Lauds and of Vespers, I would like to dedicate the upcoming Wednesday Audiences to the mystery of the relationship between Christ and the Church, reflecting upon it from the experience of the Apostles, in light of the duty entrusted to them.”

Christ chose his apostles so that “they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and have authority to expel demons” (see Mk 3:13-19). Their very presence with Christ-their being “with him”- was to be their primary catechesis, this is why the call of Peter and Andrew to be “fishers of men” is prefaced with the invitation, “follow me” (see Mk1:16-17). Only by seeking out the presence of the master and staying with him can one become effective in mission: “Lord, where are you staying?” “Come and see” (Jn 1:38-39).

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he came forth from God, and was going to God, arose from supper, and laid aside his outer garments. He took a towel, and wrapped a towel around his waist. Then he poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  Then he came to Simon Peter. He said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?Jesus answered him, “You don’t know what I am doing now, but you will understand later… So when he had washed their feet, put his outer garment back on, and sat down again, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me, ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ You say so correctly, for so I am.If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.Most certainly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his lord, neither one who is sent greater than he who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (see John 13:3-17)

To say, then, that one can consider the mystery of the relation between Christ and the Church by “reflecting upon it from the experience of the Apostles, in light of the duty entrusted to them” strikes me as quite profound. Everything they experienced, including their failings, were these not catechetical instructions? “But he turned, and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men.”  Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?”

In light of this I can not understand why those who hate the idea of the Papacy see fit to invoke the failings of Peter as if they were somehow an arguement against the institution. “Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of me tonight, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’  But after I am raised up, I will go before you into Galilee.”” In the same breath with which he announces the defection of his apostles he also announces his victory which would lead to their mission. Is not his Threefold failure an arguement in favor of his mission? “Peter, do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?”

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Posted by Dim Bulb on April 15, 2007

The title of this post is the first question posed in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (comp. CCC).  As a title it sounds much better than “Dim Bulb’s First Catechetical Instruction.”  Here I present some thoughts, notes and reflections on the Compendium’s response which reads as follows:

 God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. In the fullness of time, God the Father sent his Son as the Redeemer and Savior of mankind, fallen into sin, thus calling all into his Church and, through the work of the Holy Spirit, making them adopted children and heirs of his eternal happiness.

A)  The first thing I would like to note is that the above statement is a pretty good summary of the teaching of St Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, as even a reading of the opening benediction would show.  Said benediction begins by focusing on the Father’s plan of salvation; followed by its fulfillment in Christ; and ending with the consequences of that fulfillment: our inheritance (adoption) through the Holy Spirit.  (See the threefold division of Ephesians 1:3-14 in the NAB)

B)  The Scripture seldom calls God Perfect.  In fact, I can only find one place in which it does so:  “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Mt 5:48)  The word perfect is in Greek teleios, It refers to something which is finished, complete, not lacking anything.  In some ways it is similar to the word fulfill(Greek pleroo), Which our Blessed Lord used earlier in the sermon when he said “I have not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it” (Mt 5:17).  For us Christians, “be perfect” means to be morally complete, but not by mere observance of the law; rather, our moral completeness is “derived from the personal and experiential knowledge of God.”  ( Dictionary of the Bible by John L. Mckenzie, S.J.)

According to the CCC #48 our manifold perfections as creatures are the likeness of the infinitely perfect God.   If, as the Compendium says, God created man in order to share in his blessedness, then man also would share in his perfection: “The Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church believes and acknowledges that there is one true and living God, creator and lord of heaven and earth, almighty, eternal, immeasurable, incomprehensible, infinite in will, understanding and every perfection…This one true God, by his goodness and almighty power, not with the intention of increasing his happiness, nor indeed of obtaining happiness, but in order to manifest his perfection by the good things which he bestows on what he creates, by an absolutely free plan, together from the beginning of time brought into being from nothing the twofold created order, that is the spiritual and the bodily, the angelic and the earthly, and thereafter the human which is, in a way, common to both since it is composed of spirit and body.”  (First Vatican Council, “Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith,” arts. 1, 3)

When we speak about or declare God blessed we are either acknowledging his power and glory, or that he is the source and fullness of all blessing.

C)  In order that God might share his blessed life with man the CCC states that “at every time and in every place God draws close to man” (#1).  In article 27 it elaborates on this:

“The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself.  Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for: The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God.  this invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being.  For if man exists it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence.  He cannot live fully according to the truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator.” (CCC 27)

Man, in other words, is a religious being:

In many ways, throughout history down to the present day, men have given expression to their quest for God in their religious beliefs and behavior: in their prayers, sacrifices, rituals, meditations, and so forth.  These forms of religious expression, despite the ambiguities they often bring with them, are so universal that one may call man a religious being:  From one ancestor (God) made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he alotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him-though indeed he is not far from each one of us.  For ‘in him we live and move and have our being.'” (CCC 28.  See also Acts 17:26-28.  Here St Paul is quoting Aratus of Soli, a third century BC pagan poet.)

