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 December 30th, 2010

Father Callan on 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 30, 2010

Text in red, if any, represent my additions.


Before their conversion the faithful were blind, without understanding; and they were led away to dumb idols who could give them no instruction in religious matters. But now they have criterions by which to test these things, and they can tell whether those appearing to be endowed with extraordinary gifts have received real powers from God or not. And if one really possesses
any of these freely given graces, St. Paul would have the faithful understand that such gifts are to be used for the spiritual benefit of those in the Church who have not been favored with them.

1. Now concerning spiritual things, my brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

Now (δε). This adversative connective shows, in opposition to the last clause of the preceding chapter, that St. Paul considered the necessity of instruction on spiritual gifts too imperative to be left until he would visit the Corinthians and impart to them oral directions and enlightenment.

The Corinthians had written to St Paul in regard to several matters which he begins to deal with in 1 Cor 7:1. His final words in chapter 11 were: And the rest I will set in order, when I come. “The rest” apparently referring to certain things the Corinthians had written to him for advice about.  Father Callan assumes that the issue Paul is now taking up was also one of the items mentioned in the letter, however, this need not necessarily be the case. St Paul had been informed of certain problems at Corinth by word of mouth (1 Cor 1:11; also, probably 1 Cor 11:18).

Spiritual things (πνευματικων) , i.e., spiritual gifts, which are called by theologians, gratiae gratis datae (graces gratuitously given), as opposed to gratia sanctificans (sanctifying grace) or gratum faciens (grace that makes one pleasing, i.e., to God. These last two terms designate the same thing). The latter, like the gifts of the Holy Ghost, is for the spiritual benefit of those who possess it; while the former are bestowed on certain individuals, not for their own sanctification, but for the spiritual advantage of others in the Church (Rom 12:6). These transient spiritual gifts are bestowed quite independently of the merit or personal sanctity of those who receive them. This the Corinthians did not understand.

The Catholic Encyclopedia: The gift of miracles is one of those mentioned by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:9, 10, among the extraordinary graces of the Holy Ghost. These have to be distinguished from the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost enumerated by the Prophet Isaiah 11:2 ff. and from the fruits of the Spirit given by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians 5:22. The seven gifts and the twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost are always infused with sanctifying grace into the souls of the just. They belong to ordinary sanctity and are within the reach of every Christian. The gifts mentioned in the Epistle to the Corinthians are not necessarily connected with sanctity of life. They are special and extraordinary powers vouchsafed by God only to a few, and primarily for the spiritual good of others rather than of the recipient. In Greek they are called charismata, which name has been adopted by Latin authors- they are also designated in theological technical language as gratiae gratis datae (graces gratuitously given) to distinguish them from gratiae gratum facientes, which means sanctifying grace or any actual grace granted for the salvation of the recipient.

2. You know that when you were heathens, you went to dumb idols, according as you were led.

You know, etc. The majority of the faithful of Corinth were of Gentile origin, as this verse proves, and St. Paul reminds them of their ignorant condition as pagans. They went to dumb idols, who were unable to instruct them in spiritual matters, as they were led by the devil (1 Cor 10:19 ff.; Eph 2:2), or by evil custom. See also 1 Thess 1:9; Acts 14:14-18.

3. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man, speaking by the Spirit of God, saith Anathema to Jesus. And no man can say the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost.

Wherefore. This most probably goes back to the ignorance mentioned in verse 1. Verse 2, then, is parenthetical.

I give you to understand, i.e., he lays down a general rule by which the Corinthians may judge whether a fact which seems extraordinary really comes from God. No one who curses Jesus is speaking under the influence of the Holy Ghost, while he who confesses that Christ is God does so, as a rule, because he is moved by God’s Holy Spirit.

That no man, speaking, etc., i.e., no one speaking with tongues, by the Spirit of God, i.e., under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, saith Anathema, etc., i.e., curses Jesus, or declares that Jesus is accursed of God. Anyone who denies or doubts the Divinity, humanity, mission, doctrine or the like, of Christ, cannot be moved by God’s Spirit; and consequently all extraordinary phenomena that may proceed from such a one must be ascribed to diabolical influences.