The revelation of God’s will to Israel does not mean that all others were cut off from God’s divine and salvific favor:  “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.  Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35).  “for when Gentiles who don’t have the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are a law to themselves, cb(2,15); in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience testifying with them, and their thoughts among themselves accusing or else excusing them cb(2,16) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men, according to my Good News, by Jesus Christ.” (Rom 2:14-16)

D)  In the fullness of time.   Our first parents were endowed with sanctifying  grace but lost it as a result of their sin:

 If anyone does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he transgressed the commandment of God in paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice in which he had been constituted, and through the offense of that prevarication incurred the wrath and indignation of god, and thus death with which God had previously threatened him,[4] and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil,[5] and that the entire Adam through that offense of prevarication was changed in body and soul for the worse,[6] let him be anathema. (Council of Trent, session V; Decree Concerning Original Sin)

As a result of this sin Adam injured not only himself, but also his posterity.  Not only did he personally  lose the holiness and justice which he received from God, he lost it for his descendent’s as well.  He thereby transfused not only death and the pains of the human body to the whole of humanity, but also sin, which is the death of the soul, as the Apostle says: By one man sin entered into the world and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.  (See Trent, session V Art 2 )

As a result, mankind stood in need of a redeemer since sin is, as it were, in control: So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me.  cb(7,18);For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing. For desire is present with me, but I don’t find it doing that which is good. cb(7,19);  For the good which I desire, I don’t do; but the evil which I don’t desire, that I practice. cb(7,20);  But if what I don’t desire, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me. cb(7,21);  I find then the law, that, to me, while I desire to do good, evil is present. cb(7,22);  For I delight in God’s law after the inward man, cb(7,23);but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. cb(7,24);  What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death? cb(7,25);  I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!  (Rom 7:17-25)

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Aquinas’ prologue to Colossians (Part 2)

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 14, 2007

To view part 1 go here.
In this conflict the Bishops of the Church are our leaders as the psalmist says, “the princes of Judah are their leaders” (Ps 67:28 Douay Rheims). It falls to their office to protect the camp of the Church in the face of all attacks. They defend against sin by exposing it: “Announce to my people their transgressions, to the house of Jacob their sins” (Isa 58:1). With sound teaching they battle against heretics by: “Holding fast to the certain word as they were taught it, so that they may be able to teach sound doctrine, refuting those who contradict them” (Titus 1:9). Finally, they protect the Church against her persecutors by giving the faithful and example of patience in the face of suffering for the sake of the gospel.

Unfortunately, today there are many bishops and other clergy who do not fulfill their duties as shepherds, and this they do to their own peril: So you, son of man, I have set you a watchman to the house of Israel; therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. cb(33,8); When I tell the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die, and you don’t speak to warn the wicked from his way; that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at your hand” (Ezek 33:7-8). Paul, as he headed toward certain suffering and death said to the leaders of the Church at Miletus not to become like the failed watchman: “I testify to you this day that I am clean from the blood of all men, for I did not shrink from declaring to all of you the whole counsel of God. Take heed, therefore, to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the Church of God which he purchased with his own blood.”

What shepherd in his right mind, knowing that his Lord and Master had purchased the sheep at the price of his own blood would dare to be found with the blood of the sheep on his hands? Yet: The word of Yahweh came to me, saying, cb(34,2); Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and tell them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Shouldn’t the shepherds feed the sheep? cb(34,3); You eat the fat, and you clothe yourself with the wool, you kill the fatlings; but you don’t feed the sheep. cb(34,4); You haven’t strengthened the diseased, neither have you healed that which was sick, neither have you bound up that which was broken, neither have you brought back that which was driven away, neither have you sought that which was lost; but with force and with rigor you have ruled over them. cb(34,5); They were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and they became food to all the animals of the field, and were scattered. cb(34,6); My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill: yes, my sheep were scattered on all the surface of the earth; and there was none who searched or sought. cb(34,7); Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of Yahweh: cb(34,8); As I live, says the Lord Yahweh, surely because my sheep became a prey, and my sheep became food to all the animals of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my sheep, but the shepherds fed themselves, and didn’t feed my sheep; cb(34,9); therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of Yahweh: cb(34,10); Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my sheep at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the sheep; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; and I will deliver my sheep from their mouth, that they may not be food for them(Ezek 34:1-10). But as St Paul tells us, it must needs be so: “I know that after my departure, vicious wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. cb(20,30); Men will arise from among your own selves, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. cb(20,31); Therefore watch, remembering that for a period of three years I didn’t cease to admonish everyone night and day with tears (Acts 20:29-31). Given this situation, what is it that St Paul admonished his converts concerning? Is it not that they pray for their shepherds? Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving; cb(4,3); praying together for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds; cb(4,4); that I may reveal it as I ought to speak (Col 4:2-4). And in Hebrews: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch on behalf of your souls, as those who will give account, that they may do this with joy, and not with groaning, for that would be unprofitable for you. Pray for us, for we are persuaded that we have a good conscience, desiring to live honorably in all things” (Heb 13:17-18). The state of the Church is not solely the result of our leaders. Sometimes we get the leaders we deserve: “You are destroyed Israel, because you are against me, against the one who is your help. Where is your king now, that he may save you in all his cities? And your judges, of whom you said ‘Give me a king and princes?’ I have given you a king in my anger…” (Hosea 13:9-11). For if he who comes preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or if you receive a different spirit, which you did not receive, or a different “good news”, which you did not accept, you put up with that well enough” (2 Cor 11:4).