On the other hand, no one can say the Lord Jesus, i.e., can confess that Christ is the Lord of all things, and therefore God, but by the Holy Ghost, i.e., except he be influenced by divine inspiration (Matt 16:17). The faithful, then, are to be guided in their interpretation of extraordinary phenomena on the part of individuals by this general rule: If any extraordinary effect is directed against the faith of Christ, and tries to do away with Christ’s doctrine, it is to be considered as coming from diabolical
sources; but if, on the contrary, it promotes the faith and love of Christ, it is to he judged as proceeding from the Holy Ghost.

4. Now there are diversities of graces, but the same Spirit;
5. And there are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord;
6. And there are diversities of operations, but the same God, who worketh all in all.

4-6. The pagans believed that various gifts were to be attributed to different gods; for example, wisdom to one, power to another, and so on. Lest the faithful should be guilty of a similar absurdity regarding the gifts bestowed on them St. Paul tells them, (a) that while there are diversities of graces, i.e., different gifts bestowed on different persons, they all proceed from the same Holy Spirit; (b) that while there are diversities of ministries, i.e., different ministers, such as Apostles, bishops, priests and the like, in the Church, they all depend on the same divine Lord and Mediator, Jesus Christ, who is head of the whole Church; (c) that while there are diversities of operations, i.e., various marvelous effects, such as cures, conversions and the like, produced by the different ecclesiastical ministers according to their varied gifts, all are due to the one God, the Father, who, as the first cause of all things, worketh all in all, i.e., moves all creatures to their actions, and cooperates with the operations of all (cf. St. Thomas, h. 1.).

In these three verses we have an explicit mention of the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. They are introduced to emphasize the argument, beginning with the Holy Ghost, and leading us step by step to the one source of all (Estius).

The interpretation just given of these verses, which, in the main, is that of St. Thomas and Fr. Cornely, seems to us most correct; but there are other authorities who explain them somewhat differently. The graces, they say, mean the gifts possessed by different individuals ; the ministries, or ministrations (διακονιων) are the services rendered by those who possessed those gifts; and the operations refer to the effects, or results of the services
of those who possessed the gifts. Cf. MacR., h. 1.

7. And the manifestation of the spirit is given to every man unto profit.

And the manifestation, etc., i.e., the manifestation which the Spirit produces, the spiritual gifts just spoken of. These gifts not only proceed from the same Spirit, but are ordained to the same end, namely, to the advantage and utility of the Church.

Concerning verses 8-10 in general: The enumeration of the gifts of the Spirit in these verses was not intended to be complete, since in verse 28, Rom 12:6-8, and Eph 4:11 different accounts occur. There is much disagreement among interpreters as to the nature and classification of these various gifts of the Spirit. There then follows references to the writings of Cornely, Le Camus, Prat and Fouard.

8. To one indeed, by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom: and to another, the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit;

The word of wisdom means an understanding of the deeper mysteries and truths of faith, such as was possessed especially by the Apostles, together with the faculty of explaining them in a clear and convincing manner to others.

The word of knowledge is an understanding of the ordinary truths of religion, coupled with the ability to explain them by the use of rational arguments, illustrations and the like. Knowledge is the gift possessed in particular by Doctors of Theology. With the Corinthians these gifts were not the result of study, but of the extraordinary “manifestation of the spirit” (verse 7).

9. To another, faith in the same Spirit; to another, the grace of healing in one Spirit;

Faith does not mean the theological virtue which all must possess to be saved, but that special faith which can move mountains (Matt 21:21) and work other miracles. It was this faith that the Apostles asked for, saying: “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).

The grace of healing, such as was possessed by St. Peter, whose shadow delivered the sick from their infirmities (Acts 5:15), and by St. Paul, whose handkerchiefs and aprons dispelled diseases and evil spirits from the bodies of the infirm (Acts 19:12).

10. To another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the discerning of spirits: to another, diverse kinds of tongues; to another, interpretation of speeches.

The working of miracles (ενεργηματα δυναμεων) , i.e., the power of producing more extraordinary effects, such as raising the dead cf. Matt 7:22; 11:20 where δύναμις (= dunamis, force, power, whence our word dynamite) is also used in the sense of miracle.

Prophecy, i.e., the gift, not only of foretelling the future, but of so speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost as to instruct, edify and move the faithful by exhortation (1 Cor 14:3).

The discerning of spirits, i.e., the faculty of distinguishing the works of the Holy Ghost from those that come from Satan or from mere human agencies (1 Cor 14:29).

Diverse kinds of tongues, i.e., the gift not only to preach, but especially to pray and speak in strange languages.

Interpretation of speeches, i.e., the power of interpreting those who praised God in strange tongues. The Apostle speaks at length in 1 Cor 14 about these last gifts.

11. But all these things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he wilt.

All these gifts that have just been mentioned, so different from one another, are due, not to the merits or sanctity of those who possess them, but to the one Holy Spirit who freely distributes them to whom He wishes, according to the needs of the Church.

Posted in Bible, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, Notes on 1 Corinthians, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Dec 30: Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 2:36-40)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 30, 2010

Ver 36. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity;37. And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise to the Lord, and spoke of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

AMBROSE; Simeon had prophesied, a woman united in marriage had prophesied, a virgin had prophesied, it was meet also that a widow should prophesy, that there might lack no sex or condition of life, and therefore it is said, And there was one Anna a prophetess.

THEOPHYL. The Evangelist dwells some time on the account of Anna, mentioning both her father’s tribe, and adding, as it were, many witnesses who knew her father and her tribe.

GREG. NYSS. Or because at that time there were several others who were called by the same name, that there might be a plain way of distinguishing her, he mentions her father, and describes the quality of her parents.

AMBROSE; Now Anna, both from the duties of her widowhood and her manner of life, is found to be such that she is thought worthy to announce the Redeemer of the world. As it follows, She was of a great age, and had lived with her husband, &c.

ORIGEN; For the Holy Spirit dwelt not by chance in her. For the highest blessing, if any can possess it, is the grace of virginity, but if this cannot be, and it chance to a woman to lose her husband, let her remain a widow, which indeed not only after the death of her husband, but even while he is living, she ought to have in her mind, that supposing it should not happen, her will and determination might be crowned by the Lord, and her words should be, “This I vow, and promise, that if a certain condition of this life be mine, (which yet I wish not,) I will do nothing else but remain inviolate and a widow.” Most justly then was this holy woman thought worthy to receive the gift of prophecy, because by long chastity and long fastings she had ascended to this height of virtue, as It follows, Who departed not from the temple with fastings and prayers, &c.

ORIGEN; From which it is plain that she possessed a multitude of other virtues, and mark how she resembles Simeon in his goodness, for they were both in the temple together, anti both counted worthy of prophetic grace, as it follows, And she coming in at this very instant, gave thanks to the Lord.

THEOPHYL. That is, returned thanks for seeing in Israel the Savior of the world, and she confessed of Jesus that He was the Redeemer and the Savior. Hence it follows, And she spoke of him to all, &c.

ORIGEN; But because Anna’s words were nothing remarkable, and of no great note respecting Christ, the Gospel does not give the particulars of what she said, and perhaps for this reason one may suppose that Simeon anticipated her, since he indeed bore the character of the law, (for his name signifies obedience,) but she the character of grace, (which her name is by interpretation,) and Christ came between them. Therefore He let Simeon depart dying with the law, but Anna he sustains living beyond through grace.

THEOPHYL; According to the mystical meaning, Anna signifies the Church, who at present is indeed a widow by the death of her Husband ; the number also of the years of her widowhood marks the time of the Church, at which established in the body, she is separated from the Lord. For seven times twelve make eighty-four, seven indeed referring to the course of this world, which revolves in seven days; but twelve had reference to the perfection of Apostolic teaching, and therefore the Universal Church, or any faithful soul which strives to devote the whole period of its life to the following of Apostolic practice, is said to serve the Lord for eighty-four years. The term also of seven years, during which she lived with her husband, coincides. For through the prerogative of our Lord’s greatness, whereby abiding in the flesh, He taught, the simple number of seven years was taken to express the sign of perfection. Anna also favors the mysteries of the Church, being by interpretation its “grace,” and being both the daughter of Phanuel, who is called “the face of God,” and descended from the tribe of Aser, i.e. the blessed.