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At War With Babel

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 13, 2007

blog-pics-1-002.jpgThe steeple of My parish church.

Steeples originated as the result of a matter of practicallity; as a way of notifying the people that the time for Mass or prayers had come. In time, however, the steeples came to be given a symbolic meaning. They also, as a result of this new purpose, began to be built in more ornate fashion.

One popular symbolic meaning is based upon the obvious parallels and contrasts between the events of Pentecost, which took place in an upper room, and the events of Babel, which took place as the result of the building of a tower. “After the flood men in their crooked pride built for themselves a lofty tower against God; thus, as a result did they merit to be disunited through the multiplication of language, the effect being that no one people, speaking in their own tongue could then understand the tongues of others. (But at Pentecost) due to the humble devotion of the faithful ones (see acts 1:13-14) it has come about that the division of the tongues has been reconciled in the unity of the Church (see acts 2:1-41). Disharmony against God has been healed by the Love of God. The scattered flesh and bones of humankind are now reunited as members of the one body of Christ.” (Psuedo-Fulgentius; My heavily interpretive translation) For more on the Babel- Pentecost connection see this homily by the Archbishop of St. Louis. Also this homily from an African priest. Finally, see Pope Benedict’s 2006 homily for Pentecost which compares the events of Mount Sinai with Pentecost.

The steeple of my Church looks very much like a watchtower from some ancient fortification. It is a reminder that we are at war.

Read Rev 12.

Read Eph 6:10-18.

Read 1 John 5:1-12.

Read 2 Cor 10:3-6.

The fortification like structure reminds us that the church is “the pillar and bulwark of truth,” (1 Tim 3:15) against which “the gates of hell will not prevail. (Mt 16:13-20).

This is the holy Church, the one Church, the true Church, the Catholic Church.fighting against all heresies; she can fight, but she can not be conquered. All heresies are expelled from her as if they were dead branches pruned from the vine; she herself, however, remains fixed in her root, in her vine, in her charity. The gates of hell shall not prevail against her. (St. Augustine, I think this comes from ON THE CREED)


Read the prologue to Commentary on Colossians by St Thomas Aquinas.

Posted in Biblical miscellany, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Thank you bloggers and commentors

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 12, 2007

My father is being buried today and before that takes place I would like to thank all those who so kindly remembered him and my family in their prayers. God bless you all.

Vital spark of heav’nly flame!

Quit, O quit this mortal frame:

Trembling, hoping, ling’ring, flying,

O the pain, the bliss of dying!

Cease, fond Nature, cease thy strife,

And let me languish into life.

Hark! they whisper, angels say,

Sister spirit, come away!

What is this absorbs me quite?

Steals my senses, shuts my sight,

Drowns my spirits, draws my breath?

Tell me, my soul, can this be death?

The world recedes; it disappears!

Heav’n opens my eyes! my ears

With sounds of seraphic ring!

Lend, lend your wings, I mount! I fly!

O grave! where is thy victory?

O Death! where is thy sting!–Alexander Pope, The Dying Christian to His Soul

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A Prayer Request

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 9, 2007

My father passed away this morning; please remember him in your prayers. Thank you.

1 I too am a mortal man, the same as all the rest, and a descendant of the first man formed on earth. And in my mother’s womb I was molded into flesh
2 in a ten-months’ period-body and blood, from the seed of man, and the pleasure that accompanies marriage.
And I too, when born, inhaled the common air, and fell upon the kindred earth; wailing, I uttered that first sound common to all.
In swaddling clothes and with constant care I was nurtured.
For no king has any different origin or birth,
but one is the entry into life for all; and in one same way they leave it.–Wisdom 7:1-6

1: Listen to me your father, O children; and act accordingly, that you may be kept in safety.
2: For the Lord honored the father above the children, and he confirmed the right of the mother over her sons.
3: Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
4: and whoever glorifies his mother is like one who lays up treasure.
5: Whoever honors his father will be gladdened by his own children, and when he prays he will be heard.
6: Whoever glorifies his father will have long life, and whoever obeys the Lord will refresh his mother;
7: he will serve his parents as his masters.
8: Honor your father by word and deed, that a blessing from him may come upon you.
9: For a father’s blessing strengthens the houses of the children, but a mother’s curse uproots their foundations.
10: Do not glorify yourself by dishonoring your father, for your father’s dishonor is no glory to you.
11: For a man’s glory comes from honoring his father, and it is a disgrace for children not to respect their mother.
12: O son, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives;
13: even if he is lacking in understanding, show forbearance; in all your strength do not despise him.
14: For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, and against your sins it will be credited to you;
15: in the day of your affliction it will be remembered in your favor; as frost in fair weather, your sins will melt away.
16: Whoever forsakes his father is like a blasphemer, and whoever angers his mother is cursed by the Lord

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