Ver  39. And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.40. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.41. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover.

THEOPHYL; Luke has omitted in this place what he knew to have been sufficiently set forth by Matthew, that the Lord after this, for fear that He should be discovered and put to death by Herod, was carried by His parents into Egypt, and at Herod’s death, having at length returned to Galilee, came to dwell in His own city Nazareth. For the Evangelists individually are wont to omit certain things which they either know to have been, or in the Spirit foresee will be, related by others, so that in the connected chain of their narrative, they seem as it were to have omitted nothing, whereas by examining the writings of another Evangelist, the careful reader may discover the places where the omissions have been. Thus after omitting many things, Luke says, And when they had accomplished all things, &c.

THEOPHYL. Bethlehem was indeed their city, their paternal city, Nazareth the place of their abode.

AUG. Perhaps it may strike you as strange that Matthew should say that His parents went with the young Child into Galilee because they were unwilling to go to Judea for fear of Archelaus, when they seem to have gone into Galilee rather because their city w as Nazareth in Galilee, as Luke in this place explains it. But we must consider, that when the Angel said in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Rise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel, it was at first understood by Joseph as a command to go into Judea, for so at first sight the land of Israel might have been taken to mean. But when afterwards he finds that Herod’s son Archelaus was king, he was unwilling to be exposed to that danger, seeing the land of Israel might also be understood to include Galilee also as a part of it, for there also the people of Israel dwelt.

GREEK EX. Or again, Luke is here describing the time before the descent to Egypt, for before her purification Joseph had not taken Mary there But before they went down into Egypt, they were not told by God to go to Nazareth but as living more freely in their own country, thither of their own accord they went; for since the going up to Bethlehem was for no other reason but the taxing, when that was accomplished they go down to Nazareth.

THEOPHYL. Now our Lord might have come forth from the womb in the stature of mature age, but this would seem like something imaginary; therefore His growth is gradual, as it follows, And the child grew, and waxed strong.

THEOPHYL; We must observe the distinction of words, that the Lord Jesus Christ in that He w as a child, that is, had put on the condition of human weakness, was daily growing and being strengthened.

ATHAN. But if as some say the flesh was changed into a Divine nature, how did it derive growth? for to attribute growth to an uncreated substance is impious.

CYRIL; Rightly with the A growth in age, St. Luke has united increase in wisdom, as he says, And he was strengthened, (i.e. in spirit.) For in proportion to the measure of bodily growth, the Divine nature developed its own wisdom.

THEOPHYL. For if while yet a little child, He had displayed His wisdom, He would have seemed a miracle, but together with the advance of age He gradually showed Himself, so as to fill the whole world. For not as receiving wisdom is He said to be strengthened in spirit. For that which is most perfect in the beginning, how can that become any more perfect. Hence it follows, Filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was in him.

THEOPHYL; Wisdom truly, for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, but grace, because it was in great grace given to the man Christ Jesus, that from the time He began to be man He should be perfect man and perfect God. But much rather because He was the word of God, and God needed not to be strengthened, nor was in a state of growth. But while He was yet a little child He had the grace of God, that as in Him all things were wonderful, His childhood also might be wonderful, so as to be filled with the wisdom of God. It follows, And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the feast of the Passover.

CHRYS. At the feast of the Hebrews the law commanded men not, only to observe the time, but the place, and so the Lord’s parents wished to celebrate the feast of the Passover only at Jerusalem.

AUG. But it may be asked, how did His parents go up all the years of Christ’s childhood to Jerusalem, if they were prevented from going there by fear of Archelaus? This question might be easily answered, even had some one of the Evangelists mentioned how long Archelaus reigned. For it were possible that on the feast day amid so great a crowd they might secretly come, and soon return again, at the same time that they feared to remain there on other days, so as neither to be wanting in religious duties by neglecting the feast, nor leave themselves open to detection by a constant abode there. But now since all have been silent as to the length of Archelaus’ reign, it is plain that when Luke says, They were accustomed to go up every year to Jerusalem, we are to understand that to have been when Archelaus was no longer feared.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, liturgy, Notes on Luke's Gospel, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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